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Republic of Lithuania
Lietuvos Respublika
Flag of Lithuania.svg Coat of arms of Lithuania.svg
Motto"Tautos jėga vienybėje"
"The strength of the nation lies in unity"
AnthemTautiška giesmė
Location Lithuania EU Europe.png
Location of  Republic of Lithuania  (dark green)

– in Europe  (light green & dark grey)
– in the European Union  (light green)  –  [Legend]

(and largest city)
54°41′N 25°19′E / 54.6833°N 25.3167°E / 54.6833; 25.3167
Official languages Lithuanian
Demonym Lithuanian
Government Semi-presidential republic
 -  President Dalia Grybauskaitė
 -  Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius
 -  Seimas Speaker Arūnas Valinskas
Independence from Russia (1918) 
 -  First mention of Lithuania 14 February 1009 
 -  Coronation of Mindaugas 6 July 1253 
 -  Personal union with Poland 2 February 1386 
 -  Creation of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth 1569 
 -  Partitions of the Commonwealth 1795 
 -  Independence declared 16 February 1918 
 -  1st Soviet occupation 15 June 1940 
 -  2nd Soviet occupation 1944 
 -  Independence restored 11 March 1990 
EU accession 1 May 2004
 -  Total 65,200 km2 (123rd)
25,173 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 1.35%
 -  2009 estimate 3,555,179 (130th)
 -  Density 52/km2 (120th)
134/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $63.625 billion[1] 
 -  Per capita $18,946[1] 
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $47.304 billion[1] 
 -  Per capita $14,086[1] 
Gini (2003) 36 (medium
HDI (2008) 0.869 (high) (43rd)
Currency Lithuanian litas (Lt) (LTL)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 -  Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Date formats yyyy-mm-dd (CE)
Drives on the right
Internet TLD .lt1
Calling code 370
1 Also .eu, shared with other European Union member states.

Lithuania Loudspeaker [ˌlɪθuˈeɪniə] , officially the Republic of Lithuania (Lithuanian: Lietuvos Respublika) is a country in Northern Europe,[2] the southernmost of the three Baltic states. Situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, it shares borders with Latvia to the north, Belarus to the southeast, Poland, and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad to the southwest. Lithuania is a member of NATO, the Council of Europe, and the European Union. Lithuania became a full member of the Schengen Agreement on 21 December 2007.[3] Its population is 3.6 million. Its capital and the largest city is Vilnius. In 2009, Vilnius is the European Capital of Culture and Lithuania celebrates the millennium of its name

During the 14th century, Lithuania was the largest country in Europe: present-day Belarus, Ukraine, and parts of Poland and Russia were territories of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. With the Lublin Union of 1569 Poland 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 annexing most of Lithuania's territory. In the aftermath of World War I, Lithuania's Act of Independence 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 then Nazi Germany. As World War II neared its end in 1944 and the Nazis retreated, the Soviet Union reoccupied Lithuania. On 11 March 1990, Lithuania became the first Soviet republic to declare its renewed independence. Prior to the global financial crisis of 2008–2009, post-Soviet Lithuania had one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union.

History Edit

Main article: History of Lithuania

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, who arrived in the 3rd – 2nd millennium BC, mixed with local population and formed various Baltic tribes. The first written mention of Lithuania is found in a medieval German manuscript, the Quedlinburg Chronicle, on 14 February 1009. Initially inhabited by fragmented Baltic tribes, in 1230s the Lithuanian lands were united by Mindaugas, who was crowned as King of Lithuania on 6 July 1253.[4] After his assassination in 1263, pagan Lithuania was a target of Christian crusades of the Teutonic Knights and Livonian Order. Despite devastating century-long struggle with the Orders, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania expanded rapidly overtaking former Slavic principalities of Kievan Rus'. By the end of the 14th century, Lithuania was the largest country in Europe and included present-day Belarus, Ukraine, and parts of Poland and Russia.[5] Geopolitical situation between the west and the east determined multi-cultural and multi-confessional character the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The Lithuanian ruling elite practiced religious tolerance and borrowed Slavic state traditions, such as using Chancery Slavonic language for official documents.

Vytautas the great

Vytautas the Great. Lithuania reached the height of its power under his reign. (17th century painting)

In 1385, Grand Duke Jogaila accepted Poland's offer to become its king. He converted Lithuania into Christianity and established a personal union between Poland and Lithuania. After two civil wars Vytautas the Great became the Grand Duke of Lithuania in 1392. During his reign Lithuania reached peak of its territorial expansion, centralization of the state was begun, and Lithuanian nobility became increasingly prominent in state politics. Thanks to close cooperation, the armies of Poland and Lithuania achieved a great victory over the Teutonic Knights in 1410 at the Battle of Grunwald, one of the largest battles of medieval Europe.[6][7][8]

After deaths of Jogaila and Vytautas, Lithuanian nobility attempted to break the union between Poland and Lithuania independently selecting Grand Dukes from the Jagiellon dynasty. However, Lithuania was forced to seek closer alliance with Poland when at the end of the 15th century growing power of the Grand Duchy of Moscow threatened Lithuania's Russian principalities and sparked the Muscovite–Lithuanian Wars and the Livonian War. 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.[9] However, eventually Polonization affected all aspects of Lithuanian life: politics, language, culture, even national identity. From mid-16th to mid-17th centuries culture, arts, and education flourished, fueled by Renaissance and Protestant Reformation. From 1573, Kings of Poland and Grand Dukes of Lithuania were elected by the nobility, who were granted ever increasing Golden Liberties. These liberties, especially liberum veto, lead to anarchy and eventual dissolution of the state.

During the Northern Wars (1655–1661), the Lithuanian territory and economy and was devastated by the Swedish army. The war, plague, and famine resulted in loss of approximately 40% of Grand Duchy's inhabitants. Before it could fully recover, Lithuania was again ravaged during the Great Northern War (1700–1721). Foreign powers, especially Russia, became dominant players in domestic politics of the Commonwealth. Numerous nobility fraction used the Golden Liberties to prevent any reforms. Eventually, the Commonwealth was partitioned in 1772, 1792 and 1795 by the Russian Empire, Prussia, and Habsburg Austria. Majority of the Lithuanian territory became part of Russia. After unsuccessful uprisings in 1831 and 1863, the Tsarist authorities implemented a number of Russification policies, including the ban on Lithuanian press and close-down of cultural or educational institutions. Nevertheless, the Lithuanian National Revival laid the foundations of the modern Lithuanian nation and independent Lithuania.

Signatarai.Signatories of Lithuania

The original 20 members of the Council of Lithuania after signing the Act of Independence of Lithuania, 16 February 1918

During World War I, the Council of Lithuania declared independence of Lithuania on 16 February 1918. Lithuania's foreign policy was dominated by territorial disputes with Poland and Germany. Vilnius Region, including Vilnius, the designated capital in the Constitution of Lithuania, was taken over by Polish forces during the Żeligowski's Mutiny in October 1920 and remained under Polish control until the outbreak of World War II. Acquired during the Klaipėda Revolt of 1923, the Klaipėda Region was ceded back to Germany after the German ultimatum in March 1939. The domestic affairs were controlled by authoritarian Antanas Smetona and his Lithuanian National Union, who came to power after the coup d'état of 1926.


Map showing changes in the territory of Lithuania from the 13th century to the present day.

In June 1940, the Soviet Union occupied and annexed Lithuania in accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.[10][11] A year later Russia was attacked by Nazi Germany leading to Nazi occupation of Lithuania. The Nazis and their Lithuanian collaborators murdered around 190,000 Lithuanian Jews[12] (91% of the pre-war Jewish community) during the Holocaust. After the retreat of the German armed forces, the Soviets re-established the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1944. From 1944 to 1952 approximately 100,000 Lithuanian partisans 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 Siberian GULAGs. Population losses of Lithuania during World War II are estimated at 780,000.[13]

The advent of perestroika and glasnost in the late 1980s allowed establishment of Sąjūdis, an anti-communist independence movement. After a landslide victory in elections to the Supreme Soviet, members of Sąjūdis proclaimed Lithuania's renewed independence on 11 March 1990 becoming the first Soviet republic to do so. The Soviet Union imposed economic blockade attempting to suppress this secession. The Soviet troops attacked the Vilnius TV Tower and killed 13 Lithuanian civilians on the night of 13 January 1991.[14] On 4 February 1991, Iceland became the first country to recognize Lithuanian independence. After the Soviet August Coup, independent Lithuania received wide recognition and joined the United Nations 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 planned economy to the free market, Lithuanian became a full member of NATO and the European Union in spring 2004.

Politics Edit

Constitutional systemEdit

Main article: Politics of Lithuania
Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus and Vice President Dick Cheney in Vilnius, Lithuania

The President of Lithuania Valdas Adamkus (right) meeting with the 46th Vice President of the United States Dick Cheney (left) in Vilnius in 2006.

Since Lithuania declared 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.[15] 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.[15] Eventually a semi-presidential system was agreed upon.[16]

The Lithuanian head of state 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. The President, with the approval of the parliamentary body, the Seimas, also appoints the Prime Minister 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 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, has 141 members who are elected to four-year terms. 71 of the members of this legislative body are elected in single constituencies, and the other 70 are elected in a nationwide vote by proportional representation. A party must receive at least 5% of the national vote to be represented in the Seimas.

Administrative division Edit

Main article: Counties of Lithuania
Municipalities in Lithuania

Lithuania is subdivided into ten counties and sixty municipalities.

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 (Lithuanian: singular – apskritis, plural – apskritys) that are further subdivided into 60 municipalities (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.[17] 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[18] or five major cities with population over 100,000.[19]

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 to govern the elderships. There is currently a proposal for direct election of mayors and elders, however that would require an amendment to the constitution.[20]

Elderships, numbering over 500, are the smallest units and they 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.[21] While the elderships have a potential of becoming source of local initiative to tackle rural problems, complains are made that elderships have no real power and receive too little attention.[22]

Geography Edit

Physical featuresEdit

Main article: Geography of Lithuania

Physical map of Lithuania

Kretinga rural tourism

A cottage hotel in a rural area near Kretinga, a sign of increasingly popular agritourism.

Lithuania is situated in Northern Europe. It has around 99 kilometres (61.5 mi) of sandy coastline, of which only about 38 kilometres (24 mi) face the open Baltic Sea and which is the shortest among the Baltic Sea countries; the rest of the coast is sheltered by the Curonian sand peninsula. Lithuania's major warm-water port, Klaipėda, lies at the narrow mouth of the Curonian Lagoon (Lithuanian: Kuršių marios), a shallow lagoon extending south to Kaliningrad. The main river, the Neman River, and some of its tributaries carry international shipping vessels.

Lithuania Ladakalnis

Aukštaitija National Park near Ignalina.

The Lithuanian landscape has been smoothed by glaciers. The highest areas are the moraines in the western uplands and eastern highlands, none of which are higher than 300 metres (1,000 ft) above sea level, with the maximum elevation being Aukštojas Hill at 294 metres (964 ft). The terrain features numerous lakes, Lake Vištytis for example, and wetlands; a mixed forest zone covers nearly 33% of the country. The climate lies between maritime and continental, with wet, moderate winters and summers. According to one geographical computation method, Lithuania's capital, Vilnius, lies only a few kilometres south of the geographical centre of Europe.

Phytogeographically, Lithuania is shared between the Central European and Eastern European provinces of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, the territory of Lithuania can be subdivided into two ecoregions: the Central European mixed forests and Sarmatic mixed forests.

Climate Edit

The country's climate, which ranges between maritime and continental, is relatively mild. Average temperatures on the coast are -2.5 °C in January and 16 °C in July. In Vilnius the average temperatures are -6 °C in January and 16 °C in July. Simply speaking, 20 °C is frequent on summer days and 14 °C at night although temperatures can reach 30 or 35 °C. 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 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.[23]

Lithuania experienced a drought in 2002, causing forest and peat bog fires.[24] 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:[25]

Extreme temperatures in Lithuania (°C)
Highest Temperatures
Lowest Temperatures

Economy Edit

Main article: Economy of Lithuania
File:Vilnius skyline at night.Lithuania.JPG

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 — 7.3%; 2005 — 7.6%; 2006 — 7.4%; 2007 — 8.8%, 2008 Q1 — 7.0% growth in GDP reflects the impressive economic development.[26] Most of the trade Lithuania conducts is within the European Union.

By UN classification, Lithuania is a country with high average income. The country boasts a well developed modern infrastructure of railways, airports and four-lane highways. As of October 2008, the unemployment rate is 4.7%. According to officially published figures, EU membership fueled a booming economy, increased outsourcing into the country, and boosted the tourism sector. The litas, the national currency, has been pegged to the Euro since 2 February 2002 at the rate of EUR 1.00 = LTL 3.4528,[27] and Lithuania is expecting to switch to the Euro on 1 January 2013. There is gradual but consistent shift towards a knowledge-based economy with special emphasis on biotechnology (industrial and diagnostic) – major biotechnology producers in the Baltic countries are concentrated in Lithuania – as well as laser equipment. Also mechatronics and information technology (IT) are seen as prospective knowledge-based economy directions in Lithuania.

Lithuania has a flat tax rate rather than a progressive scheme. Lithuanian income levels are lower than in the older EU Member States. According to Eurostat data, Lithuanian PPS GDP per capita stood at 61 per cent of the EU average in 2008.[28] Lower wages have been a factor that in 2004 fueled emigration to wealthier EU countries, something that has been made legally possible as a result of accession to the European Union. In 2006, personal income tax was reduced to 27% and a reduction to 24% was made in October 2007. Income tax reduction and 19.1% annual wage growth[29] is starting to make an impact with some emigrants gradually beginning to come back.[30] The latest official data show emigration in early 2006 to be 30% lower than the previous year, with 3,483 people leaving in four months.

Corporate tax rate in Lithuania is 20%. The government offers special incentives for investments into the high-technology sectors and high value-added products.

Lithuania has the highest rating of Baltic states in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s quality of life index.

Education Edit

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, English, and Polish.[31]

Vilnius University is one of the oldest universities in Northern Europe and the largest university in Lithuania. Kaunas University of Technology is the largest technical university in the Baltic States and the second largest university in Lithuania. Other universities include Kaunas University of Medicine, Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre,Vilnius Pedagogical University, Vytautas Magnus University, Mykolas Romeris University, Lithuanian Academy of Physical Education, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, The General Jonas Zemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania, Klaipėda University, Lithuanian Veterinary Academy, Lithuanian University of Agroculture, Siauliai University and Vilnius Academy of Arts.

Infrastructure Edit


Major highways in Lithuania

  • Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant is 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 in its lack of a robust containment structure. The remaining unit, as of 2006, supplied about 70% of Lithuania's electrical demand.[32]
    • Unit #2 is tentatively scheduled for closure in 2009. Proposals have been made to construct another nuclear power plant in Lithuania.

According to the study carried out by, Lithuania has the fastest internet upload speed in the world and is fourth by download speed.[33][34]

Demographics Edit


The great yard of Vilnius University, one of the oldest universities in Northern Europe. About 70% of Lithuanian high school graduates continue their studies in universities and colleges.

Main article: Demographics of Lithuania

Ethnic composition Edit

The population of Lithuania stands at 3.3662 million, 84.6% of whom are ethnic Lithuanians who speak Lithuanian which is the official language of the country. Several sizable minorities exist, such as Poles (6.3%), Russians (5.1%), and Belarusians (1.1%).[35]

Poles are the largest minority, concentrated in southeast Lithuania (the Vilnius region). Russians are the second largest minority, concentrated mostly in two cities. They constitute sizeable minorities in Vilnius (14%) and Klaipėda (28%), and a majority in the town of Visaginas (52%).[36] About 3,000 Roma live in Lithuania, mostly in Vilnius, Kaunas, and Panevėžys; their organizations are supported by the National Minority and Emigration Department.[37]

According to the Lithuanian population census of 2001, about 84% of the country's population speak Lithuanian as their native language, 8.2% are the 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 survey conducted in 2005, 80% of Lithuanians can speak Russian and 32% can speak English. Most Lithuanian schools teach English as a first foreign language, but students may also study German, or, in some schools, French. Schools where Russian and Polish are the primary languages of education exist in the areas populated by these minorities.

Health and welfare Edit

Kauno klinikos 2006 07 23

Kaunas University Hospital - the largest medical institution in Lithuania

As of 2007 Lithuanian life expectancy at birth was 65 years for males and 77 for females – the largest gender difference and the lowest male life expectancy in the European Union. As of 2008 The infant mortality rate was 5.9 per 1,000 births.[38] The annual population growth rate increased by 0.3% in 2007. Less than 2% of the population live beneath the poverty line, and the adult literacy rate is 99.6%.[39] At 38.6 people per 100,000,[40] Lithuania has seen a dramatic rise in suicides in recent years, and now records the highest suicide rate in the world.[41] Lithuania also has the highest homicide rate in the EU.[42]


Main article: LGBT rights in Lithuania

Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is legal in Lithuania, but households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex married couples.

Largest cities Edit

2008 data

City Region Population Density* (/km²) Area (km²)
Grand Coat of arms of Vilnius Vilnius East &0000000000544206.000000544,206 &0000000000001354.0000001,354 401
Kaunas city COA Kaunas Middle &0000000000355586.000000355,586 &0000000000002281.0000002,281 157
Coat of arms of Klaipeda (Lithuania) Klaipėda West &0000000000184657.000000184,657 &0000000000001926.0000001,926 98
Siauliai city COA Šiauliai North &0000000000127059.000000127,059 &0000000000001605.0000001,605 81
Panevezys city COA Panevėžys North &0000000000113653.000000113,653 &0000000000002236.0000002,236 52
Alytus city COA Alytus South &0000000000068304.00000068,304 &0000000000001747.0000001,747 40
Marijampole COA Marijampolė South &0000000000047010.00000047,010 &0000000000002271.0000002,271 21
Mazeikiai COA Mažeikiai North &0000000000040572.00000040,572 &0000000000002956.0000002,956 14
Jonava COA Jonava Middle &0000000000034446.00000034,446 &Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n"..Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".n/d n/d
Utena COA Utena East &0000000000032572.00000032,572 &0000000000002191.0000002,191 15,1
Kedainiai COA Kėdainiai Middle &0000000000031055.00000031,055 &Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".Expression error: Unrecognised word "n"..Expression error: Unrecognised word "n".n/d 44

* Population density.

Religion Edit

Main article: Religion in Lithuania
Lithuania Paluse church

Wooden church in Palūšė. Lithuania has strong Roman Catholic traditions.

In 2005, 79% of Lithuanians belonged to the Roman Catholic Church.[43] The Church has been the majority denomination since the Christianisation of Lithuania in the end of fourteenth century and beginning of fifteenth century. Some priests actively led the resistance against the Communist regime (symbolised by the Hill of Crosses). Church attendance has increased since the end of the Soviet Union.[citation needed]

In the 16th century, Protestantism started to spread from Western Europe. A united reformed church organization in Lithuania's church province can be counted from the year 1557 at the Synod in Vilnius on December 14 of that year. From that year the Synod met regularly forming all the church provinces of The Grand Duchy of Lithuania, at first from two and later growing to six districts and representative district synods. The abbreviated name for the church is in Latin, Unitas Lithuaniae or in Polish, Jednota Litewska (Lithuanian church provincial union). It sent its representatives to the General Polish/Lithuanian Synods; however in its administration it was in fact a self-governing Church. The first Superintendent was Simonas Zacijus (Szymon Zacjusz, approx 1507-1591). In 1565 the anti- Trinitarian Lithuanian Brotherhood who rejected the learning of the Trinity separated from UL. The UL parish network covered nearly all of The Grand Duchy. Its district centers were Vilnius, Kedainai, Biržai, Slucke, Kojdanove and Zabludove later Izabeline.

In the first half of 20th century, the Lutheran Protestant church had around 200,000 members, 9% of total population, although Lutheranism 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.[44] 4.9% are Eastern Orthodox (mainly among the Russian minority), 1.9% are Protestant and 9.5% have no religion.

Lithuania was historically home to a large and influential Jewish community that was almost entirely eliminated during the Holocaust. The first noticeable presence of Islam in Lithuania began in the 14th century. From this time it was primarily associated with the Lipka Tatars (also known as Lithuanian Tatars), many of whom settled in Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth while continuing their traditions and religious beliefs.

According to the most recent Eurobarometer Poll 2005,[45] 12% said that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, god, or life force" , 36% answered that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 49% of Lithuanian citizens responded that "they believe there is a God".

Culture Edit

Main article: Culture of Lithuania

Culturally Lithuania (and some of neighboring territory) is divided into the following regions:

Art and Museums Edit

Art Museum of Lithuania

The Picture Gallery in Vilnius' Chodkevičiai Palace

The Lithuanian Art Museum was founded in 1933 and is the largest museum of art conservation and display in Lithuania.[46] Among other important museums is the Palanga Amber Museum, where amber pieces comprise a major part of the collection.

Perhaps the most renowned figure in Lithuania's art community was the composer Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875-1911), an internationally renowned musician. The 2420 Čiurlionis asteroid, identified in 1975, honors his achievements. The M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum is located in Kaunas.

A future museum, Vilnius Guggenheim Hermitage Museum, will present exhibitions of new media art, parts of the New York City anthology film archive, and Fluxus art. The museum is scheduled to open in 2011.[47]

Literature Edit

Main article: Lithuanian literature
Mazvydo katekizmas

First printed Lithuanian book by Martynas Mažvydas

A wealth of Lithuanian literature was written in Latin, the main scholarly language in the Middle Ages. One of the first instances of such, was the edicts of Lithuanian King Mindaugas. Letters of Gediminas is another important monument of Lithuanian Latin writings.

Lithuanian literary works in the Lithuanian language were first published in the 16th century. In 1547 Martynas Mažvydas 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 in Lithuania Propria with his Katechizmas. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Lithuanian literature was primarily religious. Development of the old Lithuanian literature (14th - 18th centuries) ends with Kristijonas Donelaitis, one of the most prominent authors of the Age of Enlightenment. Donelaitis poem "The Seasons" is a national epos and is a cornerstone of Lithuanian fiction literature.[48]

Lithuanian literature of the first half of the 19th century with its mix of Classicism, Sentimentalism, and Romanticism features is represented by Antanas Strazdas, Dionizas Poška, Silvestras Valiūnas, Maironis, Simonas Stanevičius, Simonas Daukantas, and Antanas Baranauskas.[48] During Tsarist annexation of Lithuania, Lithuanian press ban was implemented, which lead to a formation of the Knygnešiai (Book smugglers) movement.

20th century Lithuanian literature is represented by Juozas Tumas-Vaižgantas, Antanas Vienuolis, Bernardas Brazdžionis, Vytautas Mačernis and others.

Music Edit

Main article: Lithuanian music
Lithuanian folklore performance

A Lithuanian folklore band Kūlgrinda performing in Vilnius

Lithuanian musical tradition traces its history to pagan times, connected with neolithic corded ware culture. Lithuanian folk music is archaic, evolved for ritual purposes.

Sports Edit

Main article: Sports in Lithuania

Among all the sports personalities of Lithuania, the most popular individual known to the Western world is basketball player Žydrūnas Ilgauskas who plays as center for the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA. Another popular individual is professional ice hockey player Darius Kasparaitis who played for the New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins, Colorado Avalanche, and New York Rangers of the NHL. Also Arvydas Sabonis, played in the NBA for a long time.

See also Edit

Main article: Outline of Lithuania

Notes and references Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Lithuania". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved on 2009-04-22. 
  2. "Composition of macro geographical (continental) regions, geographical sub-regions, and selected economic and other groupings". United Nations Statistics Division. Retrieved on 2008-11-09. 
  3. Template:Lt icon "Lietuva įsiliejo į Šengeno erdvę". Vidaus reikalų ministerija. Retrieved on 2007-12-22. 
  4. Template:Lt icon Tomas Baranauskas. Lietuvos karalystei — 750. 2001.
  5. Paul Magocsi. History of the Ukraine. University of Toronto Press, 1996. p.128
  6. Lane, Thomas (2001). Lithuania: Stepping Westward. Routledge. pp. ix, xxi. ISBN 0415267315.,M1. 
  7. The New Encyclopaedia Britannica: .v. 17, 1998 p.545
  8. R. Fawn Ideology and National Identity in Post-communist Foreign Policies. p. 186]
  9. Stone, Daniel. The Polish-Lithuanian state: 1386–1795. University of Washington Press, 2001. p. 63
  10. I. Žiemele. Baltic Yearbook of International Law, 2001. 2002, Vol.1 p.10
  11. K. Dawisha, B. Parrott. The Consolidation of Democracy in East-Central Europe. 1997 p. 293.
  12. Lithuania: Back to the Future. Retrieved 2009-02-11
  13. US Department of State Bureau of Public Affairs, August 2006
  14. BBC Story
  15. 15.0 15.1 Template:Lt icon Nuo 1991 m. iki šiol paskelbtų referendumų rezultatai, Microsoft Word Document, Seimas. Accessed 4 June 2006.
  16. Lina Kulikauskienė, Lietuvos Respublikos Konstitucija (Constitution of Lithuania), Native History, CD, 2002. ISBN 9986-9216-7-8
  17. Template:Lt icon Lietuvos Respublikos apskrities valdymo įstatymas (Republic of Lithuania Law on County Governing), Seimas law database, 15 December 1994, Law no. I-707. Accessed 3 June 2006.
  18. Template:Lt icon Dr. Žilvytis Bernardas Šaknys Lietuvos Respublikos administracinio teritorinio suskirstymo perspektyvos: etnografiniai kultūriniai regionai, The Council for the Protection of Ethnic Culture, Seimas, 12 December 2002. Accessed 4 June 2006.
  19. Template:Lt icon Dr. Antanas Tyla, Pastabos dėl Apskričių valdymo reformos koncepcijos, The Council for the Protection of Ethnic Culture, Seimas, 16 May 2001. Accessed 4 June 2006.
  20. Template:Lt icon Justinas Vanagas, Seimo prioritetai šią sesiją – tiesioginiai mero rinkimai, gyventojų nuosavybė ir euras,, 5 September 2005. Accessed 3 June 2006.
  21. Template:Lt icon Lietuvos Respublikos vietos savivaldos įstatymo pakeitimo įstatymas, Seimas law database, 12 October 2000, Law no. VIII-2018. Accessed 3 June 2006.
  22. Template:Lt icon Indrė Makaraitytė, Europos Sąjungos pinigai kaimo neišgelbės, Atgimimas,, 16 December 2004. Accessed 4 June 2006.
  23. Climate trends in the Baltic
  24. Effects of 2002 drought in Lithuania
  25. Records of Lithuanian climate
  26. Department of Statistics to the Government of the Republic of Lithuania. Change of GDP, 2002-2006
  27. Lietuvos Bankas
  28. "GDP per capita in PPS". Eurostat. Retrieved on 2009-06-25. 
  29. Lithuanian News
  30. Lithuanian News
  31. Invest in Lithuania
  32. "Electricity Market in the Baltic Countries". Lietuvos Energija. Retrieved on 2008-04-19. 
  33. "Lietuviškas internetas – sparčiausias pasaulyje" (in Lithuanian). 2009-04-08. Retrieved on 2009-05-13. 
  34. "World Results". Retrieved on 2009-05-13. 
  35. Department of Statistics to the Government of the Republic of Lithuania.Population by ethnicity, census. Updated in 2007.
  36. [1]
  37. Lithuanian Security and Foreign Policy.
  38. Statistics Lithuania.
  39. WHO statistical database.
  40. "Lithuani" (PDF). Suicide prevention (SUPRE). World Health Organization. 2008. Retrieved on 2008-11-08. 
  41. See List of countries by suicide rate.
  42. More people are killed in Lithuania than anywhere in the EU
  43. Department of Statistics to the Government of the Republic of Lithuania. Population by Religious Confession, census . Updated in 2005.
  44. United Methodists evangelize in Lithuania with ads, brochures
  45. "Eurobarometer on Social Values, Science and technology 2005 — page 11" (PDF). Retrieved on 2007-05-05. 
  46. History of the Lithuanian Art Museum. Lithuanian Art Museum. Retrieved on 10 October 2008.
  47. "Zaha Hadid to Design Planned Museum in Lithuania". Bloomberg News. Retrieved on 2008-05-24. 
  48. 48.0 48.1 Institute of Lithuanian Scientific Society.Lithuanian Classic Literature. Retrieved on 2009-02-16

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