The Republic of Lithuania, on the coast of the eastern Baltic Sea, is the southernmost and largest of the three Baltic states. Its territory is an ice age shaped, hilly only in the moraine area, up to 293 m high land with around 4000 lakes, numerous moors and open forests. The largest river is the Memel (Nemunas), which flows with a delta into the Curonian Lagoon of the Baltic Sea.
Agriculture, which employs around 10% of the workforce, still plays an important role. The industry is mainly concentrated in Vilnius and Kaunas. Lithuania is poor in natural resources.
In 1918 Lithuania declared its independence from the Russian Empire and in 1940 – like the whole of the Baltic States – was annexed by the Soviet Union. Lithuania regained its independence in 1991 and became a member of the European Union in 2004.
Abbreviated as LT by ABBREVIATIONFINDER, Lithuania is located in northeastern Europe and is one of the successor states of the Soviet Union. It borders Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland to the southwest and the Kaliningrad region of the Russian Federation, and the Baltic Sea to the west. Lithuania has an area of around 65,300 km². Vilnius (Lithuanian: Vilnius) is the capital and the largest city of Lithuania. It is located in the south-eastern part of the country. There is probably no other place in Lithuania where the gothic, renaissance, baroque and classicism art epochs shape a city silhouette as lastingly as in Vilnius.
Lithuania extends from north to south over approx. 250 km, the west-east extension is approx. 350 km. Like Latvia and Estonia, Lithuania is a Baltic republic.
Important data about the country
|Population density:||57 residents / km²|
|Growth of population:||-0.2% / year|
(men / women)
|66.3 / 77.5 years|
|Form of government:||parliamentary democracy|
|Languages:||Lithuanian, Polish, Russian|
|Religions:||Roman Catholic Christians 90%
Russian Orthodox Christians 4%
|Climate:||In the coastal areas of the west maritime influence with small temperature differences between summer and winter and abundant precipitation, in the east a continental climate with lower Lower Saxony.|
|Land use:||A third of the country’s area is forested, especially in the south and east.|
|Economic sectors:||Agriculture 10%, industry 33%, services 57% (2002)|
|Export goods:||Textiles, clothing, fertilizers, machinery|
|Gross domestic product:||US $ 13,796 million (2002)|
|Gross National Product:||US $ 3,670 per resident (2002)|
Lithuania is located in the northwest of the Eastern European lowlands, which is a landscape shaped by the Ice Age. Especially in the north and south-east, the country is characterized by chains of hills. For the most part, these elevations mark former marginal locations of the Pleistocene inland ice masses. Overall, the height classification is relatively weak. The highest height is reached with 294 meters in the southeast, near the border with Belarus. Extensive plains with numerous lakes and rivers extend between these ranges of hills and the approximately 90 km long Baltic coast.
To the north and south of the port city of Klaipeda (Memel), Lithuania borders the Baltic Sea with miles of sandy beaches and dunes of the Curonian Spit. The Curonian Spit is a headland that joins the Curonian Lagoon separates from the Baltic Sea. The northern half of the spit is Lithuanian, the southern part belongs to the Kaliningrad Region of the Russian Federation. It is 96 km long, only 400 m wide in places, and has dunes – especially on the inside. These achieve z. T. 70-80 m high. At least 15 fishing villages between the 16th and 19th centuries were forever blown by the constantly traveling sand of the spit. The dunes have been defined by planting pines and beach grass since the 19th century. That is why there are now extensive forests on the lake side. These peculiarities were the reason for the inclusion of the Curonian Spit on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The water network in Lithuania is extremely dense. The longest river is the Memel (Lithuanian: Nemunas). Coming from Belarus, the Memel reaches Lithuanian territory in a hilly landscape with many lakes in the southeast. There are several nature parks and the old health resort Druskininkai with its mineral springs, mud therapies and forest hiking trails. The Memel River forms the border with the Kaliningrad region for the last 200 km.
Climate, vegetation and wildlife
The climate of the western parts of the country is dominated by maritime influences. The temperature differences between summer and winter remain lower in the coastal areas than in the more continental east. On the coast the average temperatures in January are -4 °C, in July 16 °C; in eastern Lithuania the values are – 6 °C and 18 °C. Annual rainfall averages between 600 mm in the central parts of the country and over 850 mm in the west.
About a third of the country’s area is covered by forests. Especially in the south and east of the country there are extensive forest areas with pine, birch and spruce as the dominant tree species. Although about half of the original wetlands have been drained, there are still numerous swamps, especially in the north and west. In humid conditions, poplar and willow also thrive, and alder trees are widespread in swamp forests. The forest-covered areas are the habitat of a diverse fauna. These include deer, wolves, foxes and wild boars. The bird world is rich in species and includes numerous water birds as well as black grouse and capercaillie among others.
Agriculture and industry
Animal husbandry, dairy farming and fishing are the dominant agricultural sectors. The most important crops are cereals, potatoes, sugar beets, flax and vegetables.
The main commodities of Lithuania are mineral products, machinery and equipment, vehicles, textiles and clothing, chemical products, and wood products and food. Most of the trade is with the Russian Federation, Germany, the United Kingdom and Latvia.
Lithuania is poor in natural resources. It only has peat and amber. The nuclear power plant in Ignalina is of great importance for energy generation (same construction type as Chernobyl). It generates 80% of the electricity required in the country. After the first reactor was shut down at the beginning of 2005, the second and last reactor will also be shut down.
The tourism has gained in the past few years. Vilnius with the well-preserved historical center Kaunas and Trakai, which was the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 16th century, and the Curonian Spit with the Memel Delta are popular visitor centers.
Kaunas has a historic city center with a picturesque old town with many old monuments. Special sights of the densely built old town are the St. Georgskirche and the cathedral, both from the 15th century, the town hall and the town hall square. Old town houses that radiate prosperity line the square. The massive Archangel Michael Church and the university are well worth seeing. Remains of the castle from the 13th century remind of the battles with the knights of the Teutonic Order, who however never succeeded in subjugating Lithuania.
Trakai is located around 20 km west of Vilna. Here is primarily a historically significant castle, the construction of which began in the 14th century and which quickly became the political center of Lithuania. In the 16th century the city lost its importance and Vilnius (Vilnius) took its place. Trakai is on a peninsula. The castle has been rebuilt over the past 100 years after being completely in ruins. Today you can visit an almost completely restored moated castle from the Middle Ages. Trakai is surrounded by a beautiful lake landscape.
The first mention of the Lithuanians in their current settlement area appears in a Prussian manuscript in 1009. With the rise of the medieval feudal lords in neighboring Prussia and Russia, Lithuania was for decades a buffer zone between Germans in the west and Mongols and Tatars in the east. In the 13th century, the German Order (Teutonic Knights Order) became more and more influential. The Lithuanians were able to defeat him in 1260. During this time the village of Trakai developed.
Finally, through a policy of conquest, Lithuania was able to form an empire that stretched from the Baltic to the Black Sea. The Lithuanians formed a political union with Poland and were able to defeat the Teutonic Order near Tannenberg in 1410. As a result of the third partition of Poland, in 1795, to which Lithuania belonged since the 16th century, Lithuania essentially became a part of Russia. Only a small part was assigned to Prussia.
During the First World War the German army occupied Lithuania, and in February 1918 Lithuania declared its independence from the Russian Empire. As a result of the annexation of the Memelland by the German Reich in 1939, Lithuania became a republic of the Soviet Union in 1940 . After the occupation by German troops in World War II, the entire Baltic region was integrated into the Soviet Union in 1945, and many Russians also moved to Lithuania.
At the end of the 1980’s, political changes in Eastern Europe sparked a new Lithuanian nationalism and on September 6, 1991 Lithuania gained independence granted. The last Russian troops left the country in 1993. Lithuania joined the European Union on May 1st, 2004.