Lithuania Country Facts

Lietuva
Capital city Vilnius
Surface 65,200 km²
Population 2,944,000
Road network length 21,328 km
Length of highway network 516 km
First highway 1970
Motorway name Automagistralė
Traffic drives Right
License plate code LT

Lithuania (Lietuva) is a country in Northern Europe and is part of the Baltic States. The country is one and a half times the size of the Netherlands and has 3 million inhabitants. The capital is Vilnius.

Geography

Lithuania is the southernmost of the three Baltic republics and is located on the Baltic Sea. It borders Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and Poland and Russia (Kaliningrad Oblast) to the south. The country measures a maximum of 370 kilometers from west to east and 290 kilometers from north to south. Of the three Baltic countries, Lithuania has the shortest coastline. Lithuania is predominantly flat to slightly sloping, with less forest cover than Latvia and Estonia. The main river is the Nemunas, which partly forms the border with Russia.

The country has a humid continental climate, with warm summers and cold winters. The average maximum temperature in Vilnius is 22 °C in summer and the average minimum temperature is -9 °C in winter. Due to the continental climate, there are peaks up and down, up to a maximum of 35 °C and a minimum of -37 °C. The annual amount of precipitation is not very large at 650 mm. Although summer has the most precipitation, winter has the most precipitation days.

Economy

Lithuania is a developed country with strong economic growth, although the economy contracted sharply during the recession of 2008-2010. The country has a flat tax and the level of taxation is the lowest of all EU countries. The average income in 2019 was €1,360 per month. Since 2015, Lithuania has been paying with the euro, as the last Baltic country.

The industrial sector in Lithuania is larger than the other Baltic countries, with a relatively large manufacturing industry. Other economic sectors are transport, construction and services. Agriculture plays a limited role, but the food processing industry is relatively large in Lithuania. The capital Vilnius is clearly the most developed area of ​​Lithuania, followed by Kaunas and Klaipėda.

Demographics

Lithuania’s population peaked at 3.7 million in 1989 and then steadily declined to 3.3 million in 2010. In percentage terms, the population decline is smaller than in neighboring Latvia. Unlike in Latvia and Estonia, the proportion of Russians in Lithuania is much lower at 6%. 84% of the population is Lithuanian and 7% Polish. Most Poles live in and around Vilnius.

Lithuania’s population is less centered on the capital than in Latvia and Estonia. Less than 1 in 6 Lithuanians lives in the capital Vilnius, in the other two Baltic countries 1 in 3 residents lives in the capital. Lithuania is the only Baltic country to have multiple cities of more than 100,000 inhabitants. In total there are 4 cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants, besides Vilnius also Kaunas, Klaipėda and Šiauliai. In total there are 11 cities with more than 25,000 inhabitants. Lithuania is therefore more decentralized.

The only official language in Lithuania is Lithuanian, which is related to Latvian. It is spoken as a mother tongue by 85% of the population. Russian and Polish are spoken by 7% and 5% of the population respectively. Many older Lithuanians speak Russian well, many younger Lithuanians speak better English.

History

Lithuania is historically one of the most important countries in eastern Europe. The Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which existed in the 13th to 16th centuries, reached as far as the Black Sea and encompassed large parts of present-day Belarus and Ukraine. In 1569 it became part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which at its maximum had an area of ​​almost 1 million km². It was then divided by Austria, Prussia and Russia, with modern-day Lithuania being incorporated into the Russian Empire.

Lithuania was declared independent in 1918. The Vilnius region was then annexed by Poland, and Kaunas was the temporary capital. Later the Klaipėda area became part of Germany. In 1939, eastern Poland was occupied by the Soviet Union, and the Vilnius region returned to Lithuanian rule. A year later, Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union, but then Nazi Germany conquered the country. In 1944 it came back under Soviet rule, finally being annexed as part of the Soviet Union in 1945.

Between 1944 and 1952, rebels fought against the occupation by the Soviet Union, but they were ultimately defeated. Klaipėda rejoined Lithuania in 1945. At the time of the Soviet Union, Lithuania was Russified to a much lesser extent than Latvia and Estonia, so it also has a much smaller Russian population than those countries. Lithuania gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and the last Russian troops left the country in 1993. Lithuania joined NATO and the European Union in 2004. Since 2015 it belongs to the eurozone.

 

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