Information on Lithuania
|Ethnicities||81,4 % Lithuanian, 8,3 % Russian, 6,9 % Poles a.o.|
|Religion||Mainly Roman Catholics|
|Urban %||67,2 %|
|Basis: Predictions 2013|
|Real Gross Inland Product (GIP), change against previous year||4,0 %|
|Consumer Prices, increase against previous year||2,5 %|
|Unemployment Rate, average/year||12,0 %|
|Trade Balance, balance in % of the GIP||- 2,0 %|
|Official Name of the State||Republic of Lithuania|
Vilnius (550.000 inhabitants)
|Type of Government||Parlamentary Democracy|
|Prime Minister||Algirdas Butkevicius|
|Highest Judicial Power||Supreme Court|
|Electoral System||Direct / Proportional Representation|
|Age of majority||18 years|
Lithuania is situated in the middle of Europe on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea with a coastline of 100 km. In the North, Lithuania borders on Latvia, in the East Belarus and in the South Poland and Kaliningrad region of the Russian Federation.
The present territory of the country covers 65,000 km2 and is thus one and a half times as big as Switzerland. The landscape is plain, the highest point is the hill Juozapines with its 300 m above sea level. Inland water areas cover 4% of the territory. Comparing to the other two Baltic states Lithuania has the most agriculture. Forests occupy 27% of the land area. In the deciduous and mixed forests live wild sows and deer, the nordic coniferous forests shelter elks, lynx and even wolves.
The temperate climate as well as the great variety of fauna and flora can be explained by the geographic position of Lithuania. The climate is a mixture of marine and continental. The average mean temperature in July is + 17°C and in January - 5°C.
80% of the 3,7 million inhabitants are ethnic Lithuanians. 33% of the population live in the rural areas. They consider themselves Roman Catholics. The Catholic Church accomplished a great deal in the preservation of the identity of the country and of Lithuanian culture itself during the atheistic Soviet government. Lithuanian is a representative of the Baltic group of the indo-European languages. Currently, only Latvian is closely related to it.
The today’s national flag of Lithuania was laid down in 1918 and after the Soviet occupation restitued. The three colours symbolize the most noble mental values of the people in Lithuania and the beauty of the country.
Yellow: the sun, represent light and welfare
Green: stands for the beauty of the nature, for hope and delight
Red: symbolize the blood, the life and the soil, things that the Lithuanians defended with boldness and a spirit of self-sacrifice in their fight for freedom
The Lithuanian coat of arms originally dates from 1366 and is thus one of the oldest state coat of arms in Europe. It presents a Lithuanian horseman (vytis) who defends his home country.
The essential history of Lithuania begins in the 1230ies, as the Grand Duke Mindaugas established the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Teutonic Knights tried repeatedly to colonialize the country and convert its people to Christianity. This only offered more resistance against their eastward expansion and speeded up the unification of the forces of the individual duchies. Duke Vytautas expanded into the lands of the eastern Slavs and extended the state border all the way to the shores of the Black Sea. 1386 began the 400-year common history of Lithuania and Poland as they were united to one country. In the 17th century it continued to diminish in strength. Following the third partition of the Republic Lithuania-Poland in 1795 the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was handed over to Russia. Lithuania disappeared from the political map.
In February 1920 Lithuania proclaimed national independence. The freedom which was so hard defended in the independece war of 1919-20 was abruptly finished by the secret Hitler-Stalin-Pact of 1939. Lithuania fell into the Soviet sphere of influence. In 1941 Germany attacked the Soviet Union and occupied the whole of Lithuania. A massive destruction of the Jews was launched, claiming 200'000 lives. In 1944 the Red Army crossed the Lithuanian border again. Lithuania began to be treated as a part of the Soviet Union.
The breakthrough in the transition to a renewed statehood came in 1991.
The capital Vilnius, the „green town“ (1/3 of its area is covered by parks and green spaces), has about 600'000 inhabitants. 50% of them are Lithuanian, 20% each Russian and Polonian.
The brick-built octagonal Gediminas Tower has became a symbol of the town as well as of the national identity. From the platform you get an impressive view on the whole town.
A destination worth while is the castle of Trakai (27 km Southeast of Vilnius). The medieval gotic castle lies on an island and has become a kind of a national shrine. The village Trakai is and old town worth seeing.
The Museum of Devil in Kaunas is filled with the most different objects of Devil. This unique collection shows the difference between the Lithuanian folklore and the Christian religion as far as the view of devil is concerned. In the Lithuanian mythology devil is something of a trickster and the great magician and can not be compared with the Satan of the Christians.
The main attraction of Siauliai is the hill of the crucifixes, a symbol of the new strenghtened Catholicism and of the independence of the country.
The National Park Spit of Kurzeme is a landscape of a very special and unique nature. It is a narrow promontory of sand, 100 km in length,. Sandy deserts alternate with huge pin and birch woods. The spit is a holiday maker’s paradise which belongs to the most beautiful tourist destinations in Europe.