It was in the west of the country, in the central part of what is now Belarus . It was bounded by the following governorates (clockwise from the north): Vitebsk , Mogilev , Chernigov , Kiev , Volhynia , Grodno and Vilna .
It had an area of 91,407.6 km², the capital was Minsk .
It was formed in 1793 after the Polish partition from Lithuanian parts of the Kingdom of Poland and after a short period of membership in the governorship of Belarus, it was re-established in 1796 with minor territorial expansions. In 1843 there was an exchange of territory in which some areas around Disna and Vilejka were given to Vilna and Minsk received the area around Novogrudok from Grodno. The governorate existed until 1921, after the territorial reorganization within the Belarusian SSR .
Around 1900 the governorate consisted of nine Ujesdys (districts):
- Bobrujsk (Belarus. Babrujsk )
- Borissow (Belarus. Baryssau )
- Igumen (today Cherven )
- Mosyr (Belarus. Masyr )
- Novogrudok (Belarus. Nawahradak )
- Retschiza (Belarus. Retschyza )
According to the 1897 census, the governorate had 2,147,621 inhabitants. Of these, 1,633,091 were Belarusians, 343,466 Jews, 83,999 Russians, 64,617 Poles and 10,069 Minor Russians (Ukrainians); there were also smaller groups of Tatars, Germans and Latvians.
The population was mainly engaged in agriculture and animal husbandry. In 1903 the harvest yielded 425,434 tons of rye, 194,584 tons of oats, 73,685 tons of barley, 32,153 tons of buckwheat and 869,764 tons of potatoes. In 1903 the livestock was 945,000 horned cattle, 740,000 sheep (including 57,000 fine woolly), 660,000 pigs, 36,400 goats and 375,000 horses. The fruit growing was limited to apples, pears, plums and cherries. In 1897 the industry employed 395 factories with 8,884 workers and had a production value of 21.2 million rubles. In the first place were the 155 distilleries with a production value of 14 million rubles. This is followed by flour mills, sawmills, match factories and others.