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LITHUANIA
 
   
   
 

Lithuania Identity Card

Country name:
~ conventional long form: Republic of Lithuania
~ conventional short form: Lithuania
~ local long form: Lietuvos Respublika
~ local short form: Lietuva
 
Area: 65,200 sq km
Coastline: 99 km
Highest point: Juozapines/Kalnas 292 m
Population: 3,596,617
Density: 55/km2
Population growth rate: -0.3%
Official Language: Lithuanian
Religions: Roman Catholic 79%, Russian Orthodox 4.1%, Protestant 1.9%, other or unspecified 15%
Government type: parliamentary democracy
Capital: Vilnius
GDP - per capita: $12,500
Inflation rate: 1.1%
Currency (code): litas (LTL)
Vehicle Country Id-Code: LT
ISO CODE Alpha2: LT
ISO CODE Alpha3: LTU
ISO NUMERIC CODE: 440
Calling code: +370
Internet country code: .lt
Time Zone: + 2.0 H

 
 
 
 

Orthodox church in Druskininkai

Lithuania is a European nation and, unofficially, is considered to be the political leader among the Baltic States following the disintegration of Soviet Russia. Situated at the delta of western and eastern civilisations, the country treasures a devastating yet rich history of repeated invasions and subsequent survivals. If you take a sneak peek in the chronologies of Lithuanian almanac, it becomes evident that the country possesses a legacy of pioneering in more than one field. During the middle Ages, Lithuania was the largest state in the entire Eastern Europe. Around this time it was also a hub of exquisite craftworks and front-runners in overseas trade. It is also the only Baltic country with more than eight hundred years of statehood tradition.
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania and one of the oldest with a distinction of World heritage site. Kaunas, Siauliai, Panevezys and Alytus are other major cities of Lithuania. The main port of the country is in the city of Klaipeda that symbolises the flourishing economy. It requires special mention that, before enlisting itself with the European Union, Lithuania boasted of an economic growth rate of 8.8%.
Lithuania has always been a multinational, multilingual, and multicultural European country. The diversity and multiethnic legacy of Lithuanian culture has its roots in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania that was once spread across the entire European continent. The Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre is famous for its finest opera singers, masterful dancers, apt direction and unique set design. Ethnic Lithuanians dominate the population of Lithuania and practice Roman Catholicism. Other prominent minorities are Poles, Russians and Belarusians.


The coast of Nida on the Baltic Sea

Geography

Lithuania protects its territories on the northeastern parts of Europe while the eastward wave of Baltic Sea touches its shores. The Territory of Lithuania is sprawled over 65200 square km. area and it is the most populous amidst the Baltic zone. The country is also special for its remarkable topographical positioning. A survey conducted by the National Geographical Institute of France in 1989 revealed that the geographical centre point of Europe is just 24 km. northwest of Vilnius city. The country is encompassed by the Republic of Latvia (the length of the border 610 km) to north,
Belarus (724 km) covers the east and south while Poland (110 km) and Kaliningrad (303 km) lies on the southwestern side.
The Baltic Sea takes a minor share of Lithuania’s western and northwestern boundaries. Sand beaches and coastal dunes cover the 99 km. stretched sea coastline. You can get a feel of the saline waters only on the small shoreline of 38 km. The Courland lagoon is at the south coast and separated from the Baltic Sea by the Courland Spit. The biggest port base of the country, Klaipeda, is operational from this Lagoon.
The domestic terrain of Lithuania flourishes by the banks of over seven hundred rivers. The longest among them are the Nemunas, Neris and the Venta. Overall, the country's surface area is mostly low-lying dotted with hilly regions in some places. But the country has also got a healthy dose of swamps and wetlands with over thirty percent of forest area. Five areas of wetlands (Cepkeliai, Kamanos, Nemunas Delta, Viesvile and Zuvintas) are of international importance and are designated as protected areas. Lakes are also abundant in Lithuania, the most prominent among them being Lake Vištytis. Wildlife found in protected regional and national park areas include elk, deer, foxes, wolves and wild boar.
Lithuania's climate dwindles between the features of continental and maritime weather conditions. Overall it is a mild one with cold and drenched winters, complemented by warm summers. The average annual temperature of Lithuania ranks at about 6 C. It varies from -4.8 C in January to 17.2 C in July. The rainfall fluctuates from 540 mm (in the Middle Lowlands) to 930 mm (on the southwest slopes of the Zemaitija Uplands). Though it is the seaside that experiences the greatest amount of falls between August and October, the harvest season in Lithuania lasts for approximately 169 to 202 days.

History

The Hill of Crosses

The history of Lithuania owes much of its richness to the cultural currents of central Europe. The Lithuanian past is nourished by events of the empire that it shared with neighbouring Poland. Today this Baltic country is a new and active member of the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization with a prosperous economy to boast off. But the journey started long ago and Lithuania managed a distinguished identity in the pages of the Annals of Quedlinburg, in 1009.
During the thirteenth century, Lithuania faced the first bout of invasions from the German Crusader knights. Duke Mindaugas fought the Crusaders and united the people of Lithuania after becoming Lithuania's first king in 1253.This era was followed by the days of Grand Duchy of Lithuania when the empire stretched from Black Sea to Baltic Sea, covering Ukraine and Belarus. The unification with Poland came with the marriage of Grand Duke of Lithuania and Queen Jadwiga of Poland during the middle half of the 14th century. At this time, Jogaila initiated campaigns to baptise Lithuania as it was the last country in Europe to adopt Christianity. In 1579, Vilnius University, an important scientific and education centre was opened.
The joint conquest operations of Lithuania and Poland continued for next two hundred years. The partnership found an identity with the signing of the union agreement between Lithuania and Poland in Lublin. The single state of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was established. Wars followed with Russia and Sweden and by the end of the eighteenth century, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was economically and politically weakened. The famous Third Partition brought along a major setback for the kingdom as a chunk of Polish and was distributed between Austria, Prussia and Russia. Consequently, Lithuania went under the possession of Russia.
Lithuania longed for independence and acquired it after the First World War in 1918. The Council of Lithuania adopted a resolution on the restoration of the independent state of Lithuania, with the capital in Vilnius. But since a dispute ensued with Poland on control over Vilnius Kaunas became the provisional capital. But the joy of independence was short lived and Lithuania was re-occupied by Russian in the advent of Second World War. It was the most horrific period of the country as nearly 90% of the Lithuanians, especially Jews, were exiled, jailed or killed. It remained a Soviet Republic until 1990 when Lithuania became the first Soviet Republic to declare independence. But Russia refused to recognise this new found Independent status of Lithuania till the end of 1991 and carried an armed suppression bid. The Russian troops finally gave up and bade farewell from Lithuanian lands in 1993.The Republic of Lithuania registered itself with United Nations in 1991.


Trakai Castle

Economy

Lithuania’s economy has witnessed a stable and impressive rise after it broke away from the Russian rule. It managed to achieve the highest growth rates in Europe and the GDP glittered at 9% in the year 2003.The process of privatisation, increase in domestic demand and boom in export services are the major determinants of this healthy financial situation of Lithuania. The inflation rate in Lithuania too is the lowest in Europe. In fact, the country now fulfils all the criteria to become a member of the European Monetary Union and the membership due in 2007 seems to be an easy ride. The national currency, the litas, has been stable since 1994 and has been fixed at a rate of 3.4528 litas to one euro.
The Lithuanian labour force comprises of nearly 1.6 million people. Most of them are absorbed in the private sector. The country has one of the most educated labor forces in Europe. It helped a lot when the country took a rebound in its trade traditions from Russia to Europe following the former’s financial crisis of 1998. The government undertook liberal trade policies and investment provisions. The information technology and telecommunications sector has expanded massively during the last couple of years.
Lithuania's agricultural sector produces grains, potatoes, beets, vegetables, fruit and dairy products. Lithuanian industry includes petroleum refining, shipbuilding (Baltija Shipyard), agricultural machinery, machine tools and electrical products. The Lithuanian tourist industry is also expanding and is promoting its cultural heritage to lure the global tourists.


Vilnius view

Politics

Lithuania, like any other republic in the world that understands the gravity of democratic values, upholds a constitution. The process began long ago in 16th century when Lithuania adopted its First, Second and Third Statutes. These Statutes became the backbone of the legislative system of the country and was instrumental in preservation of the rights of public. Third Statute remained in effect for as long as 250 years and heavily influenced the contemporary legislations of other European states. The Constitution of Lithuania-Poland Commonwealth and France were adopted in 1791 and became the first such constitutions in Europe. The constitution describes the limitation and perimeter of different authorities of the power, that is, legislative, executive and judiciary.
Today the Lithuanian political system revolves around a unicameral parliament known as the Seimas. It comprises of 141 members representing different political bodies. Any party must acquire at least 5% of the public support through national vote to be represented in the Seimas.
Out of these, the members of this legislative body are elected through single constituencies system and proportional representation for a four-year term.
The president is regarded as the head of state in Lithuania. The citizens elect him directly for five years in the office. The constitution allots him the power to be the commander-in-chief for defense services and supervise foreign and security policies. The prime minister is nominated by the parliament members and appointed by the president. He is a key player in domestic politics and enjoys a great deal of authority. The cabinet members, as well as a number of other top civil servants get their relevant posts after a nod from the premier. The judiciary works independently. It is constituted of the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court and Court of Appeal. The judges are appointed by the President after a nomination from the prime minister.

 



 

 

 
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