Lithuania

Lithuania

Overview
Lithuania officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe
Northern Europe
Northern Europe is the northern part or region of Europe. Northern Europe typically refers to the seven countries in the northern part of the European subcontinent which includes Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland and Sweden...

, the biggest of the three Baltic states
Baltic states
The term Baltic states refers to the Baltic territories which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I: primarily the contiguous trio of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ; Finland also fell within the scope of the term after initially gaining independence in the 1920s.The...

. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

, whereby to the west lie Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 and Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

. It shares borders with Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

 to the north, Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

 to the east and south, Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 to the south, and a Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n exclave (Kaliningrad Oblast
Kaliningrad Oblast
Kaliningrad Oblast is a federal subject of Russia situated on the Baltic coast. It has a population of The oblast forms the westernmost part of the Russian Federation, but it has no land connection to the rest of Russia. Since its creation it has been an exclave of the Russian SFSR and then the...

) to the southwest. Lithuania has an estimated population of 3.2 million as of 2011, and its capital and largest city is Vilnius
Vilnius
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, and its largest city, with a population of 560,190 as of 2010. It is the seat of the Vilnius city municipality and of the Vilnius district municipality. It is also the capital of Vilnius County...

.
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Timeline

1009   First known mention of Lithuania, in the annals of the monastery of Quedlinburg.

1253   Mindaugas is crowned King of Lithuania.

1674   The nobility elect John Sobieski King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania.

1863   The January Uprising breaks out in Poland, Lithuania and Belarus. The aim of the national movement is to regain Polish-Lithuanian-Ruthenian Commonwealth from occupation by Russia.

1917   Lithuania declares its independence from Russia.

1918   The Council of Lithuania unanimously adopts the Act of Independence, declaring Lithuania an independent state.

1918   Germany, Austria and Russia sign the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk ending Russia's involvement in World War I, and leading to the independence of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

1920   The Soviet–Lithuanian Peace Treaty is signed. Soviet Russia recognises independent Lithuania.

1920   The Suwalki Agreement between Poland and Lithuania is signed.

1923   Lithuania seizes and annexes Memel.

 
Encyclopedia
Lithuania officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe
Northern Europe
Northern Europe is the northern part or region of Europe. Northern Europe typically refers to the seven countries in the northern part of the European subcontinent which includes Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland and Sweden...

, the biggest of the three Baltic states
Baltic states
The term Baltic states refers to the Baltic territories which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I: primarily the contiguous trio of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ; Finland also fell within the scope of the term after initially gaining independence in the 1920s.The...

. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

, whereby to the west lie Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 and Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

. It shares borders with Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

 to the north, Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

 to the east and south, Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 to the south, and a Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n exclave (Kaliningrad Oblast
Kaliningrad Oblast
Kaliningrad Oblast is a federal subject of Russia situated on the Baltic coast. It has a population of The oblast forms the westernmost part of the Russian Federation, but it has no land connection to the rest of Russia. Since its creation it has been an exclave of the Russian SFSR and then the...

) to the southwest. Lithuania has an estimated population of 3.2 million as of 2011, and its capital and largest city is Vilnius
Vilnius
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, and its largest city, with a population of 560,190 as of 2010. It is the seat of the Vilnius city municipality and of the Vilnius district municipality. It is also the capital of Vilnius County...

. The Lithuanians
Lithuanians
Lithuanians are the Baltic ethnic group native to Lithuania, where they number around 2,765,600 people. Another million or more make up the Lithuanian diaspora, largely found in countries such as the United States, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Russia, United Kingdom and Ireland. Their native language...

 are a Baltic people, and the official language, Lithuanian
Lithuanian language
Lithuanian is the official state language of Lithuania and is recognized as one of the official languages of the European Union. There are about 2.96 million native Lithuanian speakers in Lithuania and about 170,000 abroad. Lithuanian is a Baltic language, closely related to Latvian, although they...

, is one of only two living languages (together with Latvian
Latvian language
Latvian is the official state language of Latvia. It is also sometimes referred to as Lettish. There are about 1.4 million native Latvian speakers in Latvia and about 150,000 abroad. The Latvian language has a relatively large number of non-native speakers, atypical for a small language...

) in the Baltic branch
Baltic languages
The Baltic languages are a group of related languages belonging to the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European language family and spoken mainly in areas extending east and southeast of the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe...

 of the Indo-European
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

 language family.

During the 14th century, Lithuania was the largest country in Europe: present-day Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

, Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

, and parts of Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 and Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 were territories of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a European state from the 12th /13th century until 1569 and then as a constituent part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1791 when Constitution of May 3, 1791 abolished it in favor of unitary state. It was founded by the Lithuanians, one of the polytheistic...

. With the Lublin Union of 1569, Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 and Lithuania formed a new state, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Commonwealth lasted more than two centuries, until neighboring countries systematically dismantled it from 1772 to 1795, with the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 annexing most of Lithuania's territory.

In the aftermath of World War I
Aftermath of World War I
The fighting in World War I ended in western Europe when the Armistice took effect at 11:00 am GMT on November 11, 1918, and in eastern Europe by the early 1920s. During and in the aftermath of the war the political, cultural, and social order was drastically changed in Europe, Asia and Africa,...

, Lithuania's Act of Independence
Act of Independence of Lithuania
The Act of Independence of Lithuania or Act of February 16 was signed by the Council of Lithuania on February 16, 1918, proclaiming the restoration of an independent State of Lithuania, governed by democratic principles, with Vilnius as its capital. The Act was signed by all twenty...

 was signed on 16 February 1918, declaring the re-establishment of a sovereign state. Starting in 1940, Lithuania was occupied first by the Soviet Union
Occupation and annexation of the Baltic states by the Soviet Union (1940)
The occupation and annexation of the Baltic states by the Soviet Union covers the period from the Soviet–Baltic mutual assistance pacts in 1939, to the illegal annexation in 1940, to the mass deportations of 1941...

 and then by Nazi Germany
Occupation of Lithuania by Nazi Germany
The occupation of Lithuania by Nazi Germany refers to the occupation of Lithuania by Nazi Germany from the start of the German invasion of Soviet Union to the end of the Battle of Memel . At first the Germans were welcomed as "liberators" from the repressive Soviet regime which occupied Lithuania...

. As World War II neared its end in 1944 and the Germans retreated, the Soviet Union reoccupied Lithuania
Occupation and annexation of the Baltic states by the Soviet Union (1944)
The Soviet Union reoccupied most of the territory of the Baltic states 1944 in the Soviet Baltic offensive during World War II. The Soviet offensive regained control over the three Baltic capitals but failed to capture the Courland Pocket where the retreating Wehrmacht and Latvian forces held out...

.

On 11 March 1990, the year before the break-up of the Soviet Union, Lithuania became the first Soviet republic
Republics of the Soviet Union
The Republics of the Soviet Union or the Union Republics of the Soviet Union were ethnically-based administrative units that were subordinated directly to the Government of the Soviet Union...

 to declare independence
Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania
The Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania or Act of March 11 was an independence declaration by the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic adopted on March 11, 1990...

. Prior to the global financial crisis of 2007–2010, Lithuania had one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union. Lithuania is a member of NATO, the Council of Europe
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation...

, and the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

. Lithuania is also a full member of the Schengen Agreement
Schengen Agreement
The Schengen Agreement is a treaty signed on 14 June 1985 near the town of Schengen in Luxembourg, between five of the ten member states of the European Economic Community. It was supplemented by the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement 5 years later...

. The United Nations Human Development Index
Human Development Index
The Human Development Index is a composite statistic used to rank countries by level of "human development" and separate "very high human development", "high human development", "medium human development", and "low human development" countries...

 lists Lithuania as a "Very High Human Development" country.

Prehistoric


The first people settled in the territory of Lithuania after the last glacial period in the 10th millennium BC. Over a millennium, the Proto-Indo-Europeans
Proto-Indo-Europeans
The Proto-Indo-Europeans were the speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language , a reconstructed prehistoric language of Eurasia.Knowledge of them comes chiefly from the linguistic reconstruction, along with material evidence from archaeology and archaeogenetics...

, who arrived in the 3rd – 2nd millennium BC, mixed with the local population and formed various Baltic tribes. The first written mention
Name of Lithuania
The first known record of the name of Lithuania is in a 9 March 1009 story of Saint Bruno recorded in the Quedlinburg Chronicle . The Chronicle recorded a Latinized Slavic form of the name Lietuva: Litua pronounced [litvā]...

 of Lithuania is found in a medieval German manuscript, the Annals of Quedlinburg
Annals of Quedlinburg
The Annals of Quedlinburg were written between 1008 and 1030 in the convent of Quedlinburg Abbey. In recent years a consensus has emerged that the annalist was a woman.The annals are mostly dedicated to the history of the Holy Roman Empire; they also contain the first written mention of the name...

, in an entry dated 9 March 1009.

Medieval


Initially inhabited by fragmented Baltic tribes, in the 1230s the Lithuanian lands were united by Mindaugas
Mindaugas
Mindaugas was the first known Grand Duke of Lithuania and the only King of Lithuania. Little is known of his origins, early life, or rise to power; he is mentioned in a 1219 treaty as an elder duke, and in 1236 as the leader of all the Lithuanians...

, who was crowned as King of Lithuania on 6 July 1253. After his assassination in 1263, pagan Lithuania
Lithuanian mythology
Lithuanian mythology is an example of Baltic mythology, developed by Lithuanians throughout the centuries.-History of scholarship:Surviving information about Baltic paganism in general is very sketchy and incomplete. As with most ancient Indo-European cultures Lithuanian mythology is an example of...

 was a target of the Christian crusades
Northern Crusades
The Northern Crusades or Baltic Crusades were crusades undertaken by the Christian kings of Denmark and Sweden, the German Livonian and Teutonic military orders, and their allies against the pagan peoples of Northern Europe around the southern and eastern shores of the Baltic Sea...

 of the Teutonic Knights
Teutonic Knights
The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem , commonly the Teutonic Order , is a German medieval military order, in modern times a purely religious Catholic order...

 and the Livonian Order
Livonian Order
The Livonian Order was an autonomous Livonian branch of the Teutonic Order and a member of the Livonian Confederation from 1435–1561. After being defeated by Samogitians in the 1236 Battle of Schaulen , the remnants of the Livonian Brothers of the Sword were incorporated into the Teutonic Knights...

. Despite the devastating century-long struggle with the Orders, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a European state from the 12th /13th century until 1569 and then as a constituent part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1791 when Constitution of May 3, 1791 abolished it in favor of unitary state. It was founded by the Lithuanians, one of the polytheistic...

 expanded rapidly, overtaking former Slavic principalities of Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus was a medieval polity in Eastern Europe, from the late 9th to the mid 13th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240....

.

By the end of the 14th century, Lithuania was one of the largest countries in Europe and included present-day Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

, Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

, and parts of Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 and Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

. The geopolitical situation between the west and the east determined the multicultural and multi-confessional character of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The ruling elite practiced religious tolerance and borrowed Chancery Slavonic language as an auxiliary language to the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 for official documents.

In 1385, the Grand Duke Jogaila
Jogaila
Jogaila, later 'He is known under a number of names: ; ; . See also: Jogaila : names and titles. was Grand Duke of Lithuania , king consort of Kingdom of Poland , and sole King of Poland . He ruled in Lithuania from 1377, at first with his uncle Kęstutis...

 accepted Poland's offer to become its king. He converted Lithuania to Christianity
Christianization of Lithuania
The Christianization of Lithuania – Christianization of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania that took place in 1387, initiated by the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania Jogaila and his cousin Vytautas, that signified the official adoption of Christianity by Lithuanians, one of the last pagan...

 and established a personal union
Personal union
A personal union is the combination by which two or more different states have the same monarch while their boundaries, their laws and their interests remain distinct. It should not be confused with a federation which is internationally considered a single state...

 between Poland and Lithuania. After two civil wars, Vytautas the Great
Vytautas the Great
Vytautas ; styled "the Great" from the 15th century onwards; c. 1350 October 27, 1430) was one of the most famous rulers of medieval Lithuania. Vytautas was the ruler of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania which chiefly encompassed the Lithuanians and Ruthenians...

 became the Grand Duke of Lithuania in 1392. During his reign, Lithuania reached the peak of its territorial expansion, centralization of the state was begun, and the Lithuanian nobility became increasingly prominent in state politics. Thanks to close cooperation, the armies of Lithuania and Poland achieved a great victory over the Teutonic Knights
Teutonic Knights
The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem , commonly the Teutonic Order , is a German medieval military order, in modern times a purely religious Catholic order...

 in 1410 at the Battle of Grunwald
Battle of Grunwald
The Battle of Grunwald or 1st Battle of Tannenberg was fought on 15 July 1410, during the Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War. The alliance of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, led respectively by King Jogaila and Grand Duke Vytautas , decisively defeated the Teutonic Knights, led...

, one of the largest battles of medieval Europe.

After the deaths of Jogaila and Vytautas, the Lithuanian nobility attempted to break the union between Poland and Lithuania, independently selecting Grand Dukes from the Jagiellon dynasty
Jagiellon dynasty
The Jagiellonian dynasty was a royal dynasty originating from the Lithuanian House of Gediminas dynasty that reigned in Central European countries between the 14th and 16th century...

. But, at the end of the 15th century, Lithuania was forced to seek a closer alliance with Poland when the growing power of the Grand Duchy of Moscow
Grand Duchy of Moscow
The Grand Duchy of Moscow or Grand Principality of Moscow, also known in English simply as Muscovy , was a late medieval Rus' principality centered on Moscow, and the predecessor state of the early modern Tsardom of Russia....

 threatened Lithuania's Russian principalities and sparked the Muscovite–Lithuanian Wars
Muscovite–Lithuanian Wars
The Muscovite–Lithuanian Wars The conflicts are referred to as 'Muscovite wars' in Polish historiography and as 'Lithuanian wars' in Russian one; English historiography uses both, ex...

 and the Livonian War
Livonian War
The Livonian War was fought for control of Old Livonia in the territory of present-day Estonia and Latvia when the Tsardom of Russia faced a varying coalition of Denmark–Norway, the Kingdom of Sweden, the Union of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland.During the period 1558–1578,...

.

Modern


The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was created in 1569. As a member of the Commonwealth, Lithuania retained its institutions, including a separate army, currency, and statutory laws. Eventually Polonization
Polonization
Polonization was the acquisition or imposition of elements of Polish culture, in particular, Polish language, as experienced in some historic periods by non-Polish populations of territories controlled or substantially influenced by Poland...

 affected all aspects of Lithuanian life: politics, language, culture, and national identity. From the mid-16th to the mid-17th centuries, culture, arts, and education flourished, fueled by the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 and the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

. From 1573, the Kings of Poland and Grand Dukes of Lithuania were elected by the nobility, who were granted ever increasing Golden Liberties
Golden Liberty
Golden Liberty , sometimes referred to as Golden Freedoms, Nobles' Democracy or Nobles' Commonwealth refers to a unique aristocratic political system in the Kingdom of Poland and later, after the Union of Lublin , in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth...

. These liberties, especially the liberum veto
Liberum veto
The liberum veto was a parliamentary device in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. It allowed any member of the Sejm to force an immediate end to the current session and nullify any legislation that had already been passed at the session by shouting Nie pozwalam! .From the mid-16th to the late 18th...

, led to anarchy
Anarchy
Anarchy , has more than one colloquial definition. In the United States, the term "anarchy" typically is meant to refer to a society which lacks publicly recognized government or violently enforced political authority...

 and the eventual dissolution of the state.

During the Northern Wars
Northern Wars
Northern Wars is a term used for a series of wars fought in northern and northeastern Europe in the 16th and 17th century. An internationally agreed nomenclature for these wars has not yet been devised...

 (1655–1661), the Lithuanian territory and economy were devastated by the Swedish
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 army. Before it could fully recover, Lithuania was ravaged during the Great Northern War
Great Northern War
The Great Northern War was a conflict in which a coalition led by the Tsardom of Russia successfully contested the supremacy of the Swedish Empire in northern Central Europe and Eastern Europe. The initial leaders of the anti-Swedish alliance were Peter I the Great of Russia, Frederick IV of...

 (1700–1721). The war, plague, and famine
Famine
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

 caused the deaths of approximately 40% of the country's population. Foreign powers, especially Russia, became dominant in the domestic politics of the Commonwealth. Numerous factions among the nobility used the Golden Liberties to prevent any reforms. Eventually, the Commonwealth was partitioned
Partitions of Poland
The Partitions of Poland or Partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth took place in the second half of the 18th century and ended the existence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, resulting in the elimination of sovereign Poland for 123 years...

 in 1772, 1792, and 1795 by the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

, Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

, and Habsburg Austria.

The largest area of Lithuanian territory became part of Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

. After unsuccessful uprisings in 1831
November Uprising
The November Uprising , Polish–Russian War 1830–31 also known as the Cadet Revolution, was an armed rebellion in the heartland of partitioned Poland against the Russian Empire. The uprising began on 29 November 1830 in Warsaw when the young Polish officers from the local Army of the Congress...

 and 1863
January Uprising
The January Uprising was an uprising in the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth against the Russian Empire...

, the Tsarist authorities implemented a number of Russification
Russification
Russification is an adoption of the Russian language or some other Russian attributes by non-Russian communities...

 policies. They banned the Lithuanian press
Lithuanian press ban
The Lithuanian press ban was a ban on all Lithuanian language publications printed in the Latin alphabet within the Russian Empire, which controlled Lithuania at the time. Lithuanian-language publications that used the Cyrillic alphabet were allowed and even encouraged...

, closed cultural and educational institutions, and made Lithuania part of a new administrative region called Northwestern Krai
Northwestern Krai
Northwestern Krai was a subdivision of Imperial Russia in the territories of the present day Belarus and Lithuania. Together with the Southwestern Krai it formed the Western Krai...

. These ruthless Russification
Russification
Russification is an adoption of the Russian language or some other Russian attributes by non-Russian communities...

 policies failed owing to extensive network of book smugglers and secret Lithuanian home schooling.

After the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878), when German diplomats assigned what were seen as Russian spoils of war to Turkey, the relationship between Russia and the German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 became complicated. The Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 resumed the construction of fortresses at its western borders for defence against a potential invasion from Germany in the West. On 7 July 1879 the Russian Emperor Alexander II
Alexander II of Russia
Alexander II , also known as Alexander the Liberator was the Emperor of the Russian Empire from 3 March 1855 until his assassination in 1881...

 approved of a proposal from the Russian military leadership to build the largest "first-class" defensive structure in the entire state – the 65 square kilometre Kaunas Fortress
Kaunas Fortress
Kaunas Fortress is the remains of a fortress complex in Kaunas, Lithuania. It was constructed and renovated between 1882 and 1915 to protect the Russian Empire's western borders, and was designated a "first-class" fortress in 1887...

. Between 1868 and 1914, approximately 635,000 people, almost 20% of the population, emigrated from Lithuania. Large numbers of Lithuanians went to the United States in 1867–1868 after a famine
Famine
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

. A Lithuanian National Revival
Lithuanian National Revival
Lithuanian National Revival, alternatively Lithuanian National Awakening , was a period of the history of Lithuania in the 19th century at the time when a major part of Lithuanian inhabited areas belonged to the Russian Empire...

 laid the foundations of the modern Lithuanian nation and independent Lithuania.

20th century



During World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, the Council of Lithuania
Council of Lithuania
The Council of Lithuania , after July 11, 1918 The State Council of Lithuania , was convened at the Vilnius Conference that took place between September 18 and 23, 1917. The council was granted the executive authority of the Lithuanian people and was entrusted to establish an independent...

 (Lietuvos Taryba) declared the independence of Lithuania
Act of Independence of Lithuania
The Act of Independence of Lithuania or Act of February 16 was signed by the Council of Lithuania on February 16, 1918, proclaiming the restoration of an independent State of Lithuania, governed by democratic principles, with Vilnius as its capital. The Act was signed by all twenty...

 on 16 February 1918, and the re-establishment of the Lithuanian State. Lithuania's foreign policy was dominated by territorial disputes with Poland and Germany. The Vilnius Region
Vilnius region
Vilnius Region , refers to the territory in the present day Lithuania, that was originally inhabited by ethnic Baltic tribes and was a part of Lithuania proper, but came under East Slavic and Polish cultural influences over time,...

, and Vilnius
Vilnius
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, and its largest city, with a population of 560,190 as of 2010. It is the seat of the Vilnius city municipality and of the Vilnius district municipality. It is also the capital of Vilnius County...

, the historical capital of Lithuania, (and so designated in the Constitution of Lithuania) were seized by the Polish army during Żeligowski's Mutiny
Zeligowski's Mutiny
Żeligowski's Mutiny was a sham mutiny led by Polish General Lucjan Żeligowski in October 1920, which resulted in the creation of the short-lived Republic of Central Lithuania. Polish Chief of State Józef Piłsudski had surreptitiously ordered Żeligowski to carry out the operation, and revealed the...

 in October 1920 and annexed two years later by Poland. For 19 years Kaunas
Kaunas
Kaunas is the second-largest city in Lithuania and has historically been a leading centre of Lithuanian economic, academic, and cultural life. Kaunas was the biggest city and the center of a powiat in Trakai Voivodeship of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania since 1413. During Russian Empire occupation...

 became the Temporary capital of Lithuania
Temporary capital of Lithuania
The temporary capital of Lithuania was the official designation of the city of Kaunas in Lithuania during the interwar period. It was in contrast to the declared capital in Vilnius , which was under Polish control from 1920 until 1939...

. The Polish occupation of Vilnius was greatly resented by Lithuania; there were no diplomatic relations between the two states for most of the period between the two world wars.
Acquired during the Klaipėda Revolt
Klaipeda Revolt
The Klaipėda Revolt took place in January 1923 in the Klaipėda Region . The region, located north of the Neman River, was detached from the East Prussia of the German Empire by the Treaty of Versailles and became a mandate of the League of Nations. It was placed under provisional French...

 of 1923, the Klaipėda Region
Klaipėda Region
The Klaipėda Region or Memel Territory was defined by the Treaty of Versailles in 1920 when it was put under the administration of the Council of Ambassadors...

 was ceded to Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 after a German ultimatum
1939 German ultimatum to Lithuania
1939 German ultimatum to Lithuania was an oral ultimatum presented to Juozas Urbšys, Foreign Minister of Lithuania, by Joachim von Ribbentrop, Foreign Minister of Nazi Germany, on March 20, 1939...

 in March 1939. During the interwar period, the domestic affairs of Lithuania were controlled by the authoritarian President, Antanas Smetona
Antanas Smetona
Antanas Smetona was one of the most important Lithuanian political figures between World War I and World War II. He served as the first President of Lithuania from April 4, 1919 to June 19, 1920. He again served as the last President of the country from December 19, 1926 to June 15, 1940, before...

 and his party, the Lithuanian National Union, who came to power after the coup d'état of 1926
1926 Lithuanian coup d'état
The 1926 Lithuanian coup d'état was a military coup d'etat in Lithuania that resulted in the replacement of the democratically elected government with a conservative authoritarian government led by Antanas Smetona. The coup took place on December 17, 1926 and was largely organized by the military;...

.

The Soviet Union returned Vilnius to Lithuania after the Soviet invasion of Eastern Poland in September 1939. In June 1940, the Soviet Union occupied and annexed Lithuania
Occupation and annexation of the Baltic states by the Soviet Union (1940)
The occupation and annexation of the Baltic states by the Soviet Union covers the period from the Soviet–Baltic mutual assistance pacts in 1939, to the illegal annexation in 1940, to the mass deportations of 1941...

 in accordance to the secret protocols of Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. A year later Russia was attacked
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

 by Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

, leading to the Nazi occupation of Lithuania
Occupation of Lithuania by Nazi Germany
The occupation of Lithuania by Nazi Germany refers to the occupation of Lithuania by Nazi Germany from the start of the German invasion of Soviet Union to the end of the Battle of Memel . At first the Germans were welcomed as "liberators" from the repressive Soviet regime which occupied Lithuania...

. The Nazis and their collaborators murdered around 190,000 Lithuanian Jews
Lithuanian Jews
Lithuanian Jews or Litvaks are Jews with roots in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania:...

 (91% of the pre-war Jewish community) during the Holocaust.

After the retreat of the German armed forces
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

, the Soviets re-established the annexation of Lithuania in 1944
Occupation and annexation of the Baltic states by the Soviet Union (1944)
The Soviet Union reoccupied most of the territory of the Baltic states 1944 in the Soviet Baltic offensive during World War II. The Soviet offensive regained control over the three Baltic capitals but failed to capture the Courland Pocket where the retreating Wehrmacht and Latvian forces held out...

. It followed with massive deportations of trouble-making citizens to Siberia, complete nationalisation and collectivisation and general sovietization of everyday life. From 1944 to 1952 approximately 100,000 Lithuanian partisans
Lithuanian partisans
The Lithuanian partisans can refer to various irregular military units in different historical periods active in Lithuania against foreign invaders and occupiers:...

 fought a guerrilla war against the Soviet system. An estimated 30,000 partisans and their supporters were killed, and many more were arrested and deported to Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

n gulag
Gulag
The Gulag was the government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labor camp systems. While the camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners, large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troikas and other instruments of...

s. It is estimated that Lithuania lost 780,000 people during World War II.

The advent of perestroika
Perestroika
Perestroika was a political movement within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during 1980s, widely associated with the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev...

 and glasnost
Glasnost
Glasnost was the policy of maximal publicity, openness, and transparency in the activities of all government institutions in the Soviet Union, together with freedom of information, introduced by Mikhail Gorbachev in the second half of the 1980s...

 in the late 1980s allowed the establishment of Sąjūdis
Sajudis
Sąjūdis initially known as the Reform Movement of Lithuania, is the political organization which led the struggle for Lithuanian independence in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was established on June 3, 1988 and was led by Vytautas Landsbergis...

, an anti-communist independence movement. After a landslide victory in elections to the Supreme Soviet
Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian SSR
The Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian SSR was the supreme soviet of the Lithuanian SSR, one of the republics comprising the Soviet Union. The Supreme Soviet was established in August 1940 when the People's Seimas declared itself the provisional Supreme Soviet...

, members of Sąjūdis proclaimed Lithuania's independence
Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania
The Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania or Act of March 11 was an independence declaration by the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic adopted on March 11, 1990...

 on 11 March 1990, becoming the first Soviet republic to do so. The Soviet Union attempted to suppress the secession by imposing an economic blockade. Soviet troops attacked the Vilnius TV Tower
Vilnius TV Tower
The Vilnius TV Tower is a tower in the Karoliniškės microdistrict of Vilnius, Lithuania. It is the tallest structure in Lithuania, and is occupied by the SC Lithuanian Radio and Television Centre ....

 and killed 14 Lithuanian civilians on the night of 13 January 1991 (January Events
January Events
The January Events took place in Lithuania between January 11 and 13, 1991 in the aftermath of the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania. As a result of Soviet military actions, 14 civilians were killed and more than 1000 injured...

). On 31 July 1991 Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 paramilitaries
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 killed seven Lithuanian border guards on the Belarusian border in what became known as the Medininkai Massacre.

On 4 February 1991, Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

 became the first country to recognise Lithuanian independence. After the Soviet August Coup, independent Lithuania received wide official recognition and joined the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 on 17 September 1991. The last Soviet troops left Lithuania on 31 August 1993 – even earlier than they departed from East Germany. Lithuania, seeking closer ties with the West, applied for NATO membership in 1994. After a difficult transition from a planned economy
Planned economy
A planned economy is an economic system in which decisions regarding production and investment are embodied in a plan formulated by a central authority, usually by a government agency...

 to a free market
Free market
A free market is a competitive market where prices are determined by supply and demand. However, the term is also commonly used for markets in which economic intervention and regulation by the state is limited to tax collection, and enforcement of private ownership and contracts...

 one, Lithuania became a full member of NATO and the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 in the spring of 2004 and a member of the Schengen Agreement
Schengen Agreement
The Schengen Agreement is a treaty signed on 14 June 1985 near the town of Schengen in Luxembourg, between five of the ten member states of the European Economic Community. It was supplemented by the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement 5 years later...

 on 21 December 2007.

Geography


Lithuania is located in Northern Europe
Northern Europe
Northern Europe is the northern part or region of Europe. Northern Europe typically refers to the seven countries in the northern part of the European subcontinent which includes Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland and Sweden...

. It covers an area of 65,200 km2, which is comparable to the size of West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

 state. However it is slightly larger geographically. By total area, Lithuania is larger than the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

, Estonia
Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

, Slovokia, Macedonia
Macedonia
Macedonia may refer to:*Republic of Macedonia, a modern country in southeastern Europe*Macedonia , a region of Greece*Macedonia , a wider geographical and historical region covering both of the above, as well as parts of Bulgaria, Albania, and SerbiaHistorical entities*Macedonia , also known as...

, Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

, Slovenia
Slovenia
Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

, Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

  and Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

.

Lithuania is lying between latitudes 53°
53rd parallel north
The 53rd parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 53 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean....

 and 57° N
57th parallel north
The 57th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 57 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean....

, and mostly between longitudes 21°
21st meridian east
The meridian 21° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, Europe, Africa, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and 27° E
27th meridian east
The meridian 27° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Africa, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 (part of the Curonian Spit
Curonian Spit
The Curonian Spit is a 98 km long, thin, curved sand-dune spit that separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea coast. Its southern portion lies within Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia and its northern within southwestern Lithuania...

 lies west of 21°). It has around 99 kilometres (61.5 mi) of sandy coastline, of which only about 38 kilometres (24 mi) face the open Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 and which is the shortest among the Baltic Sea countries; the rest of the coast is sheltered by the Curonian sand peninsula
Curonian Spit
The Curonian Spit is a 98 km long, thin, curved sand-dune spit that separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea coast. Its southern portion lies within Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia and its northern within southwestern Lithuania...

. Lithuania's major warm-water port, Klaipėda
Klaipeda
Klaipėda is a city in Lithuania situated at the mouth of the Nemunas River where it flows into the Baltic Sea. It is the third largest city in Lithuania and the capital of Klaipėda County....

, lies at the narrow mouth of the Curonian Lagoon
Curonian Lagoon
The Curonian Lagoon is separated from the Baltic Sea by the Curonian Spit. Its surface area is . The Neman River supplies about 90% of its inflows; its watershed consists of about 100,450 square kilometers in Lithuania and the Kaliningrad Oblast.-Human history:In the 13th century, the area around...

 (Lithuanian: Kuršių marios), a shallow lagoon extending south to Kaliningrad
Kaliningrad
Kaliningrad is a seaport and the administrative center of Kaliningrad Oblast, the Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea...

. The main and largest river, the Nemunas River, and some of its tributaries carry international shipping.

Lithuania lies at the edge of North European Plain. Its landscape has been smoothed by glaciers of the last Ice Age. Lithuania's terrain is an alternation of moderate lowlands and highlands, with the maximum elevation being Aukštojas Hill
Aukštojas Hill
Aukštojas Hill is the highest point in all of Lithuania; it is located in the Medininkai Highlands, Migūnai forestry, approximately southeast of the capital city of Vilnius. Its elevation was measured in 2004 at 293.84 metres by specialists at the Institute of Geodesy at Vilnius Gediminas...

 at 294 metres (965 ft) in the eastern part of the country. The terrain features numerous lakes, Lake Vištytis for example, and wetlands; a mixed forest zone covers nearly 33% of the country. The climate
Climate
Climate encompasses the statistics of temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, rainfall, atmospheric particle count and other meteorological elemental measurements in a given region over long periods...

 ranges between maritime and continental, with wet, moderate winters and mildly hot summers.

After a re-estimation of the boundaries of the continent
Continent
A continent is one of several very large landmasses on Earth. They are generally identified by convention rather than any strict criteria, with seven regions commonly regarded as continents—they are : Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.Plate tectonics is...

 of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 in 1989, Jean-George Affholder, a scientist at the Institut Géographique National
Institut géographique national (France)
This article is about the French Institut Géographique National; for the similar Belgian institution also called Institut Géographique National see Nationaal Geografisch Instituut - Institut Géographique National...

 (French National Geographic Institute) determined that the Geographic Centre of Europe is located at 54°54′N 25°19′E. The method used for calculating this point was that of the centre of gravity of the geometrical figure
Geography of Europe
Europe is traditionally reckoned as one of seven continents. Physiographically, however, it is the northwestern peninsula of the larger landmass known as Eurasia : Asia occupies the eastern bulk of this continuous landmass and all share a common continental shelf...

 of Europe. This point is located in Lithuania, specifically 26 kilometres (16.2 mi) north of its capital city, Vilnius
Vilnius
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, and its largest city, with a population of 560,190 as of 2010. It is the seat of the Vilnius city municipality and of the Vilnius district municipality. It is also the capital of Vilnius County...

.

Climate



Lithuania's climate, which ranges between maritime and continental, is relatively mild. Average temperatures on the coast are −2.5 °C
Celsius
Celsius is a scale and unit of measurement for temperature. It is named after the Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius , who developed a similar temperature scale two years before his death...

 in January and 16 °C (61 °F) in July. In Vilnius the average temperatures are -6 °C in January and 16 °C (61 °F) in July. During the summer, 20 °C (68 °F) is common during the day while 14 °C (57 °F) is common at night; in the past, temperatures have reached as high as 30 °C (86 °F) or 35 °C (95 °F). Some winters can be very cold. -20 °C occurs almost every winter. Winter extremes are -34 °C in coastal areas and -43 °C in the east of Lithuania.
The average annual precipitation is 800 millimeters on the coast, 900 mm in the Samogitia highlands and 600 millimeters in the eastern part of the country. Snow occurs every year, it can snow from October to April. In some years sleet can fall in September or May. The growing season lasts 202 days in the western part of the country and 169 days in the eastern part. Severe storms are rare in the eastern part of Lithuania but common in the coastal areas.

The longest measured temperature records from the Baltic area cover about 250 years. The data show that there were warm periods during the latter half of the 18th century, and that the 19th century was a relatively cool period. An early 20th century warming culminated in the 1930s, followed by a smaller cooling that lasted until the 1960s. A warming trend has persisted since then.

Lithuania experienced a drought
Drought
A drought is an extended period of months or years when a region notes a deficiency in its water supply. Generally, this occurs when a region receives consistently below average precipitation. It can have a substantial impact on the ecosystem and agriculture of the affected region...

 in 2002, causing forest and peat
Peat
Peat is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation matter or histosol. Peat forms in wetland bogs, moors, muskegs, pocosins, mires, and peat swamp forests. Peat is harvested as an important source of fuel in certain parts of the world...

 bog fires. The country suffered along with the rest of Northwestern Europe during a heat wave in the summer of 2006.

Reported extreme temperatures in Lithuania by month are following:

Politics


Since Lithuania declared the restoration of its independence on 11 March 1990, it has maintained strong democratic traditions. In the first general elections after the independence on 25 October 1992, 56.75% of the total number of voters supported the new constitution
Constitution of Lithuania
The Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania defines the legal foundation for all laws passed in the Republic of Lithuania. It was approved in a referendum on October 25, 1992.-History:...

. There were intense debates concerning the constitution, especially the role of the president. A separate referendum was held on 23 May 1992 to gauge public opinion on the matter and 41% of all the eligible voters supported the restoration of the President of Lithuania. According to the explanation of Constitutional Court of Lithuania on January 10, 1998, Republic of Lithuania is a parliamentary Republic with some semi-presidential features inside of parliamentary republic type.

The Lithuanian head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 is the President, elected directly for a five-year term, serving a maximum of two consecutive terms. The post of president is largely ceremonial; main policy functions however include foreign affairs and national security policy. The president is also the military commander-in-chief
Commander-in-Chief
A commander-in-chief is the commander of a nation's military forces or significant element of those forces. In the latter case, the force element may be defined as those forces within a particular region or those forces which are associated by function. As a practical term it refers to the military...

. The President, with the approval of the parliamentary body, the Seimas
Seimas
The Seimas is the unicameral Lithuanian parliament. It has 141 members that are elected for a four-year term. About half of the members of this legislative body are elected in individual constituencies , and the other half are elected by nationwide vote according to proportional representation...

, also appoints the Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Lithuania
The Prime Minister of Lithuania is the head of the executive arm of Lithuania's government, and is chosen by the Lithuanian parliament, the Seimas. The modern office of Prime Minister was established in 1990, although the official title was "Chairperson of the Council of Ministers" until 25...

 and, on the latter's nomination, the rest of the cabinet, as well as a number of other top civil servants and the judges for all courts.

The current Lithuanian head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

, Dalia Grybauskaitė
Dalia Grybauskaitė
Dalia Grybauskaitė is the current President of Lithuania, inaugurated on 12 July 2009. She had previously been Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Finance Minister, and European Commissioner for Financial Programming and the Budget...

 was elected on
May 17, 2009 becoming the first female President in the country's history. This marked a dramatic shift in Eastern European politics after its European neighbour, Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

 elected their first female political leader late on in the previous decade.

The judges of the Constitutional Court (Konstitucinis Teismas), who serve nine-year terms, are appointed by the President (three judges), the Chairman of the Seimas (three judges) and the Chairman of the Supreme Court (three judges). The unicameral Lithuanian parliament, the Seimas
Seimas
The Seimas is the unicameral Lithuanian parliament. It has 141 members that are elected for a four-year term. About half of the members of this legislative body are elected in individual constituencies , and the other half are elected by nationwide vote according to proportional representation...

, has 141 members who are elected to four-year terms. 71 of the members of this legislative body are elected in single member constituencies, and the other 70 are elected in a nationwide vote by proportional representation
Proportional representation
Proportional representation is a concept in voting systems used to elect an assembly or council. PR means that the number of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received. For example, under a PR voting system if 30% of voters support a particular...

. A party must receive at least 5% of the national vote to be eligible for the 70 national seats in the Seimas.

Administrative divisions


The current administrative division was established in 1994 and modified in 2000 to meet the requirements of the European Union. Lithuania has a three-tier administrative division: the country is divided into 10 counties
Counties of Lithuania
The territory of Lithuania is divided into 10 counties , all named after their capitals. The counties are divided into 60 municipalities : 9 city municipalities, 43 district municipalities and 8 municipalities...

 (Lithuanian: singular – apskritis, plural – apskritys) that are further subdivided into 60 municipalities
Municipalities of Lithuania
Lithuania is a country, situated in Northern Europe. It is a member of the United Nations, European Union, Council of Europe and NATO. As of 2010, it had a population of approximately 3.3 million, and an area of . In the 14th century, Lithuania was one of the largest countries in Europe and...

 (Lithuanian: singular – savivaldybė, plural – savivaldybės) which consist of over 500 elderships (Lithuanian: singular – seniūnija, plural – seniūnijos).

The counties are ruled by county governors (Lithuanian: apskrities viršininkas) appointed by the central government. They ensure that the municipalities adhere to the laws of Lithuania and the constitution. County government oversees local governments and their implementation of the national laws, programs and policies. As the counties have limited functions, there are numerous proposals to reduce their number and organize the new counties around the ethnographic regions of Lithuania
Regions of Lithuania
Lithuania can be divided into historical and cultural regions . The exact borders are not fully clear, as the regions are not official political or administrative units. They are delimited by culture, such as country traditions, traditional lifestyle, songs, tales, etc. To some extent regions...

 or five major cities with population over 100,000.

Municipalities are the most important administrative unit. Some municipalities are historically called "district municipalities", and thus are often shortened to "district"; others are called "city municipalities", sometimes shortened to "city". Each municipality has its own elected government. In the past, the election of municipality councils occurred once every three years, but it now takes place every four years. The council elects the mayor and appoints elders
Elder (administrative title)
The term Elder is used in several different countries and organizations to indicate a position of authority...

 to govern the elderships. There is currently a proposal for direct election
Direct election
Direct election is a term describing a system of choosing political officeholders in which the voters directly cast ballots for the person, persons or political party that they desire to see elected. The method by which the winner or winners of a direct election are chosen depends upon the...

 of mayors and elders, however that would require an amendment to the constitution.

Elderships, numbering over 500, are the smallest units and do not play a role in national politics. They provide necessary public services close to their homes; for example, in rural areas the elderships register births and deaths. They are most active in the social sector: they identify needy individuals or families and distribute welfare or organise other forms of relief. While the elderships have a potential of becoming a source of local initiative to tackle rural problems, complaints are made that elderships have no real power and receive too little attention.

Foreign relations


Lithuania became a member of the United Nations on 18 September 1991, and is a signatory to a number of its organizations and other international agreements. It is also a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, NATO and its adjunct North Atlantic Coordinating Council, the Council of Europe
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation...

, and the European Union. Lithuania gained membership in the World Trade Organization
World Trade Organization
The World Trade Organization is an organization that intends to supervise and liberalize international trade. The organization officially commenced on January 1, 1995 under the Marrakech Agreement, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade , which commenced in 1948...

 on 31 May 2001. It also seeks membership in the OECD and other Western organizations.

Lithuania maintains foreign diplomatic missions in 94 countries on six continents and consular posts in two countries that are not represented by an embassy. Lithuania's liberal "zero-option" citizenship law has substantially erased tensions with its neighbors. Lithuania's suspension of two strongly ethnic Polish district councils on charges of blocking reform or disloyalty during the August 1991 coup had cooled relations with Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, but bilateral cooperation markedly increased with the holding of elections in those districts and the signing of a bilateral Friendship Treaty in 1994. Although a similar bilateral friendship agreement was signed with Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

 in 1995, Lithuania has joined the United States and other European nations in urging the Government of Belarus to adopt democratic and economic reforms.

Lithuania has established diplomatic relations with 149 countries.

Military



The Lithuanian Armed Forces consist of ~15,000 active personnel (~2,400 of them – civilian
Civilian
A civilian under international humanitarian law is a person who is not a member of his or her country's armed forces or other militia. Civilians are distinct from combatants. They are afforded a degree of legal protection from the effects of war and military occupation...

) and are supported by 100,000 reserve forces. Conscription
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 was ended in September 2008.

Lithuania's defence system is based on the concept of "total and unconditional defence" mandated by Lithuania's national Security Strategy. The goal of Lithuania's defence policy is to prepare their society for general defence and to integrate Lithuania into Western security and defence structures. The defence ministry is responsible for combat forces, search and rescue
Search and rescue
Search and rescue is the search for and provision of aid to people who are in distress or imminent danger.The general field of search and rescue includes many specialty sub-fields, mostly based upon terrain considerations...

, and intelligence operations.

The 5,400 border guards
State Border Guard Service (Lithuania)
The State Border Guard Service is the organisation charged with controlling and maintaining the Lithuanian Border. The State Border Guard Service falls under authority of the Ministry of the Interior, which supervises and controls the implementation of border guard policy.-1918-1940:Following the...

 fall under the Interior Ministry's supervision and are responsible for border protection, passport
Passport
A passport is a document, issued by a national government, which certifies, for the purpose of international travel, the identity and nationality of its holder. The elements of identity are name, date of birth, sex, and place of birth....

 and customs
Customs
Customs is an authority or agency in a country responsible for collecting and safeguarding customs duties and for controlling the flow of goods including animals, transports, personal effects and hazardous items in and out of a country...

 duties, and share responsibility with the navy
Lithuanian Naval Force
The Lithuanian Navy is the naval arm of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. Though formally established on 1 August 1935 its roots stretch back as far as naval engagements on the Baltic Sea in the Medieval period...

 for smuggling
Smuggling
Smuggling is the clandestine transportation of goods or persons, such as out of a building, into a prison, or across an international border, in violation of applicable laws or other regulations.There are various motivations to smuggle...

 / drug trafficking interdiction. A special security department handles VIP protection and communications security
Communications security
Communications security is the discipline of preventing unauthorized interceptors from accessing telecommunications in an intelligible form, while still delivering content to the intended recipients. In the United States Department of Defense culture, it is often referred to by the abbreviation...

.

Economy


  • In 2003, before joining the European Union, Lithuania had the highest economic growth rate amongst all candidate and member countries, reaching 8.8% in the third quarter.
  • In 2004 – 7.4%; 2005 – 7.8%; 2006 – 7.8%; 2007 – 8.9%, 2008 Q1 – 7.0% growth in GDP reflects the impressive economic development and as a result is often termed as a Baltic Tiger
    Baltic Tiger
    Baltic Tiger is a term used to refer to any of the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania during their periods of economic boom, which started after the year 2000 and continued until 2006–2007...

    .
  • As of September 2011, the unemployment rate is 10.3%. Less than 2% of the population live beneath the poverty line.
  • Lithuania has a flat tax
    Flat tax
    A flat tax is a tax system with a constant marginal tax rate. Typically the term flat tax is applied in the context of an individual or corporate income that will be taxed at one marginal rate...

     rate rather than a progressive scheme. In 2007, personal income tax was reduced to 24% and a reduction to 21% was made in January 2009. Lithuanian income levels are lower than in the older EU Member States. According to Eurostat
    Eurostat
    Eurostat is a Directorate-General of the European Commission located in Luxembourg. Its main responsibilities are to provide the European Union with statistical information at European level and to promote the integration of statistical methods across the Member States of the European Union,...

     data, Lithuanian PPS GDP per capita stood at 61 per cent of the EU average in 2008.
  • The country boasts a well-developed modern infrastructure of railways, airports and four-lane highways.
  • Structurally, there is a gradual but consistent shift towards a knowledge-based economy with special emphasis on biotechnology
    Biotechnology
    Biotechnology is a field of applied biology that involves the use of living organisms and bioprocesses in engineering, technology, medicine and other fields requiring bioproducts. Biotechnology also utilizes these products for manufacturing purpose...

     (industrial and diagnostic). The major biotechnology companies and laser manufacturers (Ekspla
    Ekspla
    EKSPLA is a laser manufacturing company based in Lithuania. EKSPLA is known for their lasers and laser systems as well as other photonics components. The company is supplying their products and solutions for scientific & industrial applications.-History:...

    , Altechna, Šviesos Konversija) of the Baltics are concentrated in Lithuania. Also mechatronics
    Mechatronics
    Mechatronics is the combination of mechanical engineering, electronic engineering, computer engineering, software engineering, control engineering, and systems design engineering in order to design, and manufacture useful products. Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary field of engineering, that is...

     and information technology
    Information technology
    Information technology is the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual and numerical information by a microelectronics-based combination of computing and telecommunications...

     (IT) are seen as prospective knowledge-based economy directions.
  • In 2009, Barclays established Technology Centre Lithuania – one of four strategic engineering centres supporting the Barclays Retail Banking
    Retail banking
    Retail banking is banking in which banking institutions execute transactions directly with consumers, rather than corporations or other banks. Services offered include: savings and transactional accounts, mortgages, personal loans, debit cards, credit cards, and so forth.-Types of...

     businesses across the globe. In 2010, IBM
    IBM
    International Business Machines Corporation or IBM is an American multinational technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, United States. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware and software, and it offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services in areas...

     set up a research center in Lithuania. In 2011, Western Union
    Western Union
    The Western Union Company is a financial services and communications company based in the United States. Its North American headquarters is in Englewood, Colorado. Up until 2006, Western Union was the best-known U.S...

     officially opened their new European Regional Operating Centre in Vilnius. The stated position of the Lithuanian government is that the focus of Lithuanian economy is high added-value products and services.
  • Among other international companies operating in Lithuania are: PricewaterhouseCoopers
    PricewaterhouseCoopers
    PricewaterhouseCoopers is a global professional services firm headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the world's largest professional services firm measured by revenues and one of the "Big Four" accountancy firms....

    , Ernst & Young
    Ernst & Young
    Ernst & Young is one of the largest professional services networks in the world and one of the "Big Four" accountancy firms, along with Deloitte, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers ....

    , Societe Generale
    Société Générale
    Société Générale S.A. is a large European Bank and a major Financial Services company that has a substantial global presence. Its registered office is on Boulevard Haussmann in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, while its head office is in the Tours Société Générale in the business district of La...

    , UniCredit
    UniCredit
    UniCredit SpA is an Italy-based, pan-European banking organization, with aprox 40 million customers and operations in 22 countries.- Geography :...

    , Thermo Fisher Scientific
    Thermo Fisher Scientific
    Thermo Fisher Scientific is a large life sciences supply company that was created in 2006 by the merger of Thermo Electron and Fisher Scientific.-Predecessors and merger:...

    , Phillip Morris
    Philip Morris International
    Philip Morris International is an international tobacco company, with products sold in over 160 countries. In 2007, it held a 15.6% share of the international cigarette market outside of the USA and reported revenues net of excise taxes of $22.8 billion and operating income of $8.9 billion.Until...

    , Kraft Foods
    Kraft Foods
    Kraft Foods Inc. is an American confectionery, food and beverage conglomerate. It markets many brands in more than 170 countries. 12 of its brands annually earn more than $1 billion worldwide: Cadbury, Jacobs, Kraft, LU, Maxwell House, Milka, Nabisco, Oscar Mayer, Philadelphia, Trident, Tang...

    , Mars
    Mars, Incorporated
    Mars, Incorporated is a worldwide manufacturer of confectionery, pet food, and other food products with US$30 billion in annual sales in 2010, and is ranked as the 5th largest privately held company in the United States by Forbes. Headquartered in McLean, unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia,...

    , Marks & Spencer
    Marks & Spencer
    Marks and Spencer plc is a British retailer headquartered in the City of Westminster, London, with over 700 stores in the United Kingdom and over 300 stores spread across more than 40 countries. It specialises in the selling of clothing and luxury food products...

    , United Colors of Benetton, Deichmann
    Heinrich Deichmann-Schuhe GmbH
    -About The Company:Deichmann Shoes is a shoe store which is the largest monger of shoes and sportswear in Europe. Established in 1913 by Heinrich Deichmann. The company is headquartered in Essen, Germany...

    , Statoil
    Statoil
    Statoil ASA is a Norwegian petroleum company established in 1972. It merged with Norsk Hydro in 2007 and was known as StatoilHydro until 2009, when the name was changed back to Statoil ASA. The brand Statoil was retained as a chain of fuel stations owned by StatoilHydro...

    , Neste Oil
    Neste Oil
    Neste Oil is a Finnish oil refining and marketing company producing mainly transportation fuels and other refined petroleum products. Neste Oil shares are quoted on the Helsinki Stock Exchange.- History :...

    , Lukoil
    LUKoil
    Lukoil/LUKoil ; ) is Russia's second largest oil company and its second largest producer of oil. In 2009, the company produced 97.615 million tons of oil; ....

    , Tele2
    Tele2
    Tele2 AB is a major European telecommunications operator, with about 34 million customers in 11 countries. It serves as a fixed-line telephone operator, cable television provider, mobile phone operator and Internet service provider.- Overview :...

    , Hesburger
    Hesburger
    Hesburger is a fast-food chain based in Turku, Finland. Today, it is the largest Finnish hamburger restaurant chain, with a larger presence in the Finnish market than U.S.-based McDonald's...

     and Modern Times Group
    Modern Times Group
    Modern Times Group is a Swedish media company. MTG was formed out of the media holdings of investment company Kinnevik, which in 1997 was distributed to the company stockholders. Among the assets were Viasat and Metro International...

    . TeliaSonera
    TeliaSonera
    TeliaSonera AB is the dominant telephone company and mobile network operator in Sweden and Finland. The company has operations in other countries in Northern, Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Spain, with a total of 150 million mobile customers...

    , ICA
    ICA
    - Business :* Empresas ICA , large construction company in Mexico* ICA AB, a Swedish corporate group in the food retail business, formerly named ICA Ahold AB....

     and Carslberg respectively own local telecommunications company Omnitel
    Omnitel
    Omnitel is one of the largest telecommunication companies in the Baltics, member of TeliaSonera group. It provides services of carrying and packaging of voice, images, data, information, transactions and entertainment....

    , retailer Rimi
    Rimi Baltic
    Rimi Baltic is a major retail operator in the Baltic states based in Riga, Latvia. It is a subsidiary of Swedish group ICA. Rimi Baltic operates 246 retail stores in Estonia , Latvia and Lithuania and has distribution centres in each country...

     and beer breweries (Švyturys, Kalnapilis
    Kalnapilis
    Kalnapilis is a Lithuanian brewery, established by Albert Foight in Panevėžys in 1902. A landowner of German origin, Foight named the brewery "Bergschlösschen", meaning a small castle on the hill...

     and Utenos Alus).
  • Lithuanian banking sector is dominated by the Scandinavian banks: Swedbank
    Swedbank
    Swedbank AB is a leading Nordic-Baltic banking group with 9.5 million retail customers and 534,000 corporate customers in Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. In Sweden, the group has 377 branches. In the Baltic countries, it has another 224 branches...

    , SEB
    Seb
    Seb is a diminutive of the given name Sebastian. "Seb" may also refer to:*A god in Egyptian mythology also known as Geb*Sebastian 'Seb' Coe , British athlete and politician*Seb Fontaine, DJ with English dance/electronica outfit Reflekt...

    , Nordea
    Nordea
    Nordea Bank AB is a Stockholm-based financial services group operating in Northern Europe. The bank is the result of the successive mergers and acquisitions of the Swedish, Finnish, Danish and Norwegian banks of Nordbanken, Merita Bank, Unibank and Kreditkassen that took place between 1997 and 2000...

    , Danske Bank
    Danske Bank
    Danske Bank is a Danish bank. The name literally means "Danish Bank" It was founded 5 October 1871 as Den Danske Landmandsbank, Hypothek- og Vexelbank i Kjøbenhavn ....

    , DnB NORD
    DnB NORD
    DnB NORD is a European bank group in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. The bank is own by the Norwegian bank DnB NOR. DnB NORD has more than 3,000 employees, 160 branches, 675,000+ customers and assets totalling €5.1 billion...

    . They face a competition from several local banks: Snoras
    Snoras
    Bankas Snoras AB or simply SNORAS was a commercial bank, founded in Lithuania operating in all three Baltic states. It is a member of the financial group Konversbank and is listed on the NASDAQ OMX Vilnius stock exchange. On November 16, 2011, 100% of the bank shares were nationalized by the...

     and Ūkio Bankas
    Ukio Bankas
    Ūkio Bankas is a Lithuanian commercial bank based in Kaunas. More than 50% of shares are owned by Lithuanian businessman Vladimir Romanov who therefore is in the control of the bank. It is the fifth largest and oldest private bank in Lithuania...

    .
  • Among the biggest Lithuanian companies are: VP Group, ORLEN Lietuva, Achema
    Achema
    Achema is the largest fertilizer producer in the Baltic states. It is located in the city of Jonava in central Lithuania. Achema employs about 1700 workers...

    , Lifosa
    Lifosa
    Lifosa is a phosphate industry company based in Kedainiai, Lithuania. Starting business in 1952 as a state-owned enterprise of the Lithuanian SSR, it was privatized in 1996 and is now listed on the NASDAQ OMX Vilnius exchange. From 2002, the controlling interest in Lifosa is owned by Russian...

    , Apranga
    Apranga
    Apranga is a clothing retail chain in Lithuania and the Baltic states.It runs stores under various brands, often under franchise agreements, including:*Zara, Pull and Bear, Inditex, and Bershka*Mango, Stradivarius....

    .
  • Corporate tax rate in Lithuania is 15% and 5% for small businesses. The government offers special incentives for investments into the high-technology sectors and high value-added products.
  • Most of the trade Lithuania conducts is within the European Union.
  • The litas
    Lithuanian litas
    The Lithuanian litas is the currency of Lithuania. It is divided into 100 centų...

    , the national currency, has been pegged to the euro since 2 February 2002 at the rate of EUR 1.00 = LTL 3.4528, and Lithuania is expecting to switch to the euro on 1 January 2014.

Infrastructure




  • According to the Speedtest.net
    Speedtest.net
    Speedtest.net is a free broadband connection analysis website founded by Ookla Net Metrics in 2006. The company is based in Kalispell, Montana. Users can test their internet speed against hundreds of geographically dispersed servers around the world...

     website, as of 30 October 2011 Lithuania ranks first in the world by the internet upload speed and download speed, schools and corporations ignored.
  • The Port of Klaipėda
    Port of Klaipeda
    The Port of Klaipėda is a seaport located in Klaipėda, Lithuania. It is one of the few ice-free ports in northernmost Europe, and the largest in Lithuania...

     is the only port
    Port
    A port is a location on a coast or shore containing one or more harbors where ships can dock and transfer people or cargo to or from land....

     in Lithuania.
  • Vilnius International Airport
    Vilnius International Airport
    Vilnius International Airport is the largest civil airport in Lithuania. It is located south of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. It began operations in 1944. The old terminal was built in 1954.- History:...

     is the largest airport. It served 2 million passengers in 2008. Other airports include: Kaunas International Airport
    Kaunas Airport
    Kaunas International Airport , which serves Kaunas, Lithuania is the second busiest civil airport in Lithuania after Vilnius airport and the fourth busiest in the Baltic states. Kaunas Airport is the fastest growing airport in the Baltic states in 2009 and 2010...

     and Palanga International Airport
    Palanga International Airport
    Palanga International Airport is an international airport located in the western part of Lithuania near the Baltic Sea. The airport focuses on servicing short and mid-range routes. The facility expansion completed in 2007 has made long-range route servicing a possibility. Since 1993, the number of...

    .
  • Lithuania has an extensive network of motorways. The best known motorways are A1
    A1 highway (Lithuania)
    The A1 Highway is a highway in Lithuania . It connects the capital city of Vilnius with the port city of Klaipėda, via the second largest city, Kaunas. Its length is over , making it the longest highway in Lithuania....

    , connecting Vilnius with Klaipėda via Kaunas, as well as A2
    A2 highway (Lithuania)
    The A2 motorway is a highway in Lithuania . It connects the capital city of Vilnius with the Panevėžys, via Ukmergė.Its length is over , making it the third longest highway in Lithuania . The Vilnius - Ukmergė highway was the first section opened...

    , connecting Vilnius and Panevėžys
    Panevežys
    Panevėžys see also other names, is the fifth largest city in Lithuania. As of 2008, it occupied 50 square kilometers with 113,653 inhabitants. The largest multifunctional arena in Panevėžys is the Cido Arena...

    . One of the most used is the European route E67
    European route E67
    European route E 67 is a E-road running from Prague in the Czech Republic to Helsinki in Finland by way of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia....

     highway running from Warsaw
    Warsaw
    Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

     to Tallinn
    Tallinn
    Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia. It occupies an area of with a population of 414,940. It is situated on the northern coast of the country, on the banks of the Gulf of Finland, south of Helsinki, east of Stockholm and west of Saint Petersburg. Tallinn's Old Town is in the list...

    , via Kaunas
    Kaunas
    Kaunas is the second-largest city in Lithuania and has historically been a leading centre of Lithuanian economic, academic, and cultural life. Kaunas was the biggest city and the center of a powiat in Trakai Voivodeship of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania since 1413. During Russian Empire occupation...

     and Riga
    Riga
    Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 702,891 inhabitants Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states, one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and home to more than one third of Latvia's population. The city is an important seaport and a major industrial, commercial,...

    .
  • Lithuania received its first railway connection in the middle of the nineteenth century, when the Warsaw – Saint Petersburg Railway
    Warsaw – Saint Petersburg Railway
    The Saint Petersburg – Warsaw Railway, Russian "Санкт-Петербурго-Варшавская железная дорога" is a long railway, built in the 19th century by the Russian Empire to connect Russia with Central Europe. At the time the entire railway was within Russia, as Warsaw was under a Russian partition of Poland...

     was constructed. It included a stretch from Daugavpils
    Daugavpils
    Daugavpils is a city in southeastern Latvia, located on the banks of the Daugava River, from which the city gets its name. Daugavpils literally means "Daugava Castle". With a population of over 100,000, it is the second largest city in the country after the capital Riga, which is located some...

     via Vilnius and Kaunas to Virbalis. The first and only still operating in the Baltic states
    Baltic states
    The term Baltic states refers to the Baltic territories which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I: primarily the contiguous trio of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ; Finland also fell within the scope of the term after initially gaining independence in the 1920s.The...

     Kaunas Railway Tunnel
    Kaunas Railway Tunnel
    Kaunas railway tunnel is one of the two tunnels existing in Lithuania and the only railway tunnel operating in the Baltic states. It connects Vilnius and Kaunas. The length of the tunnel is 1,285 metres , height – 6,6 metres, width – 8,8 metres...

     was completed in 1860. Lithuanian Railways
    Lithuanian Railways
    Lithuanian Railways is the national, state-owned railway company of Lithuania. It operates all the railway lines in the country.Lithuanian Railways' main network consists of 1749 km of broad gauge railway of which 122 km are electrified. They also operate 22 km of standard gauge...

    ' main network consists of 1749 km of 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 5⁄6 in) broad gauge
    Broad gauge
    Broad-gauge railways use a track gauge greater than the standard gauge of .- List :For list see: List of broad gauges, by gauge and country- History :...

     railway of which 122 km are electrified. They also operate 22 km of standard gauge
    Standard gauge
    The standard gauge is a widely-used track gauge . Approximately 60% of the world's existing railway lines are built to this gauge...

     lines. The Trans-European standard gauge
    Standard gauge
    The standard gauge is a widely-used track gauge . Approximately 60% of the world's existing railway lines are built to this gauge...

     Rail Baltica
    Rail Baltica
    thumb|300px|Map of Rail Baltica...

     railway, linking Helsinki
    Helsinki
    Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland. It is in the region of Uusimaa, located in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. The population of the city of Helsinki is , making it by far the most populous municipality in Finland. Helsinki is...

     – Tallinn
    Tallinn
    Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia. It occupies an area of with a population of 414,940. It is situated on the northern coast of the country, on the banks of the Gulf of Finland, south of Helsinki, east of Stockholm and west of Saint Petersburg. Tallinn's Old Town is in the list...

     – Riga
    Riga
    Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 702,891 inhabitants Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states, one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and home to more than one third of Latvia's population. The city is an important seaport and a major industrial, commercial,...

     – Kaunas
    Kaunas
    Kaunas is the second-largest city in Lithuania and has historically been a leading centre of Lithuanian economic, academic, and cultural life. Kaunas was the biggest city and the center of a powiat in Trakai Voivodeship of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania since 1413. During Russian Empire occupation...

     – Warsaw
    Warsaw
    Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

     and continuing on to Berlin is under construction now and by the end of 2013 will reach Kaunas.
  • Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant
    Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant
    The Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant is a closed two-unit RBMK-1500 nuclear power station in Visaginas, Lithuania. It was named after the nearby city of Ignalina...

     was a Soviet-era nuclear station.
    • Unit #1 was closed in December 2004, as a condition of Lithuania's entry into the European Union; the plant is similar to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant
      Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant
      The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant or Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant is a decommissioned nuclear power station near the city of Pripyat, Ukraine, northwest of the city of Chernobyl, from the Ukraine–Belarus border, and about north of Kiev. Reactor 4 was the site of the Chernobyl disaster in...

       in its lack of a robust containment structure. The remaining unit, as of 2006, supplied about 70% of Lithuania's electrical demand.
    • Unit #2 was closed down on 31 December 2009. Proposals have been made to construct another nuclear power plant in Lithuania.
  • Kruonis Pumped Storage Plant
    Kruonis Pumped Storage Plant
    Kruonis Pumped Storage Plant is located near Kruonis, Lithuania, east of Kaunas. Its main purpose is to provide a spinning reserve of the power system, to regulate the load curve of the power system 24 hours a day. It operates in conjunction with the Kaunas Hydroelectric Power Plant...

     is the only in the Baltic states
    Baltic states
    The term Baltic states refers to the Baltic territories which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I: primarily the contiguous trio of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ; Finland also fell within the scope of the term after initially gaining independence in the 1920s.The...

     power plant to be used for regulation of the power system’s operation with generating capacity of 900 MW. Other primary sources of Lithuania's electrical power are Elektrėnai Power Plant
    Elektrenai Power Plant
    The Elektrėnai Power Plant or Lithuania Power Plant is an 1,800-MW electrical generating station near Elektrėnai, Lithuania, about west of Lithuania's capital, Vilnius. It is operated by Lietuvos Elektrinė, a subsidiary of Lietuvos Energija....

     and Kaunas Hydroelectric Power Plant
    Kaunas Hydroelectric Power Plant
    The Kaunas Hydroelectric Power Plant, located on the Nemunas River about southeast of downtown Kaunas, Lithuania, was completed in 1960. Its dam created the Kaunas Reservoir. Owned by Lietuvos Energija, it operates in conjunction with the Kruonis Pumped Storage Plant.The plant, which has a...

    .

Demographics


Since the Neolithic period the native inhabitants of the Lithuanian territory have not been replaced by any other ethnic group, so there is a high probability that the inhabitants of present day Lithuania have preserved the genetic composition of their forebears relatively undisturbed by the major demographic movements, although without being actually isolated from them. The Lithuanian population appears to be relatively homogeneous, without apparent genetic differences among ethnic subgroups.

A 2004 analysis of MtDNA in the Lithuanian population revealed that Lithuanians are close to the Indo-European
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

 and Uralic
Uralic languages
The Uralic languages constitute a language family of some three dozen languages spoken by approximately 25 million people. The healthiest Uralic languages in terms of the number of native speakers are Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian, Mari and Udmurt...

-speaking populations of Northern Europe. Y-chromosome
Y chromosome
The Y chromosome is one of the two sex-determining chromosomes in most mammals, including humans. In mammals, it contains the gene SRY, which triggers testis development if present. The human Y chromosome is composed of about 60 million base pairs...

 SNP haplogroup
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 analysis showed Lithuanians to be closest to Latvians
Latvians
Latvians or Letts are the indigenous Baltic people of Latvia.-History:Latvians occasionally refer to themselves by the ancient name of Latvji, which may have originated from the word Latve which is a name of the river that presumably flowed through what is now eastern Latvia...

, Estonians
Estonians
Estonians are a Finnic people closely related to the Finns and inhabiting, primarily, the country of Estonia. They speak a Finnic language known as Estonian...

, and Finns.

According to 2009 estimates, the age structure of the population was as follows: 0–14 years, 14.2% (male 258,423/female 245,115); 15–64 years: 69.6% (male 1,214,743/female 1,261,413); 65 years and over: 16.2% (male 198,714/female 376,771). The median age was 39.3 years (male: 36.8, female: 41.9).

Ethnic groups


Lithuania has the most homogenous population in the Baltic States
Baltic states
The term Baltic states refers to the Baltic territories which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I: primarily the contiguous trio of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ; Finland also fell within the scope of the term after initially gaining independence in the 1920s.The...

. The population of Lithuania stands at 3,244,600, 83.9% of whom are ethnic Lithuanians
Lithuanians
Lithuanians are the Baltic ethnic group native to Lithuania, where they number around 2,765,600 people. Another million or more make up the Lithuanian diaspora, largely found in countries such as the United States, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Russia, United Kingdom and Ireland. Their native language...

 who speak Lithuanian
Lithuanian language
Lithuanian is the official state language of Lithuania and is recognized as one of the official languages of the European Union. There are about 2.96 million native Lithuanian speakers in Lithuania and about 170,000 abroad. Lithuanian is a Baltic language, closely related to Latvian, although they...

, which is the official language of the country. Several sizable minorities exist, such as Poles
Poles
thumb|right|180px|The state flag of [[Poland]] as used by Polish government and diplomatic authoritiesThe Polish people, or Poles , are a nation indigenous to Poland. They are united by the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe...

 (6.6%), Russians
Russians
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

 (5.4%), and Belarusians
Belarusians
Belarusians ; are an East Slavic ethnic group who populate the majority of the Republic of Belarus. Introduced to the world as a new state in the early 1990s, the Republic of Belarus brought with it the notion of a re-emerging Belarusian ethnicity, drawn upon the lines of the Old Belarusian...

 (1.3%).

Poles are the largest minority, concentrated in southeast Lithuania (the Vilnius region
Vilnius region
Vilnius Region , refers to the territory in the present day Lithuania, that was originally inhabited by ethnic Baltic tribes and was a part of Lithuania proper, but came under East Slavic and Polish cultural influences over time,...

). Russians are the second largest minority, concentrated mostly in two cities. They constitute sizeable minorities in Vilnius
Vilnius
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, and its largest city, with a population of 560,190 as of 2010. It is the seat of the Vilnius city municipality and of the Vilnius district municipality. It is also the capital of Vilnius County...

 (14%) and Klaipėda
Klaipeda
Klaipėda is a city in Lithuania situated at the mouth of the Nemunas River where it flows into the Baltic Sea. It is the third largest city in Lithuania and the capital of Klaipėda County....

 (28%), and a majority in the town of Visaginas
Visaginas
Visaginas is a city with municipal rights in eastern Lithuania, situated near the country's biggest lake, Drūkšiai. Its administrative boundaries are in the process of being defined. The Vilnius–Daugavpils railway runs alongside the town, providing convenient communication with Vilnius and...

 (52%). About 3,000 Roma live in Lithuania, mostly in Vilnius, Kaunas
Kaunas
Kaunas is the second-largest city in Lithuania and has historically been a leading centre of Lithuanian economic, academic, and cultural life. Kaunas was the biggest city and the center of a powiat in Trakai Voivodeship of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania since 1413. During Russian Empire occupation...

, and Panevėžys; their organizations are supported by the National Minority and Emigration Department.

According to the Lithuanian population census of 2001, about 84% of the country's population speak Lithuanian as their native language, 8.2% are native speakers of Russian, 5.8% – of Polish. More than 60% are fluent in Russian, while only about 16% say they can speak English. According to the Eurobarometer
Eurobarometer
Eurobarometer is a series of surveys regularly performed on behalf of the European Commission since 1973. It produces reports of public opinion of certain issues relating to the European Union across the member states...

 survey conducted in 2005, 80% of Lithuanians can speak Russian and 32% can speak English. Most Lithuanian schools teach English as the first foreign language, but students may also study German, or, in some schools, French or Russian. Schools where Russian or Polish are the primary languages of education exist in the areas populated by these minorities.

Health


As of 2010 Lithuanian life expectancy
Life expectancy
Life expectancy is the expected number of years of life remaining at a given age. It is denoted by ex, which means the average number of subsequent years of life for someone now aged x, according to a particular mortality experience...

 at birth was 68 years for males and 78.8 for females, the infant mortality rate was 4.3 per 1,000 births. The annual population growth rate increased by 0.3% in 2007. At 30.4 people per 100,000, Lithuania has seen a dramatic rise in suicide
Suicide
Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair or attributed to some underlying mental disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse...

s in the post-Soviet years, and now records the highest suicide rate in the world. In 1995, it had the highest suicide rate of 45.6 per 100,000 of population in recorded world history. Lithuania also has the highest homicide
Homicide
Homicide refers to the act of a human killing another human. Murder, for example, is a type of homicide. It can also describe a person who has committed such an act, though this use is rare in modern English...

 rate in the EU.

Religion


In 2005, 79% of Lithuanians belonged to the Roman Catholic Church. The Church has been the majority denomination since the Christianisation of Lithuania at the end of the 14th century. Some priests actively led the resistance against the Communist regime (symbolised by the Hill of Crosses
Hill of Crosses
The Hill of Crosses is a site of pilgrimage about 12 km north of the city of Šiauliai, in northern Lithuania. The precise origin of the practice of leaving crosses on the hill is uncertain, but it is believed that the first crosses were placed on the former Jurgaičiai or Domantai hill fort after...

).




In the first half of the 20th century, the Lutheran
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

 Protestant church had around 200,000 members, 9% of the total population, but it has declined since 1945. Small Protestant communities are dispersed throughout the northern and western parts of the country. Believers and clergy suffered greatly during the Soviet occupation, with many killed, tortured or deported to Siberia. Various Protestant churches have established missions in Lithuania since 1990. 4.9% are Orthodox
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 (mainly among the Russian minority), 1.9% are Protestant and 9.5% have no religion
Irreligion
Irreligion is defined as an absence of religion or an indifference towards religion. Sometimes it may also be defined more narrowly as hostility towards religion. When characterized as hostility to religion, it includes antitheism, anticlericalism and antireligion. When characterized as...

.
  • Roman Catholic – 79.0% (2.752 million)
  • Orthodox
    Eastern Orthodox Church
    The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

     – 4.1% (142,000)
  • Orthodox
    Eastern Orthodox Church
    The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

     (Old Believers
    Old Believers
    In the context of Russian Orthodox church history, the Old Believers separated after 1666 from the official Russian Orthodox Church as a protest against church reforms introduced by Patriarch Nikon between 1652–66...

    ) – 0.8% (27,100)
  • Evangelical Lutherans – 0.6% (19,600)
  • Reformed Church – 0.2% (7,100)
  • Jehovah's Witnesses
    Jehovah's Witnesses
    Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

     – 0.1% (3,500)
  • Sunni Muslim
    Sunni Islam
    Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

      – 0.1% (2,900)
  • Charismatics – 0.06% (2,200)
  • Pentecostalism
    Pentecostalism
    Pentecostalism is a diverse and complex movement within Christianity that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through the baptism in the Holy Spirit, has an eschatological focus, and is an experiential religion. The term Pentecostal is derived from Pentecost, the Greek...

     – 0.04% (1,300)
  • Judaism
    Judaism
    Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

     – 0.04% (1,300)
  • Old Baltic religion
    Baltic neopaganism
    The Baltic countries were the last part of Europe to be Christianized, and vestiges of paganism blend into a Neopaganism movement that is largely independent of Western Asatru.*Romuva in Lithuania*Dievturība in Latvia...

     – 0.04% (1,300)
  • Other religions – 0.3% (11 thousand.)


According to the most recent Eurobarometer Poll
Eurobarometer
Eurobarometer is a series of surveys regularly performed on behalf of the European Commission since 1973. It produces reports of public opinion of certain issues relating to the European Union across the member states...

 2005, 49% of Lithuanian citizens responded that "they believe there is a God", 36% answered that "they believe there is some sort of spirit
Spirit
The English word spirit has many differing meanings and connotations, most of them relating to a non-corporeal substance contrasted with the material body.The spirit of a living thing usually refers to or explains its consciousness.The notions of a person's "spirit" and "soul" often also overlap,...

 or life force", and 12% said that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit
Spirit
The English word spirit has many differing meanings and connotations, most of them relating to a non-corporeal substance contrasted with the material body.The spirit of a living thing usually refers to or explains its consciousness.The notions of a person's "spirit" and "soul" often also overlap,...

, god, or life force".

Education


The first documented school in Lithuania was established in 1387 at Vilnius Cathedral
Vilnius Cathedral
The Cathedral of Vilnius is the main Roman Catholic Cathedral of Lithuania.It is situated in Vilnius Old Town, just off of Cathedral Square. It is the heart of Lithuania's Catholic spiritual life....

. The school network was influenced by the Christianization of Lithuania
Christianization of Lithuania
The Christianization of Lithuania – Christianization of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania that took place in 1387, initiated by the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania Jogaila and his cousin Vytautas, that signified the official adoption of Christianity by Lithuanians, one of the last pagan...

. Several types of schools were present in medieval Lithuania – cathedral schools, where pupils were prepared for priesthood; parish schools, offering elementary education; and home schools dedicated to educating the children of the Lithuanian nobility. Before Vilnius University
Vilnius University
Vilnius University is the oldest university in the Baltic states and one of the oldest in Eastern Europe. It is also the largest university in Lithuania....

 was established in 1579, Lithuanians seeking higher education attended universities in foreign cities, including Kraków
Kraków
Kraków also Krakow, or Cracow , is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates back to the 7th century. Kraków has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish academic, cultural, and artistic life...

, Prague
Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

, and Leipzig
Leipzig
Leipzig Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important trade routes. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing...

, among others. During the Interbellum
Interwar period
Interwar period can refer to any period between two wars. The Interbellum is understood to be the period between the end of the Great War or First World War and the beginning of the Second World War in Europe....

 a national university
National university
A national university is generally a university created or run by a government, but which at the same time operates autonomously without direct oversight or control by the state. Some national universities are closely associated with national cultural or political aspirations...

 – Vytautas Magnus University
Vytautas Magnus University
Vytautas Magnus University ) is a public university in Kaunas, Lithuania. The university was founded in 1922 during the interwar period as an alternate national university...

 was founded in Kaunas.

The Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Lithuania proposes national educational policies and goals. These are sent to the Seimas for ratification. Laws govern long-term educational strategy along with general laws on standards for higher education, vocational training, law and science, adult education, and special education. County administrators, municipal administrators, and school founders (including non-governmental organizations, religious organizations, and individuals) are responsible for implementing these policies. By constitutional mandate, ten years of formal enrollment in an educational institution is mandatory, ending at age 16.

26 percent of the 1999 state budget was allocated to education expenses. Primary and secondary schools receive funding from the state via their municipal or county administrations. The Constitution of Lithuania
Constitution of Lithuania
The Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania defines the legal foundation for all laws passed in the Republic of Lithuania. It was approved in a referendum on October 25, 1992.-History:...

 guarantees tuition-free attendance at public institutions of higher education for students deemed 'good'; the number of such students has varied over the past decade, with 68 percent exempted from tuition fees in 2002.
The World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

 designates the literacy rate of Lithuanian persons aged 15 years and older as 100%. As of 2008, 30.4% of the population aged 25 to 64 had completed tertiary education; 60.1% had completed upper secondary and post-secondary (non-tertiary) education. According to Invest in Lithuania, Lithuania has twice as many people with higher education than the EU-15 average and the proportion is the highest in the Baltic. Also, 90% of Lithuanians speak at least one foreign language and half of the population speaks two foreign languages, mostly Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 and English.

As with other Baltic
Baltic
-Northern Europe:* The Baltic Sea* Baltic states : Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia* The Baltic region, an ambiguous term referring to the general area surrounding the Baltic Sea...

 nations, in particular Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

, the large volume of higher education
Higher education
Higher, post-secondary, tertiary, or third level education refers to the stage of learning that occurs at universities, academies, colleges, seminaries, and institutes of technology...

 graduates within the country, coupled with the high rate of spoken second languages is contributing to an education brain drain
Brain drain
Human capital flight, more commonly referred to as "brain drain", is the large-scale emigration of a large group of individuals with technical skills or knowledge. The reasons usually include two aspects which respectively come from countries and individuals...

. Many Lithuanians are choosing to emigrate seeking higher earning employment and studies throughout Europe. Since their inclusion into the European Union in 2004, Lithuania's population has fallen by approximately 180,000 people.
As of 2008, there were 15 public universities in Lithuania, 6 private institutions, 16 public colleges, and 11 private colleges. Vilnius University is one of the oldest universities in Northern Europe and the largest university in Lithuania. Kaunas University of Technology
Kaunas University of Technology
- KTU :Kaunas University of Technology is one of the largest technical universities in the Baltic States.In Webometrics Ranking of World Universities 2010 KTU took the highest ratings among Lithuanian higher education institutions as having the web of best presence, visibility and accessibility...

 is the largest technical university in the Baltic States
Baltic states
The term Baltic states refers to the Baltic territories which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I: primarily the contiguous trio of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ; Finland also fell within the scope of the term after initially gaining independence in the 1920s.The...

 and the second largest university in Lithuania. Other universities include Kaunas University of Medicine
Kaunas University of Medicine
Lithuanian University of Health Sciences ) is a medical school in Kaunas, Lithuania. It was founded in 1919 and from 1922 it was a Faculty of Medicine of University of Lithuania....

, Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre
Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre
The Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre in Vilnius, Lithuania, is a state-supported conservatory that trains students in music, theatre, and multimedia arts.-History:...

, Vilnius Pedagogical University
Vilnius Pedagogical University
Vilnius Pedagogical University is a university in Vilnius, Lithuania, which specializes in preparing school teachers and other educators. As of 2007 it had approximately 12,500 students.-History:...

, Vytautas Magnus University
Vytautas Magnus University
Vytautas Magnus University ) is a public university in Kaunas, Lithuania. The university was founded in 1922 during the interwar period as an alternate national university...

, Mykolas Romeris University
Mykolas Romeris University
Mykolas Romeris University is a university in the capital city of Vilnius, Lithuania, bearing the name of the Lithuanian legal scholar, judge and father of Lithuania's Constitutional Law Mykolas Römeris. Established in 2004, it is a state-funded institution....

, Lithuanian Academy of Physical Education
Lithuanian Academy of Physical Education
The Lithuanian Academy of Physical Education is the only state-supported institution of tertiary physical education in Kaunas, Lithuania. It has the university status. Since its establishment, the academy is headquartered in Žaliakalnis neighbourhood of Kaunas, in close proximity to the Kaunas...

, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University
Vilnius Gediminas Technical University
Vilnius Gediminas Technical University is a state higher academic school which has the rights of legal entity. The University is a non-profit institution, which was established by the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania....

, The General Jonas Zemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania
General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania
The General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania is a state-sponsored institution of higher learning based in Vilnius, Lithuania. It was founded in 1994 by the Lithuanian Seimas, and is overseen by the Ministry of National Defense...

, Klaipėda University
Klaipeda University
- Overview :The University was formally founded on January 1, 1991 by a decree of Seimas . The new university incorporated existing institutions of higher education in the city. At its inception, it comprised 3,000 students and three faculties...

, Lithuanian Veterinary Academy
Lithuanian Veterinary Academy
The Lithuanian Veterinary Academy , located in Vilijampolė neighbourhood of Kaunas, Lithuania, was a state-owned, autonomous institution of higher education, with university level status. It conferred degrees in veterinary medicine and provided scientific advice and scientific support in fields...

, Lithuanian University of Agriculture
Lithuanian University of Agriculture
Lithuanian University of Agriculture is a university in Lithuania, located in Akademija west of Kaunas.-History:After restructurisation of the Agronomy – Forestry Department at the University of Lithuania and Dotnuva Agricultural College,the Agricultural Academy was established on September 3,...

, Šiauliai University
Šiauliai University
Šiauliai University, established in 1997, is located in Šiauliai, Lithuania. As of 2008, the University was attended by approximately 11,800 students.- History :...

 and Vilnius Academy of Art
Vilnius Academy of Art
The Vilnius Academy of Art in Vilnius, Lithuania, grants a variety of degrees in the arts.The academy was created as a separate entity in 1940; it had previously been part of Vilnius University. It was closed during the Nazi occupation of Lithuania, and re-opened in 1944...

.

Culture




Culturally Lithuania (and some of neighboring territory) is divided into the following regions
Regions of Lithuania
Lithuania can be divided into historical and cultural regions . The exact borders are not fully clear, as the regions are not official political or administrative units. They are delimited by culture, such as country traditions, traditional lifestyle, songs, tales, etc. To some extent regions...

:
  • Aukštaitija
    Aukštaitija
    Aukštaitija is the name of one of five ethnographic regions of Lithuania. The name comes from the relatively high elevation of the region, particularly the eastern parts.-Geography:...

     – literally, the "Highlands"
  • Samogitia
    Samogitia
    Samogitia is one of the five ethnographic regions of Lithuania. It is located in northwestern Lithuania. Its largest city is Šiauliai/Šiaulē. The region has a long and distinct cultural history, reflected in the existence of the Samogitian dialect...

     (Lithuanian: Žemaitija, Samogitian
    Samogitian language
    Samogitian is a dialect of the Lithuanian language spoken mostly in Samogitia . Attempts have been made to standardize it...

    : Žemaitėjė) – literally, the "Lowlands"
  • Dzūkija
    Dzukija
    Dzūkija or Dainava is one of five ethnographic regions of Lithuania. Dzūkija is a cultural region defined by traditional lifestyles and dialects of the local Lithuanian population and has never been defined as a political or administrative unit...

     (Lithuanian: Dzūkija or Dainava)
  • Suvalkija
    Suvalkija
    Suvalkija or Sudovia is the smallest of the five cultural regions of Lithuania. Its unofficial capital is Marijampolė. People from Suvalkija are called suvalkiečiai or suvalkietis . It is located south of the Neman River, in the former territory of Vilkaviškis bishopric...

     (Lithuanian: Suvalkija or Sūduva)
  • Lithuania Minor
    Lithuania Minor
    Lithuania Minor or Prussian Lithuania is a historical ethnographic region of Prussia, later East Prussia in Germany, where Prussian Lithuanians or Lietuvininkai lived. Lithuania Minor enclosed the northern part of this province and got its name due to the territory's substantial...

     also known as "Prussian Lithuania" – (Lithuanian: Mažoji Lietuva or Prūsų Lietuva). The region was part of Prussia from the Middle Ages
    Middle Ages
    The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

     until 1945. Most of it today is part of Russia
    Russia
    Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

     (Kaliningrad Oblast
    Kaliningrad Oblast
    Kaliningrad Oblast is a federal subject of Russia situated on the Baltic coast. It has a population of The oblast forms the westernmost part of the Russian Federation, but it has no land connection to the rest of Russia. Since its creation it has been an exclave of the Russian SFSR and then the...

    ).

Art and museums


The Lithuanian Art Museum
Lithuanian Art Museum
The Lithuanian Art Museum was initially established in Vilnius in 1933 as the Vilnius City Museum. It houses Lithuania's largest art collection.-History:...

 was founded in 1933 and is the largest museum of art conservation and display in Lithuania. Among other important museums is the Palanga Amber Museum
Palanga Amber Museum
The Palanga Amber Museum , near the Baltic Sea in Palanga, Lithuania, is a branch of the Lithuanian Art Museum. It is housed in the restored 19th-century Tiškevičiai Palace and is surrounded by the Palanga Botanical Garden. The museum's collection of amber comprises about 28,000 pieces, of which...

, where amber
Amber
Amber is fossilized tree resin , which has been appreciated for its color and natural beauty since Neolithic times. Amber is used as an ingredient in perfumes, as a healing agent in folk medicine, and as jewelry. There are five classes of amber, defined on the basis of their chemical constituents...

 pieces comprise a major part of the collection.

Perhaps the most renowned figure in Lithuania's art community was the composer Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis
Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis
Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis , also known as M. K. Čiurlionis was a Lithuanian painter and composer. Čiurlionis contributed to symbolism and art nouveau and was representative of the fin de siècle epoch. During his short life he composed about 250 pieces of music and created about 300 paintings...

 (1875–1911), an internationally renowned musician. The 2420 Čiurlionis
2420 Ciurlionis
2420 Čiurlionis is a main belt asteroid with an orbital period of 1496.2748368 days .The asteroid was discovered on October 3, 1975 at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory and was named after Lithuanian artist Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis....

 asteroid
Asteroid
Asteroids are a class of small Solar System bodies in orbit around the Sun. They have also been called planetoids, especially the larger ones...

, identified in 1975, honors his achievements. The M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum
M. K. Ciurlionis National Art Museum
The M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum is a group of museums based in Kaunas, Lithuania. It is primarily dedicated to exhibiting and publicizing the works of the painter and musician M.K. Čiurlionis ....

, as well as the only in Lithuania military Vytautas the Great War Museum
Vytautas the Great War Museum
The Vytautas the Great War Museum is a museum in Kaunas, Lithuania. It was opened on 16 February 1936 and named after Vytautas the Great, Grand Duke of Lithuania. The museum displays historical artefacts pertaining to Lithuania and Kaunas from prehistoric times to the present day, including a...

 are located in Kaunas.

Literature


There is a great deal of Lithuanian literature written in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, the main scholarly language of the Middle Ages. The edicts of the Lithuanian King Mindaugas
Mindaugas
Mindaugas was the first known Grand Duke of Lithuania and the only King of Lithuania. Little is known of his origins, early life, or rise to power; he is mentioned in a 1219 treaty as an elder duke, and in 1236 as the leader of all the Lithuanians...

 is the prime example of the literature of this kind. Letters of Gediminas
Letters of Gediminas
There are 6 surviving transcripts of letters of Gediminas written in 1323–1324 by Grand Duke Gediminas. These letters are one of the first surviving documents from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Since they were sent to the Western Europe, the pope, merchants, and craftspeople, they were written in...

 is another crucial heritage of the Lithuanian Latin writings.

Lithuanian literary works in the Lithuanian language
Lithuanian language
Lithuanian is the official state language of Lithuania and is recognized as one of the official languages of the European Union. There are about 2.96 million native Lithuanian speakers in Lithuania and about 170,000 abroad. Lithuanian is a Baltic language, closely related to Latvian, although they...

 started being first published in the 16th century. In 1547 Martynas Mažvydas
Martynas Mažvydas
Martynas Mažvydas Martynas Mažvydas Martynas Mažvydas (1510 near Žemaičių Naumiestis (now in Šilutė district municipality) - May 21, 1563 in Königsberg (now Kaliningrad) was the author and the editor of the first printed book in the Lithuanian language....

 compiled and published the first printed Lithuanian book The Simple Words of Catechism, which marks the beginning of printed Lithuanian literature. He was followed by Mikalojus Daukša
Mikalojus Daukša
Mikalojus Daukša was a Lithuanian and Latin religious writer, translator and a Catholic church official...

 with Katechizmas. The 16th and 17th century Lithuanian literature was primarily religious. In the 16th and 17th centuries, as in the whole Christian Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, Lithuanian literature was primarily religious..

The evolution of the old (14th–18th century) Lithuanian literature ends with Kristijonas Donelaitis
Kristijonas Donelaitis
Kristijonas Donelaitis was a Prussian Lithuanian Lutheran pastor and poet. He lived and worked in Lithuania Minor, a territory in the Kingdom of Prussia, that had a sizable minority of ethnic Lithuanians...

, one of the most prominent authors of the Age of Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

. Donelaitis
Kristijonas Donelaitis
Kristijonas Donelaitis was a Prussian Lithuanian Lutheran pastor and poet. He lived and worked in Lithuania Minor, a territory in the Kingdom of Prussia, that had a sizable minority of ethnic Lithuanians...

 poem The Seasons is national epic and landmark of the Lithuanian fiction literature.

With a mix of Classicism
Classicism
Classicism, in the arts, refers generally to a high regard for classical antiquity, as setting standards for taste which the classicists seek to emulate. The art of classicism typically seeks to be formal and restrained: of the Discobolus Sir Kenneth Clark observed, "if we object to his restraint...

, Sentimentalism
Sentimentalism (literature)
Sentimentalism , as a literary and political discourse, has occurred much in the literary traditions of all regions in the world, and is central to the traditions of Indian literature, Chinese literature, and Vietnamese literature...

, and Romanticism
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

, the Lithuanian literature of the first half of the 19th century is represented by Maironis
Maironis
Maironis is one of the most famous Lithuanian romantic poets. He was born in Pasandravys, Raseiniai district municipality, Lithuania. Maironis graduated from Kaunas high school and went on to study Literature at Kiev University. However, in 1884, after one year of studies at the university, he...

, Antanas Baranauskas
Antanas Baranauskas
Antanas Baranauskas was a Lithuanian poet, mathematician and a catholic bishop of Polish town Sejny. Baranauskas is best known as the author of the Lithuanian language poem Anykščių šilelis. He used various pseudonyms, including A.B., Bangputys, Jurksztas Smalaūsis, Jurkštas Smalaūsis, and Baronas...

, Simonas Daukantas
Simonas Daukantas
Simonas Daukantas or Szymon Dowkont was a Lithuanian writer, ethnographer and historian. One of the pioneers of the Lithuanian national revival, he is credited as an author of the first book on the history of Lithuania written in the Lithuanian language...

 and Simonas Stanevičius
Simonas Stanevicius
Simonas Stanevičius was a Lithuanian writer and an activist of the "Samogitian Revival", an early stage of the Lithuanian National Revival.-Biography:...

. During the Tsarist annexation of Lithuania in 19th century, Lithuanian press ban
Lithuanian press ban
The Lithuanian press ban was a ban on all Lithuanian language publications printed in the Latin alphabet within the Russian Empire, which controlled Lithuania at the time. Lithuanian-language publications that used the Cyrillic alphabet were allowed and even encouraged...

 was implemented, which lead to a formation of the Knygnešiai
Knygnešiai
Book smugglers were people who transported Lithuanian language books printed in the Latin alphabet into Lithuanian-speaking areas of the Russian Empire, defying a ban on such materials in force from 1866 to 1904...

 (Book smugglers) movement. This movement is thought to be the very reason of the survival of the Lithuanian language and literature until today.

20th century Lithuanian literature is represented by Juozas Tumas-Vaižgantas
Juozas Tumas-Vaižgantas
Juozas Tumas, also known by the pen name Vaižgantas , was a prominent Lithuanian writer, Roman Catholic priest, social activist, literary historian, and one of the founders of the Party of National Progress. He wrote novels, short fictional pieces, and non-fiction...

, Antanas Vienuolis
Antanas Vienuolis
Antanas Vienuolis was a Lithuanian writer, dramatist and one of the most famous realistic prosaists.- Biography :...

, Bernardas Brazdžionis
Bernardas Brazdžionis
Bernardas Brazdžionis was a Lithuanian poet. Bernardas Brazdžionis also used various pen names, such as Vytė Nemunėlis, Jaunasis Vaidevutis.-Biography:...

 and Vytautas Mačernis
Vytautas Macernis
Vytautas Mačernis was a Lithuanian existentialist poet.- Biography :He was born in the village of Šarnelė , where he wrote most of his poems. His grandmother, who died in 1934, appears in most of his poems as a warm and pleasant memory...

 and Justinas Marcinkevičius
Justinas Marcinkevicius
Justinas Marcinkevičius was a prominent Lithuanian poet and playwright.-Life and career:Marcinkevičius was born in 1930 in Važatkiemis, Prienai district. In 1954 he graduated from Vilnius University History and Philology faculty with a degree in Lithuanian language and Literature. He joined the...

.

Music


Lithuanian folk music belongs to Baltic
Baltic
-Northern Europe:* The Baltic Sea* Baltic states : Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia* The Baltic region, an ambiguous term referring to the general area surrounding the Baltic Sea...

 music branch which is connected with neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 corded ware culture. Two instrument cultures meet in the areas inhabited by Lithuanians: stringed (kanklių
Kantele
A kantele or kannel is a traditional plucked string instrument of the zither family native to Finland, Estonia, and Karelia. It is related to the Russian gusli, the Latvian kokle and the Lithuanian kanklės. Together these instruments make up the family known as Baltic psalteries...

) and wind instrument
Wind instrument
A wind instrument is a musical instrument that contains some type of resonator , in which a column of air is set into vibration by the player blowing into a mouthpiece set at the end of the resonator. The pitch of the vibration is determined by the length of the tube and by manual modifications of...

 cultures. Lithuanian folk music is archaic, mostly used for ritual purposes, containing elements of paganism
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

 faith. There are three ancient styles of singing in Lithuania connected with ethnographical regions: monophony
Monophony
In music, monophony is the simplest of textures, consisting of melody without accompanying harmony. This may be realized as just one note at a time, or with the same note duplicated at the octave . If the entire melody is sung by two voices or a choir with an interval between the notes or in...

, heterophony
Heterophony
In music, heterophony is a type of texture characterized by the simultaneous variation of a single melodic line. Such a texture can be regarded as a kind of complex monophony in which there is only one basic melody, but realized at the same time in multiple voices, each of which plays the melody...

 and polyphony
Polyphony
In music, polyphony is a texture consisting of two or more independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords ....

. Folk song genres: Sutartinės, Wedding Songs, War-Historical Time Songs, Calendar Cycle and Ritual Songs and Work Songs.

Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis
Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis
Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis , also known as M. K. Čiurlionis was a Lithuanian painter and composer. Čiurlionis contributed to symbolism and art nouveau and was representative of the fin de siècle epoch. During his short life he composed about 250 pieces of music and created about 300 paintings...

 is the most renowned Lithuanian painter
Painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

 and composer
Composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

. During his short life he created about 200 pieces of music. His works have had profound influence on modern Lithuanian culture. His symphonic poem
Symphonic poem
A symphonic poem or tone poem is a piece of orchestral music in a single continuous section in which the content of a poem, a story or novel, a painting, a landscape or another source is illustrated or evoked. The term was first applied by Hungarian composer Franz Liszt to his 13 works in this vein...

s In the Forest (Miške) and The Sea (music)|The Sea (Jūra) were performed only posthumously.

Vytautas Miškinis
Vytautas Miškinis
Vytautas Miškinis is a Lithuanian music composer and professor, who has been Choir Director of the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre conservatory since 1985. He has also served as Artistic Director of the Ąžuoliukas youth choir.He began his career in Azuoliukas at the age of seven as a...

 (born 1954) is a professor, composer and choir director of the famous Lithuanian boys' choir Ąžuoliukas
Ąžuoliukas
Ąžuoliukas is a Lithuanian boys' and youth choir. The very first Lithuanian boys' choir was established in Vilnius in 1959 by professor Hermanas Perelšteinas. At the beginning, Ąžuoliukas was composed of 3000 boys, but later grew into a combination of several boys' and men's choirs and its own...

. He is very popular in Lithuania and abroad. He has written over 400 secular and about 150 religious works.

In Lithuania choral music is very important. Vilnius
Vilnius
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, and its largest city, with a population of 560,190 as of 2010. It is the seat of the Vilnius city municipality and of the Vilnius district municipality. It is also the capital of Vilnius County...

 is the only city with three choirs laureates (Brevis, Jauna Muzika and Chamber Choir of the Conservatoire) at the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing
European Grand Prix for Choral Singing
The European Grand Prix for Choral Singing is an annual choral competition between the winners of six European choral competitions...

. There is a long-standing tradition of the Lithuanian Song and Dance Festival (Dainų Šventė). The first once took place in Kaunas
Kaunas
Kaunas is the second-largest city in Lithuania and has historically been a leading centre of Lithuanian economic, academic, and cultural life. Kaunas was the biggest city and the center of a powiat in Trakai Voivodeship of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania since 1413. During Russian Empire occupation...

 in 1924. Since 1990, the festival has been organised every four years and summons roughly 30,000 singers and folk dancers of various professional levels and age groups from across the country. In 2008, Lithuanian Song and Dance Festival together with its Latvian
Latvian
Latvian may refer to:* Something of, from, or related to Latvia, a country in Northern Europe in the Baltic region.* A member of the Latvian people . For more information, see Demographics of Latvia and Culture of Latvia. For specific persons, see List of Latvians.* The Latvian language...

 and Estonian
Estonian
Estonian may refer to:* Something of, from, or related to Estonia, a country in the Baltic region in northern Europe* Estonians – people from Estonia, or of Estonian descent...

 versions was inscribed as UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity
Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity
The Proclamation of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity was made by the Director-General of UNESCO starting in 2001 to raise awareness on intangible cultural heritage and encourage local communities to protect them and the local people who sustain these forms of cultural...

.

Sports



  • Basketball is by far the most popular sport in the country. The Lithuania national basketball team
    Lithuania national basketball team
    The Lithuanian national basketball team is the representative for Lithuania in international men's basketball. Lithuania won bronze medals in three out of five Olympic tournaments it participated in....

     has had significant success in international basketball events. Having won a total of 9 medals in the EuroBasket
    Eurobasket
    The EuroBasket, also referred to as the FIBA European Basketball Championship, is the main basketball competition contested biennially by the men's national teams governed by FIBA Europe, the European zone within the International Basketball Federation. The championship was first held in 1935 and...

    , the World Championships
    FIBA World Championship
    The FIBA World Championship is an international basketball competition contested by the men's national teams of the members of the International Basketball Federation , the sport's global governing body...

     and the Olympic Games
    Basketball at the Summer Olympics
    Basketball has been a Summer Olympics sport for men consistently since 1936. Prior to its inclusion as a medal sport, it was held as demonstration event in 1904 and 1932, both in the United States. Women's basketball was played in the Olympics only since 1976....

    , it is ranked 5th worldwide in FIBA Rankings.
  • Lithuania has produced a number of NBA players: Arvydas Sabonis
    Arvydas Sabonis
    Arvydas Romas Sabonis is a retired Lithuanian professional basketball player and a businessman. He was an eight-time European Player of the Year, winning the Euroscar Award six times, and the Mr...

    , Žydrūnas Ilgauskas
    Žydrunas Ilgauskas
    Žydrūnas Ilgauskas , or "Big Z" , is a retired Lithuanian professional basketball center who played for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association...

    , Šarūnas Marčiulionis
    Šarunas Marciulionis
    Raimondas Šarūnas Marčiulionis is a retired Lithuanian professional basketball player. He was one of the first Europeans to become a regular in the North American National Basketball Association...

    , Darius Songaila
    Darius Songaila
    Darius Songaila is a Lithuanian professional basketball player. He is also a member of the Lithuania national team. He can play power forward and center positions. He currently plays for Galatasaray Medical Park in Turkey....

    , Šarūnas Jasikevičius
    Šarunas Jasikevicius
    Šarūnas Jasikevičius is a Lithuanian professional basketball player who plays for Panathinaikos BC. He is a member of the Lithuanian national team, and plays the point guard position.-Early years:...

    , Linas Kleiza
    Linas Kleiza
    Linas Kleiza is a Lithuanian professional basketball player with the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association. He is also a member of the Lithuanian national team. He can play either forward position. Kleiza signed a four year, $18.8 million contract prior to the 2010–11 NBA...

     and others. The current 19-year-old Lithuanian star Jonas Valančiūnas
    Jonas Valančiūnas
    Jonas Valančiūnas is a Lithuanian professional basketball player, currently playing for BC Lietuvos Rytas. He is a member of the Lithuanian national basketball team...

     was picked 5th by Toronto Raptors
    Toronto Raptors
    The Toronto Raptors are a professional basketball team based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. They are part of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference in the National Basketball Association . The team was established in 1995, along with the Vancouver Grizzlies, as part of the NBA's re-expansion...

     in the 2011 NBA Draft
    2011 NBA Draft
    The 2011 NBA Draft was held on June 23, 2011 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The draft started at 7:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time , and was broadcast in the United States on ESPN. In this draft, National Basketball Association teams took turns selecting amateur U.S. college basketball...

    .
  • Arvydas Sabonis
    Arvydas Sabonis
    Arvydas Romas Sabonis is a retired Lithuanian professional basketball player and a businessman. He was an eight-time European Player of the Year, winning the Euroscar Award six times, and the Mr...

     was the first Lithuanian to be inducted into the prestigious Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on August, 2011.
  • In 2011, the Lithuanian U19 men's basketball team won the FIBA Under-19 World Championship
    FIBA Under-19 World Championship
    The FIBA Under-19 World Championship is a men's under-19 only basketball competition organized by FIBA. From its inauguration in 1979 until 2007 it was held every four years...

    .
  • In 2011, Lithuania hosted the men's European Basketball Championship EuroBasket 2011
    Eurobasket 2011
    EuroBasket 2011 was the 37th men's European Basketball Championship, held by FIBA Europe. The competition was hosted by Lithuania. This was the second time Eurobasket had been held in Lithuania, the country having also hosted the 1939 championship. FIBA Europe asserted that Lithuania managed to...

    . The final took place in the newly built Žalgiris Arena which is the largest arena in Baltics.
  • The historic Lithuanian basketball team Kauno Žalgiris won the European basketball league Euroleague
    Euroleague
    Euroleague Basketball, commonly known as the Euroleague, is the highest level tier and most important professional club basketball competition in Europe, with teams from up to 18 different countries, members of FIBA Europe. For sponsorship reasons, for five seasons starting with 2010–2011, it is...

     in 1999. It competes in Euroleague 2011/12 as of today. Vilniaus Lietuvos Rytas and Rūdupis compete in the second-tier European competition Eurocup Basketball.

  • Football, athletics and cycling
    Cycling
    Cycling, also called bicycling or biking, is the use of bicycles for transport, recreation, or for sport. Persons engaged in cycling are cyclists or bicyclists...

     are also popular in Lithuania. The popularity of ice hockey
    Ice hockey
    Ice hockey, often referred to as hockey, is a team sport played on ice, in which skaters use wooden or composite sticks to shoot a hard rubber puck into their opponent's net. The game is played between two teams of six players each. Five members of each team skate up and down the ice trying to take...

    , rugby
    Rugby football
    Rugby football is a style of football named after Rugby School in the United Kingdom. It is seen most prominently in two current sports, rugby league and rugby union.-History:...

     and tennis
    Tennis
    Tennis is a sport usually played between two players or between two teams of two players each . Each player uses a racket that is strung to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over a net into the opponent's court. Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society at all...

     is also growing.
  • Lithuania national football team
    Lithuania national football team
    The national football team of Lithuania is under the auspices of the Lithuanian Football Federation. It played its first match in 1923. In 1940, Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union; the country regained its independence in 1990 and played their first match as a new nation against Georgia on...

     stars are Deividas Šemberas
    Deividas Šemberas
    Deividas Šemberas is a Lithuanian professional footballer who plays as centre back for Russian Premier League club PFC CSKA Moscow...

     playing for CSKA Moscow and Marius Stankevičius
    Marius Stankevicius
    Marius "StankyLeg" Stankevičius is a Lithuanian professional footballer who plays for the Serie A club S.S. Lazio, as a defender . He was the Lithuanian player of the year in 2008 and 2009.-International career:...

     playing for Lazio
    S.S. Lazio
    Società Sportiva Lazio, commonly referred to as Lazio, is a professional Italian football club based in Rome. The team, founded in 1900, play in the Serie A and have spent most of their history in the top tier of Italian football...

    .
  • Virgilijus Alekna
    Virgilijus Alekna
    Virgilijus Alekna is a Lithuanian athlete who specialises in the discus throw. He won medals at the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympics, including two golds.-Career:...

     is one of world top discus throw
    Discus throw
    The discus throw is an event in track and field athletics competition, in which an athlete throws a heavy disc—called a discus—in an attempt to mark a farther distance than his or her competitors. It is an ancient sport, as evidenced by the 5th century BC Myron statue, Discobolus...

    ers. He has won two consecutive Olympic gold medals in the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympics. In the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics Alekna received the Bronze medal.
  • Austra Skujytė
    Austra Skujyte
    Austra Skujytė is a Lithuanian athlete, competing in both the heptathlon and the decathlon. On 15 April 2005 in Columbia, Missouri, she broke the women's decathlon world record, with a score of 8366....

     (Silver in heptathlon
    Heptathlon
    A heptathlon is a track and field athletics combined events contest made up of seven events. The name derives from the Greek hepta and athlon . A competitor in a heptathlon is referred to as a heptathlete.-Women's Heptathlon:...

    , 2004 Athens Olympics) and Edvinas Krungolcas
    Edvinas Krungolcas
    Edvinas Krungolcas is a Lithuanian modern pentathlete who won the silver medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.-References:* . ESPN....

     (Silver in pentathlon
    Pentathlon
    A pentathlon is a contest featuring five different events. The name is derived from Greek: combining the words pente and -athlon . The first pentathlon was documented in Ancient Greece and was part of the Ancient Olympic Games...

    , 2008 Beijing Olympics) are also world-class athletes.
  • Simona Krupeckaitė
    Simona Krupeckaite
    Simona Krupeckaitė is a Lithuanian professional track cyclist. She is the 2009 500 m Time Trial World Champion and World Record holder at 33.296s, and the 2010 Keirin World Champion. She also won the 2009 Lithuanian Sportsman of the Year award. In 2010 Krupeckaitė reached one more world record...

     is currently the country's most famous professional track cyclist. She holds two world records in 500m time trial and flying 200m time trial. Krupeckaitė has been named the Lithuanian Sportsman of the Year
    Lithuanian Sportsman of the Year
    Since 1956, Lithuania honors their greatest athlete of the year. The award's trophy, a bronze archer, has been given to the following recipients:-External links:*...

     twice in 2009 and 2010.
  • Lithuania had several stellar NHL players: Darius Kasparaitis
    Darius Kasparaitis
    Darius Kasparaitis is a retired professional ice hockey defenseman. Known by the nickname Kaspar, he has dual citizenship in both the United States and Russia, and he has played for the Russian national ice hockey team.- Playing career :Kasparaitis left Lithuania for Russia at age 14 after...

     and Dainius Zubrus
    Dainius Zubrus
    Dainius Gintas Zubrus is a Lithuanian professional ice hockey right winger and center currently playing for the New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League...

    .
  • Ričardas Berankis
    Ricardas Berankis
    Ričardas Berankis is a Lithuanian professional tennis player. He is the highest ranked Lithuanian tennis player of all time.- Early career :Berankis began playing tennis at the age of two...

     is the top ranked Lithuanian tennis player.
  • The other famous Lithuanian sportsman abroad is one of the world's foremost strongmen Žydrūnas Savickas
    Žydrunas Savickas
    Žydrūnas Savickas is a professional strongman and is widely considered one of the all-time greatest athletes in the history of the sport...

    . He is currently nominated as the Strongest Man in the World
    World's Strongest Man
    The World's Strongest Man is a well recognised event in strength athletics and has been described by a number of highly respected authorities in the sport as the premier event in strongman. Organized by TWI, an IMG Media company, it is broadcast around the end of December each year...

    .
  • Another notable Lithuanian athlete in mixed martial arts is Marius Žaromskis
    Marius Žaromskis
    Marius Žaromskis is a Lithuanian welterweight mixed martial artist. After fighting the majority of his career for British promotion Cage Rage, he signed with DREAM in 2009 and then, later that year, with Strikeforce. With DREAM, Žaromskis won their 2009 Welterweight Grand Prix and became their...

    .
  • With the launch of the first indoor ski slope in Baltics SNORAS Snow Arena the rise of popularity in winter sports is widely expected.

See also



External links


Government
General information

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