ABOUT LITHUANIA

Geographical location: East coast of the Baltic Sea .

In 1989, scientists of the French National Institute of Geography determined that the geographical center of Europe is located 24 kilometers north of Vilnius . 

Area: 65,300 square kilometres

Climate: maritime / continental.

Average temperature in July is +23 ° C, in January -4,9 ° C.

Time zone: GMT + 2:00.

Capital: Vilnius.

Population: 3,454,000 .

The largest cities in terms of population : Vilnius 553,200; Kaunas 373,700; Klaipeda 191,600; Siauliai 132,700; Panevezys 118,800.

Ethnic groups: Lithuanians 83.5 %, Polish 6.7 %, 6.3 % Russians, Belarusians 1.2 %, Ukrainians 0.6 %, other 2.3 %.

115 different ethnic groups live in Lithuania.

Religion: The majority of believers - Roman Catholics, other religions - Orthodox, Evangelical Lutherans, Evangelical Reformed, Old Believers, Judaism, Sunni Muslims, Karaites.

National currency: euro.

Exchange rate 1EUR = 3,4528 Lt.

 

Economy

In recent years, Lithuania's economy has developed most rapidly in Europe. For example , between 2004 and 2005, Lithuania's GDP grew by 7.5 % .  Increase in gross domestic product was predetermined by the growth of domestic demand, investments, and export of goods and services .

Monetary policy of the country is based on the foreign exchange management . The national currency, litas, has remained stable since 1994. On February 20, 2002, Bank of Lithuania pegged the litas to the euro at a ratio of 1EUR = 3,4528 Lt.

Lithuania complies with all the criteria of the Maastricht Treaty and hopes to become a member of the European Monetary Union .  Lithuanian labour resources comprise about 1.6 million people , of whom more than two-thirds are employed in  private sector. Lithuanian workforce is distinguished by the highest level of education in Europe.

Lithuania pursues the policy of liberal foreign trade, which results in its rapid growth. Mineral products , vehicles, textiles, textile items, machinery and mechanical equipment , chemicals make up the bigger part of export. Lithuania mostly imports raw materials and products .

The main investing countries are: Denmark, Sweden , Germany , USA and Finland . More than 50% of foreign direct investment comes from the EU. Strategically located, with excellent infrastructure and experience, Lithuania holds the intermediary position between the European Union and the CIS countries .

Due to four international airports , an ice-free seaport and two international routes (automobile highway and north-south railway, which connects Scandinavia with Central Europe),  Lithuania has become an important hub of international transportation. Information technologies and telecommunications are the most rapidly developing sectors of the country economy.

Lithuania boasts of world-renowned biotechnology and laser industry. Three biotechnological companies export their products to more than 40 countries , and laser technologies are exported to about 100 countries.

 

History

Lithuania was first mentioned in the Latin chronicle "Annales Quedlinburgenses" in 1009

Lithuanian state was founded in 1253 when Lithuanian Grand Duke Mindaugas was crowned King of Lithuania.

In 1385, Krevsk union was concluded . Lithuanian Grand Duke Jagiello married the Polish Princess Jadwiga, accepted Christianity and was crowned King of Poland. In 1386, Jagiello founded Vilnius episcopate. Thus, Lithuania became the last European country to be baptized .

Zhalgiriskaya (Grunwald ) battle took place near the village of Tannenberg in 1410. Regular  troops , which included Lithuanian , Polish , Russian and Czech armies under the leadership of Duke Vytautas defeated the Teutonic Order. The victory put an end to the Order raids which took place for over two centuries.

1569 The Union of Lublin marked the creation of the Polish -Lithuanian state.

1579 Foundation of the University of Vilnius .

1795 Division of the Polish-Lithuanian state between Russia , Austria and Prussia . Lithuania was incorporated into the Russian Empire.

1864-1904 Prohibition of Lithuanian press in Latin script . Lithuanian books are printed in East Prussia and smuggled into Lithuania .

16 February 1918  Council of Lithuania declares Resumption of the Lithuanian State Independence with its capital in Vilnius.

1920-1938 occupation of Vilnius by Poland, Kaunas becomes the provisional capital of Lithuania.

1940 Following provisions of the secret protocols of the Molotov -Ribbentrop Pact,  Lithuania becomes a  part of the Soviet Union.

1941-1944 . Occupation of Lithuania by Nazi Germany.

1944 -1953 armed resistance movement "war against war" in Lithuania forests. During the years of the Nazi occupation and the USSR membership, Lithuania lost a lot of its residents because of   the Holocaust of Lithuanian Jews , mass deportations to Siberia and intense political emigration to the west .

1988 Creation of "Sąjūdis”,  an independent movement of Lithuania

11 March 1990 announced the resumption of Lithuania's independence .

1991 Lithuania became a member of UNO.

1993 Withdrawal of Soviet troops from the territory of Lithuania.

2004 Lithuania became a member of NATO.

2004 Lithuania became a member of the European Union.

 

Culture

Lithuanian culture was not isolated. AS early as  in the XIV century Lithuania has widely opened the doors to European masters of fine crafts. Since the Middle Ages  many monument  sites have survived  such as  Vilnius old town which was determined as UNESCO World Heritage alongside with  Trakai Castle , Gediminas Castle , the old towns of Kaunas and Klaipeda .

Lithuania is known for the large number and variety of the castle hills , which hosted wooden defensive castles. Castle hills have become an integral part of the Lithuanian landscape.

Along with the language of ancestors,  arts and crafts have reached us from ancient times. Manufacturing crosses is rooted in especially deep tradition. This unique form of Lithuanian folk art is included ​​in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. While in Lithuania, the eye catches a great number of wooden and wrought iron crosses, wooden pillars, chapels . They are erected at crossroads, forest edges, in estates to remind of the events important for Lithuania or for the person who installed them. They protect from evil eye, make the traveler’s eyes rise to heaven and his heart turn to prayer. Almost in every Lithuanian village one can find a master of this art form .

The largest museum of crosses  is near the city of Siauliai . Today, it is declared by UNESCO a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity . In our time, this tradition is passed over  to craftsmen who create wooden crosses and chapels . Decorated with geometric and floral ornaments (with  a symbolic meaning) , such traditional crosses serve a specific purpose when set in cemeteries near roads or intersections and  homes .

Lithuanian culture was influenced by various factors and traditions . It  is an interesting mixture of elements of pagan mythology and Christianity. During the Renaissance period and later , professional Lithuanian art was greatly influenced by  traditions of Western Europe. Indigenous variety of Lithuanian culture is rooted in the multicultural heritage of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (XIV-XVIII c.) . Lithuanian cultural borders go beyond the ethnic borders of Lithuania which enclose different famous people who live in present-day Poland , Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.

For more than a hundred years, Lithuania has cherished its national tradition of the song and dance holiday. This is one of the biggest cultural events in Lithuania held every four years. Song and dance festival is known as the most universal expression of the Lithuanian national , cultural, artistic , social and political identity in the modern state . It is a living link connecting ancient folklore heritage, contemporary national culture and professional art .

Tradition and symbolism of song and dance festival in Lithuania 2003 was declared a UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity .

The history of modern professional Lithuanian art and music began with the artist and composer Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis ( 1875-1911 ) . The works of this talented artist combined symbolism and romanticism . The early years of Lithuanian Independence were marked by flourishing of literature , art, theater and music.

Dramatic events of the XX century were the reason that a number of Lithuanian writers , artists, scientists chose to emigrate to the West. The works of those writers and artists who emigrated to Western Europe and the U.S. nowadays have become part of the cultural heritage of Lithuania.

The latest cultural phenomena in Lithuania have thrived on the fertile soil of ethnic culture and traditions of the European context . Lithuanian theater repeatedly enjoyed high appreciation from the audience and from critics of Lithuania and foreign countries. Directors Eimuntas Nekrošius , Donatas Banionis , Oskaras Korshunovas , Rimas Tuminas Jonas Vaitkus and Gintaras Varnas occupy deserved places in the hall of the national cultural fame . The country boasts of many well-known professional symphony and chamber orchestras , choirs and opera soloists , ballet performers . Throughout the year, one can witness numerous cultural events that include excellent annual international festivals of classical music , theater, film and poetry, which are attended by the famous Lithuanian and foreign artists .

Lithuania is also well known as a country of jazz. Annually, artists and lovers of jazz hold several international festivals in Kaunas, Birštonas and Vilnius.  Having returned its independence in the XX century , Lithuania opened itself  again to the world culture . Commonality of unique symbols , mentality of the people comprising the core of culture became available to every interested citizen of the world. Lithuanian culture has withstood many tests. Extremely strong potential of its creators is entering the next stage of development , greatly contributing to the world culture.

 

Language

Lithuanian language belongs to the Baltic group of Indo-European languages. Of all living Indo-European languages, Lithuanian language ​​is the best preserved collection of ancient sounds and morphological features . In the XIX century,  the similarity of the Lithuanian language and Sanskrit was established. Lithuanians are especially fond of their language , as one of the last living Indo-European languages. Lithuanians proudly quote the French linguist Antoine Meillet , who claimed that anyone who wishes to hear ancient Indian language should listen to Lithuanian peasants  speaking.

Linguists divide main dialects into a large number of subdialects that survived to the present time. This is a unique phenomenon in Europe.  It is assumed that the first book to be published in the Lithuanian language is "Catechism" by Martynas Mazhvidas ( in 1547 ) . "Postill " by  Mikalous Daukša (in 1599 ) , trilingual (Polish- Lithuanian -Latin ) dictionary by Konstantinas Sirvidas (in about 1620 ) and grammar  textbook by Danelyus Kleynas ( in 1653 ) greatly influenced  the language formation.

After the Russian Empire’s ban on the Latin font in 1863-1904 , Lithuanians did not succumb to the requirement to write in Cyrillic (Slavonic lettering) . Lithuanian books and newspapers were printed in East Prussia and secretly smuggled by bookmen to Lithuania. Russian authorities tried to stop the illegal delivery of books , many bookmen were killed or exiled to Siberia . Lithuania is  the only country that has put up a monument to a bookman.

Linguistic and cultural resistance was so strong that the ban on the Lithuanian press laid the foundations of the literary language . In 2004, Lithuania celebrated 100 anniversary of  the ban on the Lithuanian press . The beginning of the XX century saw the  establishment of the modern Lithuanian alphabet. Lithuanian Language Institute has accumulated a corpus  of  four and a half million words and published a fundamental 20-volume "Dictionary of the Lithuanian language ." The Constitution of Lithuania pronounced Lithuanian as a state language.

 

Education

The formal educational system in Lithuania was established at the end of the XVI century . Educational Commission of  Lithuanian-Polish state - the first Ministry of Education (to use a modern term ) in Europe was established in 1773. It laid the foundation of the country education system . In the years of Independence (1918 – 1940), it was mandatory to go to a four-year primary school. During the USSR period (1940 - 1990), the educational system in Lithuania was severely centralized under the control of Moscow authorities . Russian language in schools was obligatory, but the secondary and higher education

can also be obtained in the Lithuanian language. Dominant communist ideology established close relations of cooperation between secondary schools and created conditions for  free secondary education.

Modern educational system in Lithuania is based on European cultural values ​​. Since 1992 , education reform is based on democratic education experience of Lithuania and Europe. Children start schooling at the age of 6-7 years. Primary education lasts for four years , the basic compulsory education takes up six years and secondary education - two years. Children must go to school till 16 years of age.  Schools are operating on a ten-point grading system.

There are about 1,900 secondary schools in Lithuania with nearly 565,000 thousand students. After completing secondary school, entrants have the opportunity to continue their studies at 48 institutions of higher education, among them 37 state (15 universities and 16 colleges ) and 17 private educational institutions ( six universities and 11 colleges ).

 

Science

History of Lithuanian Science begins with Vilnius University, one of the oldest in Western Europe (founded in 1579) . An intellectual breakthrough of the country is associated with Lithuanian Constitution ( in 1529 ), which became the main legal system creating the Grand Duchy of Lithuania , with a work by Kazimieras Simonavichyus "Artis magnae artilleriae" (in 1650) , which develops the ideas of ​​a missile and multistage rocket design.

Later on the world of science learnt about Ignace Domeika , a prominent  scholar who investigated the nature and the natural wealth of Chile, archaeologist Maria Gimbutene, researcher in semiotics Algirdas Julius Greimas, expert in management Vytautas Andrews Graychyunas and other scientists . Now Lithuanian glory is strengthened by biotechnology experts and researchers in laser technology and telecommunications.

In the University of Vilnius,  Academician Jonas Kubilius has created a new branch of mathematics - probabilistic theory of  numbers . In Lithuania,  laser techniques are used to study physical and biophysical phenomena. Multicolor astrophotometric  system has been invented for two-dimensional classification of stars . Today it has become an integral part of the world of science.

 

Sport

Modern sports began to develop in Lithuania after the Declaration of Independence in 1918. In 1924, Lithuanian athletes first participated in the Olympic Games in Paris. In the years 1937-1939, the national basketball team won the European championship . This was the beginning of the basketball era  in Lithuania. After World War II, the Lithuanian basketball players were the most powerful in the Soviet Union and multiple winnes of the country championship .

In 1990, after the restoration of Lithuania independence, the national basketball team took part in the Olympic Games in Barcelona, ​​Atlanta and Sydney , and received a lot of medals. The National Men's Basketball Team of Lithuania became European champion in 1937, 1939 and 2003.