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Lithuania - Age Travel Baltic

Lithuania

Trakai

The southernmost and largest of the Baltic states, Lithuania has the privilege of being the precise geographical center of Europe. Washed by the Baltic Sea, covered with dense forests and meandering rivers and lakes, respectful of its traditions, proud of the Lithuanian language, nurturing its UNESCO world heritage sites and open to innovations- that is Lithuania.

In 2009 Vilnius- the Lithuanian capital, became European Capital of Culture. During the same year, the country celebrate a full millennium since first being mentioned in historical sources, in 1009. A packed programme of culture and entertainment will continue throughout 2009.

Lithuanian old traditions and folklore stand out from the heritage of European nations for preserved links with Baltic mythology and pre-Christian lifestyle.

Lithuanian forests are good for picking mushrooms and berries. Wild strawberries, bilberries and cranberries are fragrant with the scent of the forest and taste fantastic! Fishing in the river or lake is great entertainment and a valuable catch!

Hiking, swimming, canoeing and rafting on Lithuanian lakes and rivers - all entertainment is hard to enumerate. Lithuania has 5 national and 30 regional parks offering assorted entertainment. Although here specific protection requirements and visitors' rules of conduct apply, they won't prevent you from enjoying the beauty of the natural environment. Forests cover as much as 30 per cent of Lithuania's territory.

In Lithuania are plenty of homesteads and guest houses offering cosy and convenient accommodation and different outdoor entertainment.

Most in Lithuania demolished sculptures and other symbols of Soviet ideology were collected and set up in one location - Grutas Park near Druskininkai. While most of post-Soviet countries removed symbols which remind of the horrifying times from public places or destroyed them.

Base of nuclear missiles, established during the times of the Cold War in spectacular Plateliai surroundings in Plunge Region houses now a militarism exposition.

For ages Lithuanian resorts Birstonas and Druskininkai have been known for springing mineral water and mineral curative mud with curative features as good as at Europe's most famous wellness resorts.

Resort towns are situated on exclusively picturesque curves of Nemunas River surrounded by pine forests. Pleasing strolls and cycling hikes are out there for you. Here hotels and sanatoria conforming to European standards are at your service with latest diagnostic and treatment technologies and a wide range of procedures: underwater massage, vortex-, mineral-, bubble-, oxygen-, vertical and curative herb- and mud baths.

Historical facts

  • 1009 Lithuania first mentioned in the Quedlinburg chronicle.
  • 13th century. Foundation of the Lithuanian state. Grand Duchy of Lithuania was established by Mindaugas, the first King of Lithuania (crowned in 1253).
  • 1323 City of Vilnius founded by Grand Duke Gediminas.
  • 1385 The Krėva Treaty between Lithuania and Poland resulted in the marriage of Grand Duke Jogaila with the Polish Princess Jadvyga and the crowning of Jogaila as King of Poland. One of the conditions of the Treaty was Lithuania’s conversion to Christianity.
  • 1392-1430 During the rule of Grand Duke Vytautas Lithuania became one of the largest states in Europe extending from the Baltic to the Black Sea.
  • 1569 Under the Lublin Union, Lithuania and Poland merged into a commonwealth (Rzeczpospolita), and remained in existence until 1795.
  • 1795-1915 The major part of Lithuania was annexed by Russia.
  • February 16,1918 The Lithuanian Council (Taryba) proclaimed an independent Republic of Lithuania.
  • 1921 Lithuania was admitted to the League of Nations.
  • 1940-1990 Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union.
  • March 11, 1990 Lithuania declared the re-establishment of its independence.
  • September, 1992 Lithuania became a member of the United Nations.
  • May, 1993 Lithuania was admitted into the European Council.
  • March 29, 2004 Lithuania was accepted to NATO alliance
  • May 1, 2004 Lithuania was accepted to European Union

Government

The State of Lithuania is an independent and democratic republic. In Lithuania the powers of the State are exercised by the Seimas (the Parliament), the President of the Republic, the Government, and the Judiciary. The scope of powers is defined by the Constitution.

Population

3.43 million

Ethnic Composition

Lithuanians – 83.5%, Polish – 6.7%, Russians – 6.3%, Belarusians – 1.2%, others – 2.3%. Lithuania is home to as many as 115 ethnic groups.

Main symbols

flag

Flag


Vytis

State emblem - Vytis

One of the oldest coat of arms in Europe – Vytis, the coat of arms of the Lithuanian state – is a white armoured knight on a red background, with a shield on his left shoulder, riding on a white horse, with his sword lifted up for a stroke. The symbolic expression of the coat of arms was taken up from portrait seals of medieval dukes, since a rider was the symbol of Lithuanian rulers.

Religion

Predominantly, Roman Catholic (approximately 80% of the total population). Other confessions include Orthodox, Old Believers, Lutheran, Reformat, Judaist, Sunni, Karaite and other communities.

Language

Lithuanian is a Baltic language related to Latvian and Old Prussian with about 3.5 million speakers in Lithuania. There are also Lithuanian speakers in Poland, the USA, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, the UK and Uruguay.
Lithuanian is considered to oldest surviving Indo-European language and is thought to have retained some features of Proto-Indo-European (PIE) Some words in Lithuanian even resemble words in Sanskrit and Latin.

Time

Time is 2 hours from Greenwich in summer and 3 hours - in winter, according to East-European time zone system.

Geographical information

Territory

Lithuanian territory is located on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea and occupies 65.3 thousand square kilometres. Arable land and meadows make up 57%, woods and scrubs 30%, swamps 3%, internal waters 4%, other land 6% of the territory.

Border

The total length of the border of the Republic of Lithuania is 1735 km. 1042.8 km, or 60%, of the total border length is external border of the European Union.

  • Height/highest point - Juozapines kalnas – 293.8 m,
  • Longest rivers: Nemunas – 937 km (475 km in Lithuanian territory), Neris – 510 km (234 km),
  • Total length of rivers and canals in Lithuania is 76,800 km.
  • Biggest lakes: Drūkšiai – 44,8 km², Dysnai – 24,0 km²,
  • Deepest lake:Tauragnas - 60.5m
  • Number of lakes larger than 0.5 ha: 2,830 (total area 880 sq km).

Forests in Lithuania

Forests take up almost a third (around 31%) of area of Lithuania (i.e., approximately 2.13 million ha). Diversity of the country's forests is influenced not only by economic activities of the people, but also by natural factors – relief, climate, soils, etc. Conifer forests are the most widespread.

Lithuanian meadows

From the geographical point of view, Lithuanian meadows can be divided into two groups: water-meadows and dry ones. Water-meadows are of natural origin. They are not overgrown with scrubs or trees because of regularly repeating floods. Dry meadows appear on grazed and mown areas of cut forests, on drained swamps, on unbroken soils.

Lithuanian swamps

Due to land reclamation and peat extraction, over 70% of the swamps of the country were drained over the last few decades of the 20th century. Some of the lowland bogs, not touched directly by land reclamation, dried up significantly and experienced vegetation changes because of dropped overall levels of ground water. Communities of moss and grass started to give way to those of bushes and trees. The most natural plant communities were preserved in the biggest protected swamps (e.g., Čepkeliai, Kamanos, Žuvintas, Smalvos, etc.).

Lithuanian sand lands

Except for sea coast and river bank sand lands, Lithuanian sand lands are usually of secondary origin – i.e., formed as a result of human economic activity in areas of cut-down forests. The diversity of sand land communities in Lithuania is rather limited. All of them belong to two classes: white dunes and grey dunes, and continental sand lands. Most of sand land habitats are valuable from the point of view of biological diversity and are therefore protected. As many as 9 sand land habitats, found in Lithuania (such as rudimentary blown dunes, non-closed continental sand meadows, etc.) are included in the list of protected habitats of the European Habitats Directive. Special protected areas are established in the country for their preservation. Grey dunes are considered especially valuable habitats, therefore they should be protected in their entirety.

Distances to European cities

  • Vilnius - Reykjavík 2330 km;
  • Vilnius - Oslo 1050 km;
  • Vilnius - Stockholm 680 km;
  • Vilnius - Helsinki 620 km;
  • Vilnius - Tallinn 530 km;
  • Vilnius - Riga 260 km;
  • Vilnius - Saint Petersburg 660 km;
  • Vilnius - Moscow 800 km;
  • Vilnius - Athens 1880 km;
  • Vilnius - Budapest 910 km;
  • Vilnius - Warsaw 390 km;
  • Vilnius - Rome 1710 km;
  • Vilnius - Vienna 940 km;
  • Vilnius - Prague 910 km;
  • Vilnius - Madrid 2680 km;
  • Vilnius - Lisbon 3110 km;
  • Vilnius - Paris 1720 km;
  • Vilnius - Berlin 830 km;
  • Vilnius - Amsterdam 1370 km;
  • Vilnius - London 1730 km;
  • Vilnius - Copenhagen 850 km;
  • Vilnius - Oslo 1050 km.

Climate

Lithuanian climate is shaped by global factors and local geographical conditions. The geographical location has a big influence. Lithuania is situated in the northern part of the zone of middle-latitude climate. The Atlantic Ocean has the biggest impact on the Lithuanian climate. A big role is played by the waters of the warm Gulf Stream, washing shores of western Europe.

Summer in Lithuania is modestly warm. The average temperature in the month of July is around 17 degrees.

Climate in Lithuania is continental and marine. Average annual temperature +6.1 C, average winter temperature –4.9 C

Most common foreign languages:

English, Russian, and German.

 

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