The history of Ostrovets is rich in historic events. Ostrovets was first mentioned in chronicles in 1468 when Kiev voevode Martin Gashtold founded a church and a monastery of the Dominican Order. After his death in 1542 Ostrovets fell in the ownership of King Zigimont I who passed it over to his son Zigimont Augustus. The latter presented Ostrovets to Ieronim Karitsky. In 1618, the placed was owned by Jan Korsak, in the 19th century – by the Kostrovitskys, Sytyankis, Zhilinskys. Iosif Zhilinsky was famous for land-reclamation works in the Polesie region in the 19th century; famous French poet Guillaume Apollinaire and Belarusian prose writer Karus Kaganets came from the Kostrovitsky family. There are two Roman-Catholic churches in Ostrovets –Sts. Cosma and Daminian (1787), of the Ascension of the Corss (1911). The name of the town has Slavic roots and is derived from the name of the fortified island on the right bank of the Losha River which flows through the town. The region is located in the north of Grodno oblast and is the fourth largest in the oblast. The total area is 1,569 square meters.
There are several ancient settlements in the region. The village of Vornyany is first mentioned in chronicles in 1391 as a property of Grand Duke of Lithuanian Jogaila and in the first half of the 16h century as a property of the Pronskis, Chizhes. Svirskiys, starting 1581 – of the Abramovich family. The surviving species of the 18th century architecture are St. George Roman-Catholic Church, a house of a priest, a chemist’s house, residential houses.
The village of Bystritsa is one of the ancient settlements in the region. The chronicles of Stryjkovsky and Kayalovich read that the first capital of the Great Principality of Lithuania was in the village of Bystritsa. On the order of Zigimont I the customs was headquartered there in 1542. The Roman-Catholic Church of the Ascension of the Holy Cross (1760) survives.
The Ostrovets region borders on the Republic of Lithuania in the north. There are border checkpoints Kotlovka, Losha, railway station Gudogai. In the north-east the region borders on the Postavy region of Vitebsk oblast, Miadel region of Minsk oblast, in the south – Smorgon and Oshmiany regions of Grodno oblast.
The region was founded on January 15, 1940 as part of the Vileika oblast, since 1944 – Molodechno and since 1960 – Grodno oblast. The Ostrovets region is proud of Konstantin and Albin Stapovichis, who were a poet and a musician, Menke Kats, a literary critic, Yanka Bylina, a poet, playwright and a priest, Marjan Bogush-Shishka, a famous artist. The beauty of the region, hospitality of local residents attracted poets, artists and many famous people. Polish writer Henryk Sienkiewicz loved to visit the estate Dubniki. Iosif Gashkevich, Russian consul to Japan, an outstanding scientist, spent his last years in the estate of Mali. Belarusian and Polish artist L. Dobzhinskiy was buried in the chapel in the village of Losha in 1938.
The region is composed of nine rural councils. a total of 27.3 thousand people live in 398 settlements of the region, including 8.6 thousand people in Ostrovets. rurual population amounts to 18.7 thousand. Density of the population is 17.4 people per one square kilometer.
Some 81.8% of the population are the Belarusians, 9.3% - the Poles, 4.2% - the Russians, 3.5% - the Lithuanians, 1.2% - the Ukrainians and other ethnicities.
The industry of the region is represented by five companies: Board Mill “Olkhovka”, the Ostrovets Forestry, the Plant of Construction Materials, the Ostrovets-based Plant “Radiodetal”, the Center of Cooperative Industry. There are eight private companies in the region: Veras, Vesta, Krok, Technoplast, Les-Met, Exo Corporation, Firma GLT, the agricultural farm “Ostrovetskoe”.
The economic and social development of the region is mainly based on agricultural industry. The agrarian sector of the economy is represented by ten agricultural production cooperatives.
The educational system of the region includes 13 secondary schools, 6 primary schools, 2 primary schools-kindergartens, an elementary school, 4 elementary schools-kindergartens, the Vornyany Vocational-Training College, a gymnasium.
Medical services of the region are rendered by the central regional hospital (215 beds), an out-patients’ clinic (446 visits per shift), the Mikhalishki hospital (80 beds), three rural doctor’s offices (33 beds) and 22 medical assistant’s offices. The network of cultural institutions of the region features 26 clubs, 28 libraries, 2 children’s art schools, 3 music schools, a house of crafts. There are 67 sports facilities, a stadium, a hockey ring, 13 gyms in the region.
The national landscape reserve “Sarochanskie Lakes” (13,004 hectares) includes 12 lakes including Tumkovskoe Lake, Edi lake, Beloe lake, Vorobji lake, Kaimina lake, Turovskoe lake and others. There are two local reserves in the region (the landscape reserve “Byk Lake” (113 hectares) and the landscape reserve “Serzhanty (1,015 hectares).
There are five species of fish in the region which are listed in the Red Book. they are umber, Atlantic salmon, salmon trout, barbel.
There are 23 species of old architecture in the region including the architectural ensemble in the village of Vornyany, St. George Catholic Church, a chemist’s house (built in 1770), Trinity Catholic Church in the village of Gervyaty, the Catholic Churches in the villages of Gudogai, Mikhalishki, Bystritsa, Kljuschany and others.