Orsha (ôrˈshə) [key], city (1989 pop. 123,128), NE Belarus, a port at the confluence of the Dnieper and Orshitsa rivers. One of Belarus's leading rail and water transport junctions and industrial centers, Orsha is the starting point of shipping on the Dnieper. The city's industries include machine building, metalworking, food processing, and the production of machine tools, and linen. First mentioned as Rsha in 1067, the city passed to Lithuania in the 13th cent. It was an important Polish fortress and trade center from the 16th cent. until its annexation by Russia in 1772, during the first partition of Poland.
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