About Lithuania


Žiūrėti didesnį žemėlapio vaizdą
  • The name of the state: The Republic of Lithuania
  • The state flag: Tricolour- yellow, green, red.
  • The state emblem: The Vytis (The White Knight) against the red background .
  • The state anthem: Tautiska Giesme by V. Kudirka
  • The state language: Lithuanian
  • The state capital: Vilnius
  • Total area of the state: 65 200 sq. km
  • Population: Around 3 185 883 million
  • Main religion: Roman Catholic
  • Monetary unit of the state: Litas, 1 litas = 100 cents ≈ 0.29 euro
  • The main law: The Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania (enacted 25.10.1992)
  • Bordering on: Latvia – 610 km; Poland – 104 km; Russia (Kaliningrad region) – 295 km, The Baltic Sea – 99 km.
  • The highest point: Aukstasis kalnas (293,84 m).
  • Lithuania boasts: 816 rivers longer than 10 km, 17- longer than 100 km; 2834 lakes larger than 0.5 ha
  • The largest cities of Lithuania: Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipeda, Siauliai, Panevezys
  • Resorts: Palanga and Neringa – seaside resorts; Druskininkai and Birstonas – inland health resorts

History

The first Baltic tribes settled on what is now known as Lithuanian territory in the 7th-2nd centuries BC. Lithuania was mentioned for the first time in Qedlinburg Annals in 1009. The Lithuanian State was formed in the early 13th century when the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was established by the Duke Mindaugas who was crowned as the first King of Lithuania in 1253. By the 14th century Lithuania developed into one of the most powerful states in the Eastern Europe. Almost for the whole two centuries the newly established state had been invaded by the Teutonic Knights, though Lithuania was not conquered. In the 14th and 15th centuries, during the rule of the duke Vytautas the Great, Lithuania was one of the largest states in Europe, extending from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, at the same time it was the last country in Europe to accept Christianity. Lithuania progressively entered European culture. The Renaissance brought marked cultural advances – the first Lithuanian book was printed in 1547, and Vilnius University was founded in 1579. Signing the Union Act in Lublin in 1569, Lithuania and Poland formed a Commonwealth (Rzeczpospolita). After partitioning of the Commonwealth in 1795, Lithuania was incorporated into Russia. For more than a century Lithuania had to fight against the Tsarist oppression when Lithuanian schools, language and press were banned. On February 16, 1918 the Council of Lithuania proclaimed the reestablishment of the Independent State of Lithuania. The Republic of Lithuania existed only for a very short period of time until the World War II. In 1940 Lithuania was occupied and annexed by the Soviet Union and remained under its authority for fifty years. In 1988 a national movement started leading to one of the remarkable historical dates – March 11, 1990 when the Supreme Council declared the restoration of Lithuanian independence.

Geography

Lithuania is the largest and southernmost of the three Baltic States, having 99 km of coastline by the Baltic Sea. The territory of Lithuania covers 65200 sq. km and is larger than Denmark, Holland, Switzerland or Belgium. Lithuania borders with Latvia, Belarus, Poland and the Kaliningrad region of Russia. Forming an extension of the East European plain, Lithuania is a land of outstanding scenic beauty with thousands of lakes, meandering rivers and ancient woodlands. There are over 2800 lakes, 29 thousand rivers or streams, and 5 national parks.

On the basis of the traditionally developed differences in the character, dialect, houses and cuisine of the people, Lithuania is divided into 4 ethnographic regions: Zemaitija, Aukstaitija, Dzukija and Suvalkija. One of peculiar facts about Lithuania is that the geographical centre of Europe was determined to be 24 km north of the capital Vilnius.

Language

The Lithuanian language is the oldest of the living Baltic tongues and belongs to the family of Indo-European languages. Having formed in the 5th century AD, Lithuanian is rich in dialects and regional accents. The formation of Literary Lithuanian started with printing of the first Lithuanian book by Martynas Mazvydas in 1547. Lithuanian alphabet is Latin-based and has 32 letters. Today Lithuanian is spoken by approximately three million people in Lithuania and by about a million people living in other countries (Ireland, UK, USA, Australia, Brazil, Belarus, Canada, Latvia, Poland, Russia, etc.)

All correspondence and official communication is conducted in Lithuanian. English is mostly spoken among youth, while the older generation speaks Lithuanian and often Russian. However, people are in general helpful to communicate with foreigners. Remember that body language is international! A list of common words and expressions is presented at the end of this guide. Try to learn some words. It is especially useful when you go shopping in the supermarket. Reading labels is tricky otherwise.

Money

Local payments are in the national currency – the Litas (1 Lt =100 cents), 1 euro ≈ 3,4528 Lt. Most establishments accept major credit cards including Visa, MasterCard, EuroCard and more rarely – American Express, Traveller’s cheques are not accepted by retailers and can only be changed in banks or currency exchange offices. Banks give cash advances on most credit cards and transfer cash by wire. Rates at currency exchanges (Valiutos keitykla) do not differ much from one exchange to another. Foreign currency can be exchanged at the banks or currency – exchange bureaus that operate in hotels, shops, airports and railway stations.

Population and Religion

The population of the country is 3 263 100. The ethnic composition is represented by 84.00% of Lithuanians, 4.9% of Russians, 6.1% of Poles, and 2,4% of other minorities.

The majority of Lithuanian population is Roman Catholics. In addition, Lithuania has long established communities of Old Believers, Evangelical Lutherans, Orthodox Christians, Reformed Evangelicals, Eastern Rite Catholics, Moslems, Jews and Karaites. The followers of all religious confessions are held equal before the law.

National Holidays

  • January 1 – New Year Day
  • February 16 – Day of Re-establishment of the State of Lithuania (Independence Day)
  • March 11 – Day of Restitution of Independence of Lithuania
  • 1st Sunday that follows the first full moon after the vernal equinox – Easter (in the Western Christian tradition. Easter can fall as early as March 22 and as late as April 25)
  • May 1 – International Labour Day
  • First Sunday of May Mother’s Day
  • June 24 – St. John’s Day, Midsummer Day (Joninės, Rasos)
  • July 6 – Day of the Statehood (the Crowning Day of the Lithuanian King Mindaugas)
  • August 15 – Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Day (Žolinės)
  • November 1 – All Saints’ Day (Vėlinės)
  • December 24 – Christmas Eve
  • December 25-26 – St.Christmas

Local Time

Lithuania lies in the Central European Time zone (GMT + 2 hours, the same as Helsinki, Riga and Tallinn).

Emergency Telephone Number: 112

Dial this number from all public telephone networks anywhere in Lithuania. Calls to this number are free of charge at any time of the day, from any service provider, mobile or fixed line. Dial this number to report criminal offences, life-threatening conditions, health, safety or environmental hazards, and call respective emergency services.

Fixed Telephone Lines

When calling to Lithuania, please use the country code: +370.

Then, when dialling to the fixed telephone line, please, use a certain code of the city, e.g.:

  • to Kaunas: +370 – 37 – (telephone number);
  • to Vilnius: +370 – 5 – (telephone number);
  • to Klaipeda: +370 – 46 – (telephone number).

If you want to call outside the country, please, dial: 00 – area code and telephone number.

Mobile GSM Networks

There are three major mobile service providers in the country: Omnitel, Bitė GSM and Tele2. Excellent connection is ensured not only in Lithuania but also throughout many other countries.

Internet

Cities are teeming with Internet cafés, while smaller towns and villages feature over 800 public internet access points (in libraries, post offices, tourist information centres, etc.). Internet access points are marked with a @ sign. Anyway, Kauno kolegija / University of Applied Sciences provides internet to students.

Souvenirs

  • Amber – Jewelleries and decorations of the “Lithuanian gold”.
  • Flax/linen – All kinds of products, but mostly clothes. Low prices and high quality.
  • Beer – The low alcohol has very deep-rooted production traditions. Many different beer kinds are produced in the country.
  • Cheese – The white home-made cheese can be fresh or dried, sour, sweet or seasoned with caraway seeds. Diary products have been popular in Lithuania since a long time ago.
  • Bread – Black rye bread is one of the oldest and primary foodstuffs in Lithuania. Usually it is being produced according to authentic ancient formula. Lithuanian people eat it daily.
  • Wood – Wooden carvings and tools are typical for Lithuania.

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