Grodno is a city in western Belarus. It is located on the Neman close to the borders of Poland and Lithuania. The modern city of Grodno originated as a small fortress and a fortified trading outpost maintained by the Rurikid princes on the border with the lands of the Baltic tribal union of the Yotvingians. The first reference to Grodno dates to 1005. Being of strategic importance and because it was in a strongly contested area the town was fought over many times. Eventually during the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in about 1389 Jewish traders were welcomed to build Grodno up econmically. Today the city is a centre of one of the provinces of the Byelorussian SSR, now of the independent Republic of Belarus.