Lithuanic /lith'ooh an"ik/, adj., n.
/lith'ooh ay"nee euh/, n.
a republic in N Europe, on the Baltic: an independent state 1918-40; annexed by the Soviet Union 1940; regained independence 1991. 3,635,932; 25,174 sq. mi. (65,200 sq. km). Cap.: Vilnius. Lithuanian, Lietuva.

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Introduction Lithuania
Background: Independent between the two World Wars, Lithuania was annexed by the USSR in 1940. On 11 March 1990, Lithuania became the first of the Soviet republics to declare its independence, but this proclamation was not generally recognized until September of 1991 (following the abortive coup in Moscow). The last Russian troops withdrew in 1993. Lithuania subsequently has restructured its economy for eventual integration into Western European institutions. Geography Lithuania -
Location: Eastern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, between Latvia and Russia
Geographic coordinates: 56 00 N, 24 00 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 65,200 sq km water: NA sq km land: NA sq km
Area - comparative: slightly larger than West Virginia
Land boundaries: total: 1,273 km border countries: Belarus 502 km, Latvia 453 km, Poland 91 km, Russia (Kaliningrad) 227 km
Coastline: 99 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 NM
Climate: transitional, between maritime and continental; wet, moderate winters and summers
Terrain: lowland, many scattered small lakes, fertile soil
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Baltic Sea 0 m highest point: Juozapines/Kalnas 292 m
Natural resources: peat, arable land
Land use: arable land: 45.46% permanent crops: 0.93% other: 53.61% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 90 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: NA Environment - current issues: contamination of soil and groundwater with petroleum products and chemicals at military bases Environment - international party to: Biodiversity, Climate
agreements: Change, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Geography - note: fertile central plains are separated by hilly uplands that are ancient glacial deposits People Lithuania
Population: 3,601,138 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 18.2% (male 333,966; female 319,992) 15-64 years: 68% (male 1,184,969; female 1,265,711) 65 years and over: 13.8% (male 167,789; female 328,711) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.25% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 10.22 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 12.87 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: 0.15 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.51 male(s)/ female total population: 0.88 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 14.34 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 69.42 years female: 75.6 years (2002 est.) male: 63.54 years
Total fertility rate: 1.4 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.02% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ less than 500 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: less than 100 (1999 est.)
Nationality: noun: Lithuanian(s) adjective: Lithuanian
Ethnic groups: Lithuanian 80.6%, Russian 8.7%, Polish 7%, Belarusian 1.6%, other 2.1%
Religions: Roman Catholic (primarily), Lutheran, Russian Orthodox, Protestant, Evangelical Christian Baptist, Muslim, Jewish
Languages: Lithuanian (official), Polish, Russian
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 98% male: 99% female: 98% (1989 est.) Government Lithuania
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Lithuania conventional short form: Lithuania local short form: Lietuva former: Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic local long form: Lietuvos Respublika
Government type: parliamentary democracy
Capital: Vilnius Administrative divisions: 10 counties (apskritys, singular - apskritis); Alytaus, Kauno, Klaipedos, Marijampoles, Panevezio, Siauliu, Taurages, Telsiu, Utenos, Vilniaus
Independence: 11 March 1990 (independence declared from Soviet Union); 6 September 1991 (Soviet Union recognizes Lithuania's independence)
National holiday: Independence Day, 16 February (1918); note - 16 February 1918 is the date of independence from German, Austrian, Prussian, and Russian occupation, 11 March 1990 is the date of independence from the Soviet Union
Constitution: adopted 25 October 1992
Legal system: based on civil law system; legislative acts can be appealed to the constitutional court
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Valdas ADAMKUS (since 26 February 1998) head of government: Premier Algirdas Mykolas BRAZAUSKAS (since 3 July 2001) cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president on the nomination of the premier elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 21 December 1997 and 4 January 1998 (next to be held in late 2002); premier appointed by the president on the approval of the Parliament election results: Valdas ADAMKUS elected president; percent of vote - Valdas ADAMKUS 50.4%, Arturas PAULAUSKAS 49.6%
Legislative branch: unicameral Parliament or Seimas (141 seats, 71 members are directly elected by popular vote, 70 are elected by proportional representation; members serve four- year terms) elections: last held 8 October 2000 (next to be held NA October 2004) election results: percent of vote by party - Social Democratic Coalition 31.1%, New Union-Social Liberals 19.6%, Liberal Union 17.2%, TS 8.6%, remaining parties all less than 5%; seats by party - Social Democratic Coalition 52, Liberal Union 34, New Union-Social Liberals 29, TS 9, Farmer's Party 4, Center Union 2, Poles' Electoral Action 2, Modern Christian Democratic Union 1, independents 3, others 5
Judicial branch: Constitutional Court; Supreme Court; Court of Appeal; judges for all courts appointed by the President Political parties and leaders: Christian Democratic Party or LKDP [Kazys BOBELIS, chairman]; Electoral Action of Lithuanian Poles [Valdemar TOMASZEVSKI, chairman]; Homeland Union/Conservative Party or TS [Vytautas LANDSBERGIS, chairman]; Lithuanian Center Union or LCS [Kestutis GLAVECKAS, chairman]; Lithuanian Farmer's Party or LUP [Ramunas KARBAUSKIS, chairman]; Lithuanian Green Party [Rimantas BRAZIULIS]; Lithuanian Liberal Union [Eugenijus GENTVILAS, chairman]; Lithuanian Liberal Youth [Neringa MOROZAITE]; Lithuanian National Democratic Party [Vygintas GONTIS]; Lithuanian Social Democratic Coalition [Algirdas BRAZAUSKAS, chairman] consists of the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party or LDDP, the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party or LSPD, and New Democracy; Moderate Conservative Union [Gediminas VAGNORIUS]; Modern Christian Democratic Union [Vytautas BOGUSIS, chairman]; New Democracy and Farmer's Union [Kazimiera PRUNSKIENE, chairman]; New Union- Social Liberals [Arturas PAULAUSKAS, chairman]; Young Lithuania [Arnoldas PLATELIS] Political pressure groups and NA
leaders: International organization ACCT (observer), BIS, CBSS, CCC, CE,
participation: EAPC, EBRD, ECE, EU (applicant), FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO (correspondent), ITU, OPCW, OSCE, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMIK, UPU, WCL, WEU (associate partner), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Vygaudas USACKAS consulate(s) general: Chicago and New York FAX: [1] (202) 328-0466 telephone: [1] (202) 234-5860 chancery: 2622 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009 Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador John F.
US: TEFFT embassy: Akmenu 6, 2600 Vilnius mailing address: American Embassy, Vilnius, PSC 78, Box V, APO AE 09723 telephone: [370] (2) 665-500 FAX: [370] (2) 665-510
Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of yellow (top), green, and red Economy Lithuania -
Economy - overview: Lithuania, the Baltic state that has conducted the most trade with Russia, has been slowly rebounding from the 1998 Russian financial crisis. High unemployment, at 12.5% in 2001, and weak consumption have held back recovery. Trade has been increasingly oriented toward the West. Lithuania has gained membership in the World Trade Organization and has moved ahead with plans to join the EU. Privatization of the large, state- owned utilities, particularly in the energy sector, is underway.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $27.4 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 4.8% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $7,600 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 9% industry: 32% services: 59% (2000 est.) Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: 3.1%
percentage share: highest 10%: 25.6% (1996) Distribution of family income - Gini 34 (1999)
index: Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1.3% (2001 est.)
Labor force: 1.5 million (2001 est.) Labor force - by occupation: industry 30%, agriculture 20%, services 50% (1997 est.)
Unemployment rate: 12.5% (2001 est.)
Budget: revenues: $1.59 billion expenditures: $1.77 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2001 est.)
Industries: metal-cutting machine tools, electric motors, television sets, refrigerators and freezers, petroleum refining, shipbuilding (small ships), furniture making, textiles, food processing, fertilizers, agricultural machinery, optical equipment, electronic components, computers, amber Industrial production growth rate: 15% (2001 est.) Electricity - production: 10.966 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 20.16% hydro: 3.06% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 76.78% Electricity - consumption: 6.898 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 6.3 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 3 billion kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: grain, potatoes, sugar beets, flax, vegetables; beef, milk, eggs; fish
Exports: $4.8 billion (f.o.b., 2001)
Exports - commodities: mineral products 21%, textiles and clothing 19%, machinery and equipment 11%, chemicals 8%, wood and wood products 6%, foodstuffs 4% (2000)
Exports - partners: Latvia 15%, Germany 14%, UK 8%, Russia 7%, Ukraine 5% (2000)
Imports: $5.7 billion (f.o.b., 2001)
Imports - commodities: mineral products 23%, machinery and equipment 16%, chemicals 9%, textiles and clothing 9%, transport equipment 9% (2000)
Imports - partners: Russia 28%, Germany 15%, Poland 5%, France 4%, UK 4% (2000)
Debt - external: $3.6 billion (2001 est.) Economic aid - recipient: $228.5 million (1995)
Currency: litas (LTL)
Currency code: LTL
Exchange rates: litai per US dollar - 4.000 (fixed rate since 1 May 1994); note - litai is the plural of litas; effective 2 February 2002 the litas are pegged to the euro
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Lithuania Telephones - main lines in use: 1.142 million (2001) Telephones - mobile cellular: 500,000 (2001)
Telephone system: general assessment: inadequate, but is being modernized to provide an improved international capability and better residential access domestic: a national, fiber-optic cable, interurban, trunk system is nearing completion; rural exchanges are being improved and expanded; mobile cellular systems are being installed; access to the Internet is available; still many unsatisfied telephone subscriber applications international: landline connections to Latvia and Poland; major international connections to Denmark, Sweden, and Norway by submarine cable for further transmission by satellite Radio broadcast stations: AM 29, FM 142, shortwave 1 (2001)
Radios: 1.9 million (1997) Television broadcast stations: 27 note: Lithuania has approximately 27 broadcasting stations, but may have as many as 100 transmitters, including repeater stations (2001)
Televisions: 1.7 million (1997)
Internet country code: .lt Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 32 (2001)
Internet users: 341,000 (2001) Transportation Lithuania
Railways: total: 1,998 km broad gauge: 1,807 km 1.524-m gauge (122 km electrified) narrow gauge: 169 km 0.750-m gauge (2001) standard gauge: 22 km 1.435-m gauge
Highways: total: 44,000 km paved: 35,500 km unpaved: 8,500 km (2001)
Waterways: 600 km (perennially navigable)
Pipelines: crude oil, 105 km; natural gas 760 km (1992)
Ports and harbors: Butinge, Kaunas, Klaipeda
Merchant marine: total: 47 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 279,743 GRT/304,156 DWT ships by type: cargo 25, combination bulk 8, petroleum tanker 2, railcar carrier 1, refrigerated cargo 6, roll on/roll off 2, short-sea passenger 3 note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Denmark 13 (2002 est.)
Airports: 72 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 9 over 3,047 m: 2 1,524 to 2,437 m: 4 under 914 m: 3 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 63 1,524 to 2,437 m: 3 914 to 1,523 m: 5 under 914 m: 55 (2001) Military Lithuania
Military branches: Ground Forces, Navy, Air and Air Defense Force, National Volunteer Defense Forces (SKAT) Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age (2002 est.) Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 933,638 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 733,415 (2002 est.)
service: Military manpower - reaching males: 28,506 (2002 est.)
military age annually: Military expenditures - dollar $230.8 million (FY01)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 1.9% (FY01)
GDP: Transnational Issues Lithuania Disputes - international: the Russian Duma has not ratified 1997 boundary treaty; the Latvian Parliament has not ratified its 1998 maritime boundary treaty with Lithuania, primarily due to concerns over oil exploration rights
Illicit drugs: transshipment point for opiates and other illicit drugs from Southwest Asia, Latin America, and Western Europe to Western Europe and Scandinavia; limited production of methamphetamine and ecstasy

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officially Republic of Lithuania

Country, northeastern Europe.

Area: 25,212 sq mi (65,300 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 3,473,000. Capital: Vilnius. Ethnic Lithuanians make up about four-fifths of the population; there are smaller numbers of Russians, Poles, and Belarusians. Languages: Lithuanian (official), Russian, Polish, Belarusian. Religion: Roman Catholicism (majority). Currency: litas. The country consists of low-lying plains alternating with hilly uplands, watered by rivers that meander westward to the Baltic Sea. Manufacturing, including metalworking, woodworking, and textile production, is the most important sector of the economy, especially in the east and south. Agriculture focuses on livestock breeding, especially dairy farming and pigs, and the cultivation of cereals, flax, sugar beets, potatoes, and fodder crops. Lithuania is a republic with one legislative house; its head of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister. Lithuanian tribes united in the mid-13th century to oppose the Teutonic Knights. Gediminas, one of the grand dukes, expanded Lithuania into an empire that dominated much of eastern Europe in the 14th–16th centuries. In 1386 the Lithuanian grand duke became the king of Poland, and the two countries remained closely associated for the next 400 years. Lithuania was acquired by Russia in the third partition of Poland in 1795 and joined in the Polish revolt in 1863. Occupied by Germany during World War I, it declared its independence in 1918. In 1940 the Soviet Red Army gained control of Lithuania, which was soon incorporated into the Soviet Union as the Lithuanian S.S.R. Germany occupied Lithuania again from 1941, but the Red Army regained control in 1944. With the breakup of the U.S.S.R., Lithuania declared its independence in 1990 and gained full independence in 1991. In the 1990s and early 21st century it sought economic stability, as well as membership in the European Union. It signed a border treaty with Russia in 1997.

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▪ 2009

65,300 sq km (25,212 sq mi)
(2008 est.): 3,358,000
Chief of state:
President Valdas Adamkus
Head of government:
Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas and, from December 9, Andrius Kubilius

      Lithuania encouraged international support for Georgia following the Aug. 8, 2008, incursion into that country by Russian troops. On August 13, Lithuanian Pres. Valdas Adamkus traveled to Tbilisi—together with Estonian Pres. Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Latvian Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis, and Polish Pres. Lech Kaczynski—to support Georgia's democratically elected president. In their joint declaration, the leaders unconditionally supported Georgia's territorial integrity, demanded the withdrawal of the Russian troops, and suggested that the NATO Membership Action Plan be offered to Georgia.

      After Russia declared that the Baltic states would pay for their support of Georgia, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Petras Vaitiekunas emphasized the seriousness of the threat. On September 29, President Adamkus met in Washington, D.C., with U.S. Pres. George W. Bush, who reiterated the U.S. commitment to invoke Article V of NATO's charter, proclaiming that the assaults against one member constituted an attack on all member states. In October, Adm. Michael G. Mullen, the U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reassured the Baltic countries that they could rely on NATO in the advent of a Russian attack.

      The October 12 general election was followed by a runoff on October 26. In the parliamentary balloting, the opposition Homeland Union (TS) took 45 seats, followed by the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (25); the National Revival Party (16), founded in 2007 by television quiz-show host Arunas Valinskas; the For Order and Justice Party (15); the Liberal Movement (11); the coalition of the Labour Party and Youth (10); the Liberal and Centre Union (8); the Union of Peasants and People (3); Lithuanian Poles' Electoral Action (3); New Union (1); and 4 independent candidates. The TS, led by former prime minister Andrius Kubilius, agreed to form a centre-right coalition with both Liberal parties and the National Revival Party.

      Despite the slowdown in the global economy, GDP growth in Lithuania was 3.1% in the third quarter compared with the same period of the previous year. On Jan. 1, 2008, foreign direct investment reached nearly $15 billion, and it was up to nearly $16 billion on July 1.

Darius Furmonavičius

▪ 2008

65,300 sq km (25,212 sq mi)
(2007 est.): 3,375,000
Chief of state:
President Valdas Adamkus
Head of government:
Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas

 In an effort to reduce Lithuania's dependency on Russian energy resources, in 2007 Vilnius encouraged closer energy collaboration in Europe. On February 23 the Baltic states and Poland agreed to build a new nuclear power station in Lithuania, replacing the plant in Ignalina. At the Vilnius energy summit in October, the Baltic states and Black Sea regions were encouraged to bypass Russia and secure a reliable supply route for Caspian Sea oil. The oil supply that had ceased in 2006 from Russia to Mazeikiu Nafta, Lithuania's main oil refinery, continued to be stanched. Also, Russia dismissed the Lithuanian claim that Moscow should pay compensation of $34 billion for its 50-year occupation of Lithuania.

      On May 10 the parliament approved Pres. Valdas Adamkus's firing of Arvydas Pocius, the director of Lithuania's State Security Department. The declassified hearings of the parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense indicated that the aim of Dujotekana (the natural gas import company founded by Rimantas Stonys, Antanas Bosas, and Viktor Uspaskich with the help of Russian intelligence) was to increase Russian influence in Lithuania. It engineered the takeover of the energy enterprises and attempted to acquire the railway transit across Lithuania to and from Russia's occupied Kaliningrad region. Pocius had failed to transfer to the Committee on National Security and Defense the existing classified reports, which provided the link between Dujotekana and Albinas Januska (an adviser to Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas) who helped Gazprom acquire the Kaunas thermoelectric power station.

      In economic news, the stable GDP growth rate of 9% was largely due to the significant increase (of $5.4 billion over the previous year) in foreign direct investment (FDI) in Lithuania. By the beginning of the second quarter, FDI had soared to $13 billion.

      In September the Lithuanian basketball team won the bronze medal at the Eurobasket championship in Spain. Earlier in the year Lithuania was the guest of honour at the Turin (Italy) International Book Fair.

Darius Furmonavičius

▪ 2007

65,300 sq km (25,212 sq mi)
(2006 est.): 3,392,000
Chief of state:
President Valdas Adamkus
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Algirdas Brazauskas, Zigmantas Balcytis (acting) from June 1, and, from July 4, Gediminas Kirkilas

      Lithuania continued its promotion of democracy in Eastern Europe during 2006. Together with his Polish counterpart, Pres. Valdas Adamkus organized the Vilnius Conference in May, inviting leaders of the neighbouring states to discuss a “common vision for a common neighbourhood.” Keynote speaker U.S. Vice Pres. Dick Cheney stated that “no legitimate interest is served when oil and gas become tools of intimidation or blackmail” and repeated “words of encouragement once given by Pope John Paul II to afflicted Europe: ‘Be not afraid.'”

      In May, Viktor Uspaskikh, the founder of the Labour Party, was indicted for tax evasion, but he escaped Lithuanian authorities and fled to Russia. In June and July, Belarusian helicopters violated Lithuanian airspace. On July 29 the oil supply from Russia ceased, ostensibly because of a pipeline break that the Russians were slow to fix. The incident followed Lithuania's decision to sell 30.66% of shares of Mazeikiu Nafta, the main oil refinery, to the Polish company PKN Orlen, which also purchased a majority stake in the refinery from Yukos, a bankrupt Russian oil company. On August 23 Vytautas Pociunas, the former chief of Lithuania's economic intelligence unit, who had been involved in countering attempts by Russia to gain power in Lithuania by influencing the country's energy sector, was found dead in Belarus in suspicious circumstances. Queen Elizabeth II visited Lithuania in October. She was the first reigning British monarch to visit the Baltic States.

      The healthy GDP growth rate (7.4%) was to a large extent attributable to the increase in direct foreign investment in Lithuania, which by the beginning of the second quarter had reached $8.6 billion.

      Lithuanians were proud of discus-thrower Virgilijus Alekna, who succeeded in winning gold once again at the European athletics championships in Göteborg, Swed., in August. Alekna had dominated his sport in the world championships and Olympics for several years.

Darius Furmonavičius

▪ 2006

65,300 sq km (25,212 sq mi)
(2005 est.): 3,413,000
Chief of state:
President Valdas Adamkus
Head of government:
Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas

      Lithuania actively participated in the promotion of democracy in the Eastern European region during 2005. Together with his Polish counterpart, Pres. Valdas Adamkus had helped mediate during the “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine in late 2004. With his Estonian counterpart he rejected an invitation by the Kremlin to celebrate in Moscow on May 9 the end of World War II in Europe because the Baltic States had been subjected to Soviet occupation. On July 22 the U.S. Congress unanimously passed a resolution demanding that Russia “issue a clear and unambiguous statement of admission and condemnation of the illegal occupation and annexation by the Soviet Union from 1940 to 1991 of the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania,” but Russia refused to make an apology.

      Lithuania's relationship with Russia became even more tense when on September 15 a fighter aircraft accompanying a Russian spy plane over the Baltic Sea violated Lithuanian airspace for about 20 minutes before crashing near Kaunas. The plane, en route from St. Petersburg to the heavily militarized Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, was carrying four air-to-air missiles and at least 2 kg (4.4 lb) of radioactive metal. Embarrassingly, the incident coincided with negotiations in Washington, D.C., by Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin regarding the acquisition of Lithuania's main petroleum refinery at Mazeikiai by the Russian state oil company Lukoil. In response Lithuania called for the demilitarization of the Kaliningrad region.

      Lithuania's GDP was growing at the rate of 7%, and the foreign direct investment reached $6.1 billion by the beginning of the second quarter. Average annual wages remained low, however, at approximately $5,600.

      Lithuanians were proud when Virgilijus Alekna won the gold medal in discus at the Helsinki IAAF world athletics championship in August and set a new world record.

Darius Furmonavičius

▪ 2005

65,300 sq km (25,212 sq mi)
(2004 est.): 3,439,000
Chief of state:
Presidents Rolandas Paksas, Arturas Paulauskas (acting) from April 6, and, from July 12, Valdas Adamkus
Head of government:
Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas

      Lithuania became a member of NATO on April 2 and joined the European Union on May 1. On April 6 Pres. Rolandas Paksas was impeached, with 86 of the 141 members of the Seimas (parliament) voting to remove him from office (85 votes were required). The Constitutional Court confirmed that the president had violated the constitution on at least three occasions, notably when he granted Lithuanian citizenship to a Russian-born financial supporter. Declassified transcripts linked Paksas advisers and major election-campaign donors with Russian organized crime. After the impeachment Arturas Paulauskas, chairman of the Seimas, became acting president. Former president Valdas Adamkus won the special presidential election, with 30% of the vote in the first round on June 13 and 52% in the runoff on June 27.

      The country's first election to the European Parliament also took place on June 13. Five of the 13 MEP seats that Lithuania had been allocated were won by the newly established pro-Russia populist Labour Party. The Social Democrats, conservative Homeland Union, and Liberal and Centre Union (LCS) each captured two seats, with the Farmers Union and Paksas's Liberal Democratic Party dividing the last two.

      In June, Russia refused to make an apology for the occupation of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, and at the end of September, it surprisingly demanded $3 billion in compensation for its withdrawal from the Baltic States. In response, Vilnius reminded Moscow that damages during the Soviet occupation of Lithuania could be estimated at $27 billion. Lithuania's GDP continued to grow beyond 7%, one of the fastest rates in the EU, while inflation remained low.

      In Lithuania's two-round general election, held on October 10 and 24, the Labour Party gained the most seats (39), followed by Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas's ruling coalition (31), the Homeland Union (25), and the LCS (18). A left-wing coalition was formed, embracing Brazauskas's coalition (comprising the Social Democrats and the Social Liberals), the Labour Party, and the Farmers Union.

Darius Furmonavičius

▪ 2004

65,300 sq km (25,212 sq mi)
(2003 est.): 3,454,000
Chief of state:
Presidents Valdas Adamkus and, from February 26, Rolandas Paksas
Head of government:
Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas

      In the second round of voting in the presidential elections on Jan. 5, 2003, Rolandas Paksas (see Biographies (Paksas, Rolandas )), the leader of Lithuania's new populist Liberal Democratic Party, emerged the victor. The young and aggressive Paksas received 54.7% of votes, defeating the much more experienced centre-right incumbent, Pres. Valdas Adamkus, with 45.3%. Voter turnout was 52.6%. Late in the year, though, allegations arose that Paksas's administration had ties to Russian mobsters, and the parliament began impeachment proceedings on December 18.

      Lithuania's economy registered a GDP growth rate of 9.4% and a 25.9% rise in exports in the first quarter of the year, while the unemployment rate decreased to 9.7%. Lithuania was dubbed “the Baltic Tiger” by The Economist. Despite the average annual wage increase of $1,180 to $4,730 (which was partly due to the drop of the dollar) in the first half of 2003, one-fifth of the population was on welfare and living in poverty, and salaries of academics and physicians had been frozen for six years.

      In international affairs, on May 8 the U.S. Senate unanimously ratified the enlargement of NATO, including the Baltic States. On May 10–11 Lithuania voted to join the EU and became the first Baltic candidate country to hold a referendum on the issue (89.95% voted “for,” with 63.4% turnout).

      The centre-right Homeland Union (Conservatives) organized a 10-day demonstration in September near (Russian-owned) Lukoil service stations in Lithuania to protest Russia's plans to extract oil in the Baltic Sea five kilometres (three miles) off Lithuania's coast. It feared ecological disaster for the Curonian Spit, a Lithuanian national park and UNESCO World Natural Heritage site.

      Lithuania celebrated its 750th anniversary, dated to the coronation of King Mindaugas, on July 6. The largest-ever World Lithuanian Song and Dance Festival took place in Vilnius, and national pride surged again in September when the national team won gold in the European basketball championship in Stockholm.

Darius Furmonavičius

▪ 2003

65,300 sq km (25,212 sq mi)
(2002 est.): 3,473,000
Chief of state:
President Valdas Adamkus
Head of government:
Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas

      Energy—including its impact on foreign relations—was a top issue in Lithuania in 2002. In August a series of negotiations resulted in the Lithuanian energy giant, the Mazeikiu Nafta oil refinery, coming under the control of a Russian company, which raised economic and political concerns in the country. An American corporation, Williams International, controlled 27% of the refinery and sold its shares to a YUKOS Oil Co. subsidiary, which emerged with a 54% stake in Lithuania's largest producer of gasoline—and a company that represented some 10% of the country's gross domestic product.

      Otherwise, the economy showed positive trends: a growth in foreign trade of about 1% a month and a GDP approaching 7%, but prosperity eluded the population, the standard of living remained low, and the average annual wage was stuck at about $3,350.

      Lithuania was a special guest country at the Frankfurt International Book Fair in October and received welcome publicity in the German-language and world press.

      The invitation of Lithuania to join NATO, made at the Prague Summit in November, constituted the most important international event in Lithuania since the withdrawal of Russian troops in 1993. To celebrate the event and Lithuania's leadership in the “Vilnius-10” process, George W. Bush stopped in Vilnius on November 22–23, the first U.S. president to visit Lithuania. He was awarded the Order of Vytautas the Great for his dedication to a united and free Europe and for his effective leadership toward this goal. An invitation for Lithuania to join the European Union was received in mid-December.

      In the latter part of the year, the country geared up for elections on December 22. For the first time, local council elections were held at the same time as the presidential balloting; the Social Democrats won 332 seats. In the presidential race the political right gathered around popular Pres. Valdas Adamkus, and Andrius Kubilius of the conservative Homeland Union bowed out on September 9 so as not to split the vote. The first round gave Adamkus 35.5% and former prime minister Rolandas Paksas, a populist from the Liberal Democratic Party, 19.7%. A runoff election was scheduled for Jan. 5, 2003. By the end of the year, most political parties had endorsed Adamkus, who looked certain to remain in office.

Darius Furmonavičius

▪ 2002

65,300 sq km (25,212 sq mi)
(2001 est.): 3,691,000
Chief of state:
President Valdas Adamkus
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Rolandas Paksas, Eugenijus Gentvilas (acting) from June 20, and, from July 3, Algirdas Brazauskas

      Lithuania's Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas, the leader of the Liberal Union, resigned in June 2001, principally over disagreements with his coalition partners, the populist New Union (Social Liberals), over the supply of oil to the Mazeikiu Nafta oil refinery, privatization of the state-owned natural gas monopoly, and tax and pension reforms. A new coalition between the Social Liberals and the Social Democratic Party was formed, with Algirdas Brazauskas, the Social Democrat leader (and former Communist party chief) and former president of Lithuania, as head of government.

      Despite election promises, the government failed to address social problems. Average annual wages remained at approximately $3,300, and the rate of unemployment topped 12%. The majority of pensioners and people in rural areas found themselves in particularly difficult straits. On the other hand, gross domestic product increased by nearly 5%. The volume of foreign trade in the first half of the year was $5.2 billion. The largest proportion of Lithuanian exports and imports was directed to and from European Union countries—49.4% and 42.5%, respectively; exports increased by 24% and imports by 15% over 2000 levels.

      The NATO Parliamentary Assembly spring session, held in Vilnius on May 27–31, was the largest international event in Lithuania in a decade and the first such meeting held outside NATO territory. Some 270 parliamentarians from NATO and NATO-associated states gathered in the Lithuanian capital. The assembly approved a declaration on NATO enlargement, and Lithuania once again declared its commitment to join the organization during its 2002 summit in Prague.

Darius Furmonavičius

▪ 2001

65,300 sq km (25,212 sq mi)
(2000 est.): 3,697,000
Chief of state:
President Valdas Adamkus
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Andrius Kubilius and, from October 26, Rolandas Paksas

      In 2000 Lithuania continued along the path of strengthening its independence. A desovietization law was passed by the Seimas, the unicameral parliament, on June 27, and a delegation was to be formed by the end of the year to begin negotiations with Russia about gaining reparations for 50 years of Soviet occupation of Lithuania. An international congress for the investigation into communist crimes was also held in Vilnius in the summer.

      Following the general election on October 8, a coalition government was formed by the moderate right Liberal Union and the populist left New Union (Social Liberals)—this because the Social Democratic coalition (Lithuania Democratic Labour Party and the Social Democratic Party), which together won a majority, 51 of 141 Seimas seats, were unable to form a ruling coalition. Thus, the Liberal Union and the New Union were joined by Centre Union and Moderate Christian Democrats—with a total of 67 seats—made up the new ruling coalition. Liberal Union leader Rolandas Paksas became prime minister, while New Union leader Arturas Paulaskas was elected chairman of the Seimas.

      The country was on a sound economic track, and gross domestic product grew by more than 2%. Foreign direct investment amounted to $2,058,400,000, or $557 per capita, at the end of the first quarter. Foreign trade increased in the first five months of the year—exports and imports by 26.8% and 10.2%, respectively.

      Lithuania moved resolutely to fulfill its chief foreign policy objective, closer integration into European institutions. On February 15 accession negotiations formally began at the European Union in Brussels. On May 19 Lithuania, a candidate for the second wave of enlargement of NATO, led the prospective new member states in signing the Vilnius statement, which called upon the NATO members to tender an invitation to join at the organization's next summit in 2002.

Darius Furmonavičius

▪ 2000

65,301 sq km (25,213 sq mi)
(1999 est.): 3,695,000
Chief of state:
President Valdas Adamkus
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Gediminas Vagnorius, Irena Degutiene (acting) from May 4 to May 18, Rolandas Paksas from May 18 to October 27, Degutiene (acting) from October 27 to November 3, and, from November 3, Andrius Kubilius

      Lithuania faced a difficult year in 1999, both economically and politically. The country suffered its largest economic downturn in more than six years. The economic crisis in Russia contributed to a large budget deficit and a 2% decline in gross domestic product. Drastic measures were adopted in December in an attempt to reduce government expenditures and prop up the failing economy.

      Lithuania was also beset by political turmoil as two prime ministers stepped down. Gediminas Vagnorius resigned in May after direct criticism by Pres. Valdas Adamkus, even though the Seimas (parliament) explicitly supported him. The ruling Homeland Union (Conservatives of Lithuania, TS-LK) at first declared that it would not form a new government but eventually supported the president's choice, Vilnius Mayor Rolandas Paksas, for the post of prime minister. Paksas could do little to solve the growing economic problems. He lost the support of the TS-LK and resigned in October when he refused to sign an agreement with Williams International, an American oil company, for the sale of the refinery at Mazeikiai. TS-LK First Deputy Chairman Andrius Kubilius formed a new government and implemented greater budget cuts.

      In December the European Union (EU) decided to begin formal membership negotiations with Lithuania. The country's progress in fulfilling EU requirements and its promise to close the first reactor of the Ignalina atomic power plant by 2005 were prime factors in the decision. Lithuania participated in NATO operations in former Yugoslavia and was recognized as the Baltic state best prepared for NATO membership. Relations with neighbours continued to be very good, and Lithuania also served as an intermediary in the disputes between the EU and Belarus.

Saulius A. Girnius

▪ 1999

      Area: 65,301 sq km (25,213 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 3,704,000

      Capital: Vilnius

      Chief of state: President Valdas Adamkus

      Head of government: Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius

      On Jan. 4, 1998, runoff elections for president were held. The émigré environmentalist Valdas Adamkus (see BIOGRAPHIES (Adamkus, Valdas V. )) won by a narrow margin over his postcommunist opponent, Arturas Paulauskas.

      Adapting his administrative experience in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Adamkus quickly became the country's most popular figure, increasing both the power and the prestige of the presidency as an institution. The ruling coalition of the Homeland Union (Conservatives of Lithuania) and the Christian Democrats continued structural and legislative reforms aimed at deepening economic transformation and preparing the way for eventual European Union (EU) membership.

      Foreign direct investment increased substantially (the annual rate of inflation was less than 5%), but trade and current account deficits increased. The economic crisis in Russia had only a limited effect on Lithuania because of Lithuania's success in disengaging from the economy of the former U.S.S.R.

      The decision by the EU not to commence formal negotiations with Lithuania for EU membership in 1999 was a major disappointment because the government had made accession talks its primary goal. Lithuania continued to improve its ties with its neighbours, placing particular emphasis on fostering good relations with Poland.


▪ 1998

      Area: 65,301 sq km (25,213 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 3,706,000

      Capital: Vilnius

      Chief of state: President Algirdas Brazauskas

      Head of government: Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius

      In 1997 the coalition of the Homeland Union (Conservatives of Lithuania; TS-LK) and the Christian Democrats, victorious in parliamentary elections in fall 1996, successfully implemented structural and legislative reforms in Lithuania that attracted greater foreign direct investments. Investments were expected to grow further with continuing cash privatization of strategic state enterprises. Even with an increased trade deficit, the annual rate of inflation was brought down to 9%.

      Lithuania's difficulties in overcoming the legacy of one-party communist rule and establishing a pluralist, democratic system was shown by the victory of nonparty candidates, lawyer Arturas Paulauskas and émigré environmentalist Valdas Adamkus, over TS-LK chairman Vytautas Landsbergis in the first round of the presidential elections on December 21. Runoff elections were to take place in early January 1998.

      The decision by the European Commission (EC) in July to exclude Lithuania from the Eastern European states recommended to begin formal negotiations in 1998 for European Union (EU) membership prompted Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius to wage an active campaign to alter this position. At its summit meeting in December, the EU ignored Vagnorius's plea but gave the EC the task of reviewing the country's situation and deciding when Lithuania had made sufficient reforms to begin membership discussions. A border treaty was signed by the Russian and Lithuanian presidents on October 24.

      This article updates Lithuania, history of (Lithuania).

▪ 1997

      A republic of northern Europe, Lithuania is on the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea. Area: 65,301 sq km (25,213 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 3,707,000. Cap.: Vilnius. Monetary unit: litas, with (Oct. 11, 1996) a par value of 4 litai to U.S. $1 (6.30 litai = £1 sterling). President in 1996, Algirdas Brazauskas; prime ministers, Adolfas Slezevicius until February 8, Mindaugas Stankevicius from February 15, and, from December 10, Gediminas Vagnorius.

      The decisive victory of the Homeland Union (Conservatives of Lithuania) (TS-LK) in the fall parliamentary elections ended four years of rule by the postcommunist Lithuanian Democratic Labour Party (LDDP). Together with its Christian Democratic allies, the TS-LK captured 86 of 137 seats, while the LDDP won only 12 and was unlikely to play a major role in Lithuania's political life in the future. Conservative leaders Vytautas Landsbergis and Gediminas Vagnorius regained the posts of parliament chairman and prime minister that they held in 1992.

      The LDDP's loss was primarily due to its inability to improve the nation's economic situation and halt the continued growth of crime and corruption. The party chairman, Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius, was dismissed in February after the disclosure that he had used insider knowledge to remove his personal savings from a commercial bank whose activity was about to be suspended. The caretaker government, headed by Prime Minister Mindaugas Stankevicius, reduced the annual rate of inflation from 35% to 14%. Lithuania's economy showed modest growth of about 3%.


      This article updates Lithuania, history of (Lithuania).

▪ 1996

      A republic of northern Europe, Lithuania is on the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea. Area: 65,301 sq km (25,213 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 3.7 million. Cap.: Vilnius. Monetary unit: litas, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a par value of 4 litai to U.S. $1 (6.32 litai = £1 sterling). President in 1995, Algirdas Brazauskas; prime minister, Adolfas Slezevicius.

      The ruling Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party retained firm control of the parliament and government in 1995 but gathered less than 20% of the vote in local elections on March 25. Right-of-centre parties won more than half the votes, with the conservatives gaining almost 30%. Only 45% of eligible voters participated in the elections, an indication of a general disillusionment with politics. The central authorities continued to reduce the already limited powers of local government by introducing an intermediary level of regional governors, appointed directly by the prime minister.

      Surveys indicated a growing disenchantment with all government institutions, including the parliament, the Cabinet, the presidency, and the courts; only the media and the church had positive ratings. The lack of trust was caused in part by the impoverishment of the population; 80% of Lithuanians were considered poor, 15% middle class, and 5% rich. The government seemed unable or unwilling to stamp out corruption. The decline in the republic's gross national product was halted, but it was expected to regain the level of 1989 only in the next century. Agricultural production continued to decrease, and many large industrial enterprises avoided bankruptcy only by being allowed to delay tax payments.

      Lithuania was a very active participant in NATO's Partnership for Peace program, and on June 12 it became an associate member of the European Union. Trade was being reoriented toward the West; Lithuania was transacting the same amount of business with the EU as with the Commonwealth of Independent States. Relations with Russia improved after a compromise was found to the problem of military transit regulations between Russia and Kaliningrad. (SAULIUS A. GIRNIUS)

      This updates the article Lithuania, history of (Lithuania).

▪ 1995

      A republic of northern Europe, Lithuania is on the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea. Area: 65,301 sq km (25,213 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 3,724,000. Cap.: Vilnius. Monetary unit: litas, with (Oct. 7, 1994) a par value (from April 1) of 4 litai to U.S. $1 (6.37 litai = £1 sterling). President in 1994, Algirdas Brazauskas; prime minister, Adolfas Slezevicius.

      The domestic situation in Lithuania remained stable and relatively uneventful in 1994. The opposition Homeland Union challenged the ruling Lithuanian Democratic Labour Party (LDDP) by gathering more than 560,000 signatures to hold a referendum on compensation for savings lost to inflation and illegal privatization by the LDDP. Approval would have meant a renunciation of government economic policy, but the referendum failed because only 36.8% of eligible voters participated in the vote on August 27.

      Although by midyear more than 60% of workers were employed by private firms, the economic situation in the country continued to worsen, albeit at a more moderate pace. By granting delays in tax payments, the government kept many large state-industrial enterprises from bankruptcy. In an effort to attract greater foreign investment and ensure a stable exchange rate, officials pegged the litas to the U.S. dollar at a rate of four to one beginning April 1. Internal interest rates remained very high, but inflation declined to less than one-quarter of the 1993 level of 188.3%. On October 24 the International Monetary Fund showed confidence by accepting the government's three-year economic memorandum and approving a $201 million loan.

      The withdrawal of Russian troops from Lithuania in 1993 had little effect on the relations between the two countries in 1994. Lithuanian hopes for better ties did not bear fruit. Russia's parliament decided not to ratify the most-favoured-nation (MFN) trade agreement unless Lithuania acceded to an agreement on military transit to and from Russia's Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad. Without MFN status, Lithuania was forced to pay duties on goods exported to Russia at twice the normal rate. In January Lithuania joined NATO's Partnership for Peace program. It became an associate partner of the Western European Union on May 9 and continued to press for full NATO membership, despite Russian opposition. (SAULIUS A. GIRNIUS)

      This updates the article Lithuania, history of (Lithuania).

▪ 1994

      A republic of northern Europe, Lithuania is on the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea. Area: 65,301 sq km (25,213 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 3,753,000. Cap.: Vilnius. Monetary unit: litas (permanent currency introduced June 25, 1993; it became sole legal tender on July 20, the day the Lithuanian coupon [former transitional currency] was phased out), with (Oct. 4, 1993) a free rate of 4.23 litas to U.S. $1 (6.41 litas = £ 1 sterling). Chairman of the Supreme Council and acting president and then, from February 25, president, Algirdas Brazauskas; prime ministers, Bronislovas Lubys and, from March 10, Adolfas Slezevicius.

      Despite the return to power of the former Communists, reorganized into the Lithuanian Democratic Labour Party (LDLP), internal and foreign policy changed little in 1993. The groundwork for the two most important foreign policy achievements of the year—Lithuania's acceptance as a member of the Council of Europe on May 14 and the withdrawal of Russian troops from the republic on August 31—had been laid by the previous right-wing parliament.

      The LDLP's chairman, Algirdas Brazauskas, won the presidential elections on February 14. He appointed Adolfas Slezevicius prime minister; at its third congress the LDLP elected Slezevicius as party chairman on April 17. The Homeland Union was founded on May 1 on the basis of the defeated and dispirited Sajudis organization and became the most formidable conservative force in Lithuania.

      Lithuania made little progress in converting to a market economy. The government's new regulations for privatization of state-owned enterprises halted the whole process. Although trade with the West increased slightly, Lithuania's economy remained excessively dependent on Russia. The high cost of fuel, purchased from Russia at world prices, made Lithuanian products too expensive for domestic markets and for most foreign customers. Industrial production continued to decline. Agricultural production increased, but many farmers were unable to sell their products to food processors because high prices decreased demand.

      The standard of living also continued to decline. More than two-thirds of the average salary was spent on food, and many people were unable to pay for utilities. A tight monetary policy set the stage for the introduction of the national currency, the litas, on June 25.


      This updates the article Lithuania, history of (Lithuania).

* * *

Lithuania, flag of   country of northeastern Europe, the southernmost and largest of the three Baltic states. Lithuania was a powerful empire that dominated much of eastern Europe in the 14th–16th centuries before becoming part of the Polish-Lithuanian confederation for the next two centuries. Aside from a brief period of independence from 1918 to 1940, Lithuania was occupied by Russia beginning in 1795, was controlled by Germany for a brief period during World War II, and was incorporated into the U.S.S.R. (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) in 1944 as one of its constituent republics. On March 11, 1990, Lithuania declared its independence by a unanimous vote of its newly elected parliament. The new Soviet parliament acknowledged Lithuania's independence on Sept. 6, 1991. Lithuania was admitted into the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 2004. The capital is Vilnius.

Land (Lithuania)
 Lithuania is bounded by Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland and the detached Russian oblast of Kaliningrad to the southwest, and the Baltic Sea to the west.

      Underlying rock structures are of little significance for the contemporary Lithuanian terrain, which basically is a low-lying plain scraped by Ice Age glaciers that left behind thick, ridgelike terminal deposits known as moraines. The Baltic coastal area is fringed by a region characterized by geographers as the maritime depression, which rises gradually eastward. Sand dunes line an attractive coast; the Curonian Lagoon (Lithuanian: Kuršiu Marios), almost cut off from the sea by the Curonian Spit, a thin 60-mile (100-km) sandspit, forms a distinctive feature. It is bounded by the Žemaičiai Upland to the east, which gives way to the flat expanses of the Middle Lithuanian Lowland.

      The lowland, consisting of glacial lake clays and boulder-studded loams, stretches in a wide band across the country from north to south; some portions of it are heavily waterlogged. The elevated Baltic Highlands, adjacent to the central lowland, thrust into the eastern and southeastern portions of the country; their rumpled glacial relief includes a host of small hills and numerous small lakes. The Švenčioniai and the Ašmena highlands—the latter containing Mount Juozapinė, at 957 feet (292 metres) above sea level the highest point in Lithuania—are located in the extreme east and southeast.

      Lithuanian rivers drain to the Baltic and generally have the slow, meandering characteristics of lowland rivers. The Neman River (Nemunas), cutting north and then west through the heart of the country, is the largest. Its main tributaries are the Merkys, Neris, Nevėžis, Dubysa, Jūra, Minija, and Šešupė. A distinctive feature of the Lithuanian landscape is the presence of about 3,000 lakes, mostly in the east and southeast. The boggy regions produce large quantities of peat that, dried by air, is used in both industry and agriculture.

      Lithuanian soils range from sands to heavy clays. In the northwest the soil is either loamy or sandy (and sometimes marshy) and is quite heavily podzolized, or leached out. In the central region, weakly podzolized loamy peats predominate, and it is there that the most fertile, and hence most cultivated, soils are found. In the southeast there are sandy soils, somewhat loamy and moderately podzolized. Sandy soils in fact cover one-fourth of Lithuania, and most of these are blanketed by woodlands.

      The climate of the country is transitional between the maritime type of western Europe and the continental type found farther east. As a result, damp air masses of Atlantic origin predominate, alternating with continental Eurasian and, more rarely, colder Arctic air or air with a southern, tropical origin. Baltic Sea influences dominate a comparatively narrow coastal zone. The mean temperature for January, the coldest month, is in the low 20s F (about −5 °C), while July, the warmest month, has an average temperature in the 60s F (about 17 °C). Average annual rainfall usually exceeds 30 inches (about 800 mm), diminishing inland. Rainfall reaches a peak in August, except in the maritime strip, where the maximum is reached two to three months later.

Plant and animal life
      Lithuanian vegetation falls into three separate regions. In the maritime regions, pine forests predominate, and wild rye and various bushy plants grow on the sand dunes. Spruce trees are prevalent in the hilly eastern portion. The central region is characterized by large tracts of oak trees, with elegant birch forests in the northern portions, as well as distinctive black alder and aspen groves. Pine forests prevail in the south. Indeed, about one-third of the country is forested, and about another one-fifth is taken up by meadowlands. Swamps and marshlands account for only a small percentage of the total land.

      Wildlife is very diverse and includes numerous mammalian species. There are wolves, foxes, otters, badgers, ermine, wild boars, and many rodents. The deep forests harbour elk, stags, deer, beavers, mink, and water rats. Lithuania is also home to hundreds of species of birds, including white storks, ducks, geese, swans, cormorants, herons, hawks, and even an occasional bald eagle. There are many types of grouse and partridge as well.

People (Lithuania)

Ethnic groups, languages, and religion
      Ethnic Lithuanians make up about four-fifths of the country's population; there are also Russians and Poles and lesser numbers of Belarusians, Ukrainians, Latvians, Tatars, Roma (Gypsies), and others. There was a significant Jewish community in Lithuania prior to World War II, and an influx of Jews from German-controlled Poland in 1941 boosted this population to nearly 250,000. By 1944, however, the majority of the population had been murdered, deported, or sent to concentration camps (concentration camp) (see Holocaust).

      The official language of Lithuania is Lithuanian (Lithuanian language). Russian, Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian, and other languages are spoken in the larger cities. Yiddish (Yiddish language) is commonly spoken by members of the tiny remaining Jewish community in Lithuania.

 Lithuania was the last pagan country in Europe, accepting Roman Catholicism in the late 14th century. About four-fifths of the population is Roman Catholic; there are smaller groups of Evangelical Lutherans and other Protestants, as well as people of other faiths. Elements of the pagan religion have survived in the countryside.

Settlement patterns
      There has been a modest but steady movement of people to the cities since the 1990s, encouraged by the planning of regional centres, such as Alytus, Marijampolė, Utena, Plungė, and Mažeikiai (Mazeikiai). By the early 21st century about two-thirds of the total population lived in urban areas.

      The largest city is Vilnius, followed by Kaunas, Klaipėda, Šiauliai, and Panevėžys.

Demographic trends
      Natural increase, rather than immigration, has accounted for most of Lithuania's population growth in the early 21st century. The high birth rate distinguishes Lithuania from its Baltic neighbours, which have struggled to offset the aging of their populations. The comparatively high level of ethnic homogeneity in Lithuania and the persistence of Roman Catholicism in the face of decades of Soviet promulgation of atheism as the official state ideology further distinguish Lithuania from Latvia and Estonia, where historically German-Scandinavian religious and cultural values have predominated.

      Even before independence from the U.S.S.R. was formally established, the Lithuanian government had embarked on a program of dismantling the Soviet economic system. Beginning in February 1991, laws were passed to facilitate privatization. Complications marred the government's aspirations, however. Foremost, the bulk of Lithuania's trade was still closely linked to the former republics of the U.S.S.R., which were themselves in the throes of economic collapse. Second, Lithuania was dependent on critically important foreign oil and natural gas and industrial raw materials. Finally, the transition to a market economy had caused high rates of inflation and unemployment. Nevertheless, the succeeding governments continued to implement stringent stabilization policies; by 1995 inflation had been reduced, and the country's trade balance was positive for the first time since independence. Lithuania was admitted to the EU (European Union) in 2004.

      The development of agriculture since 1991 has been closely linked to land reclamation and swamp-drainage schemes. By the early 21st century agriculture contributed only a small percentage to the gross national product (GNP) and employed only about one-tenth of the economically active population. The chief trend is toward the production of meat and milk and the cultivation of flax, sugar beets, potatoes, and vegetables. A significant portion of total production is made up of fodder crops, grain (barley and rye), and leguminous crops; most of the rest consists of potatoes and vegetables. Livestock breeding is still the leading branch of agriculture, with an emphasis on dairy cattle and pigs. Most crop cultivation is mechanized, though during the autumn harvest large amounts of manual labour are still required.

      Lithuania has long been a small net exporter of food products. The privatization of farming in the early 1990s began with the decision to liquidate all former collective and state farms. Some private farms emerged in the period immediately following independence, but the process was slow. Not only were there problems of financing, but equipment appropriate to smaller-scale farming operations was not readily available. By the late 1990s private farms had begun to outnumber state farms. The majority of these farms are not specialized and are involved in mixed production based on crops and livestock.

Resources and power
 Lithuania possesses a range of useful mineral resources, including sulfates, notably gypsum; chalk and chalky marl; limestones; dolomites; various clays, sands, and gravels; peat; some iron ore and phosphorites; and mineral waters. Amber, which is a fossil tree resin, is found along the shore of the Baltic Sea.

      Oil deposits have been detected in the offshore regions. A pipeline carries gas from Ukraine, and an oil pipeline transports crude oil from fields in western Siberia to the refinery at Mažeikiai, which was modernized in 2003. In 1999 a crude oil terminal at Būtingė was opened on the Baltic Sea. Almost all the oil that is exported through Būtingė comes from Russia.

      Lithuania's rivers have the potential to generate electricity. After 1961 the country's power system became part of the unified network that also served the northwestern U.S.S.R. Major power plants include a hydroelectric station on the Neman River, a thermal station at the town of Elektrėnai, and a nuclear facility at Ignalina.

      During the Soviet period Lithuanian economic policy emphasized manufacturing. After World War II the country's machinery, shipbuilding, electronic, electrical and radio engineering, chemical, cement, and fish-processing industries were overhauled. Traditional industries such as food processing and various branches of light industry also expanded significantly. Following independence in 1991, the textile, chemical, and food-processing sectors were the first to adapt to new market conditions. The manufacturing of communications equipment became a dominant economic activity. By the late 1990s much of Lithuania's manufacturing sector had been privatized.

      The national currency, the litas, was introduced to Lithuania in 1922 and was restored in 1993. (During Soviet occupation Lithuania used the Russian ruble as its currency.) The litas is issued by the Bank of Lithuania, the country's central bank. All state-owned banks in Lithuania had been privatized by 2002. A stock exchange opened in Vilnius in 1993.

      Lithuania's chief trading partners include Russia, Latvia, Germany, Poland, Estonia, The Netherlands, and France. Imports include crude petroleum, machinery, foodstuffs, chemical products, and metals. Lithuania exports refined petroleum, foodstuffs, machinery, textiles, and transport equipment (mainly automotive parts).

 By the early 21st century the service sector was the largest component of the Lithuanian economy, employing about half the workforce and contributing about two-fifths of the annual GNP. Tourism has grown in importance, and popular attractions in Lithuania include the Baroque-, Renaissance-, and Gothic-style mansions and castles in the historic centres of Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda, and Kėdainiai, as well as in the former capitals of Kernavė and Trakai. The Kernavė archaeological site in eastern Lithuania, which dates from the Middle Ages, encompasses forts, settlements, and other historical monuments. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004. The countryside's lakes and forests, and the Baltic coastline's dune-covered Curonian Spit, which was added to the World Heritage list in 2000, are popular recreational areas.

Labour and taxation
      Lithuanians' salaries have generally been lower than those of workers in other EU member countries. For this reason, and because of high income taxes, many Lithuanian nationals were motivated to seek work in other EU countries after Lithuania joined the EU in 2004. Some of these emigrants started to return in 2007, however, when the government reduced income taxes and raised the minimum wage. Nearly half the women are economically active; however, employer discrimination against women has been a problem.

Transportation and telecommunications
      Lithuania's geographic location has created favourable conditions for transit development. Railways are the main means of transport in Lithuania. Two major rail routes run through Lithuania—a north-south highway that connects Scandinavia with central Europe, as well as an east-west route linking Lithuania to the rest of Europe. Moreover, after independence Lithuania emerged as a critical land bridge to Kaliningrad oblast (Kaliningrad), the region of the Russian Federation on the Baltic coast. A major rail route between Russia and the Kaliningrad region passes through Lithuania.

 Sea transport is an important sector, with freight transportation showing a rapid increase since World War II. Klaipėda is the country's largest and most important port. River transport also is significant, and the country's hundreds of miles of waterways, which are navigable year-round, are used for internal shipping. Kaunas is a chief inland port.

      Lithuania has international airports at Vilnius, Kaunas, and Palanga. Vilnius is the main air transportation centre, with links to many foreign cities. The independent Lithuanian Airlines began operating in 1991.

      Lithuania's telecommunications sector is privatized. Fixed-line telephone use has decreased in Lithuania, but new technologies have been adopted quickly. The degree of cellular phone penetration is among the highest in the EU, and many Lithuanians have access to the Internet through their mobile phones.

Government and society

Constitutional framework
 Lithuania's current constitution was approved by national referendum in 1992. The Republic of Lithuania, formerly the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic, is administered by a president and a legislature, the Seimas, under a parliamentary system. The Seimas consists of 141 members, who are elected to four-year terms. The prime minister, formally appointed by the president, oversees the country's day-to-day affairs and is generally the leader of the Seimas's majority party. The president is popularly elected for a five-year term (with a maximum of two consecutive terms).

Local government
      Lithuania is divided into apskritys (counties), which are then divided into rajonas (districts). The districts are further divided into savivalbyde (regional towns, urban settlements, and localities). The governor of each county is appointed by the national government. The districts are self-governing and elect local councils, which in turn elect the mayors.

Justice and security
      Lithuania's judicial system is headed by a Supreme Court and a Constitutional Court, whose judges are selected by the parliament. There are also district and local courts whose judges are appointed by the president for five-year terms. Lithuania has an army, navy, and air force. Military service is mandatory for men and women ages 19 to 45 for one year and voluntary at age 18.

Political process
      All Lithuanians age 18 and older are eligible to vote. During the Soviet period the Lithuanian Communist Party (Lietuvos Komunistu Partija; LKP) was the country's only political party. Its members and candidates for membership were supported by the activities of the Komsomol youth movement. In 1989, however, the legislature ended the Communist Party's monopoly on power by legalizing other political parties. The LKP began to lose power in spite of the fact that it voted to disassociate itself from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In August 1991 the Lithuanian legislature voted to remove legal rights from the party and to seize its property.

      The political landscape in the early 1990s was complex. Factionalism was predominant, and coalition governments were the norm. The principal political parties after independence were the Lithuanian Reform Movement (Sąjūdis) and the Lithuanian Democratic Labour Party (Lietuvos Demokratinė Darbo Partija; LDDP), which broke away from the Communist Party of Lithuania. The role of national minorities, especially the Poles, further complicated the political arena. By the early 21st century dozens of parties and coalitions had formed. The Homeland Union (Tėvynės Sąjunga; TS), which became one of the country's largest political parties in the early 21st century, was founded in 1993 as a successor to the Lithuanian independence movement.

      Other parties include the Labour Party (Darbo Partija; DP), which advocates for workers' rights, and the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (Lietuvos Socialdemokratų Partija; LSDP), which supports the nationalization of industry, higher taxes for the wealthy, and increased rights for labour unions. There are other parties representing minority groups, nationalists, conservatives, and other interests.

Health and welfare
      Lithuania has significantly improved its social service system since independence. The government provides free medical care to Lithuanian nationals as well as a range of ancillary services, including pension payments and funding for kindergartens and day care.

      A new national educational system was introduced in 1990. Primary and secondary education is free and compulsory beginning at age six. More than nine-tenths of the population age 15 and older are literate. Notable institutions of higher education include Vilnius University (1579), Vytautas Magnus University (founded 1922; reopened 1989) in Kaunas, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (1956), and the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre (1933), which specializes in music, theatre, and multimedia arts. The Lithuanian Academy of Sciences was founded in 1941.

Cultural life

Cultural milieu
      In Lithuania there is a high level of interest in various aspects of cultural life. In spite of modern influences, Lithuanian folklore continues to be a significant part of national heritage. Lithuanian songs and a remarkable collection of fairy tales, legends, proverbs, and aphorisms have roots deep in a language and culture that are among the oldest in Europe. In the 20th century, however, war and Soviet occupation stifled the works of many Lithuanian artists, writers, poets, and playwrights.

Daily life and social customs
      As a predominantly Roman Catholic country, Lithuania celebrates all the major Christian holidays. The traditional Christmas Eve feast consists of 12 vegetarian dishes served on a straw-covered table, meat being saved for Christmas Day. Cabbages and potatoes form a considerable part of the Lithuanian diet, as do dairy products. Traditional dishes include cepelinai, a large, zeppelin-shaped, stuffed potato dumpling; cabbage rolls; cold beet soup; and potato pancakes.

The arts
      Lithuanian folk art is mainly embodied in ceramics, leatherwork, wood carving, and textiles; its colouring and its original geometric or floral patterns are characteristic features. Lithuanian drawing, noted for the use of natural colour and a highly refined technique, has won international acclaim. The Vilnius Drawing School, founded in 1866, has had a strong influence on the country's fine arts traditions. The composer and painter Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875–1911), considered one of Lithuania's most outstanding artists of the early 20th century, was actively involved with the school. Moreover, some of the Lithuanian artists who opposed Soviet ideological constraints produced theatre and art of lasting significance. After the second Soviet occupation in 1944, many Lithuanian artists emigrated and founded art galleries and schools, mainly in other parts of Europe and in North America.

      Lithuania's musical traditions did not develop until the late 19th century. From 1918 to 1940 cultural societies, choirs, and orchestras were formed. In 1924 the first all-Lithuanian song festival was held in Kaunas. Romantic songs combined with Lithuanian folk music became a popular style. One of the most well-known composers and the founder of the Kaunas Conservatory (1933), Lithuania's first university-level music school, was Juozas Gruodis (1884–1948). Lithuanians are especially proud of their sutartinės, an ancient and unique form of typically two- and three-voiced polyphony notable for its parallel seconds. Song and dance festivals are held every summer throughout the country. Vilnius hosts the National Song and Dance Festival, the International M.K. Čiurlionis Piano and Organ Competition, and the International Balys Dvarionas Competition for Young Pianists and Violinists. Music festivals are also held in Šiauliai, Birštonas, and Panevėžys. Jazz has a strong following, and many jazz clubs can be found in Vilnius.

      Until the 18th century most Lithuanian literature was religious in nature. During the 19th century there arose a new movement to create a Lithuanian literary language and foster interest in the early history of the country. The literature of this era sought to rally Lithuanians against the political control of Russia and the cultural influence of Poland. Following independence in 1918, writers began to concentrate on developing national culture and a greater degree of sophistication in literature. Foremost among this group was Vincas Krėvė-Mickievičius (Krėvė-Mickievičius, Vincas), a novelist and dramatist who often used traditional folk songs and legends in his works, and he is regarded by many as one of the greatest Lithuanian writers.

Cultural institutions
      The Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet (1920) in Vilnius is of international renown. Museums of note include the National Museum of Lithuania in Vilnius, the Trakai Historical Museum (featuring artifacts discovered at the island castle at Trakai), and a war museum in Kaunas dedicated to Vytautas the Great. The Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis National Art Museum, also in Kaunas, displays the works of the distinguished artist, as well as Lithuanian folk art and other national art. The open-air Rumšiškės Museum of Folk Art, located between Kaunas and Vilnius, includes re-created villages depicting 19th-century Lithuanian life in different regions of the country. Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania in Vilnius (founded 1919) includes documents dating from the 15th century. Vilnius University's Yiddish Institute (founded 2001) was created to preserve and enrich Yiddish and East European Jewish culture.

Sports and recreation
      Football (soccer) is Lithuania's most popular sport, and the country boasts several professional leagues. Basketball has grown in popularity, and Lithuania's team has excelled in international competitions. Several of the country's leading players, including ydrunas Ilgauskas, Šarunas Marciulionis, and Arvydas Sabonis, have plied their trade in North America's National Basketball Association. Cross-country skiing, ice skating, ice hockey, and ice fishing on Curonian Lagoon are favourite winter pastimes. Bicycling and canoeing are popular in the summer.

      Lithuania's first Olympic appearance was at the 1924 Winter Games in Chamonix, France. After World War II, Lithuanian athletes competed for the Soviet Olympic team. Lithuania was able to again contend as an independent country at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. Lithuanian discus throwers have been especially successful in Olympic competition, including gold medalists Romas Ubartas (1992) and Virgilijus Alekna (2000, 2004). Lithuania has also fared well in Olympic basketball.

Media and publishing
      Prior to independence the media were state-owned and controlled by the Communist Party, mainly through state censors. Media censorship was abolished in 1989, and much of the media flourished as the economy became more liberalized. By the 21st century all newspapers were privately owned, though the Lithuanian Telegraph Agency (ELTA), a wire service that serves the local media in Lithuanian and Russian, was state-owned. Several daily newspapers are published in Vilnius, including Lietuvos Rytas (“Lithuania's Morning,” also published in Russian), Kurier Wileński (“Vilnius Courier,” published in Polish), and Lietuvos Aidas (“Echo of Lithuania,” also published in Russian). There are no government-owned newspapers. Both radio and television stations are a mixture of private and state-owned. The languages of broadcast for both media are Lithuanian, Russian, Polish, Belarusian, and Ukrainian, and there are also some Yiddish radio broadcasts.

Kazimieras Meškauskas James H. Bater Aivars Stranga


Early history
      Lithuanians are an Indo-European people belonging to the Baltic group. They are the only branch within the group that managed to create a state entity in premodern times. The Prussians, overrun by the Teutonic Order in the 13th century, became extinct by the 18th century. The Latvians to the north were conquered during the first three decades of the 13th century by the Order of the Brothers of the Sword (Brothers of the Sword, Order of the) (this order became a branch of the Teutonic Order in 1237). The Lithuanians, protected by a dense primeval forest and extensive marshland, successfully resisted German pressure. Samogitia (Lithuanian: Žemaitija), lying between Prussia and Livonia, two lands already in the hands of the German Crusading knights, was a particular object of German expansion.

      The German threat induced the Lithuanian tribes to unite in the middle of the 13th century under Mindaugas. He and his family were baptized in 1251, and two years later he was accepted into the feudal hierarchy of Europe by being crowned king of Lithuania by authority of Pope Innocent IV. Mindaugas, who had reverted to paganism, and two of his sons were assassinated in 1263. The Lithuanians retained their naturalistic pagan religion until the late 14th century.

      Traidenis, ruler from 1270 to 1282, was probably the founder of the dynasty named after Gediminas, who began to rule about 1315. Although Lithuanian expansion to the east and south into the area of modern Belarus and Ukraine had begun after the destruction of the Kiev realm, it was Gediminas who systematically carved out the empire that was historic Lithuania, a wide region inhabited by Lithuanians and East Slavs. As his letters from 1323 indicate, Vilnius was by then the capital. At Gediminas's death in 1341 or 1342, Lithuania's frontiers extended across the upper Dvina in the northeast to the Dnieper in the southeast and the Pripet (Prypyat) Marshes in the south. The Lithuanians were not sufficiently numerous for colonization. Control was maintained through undoubted political talent and a spirit of religious tolerance. The ruling Lithuanian warrior caste intermarried extensively with the ruling princely families of the subject East Slav principalities and accepted Orthodoxy.

 Gediminas divided his empire among his seven sons. After a brief period of internecine strife, a diarchy of two remained: Algirdas, with his capital in Vilnius, assumed the title of Great Prince and dealt with eastern affairs; Kęstutis, whose capital was the island castle at Trakai, dealt with the threat from the Teutonic Order. Upon his death in 1377, Algirdas left his eldest son, Jogaila (Władysław II Jagiełło), an expanded empire in the east, which after 1362 included Kiev. Relations between Jogaila and his uncle Kęstutis, however, were inimical. In 1381 Kęstutis drove Jogaila from Vilnius and assumed the title of Great Prince. In the following year fortune changed. Jogaila captured Kęstutis and his eldest son, Vytautas. Kęstutis was imprisoned and killed, but Vytautas escaped and found sanctuary among the Teutonic Order, which hoped to utilize him as its vassal. The German threat had increased significantly. Jogaila had tried to stem the tide in 1382 by granting all of Samogitia up to the Dubysa River to the order. The extended ruling family of Lithuania was split. Those of Jogaila's brothers who ruled in the East Slav regions of the realm counseled alliance with Moscow, including acceptance of Orthodox Christianity. Those in the core lands of the state favoured an alliance with Poland and acceptance of Roman Christianity.

Union with Poland
      Jogaila chose the latter course. On Aug. 14, 1385, he concluded an agreement to join his realm with Poland in return for marriage to the 12-year-old Polish queen Jadwiga and assumption of the Polish throne as king. The agreement was effected early in the following year. In 1387 Jogaila formally introduced Roman Christianity among his Lithuanian-speaking subjects. Newly baptized nobles were granted extensive privileges. Their status was officially patterned on the feudal social structure prevalent in Western Christendom. In 1392 a reconciliation took place between Jogaila and Vytautas, who returned as ruler of Lithuania. The baptism of the Lithuanians removed the basis for the existence of the Teutonic Order, which had officially been founded to defend Christianity. Its stature was considerably reduced after a defeat on July 15, 1410, at Grünwald (Tannenberg (Tannenberg, Battle of)) at the hands of a joint Polish-Lithuanian army. The battle signaled a decisive ebb of the German threat.

      The Lithuanian state reached its apogee during the rule of Vytautas (Vytautas the Great), called the Great, who died in 1430. The realm extended from the Baltic Sea south to the shores of the Black Sea and east almost to Mozhaisk, some 100 miles west of Moscow. The Teutonic Order was no longer menacing, but a new threat from the east appeared. In 1480 Ivan III, Grand Prince of Moscow, assumed the title of sovereign of all the Russes. In effect he laid claim to all the lands of the old Kievan state. Most of these, including Kiev itself, were part of the Lithuanian realm.

      The struggle with Moscow continued over the next two centuries. Until 1569 the union of Lithuania and Poland remained a loose alliance by virtue of a common ruler. On July 1, 1569, a common Polish-Lithuanian parliament meeting in Lublin transformed the loose personal union of the two states into a Commonwealth of Two Peoples (Lublin, Union of). While Poland and Lithuania would thereafter elect a joint sovereign and have a common parliament, the basic dual state structure was retained. Each continued to be administered separately and had its own law codes and armed forces. The joint commonwealth, however, provided an impetus for cultural Polonization of the Lithuanian nobility. By the end of the 17th century it had virtually become indistinguishable from its Polish counterpart. The peasantry, however, retained the old language.

Russian rule
      During the 18th century, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth declined as a political power. Attempts at reform triggered foreign intervention. Following three partitions, the old state ceased to exist. During the first two partitions, in 1772 and 1793, Lithuania lost only lands inhabited by East Slavs. The Third Partition (1795) resulted in a division of the land inhabited by ethnic Lithuanians. The bulk of it went to Russia. However, lands southwest of the Nemunas River were annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia. This region was incorporated in the Grand Duchy of Warsaw established by Napoleon in 1807. In 1815, at the Congress of Vienna, the duchy became the Kingdom of Poland (Congress Kingdom of Poland) and was placed under Russian rule, although as a separate political entity. As a result, this region of Lithuania retained the separate administrative and judicial system introduced under French rule. These changes, including the abolition of serfdom, were significant and made the region distinct from the rest of the Lithuanian lands.

      The uprisings of 1830–31 and 1863 in Poland found resonance in the Lithuanian lands. The suppression was particularly harsh after the second revolt. Both insurrections were followed by waves of Russification. The tsarist government treated the Northwest Region—as historic Lithuania, apart from the southeastern lands, was called after 1832—as an integral part of Russia. In 1832 the University of Vilnius, founded in 1579, was closed. In 1840 the Lithuanian legal code, which dated back to the 16th century, was abolished. After the revolt of 1863 the policy of Russification was extended to all areas of public life. Russian was the only language sanctioned for public use, including education. Books and magazines in the Lithuanian language could be printed only in the Cyrillic (Russian) alphabet. Such cultural imperialism triggered an indigenous reaction that fueled a national renaissance. An informal system of Lithuanian “schools of the hearth” in the villages was organized. Books in the Cyrillic alphabet were boycotted, while Lithuanian publications in the Latin script, printed mostly across the German border in neighbouring East Prussia, were smuggled into the country in large numbers.

      A liberalization occurred after the Russian Revolution of 1905. The press prohibition had been annulled in 1904, allowing the appearance of the first Lithuanian daily newspaper, Vilniaus žinios (“Vilnius News”). On Dec. 4–5, 1905, a congress of some 2,000 delegates was held in Vilnius. The congress demanded an autonomous political entity formed from the ethnic Lithuanian lands. Its frontiers were to be formed in accordance with the freely expressed wish of the inhabitants.

      By late 1915 Lithuania had come under German military occupation. The goal of the German administration was to create a Lithuanian state that would be a satellite of Germany after the final peace treaty. It authorized a gathering in Vilnius, on Sept. 18–22, 1917, of a congress of 214 Lithuanian delegates. The gathering called for an independent Lithuanian state within ethnic frontiers with Vilnius as its capital, and it elected a 20-member Taryba, or council. On Feb. 16, 1918, the Taryba proclaimed an independent Lithuanian state.

      The country remained under German occupation, however. The Germans began to withdraw after the armistice (World War I) of Nov. 11, 1918. The newly independent Lithuanian government was faced with an invasion by the Soviets (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) from the east. On Jan. 5, 1919, Vilnius was occupied by the Red Army, (Red Army) and a communist Lithuanian government was installed. The national government was evacuated to Kaunas. By mid-1919 the tide had turned, and the Russians were successfully pushed back east.

Foreign relations
      Lithuania joined the League of Nations (Nations, League of) on Sept. 22, 1921, as a recognized member of the international community of states. At that time, its frontiers had not been clearly established, and unresolved border questions characterized Lithuania's foreign relations throughout the interwar period. The problem of Vilnius and its surrounding region bedeviled Polish-Lithuanian relations. Modern Lithuanian nationalism was based on a fusion of ethnicity and historic identity. Vilnius, the capital of the historic state, was a multiethnic city with a heavily Polish cultural veneer. Many in Poland, while not averse to Lithuania's claim, felt that Lithuania itself had historically become a part of a wider Polish cultural realm and sought to resurrect some form of the common political entity that had existed until 1795. On April 20, 1919, the Polish army took Vilnius from the Red Army and prevented the Lithuanians from reoccupying the city. The Western Allied powers then intervened and set up a line of demarcation between the Polish and Lithuanian forces, leaving Vilnius in Polish hands. In 1920 Lithuania concluded a peace treaty with Soviet Russia according to which Vilnius was recognized as Lithuanian. During the Polish-Russian war of 1920, Vilnius was occupied by the Red Army on July 14. The Lithuanians occupied it in the wake of the Soviet retreat a month later. A Polish-Lithuanian armistice signed in Suvalkai on Sept. 5, 1920, left the city in Lithuanian hands. However, two days later, Polish forces overran the area in dispute and set up a government of Central Lithuania. Vilnius remained under Polish control and was formally annexed in 1922. Lithuania, however, refused to recognize the situation and continued to claim Vilnius and its surroundings.

      The status of Klaipėda also presented problems. The city, Lithuania's sole potential outlet to the sea, had been part of Prussia and had never belonged to the historic Lithuanian state. Although the city itself was largely German in character, the surrounding countryside was largely populated by Lithuanians. The port was occupied by Allied forces after World War I. The Treaty of Versailles left its status undetermined. In January 1923 Lithuania occupied the territory. The following year an agreement was concluded with the Allied powers according to which Klaipėda became an autonomous part of Lithuania. Although Weimar Germany acceded to Lithuanian control of Klaipėda, the question resurfaced after Hitler's accession to power. Nazi propaganda agitated Germans to rise up against Lithuania.

      Border problems figured prominently during the last two years of the independent interwar republic. In the wake of a frontier incident, a Polish ultimatum of March 17, 1938, demanded the establishment of diplomatic relations and normal interstate ties. Lithuania, which had refused to maintain relations with Poland because of the dispute over Vilnius, yielded. On March 21, 1939, Lithuania yielded to another ultimatum and ceded the port to Germany.

Domestic policies
      The constitution adopted in 1922 set up a parliamentary democracy. The system proved dysfunctional. Frequent cabinet changes precluded stability. A coup d'état by a group of army officers in December 1926 introduced an authoritarian presidential system with restricted democracy that lasted until the Soviet occupation of 1940. Antanas Smetona (Smetona, Antanas), who had been the first president elected by the Taryba in 1918, was reinstated. All political parties were proscribed, except for the ruling Nationalist Union, which supported Smetona. In 1928 a new constitution formalized this state of affairs. On Feb. 12, 1938, a third constitution was adopted, envisaging a gradual return to parliamentary institutions. Although the ban on political parties remained in force, a de facto coalition government representing a wide spectrum of political opinion was appointed. However, by the outbreak of World War II only minimal political change had been achieved.

Independence lost
      A secret protocol to the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact of Aug. 23, 1939, stipulated that, in the event of a territorial and political rearrangement in the Baltic region, the northern boundary of Lithuania should represent “the boundary of the sphere of influence of Germany and the U.S.S.R.” When World War II began, Germany made a concerted effort to induce Lithuania to join in its attack on Poland, making it an ally and protégé. Lithuania opted for neutrality. A secret protocol to the German-Soviet boundary and friendship treaty of Sept. 28, 1939, revised the earlier agreement and placed most of Lithuania, with the exception of a small portion in the southwest, in the Soviet sphere of influence.

      On Oct. 10, 1939, the U.S.S.R. forced Lithuania to accept a treaty of mutual assistance. Lithuania was compelled to admit Soviet garrisons and air bases on its territory. In return Lithuania received Vilnius and surrounding areas that had been occupied by the Red Army during its attack on Poland. The territory formed about one-third of the area that Soviet Russia had recognized as Lithuanian according to the peace treaty of 1920 but that had been under Polish rule since 1920.

      On June 15, 1940, the U.S.S.R. confronted Lithuania with an ultimatum demanding the immediate formation of a “friendly” government and the admission of unlimited numbers of Soviet troops to its territory. The same day, the country was occupied. President Smetona fled to Germany, though without resigning. In his absence, the prime minister, Antanas Merkys (Merkys, Antanas), in his capacity as acting president, appointed a left-wing journalist, Justas Paleckis, prime minister. Merkys himself resigned, making Paleckis acting president as well. The moves clearly violated the constitution. The following month, the new Soviet regime staged elections. On July 21, the newly “elected” people's parliament unanimously requested the incorporation of Lithuania into the Soviet Union. On Aug. 3, 1940, the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. acceded to this request and declared Lithuania a constituent republic of the Soviet Union.

      During the first year of occupation, Sovietization consisted primarily of remolding the old political, social, economic, and cultural structures into Soviet forms. A land reform was enacted, though its effect was limited, as the land reform of the 1920s had already to a large degree made the country one of agrarian smallholders. A relatively small number of the country's political elite were deported in July 1940, before incorporation into the U.S.S.R. Large-scale deportations, affecting a wide cross section of the population, were initiated on the night of June 13–14, 1941. The movement was still under way at the time of the German attack a week later. It has been estimated that this wave of deportation affected some 35,000 people.

      When Germany attacked the U.S.S.R. on June 22, 1941, an insurrection against Soviet rule broke out in Lithuania. On the first day, insurgents gained control of Kaunas, then the capital, and set up a provisional government. Within a week the German army had overrun all of Lithuania. The Lithuanians hoped to reestablish independence in alliance with Germany. However, on July 28, 1941, an Ostland province, consisting of the three Baltic countries and Belorussia (now Belarus), was created. The Lithuanian provisional government refused to serve as administrative agent for the German occupation and disbanded. A German occupation regime was established, but it enjoyed only limited success in fulfilling the demands of the Reich. For three years manpower mobilization efforts were effectively thwarted. Human losses during the German occupation have been estimated at roughly 250,000. The bulk of these losses came from the Jewish community, which was almost entirely exterminated.

Soviet republic
      By the end of 1944 most of Lithuania had been reoccupied by the Red Army. The first postwar decade was a period of extensive repression and Russification. An organized guerrilla resistance, at times involving up to 40,000 fighters, lasted into the early 1950s. Several waves of deportations to Siberia and Central Asia accompanied the collectivization of agriculture: about 70,000 people were deported in late 1947; 70,000 in May 1948; and some 80,000 in 1949. Cultural life stagnated under the imposition of rigid Stalinist norms.

      During the thaw in the U.S.S.R. in the late 1950s and early '60s, the ruling Lithuanian Communist Party, which had been disproportionately composed of immigrant officials, was slowly nativized and transformed into the political machine of the long-term (1936–74) first secretary Antanas Sniečkus. The relative liberalization coincided with the industrialization and urbanization of the country. The possibility of planning socioeconomic change at the local level precluded large-scale immigration of labour from outside the republic. As a result, Lithuania remained ethnically largely homogeneous, with Lithuanians making up about 80 percent of the population in the early 1990s. The ideological reaction during the 1970s and early '80s failed to stem the development of national consciousness. An extensive dissident movement developed. During the 1970s Lithuania produced more per capita samizdat (unofficial and unsanctioned underground publications) than any other Soviet republic. The most prominent samizdat periodical, The Chronicle of the Lithuanian Catholic Church, which first appeared in 1972, outlasted the regime.

Independence restored
      The effort during the late 1980s to renovate the U.S.S.R. through glasnost (“openness”) and perestroika (“restructuring”) created a new political atmosphere. A mass reform movement, Sjūdis (“Movement”), emerged in opposition. Elections in early 1990 resulted in a legislature that unanimously declared on March 11 the reestablishment of Lithuania's independence. Soviet reaction initially consisted of a largely ineffectual economic boycott during the spring and summer of 1990. An abortive effort to topple the independent government on Jan. 13, 1991, ended in bloodshed. Political independence and international recognition were secured in the aftermath of the failed coup in Moscow in August 1991.

      Lithuania held its first post-Soviet elections in 1992. The former Communist Party, which renamed itself the Lithuanian Democratic Labour Party (LDLP), won 73 of 141 seats. Despite its victory, the LDLP did not seek to reverse policies. Instead, the government liberalized the economy, joined the Council of Europe, became an associate member of the Western European Union, and pursued membership in the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

      Internal disagreements, charges of corruption, and economic recession led to a drop in the government's popularity in the mid-1990s. In 1996 the LDLP won only 12 seats and was replaced in government by a coalition between the Christian Democratic Party and the Centre Party. The new government sought to further liberalize the economy and to attract foreign capital. In 1998 Valdas Adamkus (Adamkus, Valdas), who had been naturalized a U.S. citizen and who sought to curb corruption, was elected president.

Romuald J. Misiunas
      Throughout the first half of the 1990s, Lithuania's economy had remained reliant on Russia and was hit by recession. By the late 1990s it had dramatically increased its share of trade with western Europe, and inflation—which had exceeded 1,000 percent in 1991—was reduced to less than 10 percent. Rolandas Paksas, leader of Lithuania's populist Liberal Democratic Party, defeated Adamkus in the 2003 presidential election. Paksas was impeached later that year, however, when the Constitutional Court ruled that he had violated the constitution on at least three occasions (most notably, in granting citizenship to a Russian-born financial supporter). Moreover, members of Paksas's administration were linked to Russian organized crime. The chairman of the Seimas (legislature) became acting president, and Adamkus won a second term through a special presidential election held in 2004. That same year Lithuania gained full membership in both the EU and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).

      Relations with Russia continued to remain tense into the 21st century. In 2006 Russia ceased supplying Lithuania's main petroleum refinery and further refused to honour Lithuania's request for reparations for the Soviet Union's 50-year occupation of Lithuania.


Additional Reading

General works
Simas Sužiedēlis (ed.), Encyclopedia Lituanica, 6 vol. (1970–78), is a comprehensive work, with many of the articles translated from Lithuanian. The following titles were published in the U.S.S.R. and present the Soviet point of view: Jonas Zinkus (ed.), Lithuania: An Encyclopedic Survey, trans. from Lithuanian (1986), informative but with no index; Bronius Akstinas, Glimpses of Lithuania, 2nd ed., trans. from Lithuanian (1978), a descriptive work; and Vilius Baltrēnas (compiler), In the Eyes of Foreign Guests: Meetings with Soviet Lithuania, trans. from Lithuanian (1983). Histories of the Lithuanian church contribute significantly to a characterization of the people in Antanas Musteikis, The Reformation in Lithuania: Religious Fluctuations in the Sixteenth Century (1988); Michael Bourdeaux, Land of Crosses: The Struggle for Religious Freedom in Lithuania, 1939–78 (1979); and Kestutis K. Girnius, “Nationalism and the Catholic Church in Lithuania,” in Pedro Ramet (ed.), Eastern Christianity and Politics in the Twentieth Century (1988), pp. 82–103.

A broad historical survey is offered in Albertas Gerutis (ed.), Lithuania, 700 Years, 6th ed. (1984). A good survey of Lithuanian history in the 20th century is John Hiden and Patrick Salmon, The Baltic Nations and Europe: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in the Twentieth Century (1994). More specialized histories include Leonas Sabaliūnas, Lithuanian Social Democracy in Perspective, 1893–1914 (1990); Alfred Erich Senn, The Great Powers, Lithuania, and the Vilna Question, 1920–1928 (1966); and Robertas Ziugza, Lithuania and Western Powers, 1917–1940 (1987; originally published in Lithuanian, 1983). Robert A. Vitas, The United States and Lithuania: The Stimson Doctrine of Nonrecognition (1990), examines the diplomatic history of the 1940s; and Bronis J. Kaslas (ed.), The USSR-German Aggression Against Lithuania (1973), illustrates the period through documents. K.V. Tauras, Guerilla Warfare on the Amber Coast (1962), discusses underground movements in the 1940s; V. Stanley Vardys (ed.), Lithuania Under the Soviets: Portrait of a Nation, 1940–65 (1965), analyzes postwar developments; and Thomas Remeikis, Opposition to Soviet Rule in Lithuania, 1945–1980 (1980), carries the history into the late 20th century. The history of the Polish-Lithuanian confederation is brilliantly covered in Norman Davies, Europe: A History (1996). Analysis of the independence movement is presented in Alfred Erich Senn, Lithuania Awakening (1990); and Richard J. Krickus, Showdown: The Lithuanian Rebellion and the Breakup of the Soviet Empire (1997). A popular and well-written history of the Baltic states, mainly focusing on the period after glasnost, is Anatol Lieven, The Baltic Revolution: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the Path to Independence (1994).Aivars Stranga

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  • LITHUANIA — Regni Poloniae pars, et magnus Ducatus, palustris regio, plurimumque nemorosa. Ab Or. Borysthene claudit ur. Russiam et Moldaviam ad Mer, respicit, Poloniam versus Occas. Livoniam ad Sept. conterminas haber. Rara huius regionis oppida. Metropolis …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Lithuanĭa — Lithuanĭa, neulateinischer Name von Lithauen …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Lithuania — from Lith. Lietuva, of unknown origin, perhaps from a PIE source related to L. litus shore and thus meaning shoreland. Related: Lithuanian …   Etymology dictionary

  • Lithuania — [lith΄o͞o ā′nē ə, lith΄ə wā′nē ə] country in N Europe, on the Baltic Sea: from 1940 to 1991 it was a republic of the U.S.S.R.: 25,170 sq mi (65,190 sq km); pop. 3,675,000; cap. Vilnius: formerly, Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic …   English World dictionary

  • Lithuania — Infobox Country native name = Lietuvos Respublika conventional long name = Republic of Lithuania common name = Lithuania map caption = map caption |region=on the European continent |subregion=the European Union | national motto = Tautos jėga… …   Wikipedia

  • Lithuania — <p></p> <p></p> Introduction ::Lithuania <p></p> Background: <p></p> Lithuanian lands were united under MINDAUGAS in 1236; over the next century, through alliances and conquest, Lithuania extended… …   The World Factbook

  • Lithuania —    Following the pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in August 1939, Lithuania fell into the German sphere of influence. This arrangement was altered in September 1939 when Lithuania refused to join Germany in the war against Poland.… …   Historical dictionary of the Holocaust

  • Lithuania —    Estimated Gypsy population: 5,500. The official population, according to the last Soviet census (in 1989), was recorded as 2,700, with 81 percent speaking Romani as their mother tongue. The earliest reference to Gypsies on the territory of… …   Historical dictionary of the Gypsies

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