Lithuania (lit. Lietuva), the official name is the
Republic of Lithuania (lit. Lietuvos Respublika) - a state located
in the northern part of Europe. The capital of the country is
Area - 65,300 km². The length from north to south is
280 km, and from west to east - 370 km. The population is 2,793,000
people (September, 2019). It has access to the Baltic Sea, located
on its east coast. The coastline is only 99 km (the lowest indicator
among the Baltic states). In the north it borders with Latvia, in
the southeast - with Belarus, in the south-west - with Poland and
the Kaliningrad region of Russia.
Member of the UN since
1991, EU and NATO since 2004, OECD since May 2018. Included in the
Schengen zone and the Eurozone.
The country's independence
was proclaimed on March 11, 1990, and legally registered on
September 6, 1991.
Travel Destinations in
Aukštaitija National Park
situated in Ignalina region of Lithuania 100 km North of
Vilnus. This natural reserve covers an area of 406 sq km.
Elegant Birzai Castle was constructed between 1586 and 1589
by Duke Kristupas Radvila.
Dzūkija National Park
Dzukija National Park is a large
protected area in Lithuania that is famous for its natural
beauty as well as historic sites.
Hill of Crosses
is an impressive collection of numerous crosses. It is a
place of spiritual and Litguanian national pride.
is second largest city in Lithuania that stands on the
cofluence of Neris and Nemunas.
Picturesque hills of Kernave are
actually remains of military fortifications of the medieval
stronghold that stood on the right bank of the Neris River.
Klaipeda is a large Lithuanian city that was found by the
Livonian Order in 1252 to guard its newly acquired
Kuršių Nerija National Park
Kursiu Nerija National Park is Lithuanian nature reserve
that protects unique biosphere Curonian Spit, a long narrow
peninsula along the Baltic Sea.
Panemune Castle was erected in the
16th century and replaced medieval stronghod that Teutonic
Knights built here to conquer Lithuanian lands inhabited by
Roman Catholic Pazaislis Monastery is a beautiful Baroque
abbey that is surrounded by Kaunas Sea.
Medieval Trakai Castle is a
former royal residence situated on an island in the middle
of the lake.
Old Town of Vilnius is the largest
city in Lithuania and also the capital of the country.
Žemaitija National Park
is nature preserve that also harbors abandoned Soviet army
Embassies in Lithuania
Akmenu 6, Vilnius
Antakalnio 2, Vilnius
Tel. (5) 212 3369
Jogailos 4, Vilnius
Ambulance 03, 112
Fire fighters 01, 112
Police 02, 112
The territory of modern
Lithuania was inhabited by people from the end of the X — IX
millennium BC. e. Residents engaged in hunting and fishing, used
bows and flint-tipped arrows, scrapers for leather, fishing rods and
nets. At the end of the Neolithic (III – II millennium BC),
Indo-European tribes entered the territory of modern Lithuania. They
were engaged in agriculture and cattle breeding, while hunting and
fishing remained the main occupations of local residents until the
widespread use of iron tools. The Indo-Europeans, who settled the
lands between the mouths of the Vistula and the Western Dvina, stood
out in a separate group called the learned Baltic.
traditionally believed that the ethnic basis of Lithuania is formed
by the bearers of the archaeological culture of the East Lithuanian
mounds that developed in the 5th century AD e. in the territory of
modern Eastern Lithuania and North-Western Belarus. Around the 7th
century, the Lithuanian language separated from Latvian.
origin of the state
The emergence of statehood on the territory
of modern Lithuania dates back to the 13th century, while the very
name “Lithuania” was first mentioned in the Quedlinburg annals under
1009 in a report on the murder by pagans of the missionary Bruno on
the border of Russia and Lithuania. According to the most common
version, the toponym arose from the name of the small river Letauka,
a tributary of Nyaris. According to a more modern hypothesis, the
name of the country could come from the ethnonym "years" or "leiti",
which the inhabitants of the surrounding lands called the warriors
of the Lithuanian princes.
At the beginning of the XIII
century, the invasion of the German crusader knights began in the
lands of the Gentile Baltic pagans. They conquered Prussia and
Livonia. At the same time, the expansion of the Galician-Volyn
principality began in the south. By the middle of the XIII century,
many Lithuanian lands were united under the rule of Prince Mindovg,
who received Catholic baptism in 1251 and was crowned in 1253. A few
years later Mindovg renounced Christianity and until the beginning
of the XIV century the Lithuanian lands remained pagan. Despite the
fact that already in 1263 Mindovg was overthrown, his rule marked
the beginning of the existence of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania for
more than five hundred years.
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
the XIV - early XV centuries, the territory of the Grand Duchy of
Lithuania grew rapidly, mainly due to the annexation of the lands of
Western Russia. The inclusion of Slavic lands in the state, many
times larger than the actual Lithuanian lands in terms of area and
population, led to the adoption by the Lithuanian princes, who took
possession of the Russian lands, Orthodox culture and the West
Russian language. Over time, the West Russian language became the
official language of the office of the Grand Dukes. Actually, the
Lithuanian language until the 16th century remained unwritten,
although it continued to be used on ethnically Lithuanian lands.
In 1385, the Grand Duke of Lithuania Jagiello concluded the
Union of Krev with the Kingdom of Poland. Under the terms of the
union, Jagiello undertook to annex the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to
the Kingdom of Poland and baptize Lithuanian lands according to the
Catholic rite, and he himself became king of Poland and retained the
title of Grand Duke of Lithuania. However, he was soon forced to
cede power in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to his cousin Vitovt. The
latter, although he recognized himself as a vassal of Jagiello,
pursued an independent foreign policy and thus a complete
unification of states did not take place. During the reign of
Vytautas (1392-1430), the Grand Duchy of Lithuania reached its
highest peak, and its territory amounted to approximately 930
In the same period, the Lithuanian princes from
the Gediminovich dynasty fought a hard battle with the Teutonic
Order, which was defeated in 1410 at the Battle of Grunwald by the
combined forces of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of
Poland. In 1422, Jemaitia finally entered the Grand Duchy, which for
a long time served as the main subject of disputes with the
The Grand Duke Casimir, who was also the king of
Poland, expanded the influence of the Jagiellonian dynasty -
subjugated Prussia, put his son on the Czech and Hungarian thrones.
In 1492-1526 there was a political system of the Jagiellonian
states, covering Poland (with vassals of Prussia and the
Principality of Moldova), the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Czech
Republic and Hungary.
The legal basis of the state was the
statute published in three editions (1529, 1566, 1588), reflecting
socio-economic and political changes. The statute regulated issues
of civil, criminal and procedural law. On the territory of the Grand
Duchy, the third edition of the statute was valid until 1840.
In the Commonwealth
In 1569, a new union with Poland was concluded in
Lublin, as a result of which the Commonwealth was formed. According
to the Act of the Union of Lublin, Lithuania and Poland were ruled
by a jointly elected king, and state affairs were decided in the
general Sejm. However, legal systems, the army, and officials
In the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries,
a political system, known as gentry democracy, developed in
Lithuania according to the Polish model. It was characterized by the
presence of broad rights of the gentry (nobility) in government. At
the same time, there was a polonization of the gentry, expressed in
the adoption by the ruling estate of the Grand Duchy of the
Lithuanian Polish language, culture and identity. Polonization did
not have such a significant effect on the unprivileged classes.
As part of the Russian Empire
In the 18th century, as a
result of devastating wars and a comprehensive state crisis, the
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth fell into decay and came under the
influence of the Russian Empire. In 1772, 1793 and 1795, sections of
the Commonwealth took place between Russia, Prussia and Austria.
Almost the entire territory of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania
was annexed to the Russian Empire.
In attempts to restore
statehood, the Polish-Lithuanian nobility took Napoleon's side in
1812, and also repeatedly raised revolts (1830–1831, 1863–1864),
which, however, ended in defeat. In an effort to eliminate Polish
influence in Lithuania, the Russian authorities launched a broad
campaign of depolonization and Russification. In 1864 the Lithuanian
Latin alphabet was banned. The Lithuanian population, especially the
Catholic clergy, resisted Russification: Cyrillic editions were
ignored, and books printed in Latin letters were smuggled from
neighboring Prussia. In 1904, the ban on Lithuanian Latin letters
During the first world war
The outbreak of
World War I quickly spread throughout Lithuania; by the end of 1915,
all ethnically Lithuanian lands were controlled by Germany.
Lithuanians have lost all political rights. In the beginning,
Lithuanian periodicals were even banned. However, the Lithuanian
intelligentsia tried to take advantage of the geopolitical situation
and began to look for opportunities to restore the independence of
Lithuania. On September 18-22, 1917, the Lithuanian Conference was
held in Vilnius, during which the Lithuanian Tariba (“Council of
Lithuania”) was elected. During the conference, a decision was made
on the need to create an independent Lithuanian state within
ethnographic borders and with the capital in Vilnius. A. Smeton was
elected Chairman of the Council.
On December 11, 1917, the
restoration of the State of Lithuania was proclaimed. On March 23,
1918, Emperor William II recognized the independence of Lithuania.
On the basis of the act recognizing Lithuanian statehood, Tariba was
transformed into the State Council of Lithuania.
On July 13,
1918, the Council of State decided to establish a constitutional
monarchy in Lithuania and propose a crown to Prince Württemberg
Wilhelm von Urach. However, on November 2, 1918, this decision was
withdrawn. The main provisions of the Interim Constitution of
Lithuania were adopted. On November 11, 1918, the Presidium of the
State Council approved the first interim government of Lithuania out
of six ministers under the leadership of Augustinas Voldemaras,
thereby initiating the creation of the Lithuanian state apparatus.
Republic of Lithuania
After the departure of the main German
units and the start of battles with the Bolshevik Red Army, the
Lithuanian Soviet Republic was formed on December 16, 1918. February
27, 1919 in Vilnius, a joint meeting of the CECs of Lithuania and
Belarus was held, where the formation of the Lithuanian-Belarusian
SSR (Litbel) was proclaimed.
In February - March 1919, the
troops of the Lithuanian Tariba, supported by German garrisons,
began military operations against Litbel, in April 1919 the Polish
army joined them. As a result, the territory of Litbel was occupied
by Polish units. In order to fight Poland, Soviet Russia required
neutrality of Lithuania, for which July 12, 1920, a
Soviet-Lithuanian treaty was concluded in Moscow. Litbel ceased to
exist, Soviet Russia recognized the independence of Lithuania and
the transfer of the disputed Vilna Territory to it.
defeat of the Red Army near Warsaw and the Soviet retreat, the
Polish units under the command of General L. Zheligovsky staged a
rebellion and allegedly arbitrarily occupied the territory of the
Vilnius Region. On October 12, 1920, it was announced that Middle
Lithuania was created on the territory of the territory of the
region, but already in 1922 it became part of the Polish Republic as
a voivodship. The Lithuanian authorities continued to consider
Vilnius the capital of Lithuania, although in fact the leadership
was from Kaunas.
In 1919, the post of president was introduced in
Lithuania, A. Smeton was elected the first president of the state.
On May 5, 1920, the first meeting of the democratically elected
Constituent Assembly was held. In 1921, the country was admitted to
the League of Nations. In 1922, a permanent constitution was
adopted. Reforms in the field of land resources, finance and
education are presented, the Lithuanian currency (lit) is
introduced, the University of Lithuania is opened.
region (Memelland), populated mainly by Prussian Lithuanians and
Germans, was decided by the League of Nations under the temporary
control of the French administration. In 1923, as a result of an
uprising of local Lithuanians and with the secret participation of
the Lithuanian police, Klaipeda Territory was annexed to Lithuania
on the basis of autonomy. The French administration did not take any
steps to combat the uprising; on February 16, 1923, the Entente
countries recognized the accession of Klaipeda Krai to Lithuania.
In December 1926, a military coup took place in Lithuania, which
returned the nationalist leader A. Smetonu to power. The so-called
authoritarian phase of government has begun. In 1928, a constitution
was adopted that expanded presidential powers. Opposition parties
were banned, censorship tightened, and the rights of national
minorities cut back.
On March 17, 1938, Poland presented an
ultimatum to Lithuania demanding that the Vilnius Region be
recognized as an integral part of the Polish state. A year later, on
March 20, 1939, Lithuania received an ultimatum from Germany
demanding that Klaipeda Territory be returned to it. Lithuania was
forced to accept both ultimatums.
World War II and accession
to the USSR
According to the secret protocol to the
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact concluded in August 1939, Lithuania was
included in the sphere of interests of Germany. On September 1,
Germany launched an invasion of Poland, and on September 17, the
USSR liberated the lands conquered by Poland during the
Soviet-Polish war, which resulted in the return of the western lands
of Belarus and Ukraine, including Vilnius.
On September 25,
the USSR initiated negotiations on Germany’s refusal of claims for
Lithuania in exchange for the territory of the Warsaw and Lublin
Voivodeships of Poland. On October 10, 1939, an “Agreement on the
transfer of Lithuania to the city of Vilnius and the Vilnius region
and on mutual assistance between the USSR and Lithuania with a
confidential protocol thereto” was signed for a period of 15 years,
which provided for the introduction of a 20,000-strong contingent of
Soviet troops into Lithuania. On July 14-15, 1940, after the
adoption of the Soviet ultimatum and the introduction of an
additional Soviet military contingent, elections were held in
Lithuania for the People’s Diet, in which only the pro-Soviet “Bloc
of the working people” was allowed to participate. On July 21, the
People’s Sejm proclaimed the formation of the Lithuanian SSR; on
August 3, 1940, it was accepted into the USSR. In 1940, already
being part of the USSR, Lithuania received part of the territory of
June 22, 1941, after the German attack on the
USSR, anti-Soviet actions in Lithuania followed. In Kaunas, the
Provisional Government of Lithuania was proclaimed, maintaining
close contacts with the Germans. However, after the start of the
actual German occupation, this Provisional Government was dissolved,
and the territory of Lithuania was included in the
Reichskommissariat Ostland (general district of Lithuania), under
which it was granted some autonomy. The occupation administration
was led by General P. Kubiliunas.
In 1944, the Nazis were
expelled by the Red Army from the territory of the Lithuanian SSR
(see Belorussian operation (1944)).
1944-1953, clashes occurred between law enforcement agencies and
armed nationalist groups. The "Forests" or "Greens," as they were
called in Lithuania, carried out terror against representatives of
the Soviet government, military personnel, as well as civilians,
including children. The main backbone of the "Forests" was made up
of people who stained themselves by collaborating with the German
occupation regime, participated in armed formations created by the
Nazis, participated in punitive actions in Lithuania, Belarus and
Russia, destroying the Jewish population. They were also joined by
former large landowners who lost property.
Later, the Soviet
authorities encountered non-violent resistance from the local
nationalist intelligentsia and the Catholic clergy.
the years of perestroika, the Lithuanian independence movement
intensified significantly and was increasingly supported by local
authorities. In 1989, the Baltic Way campaign was organized.
Residents of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, expressing their desire
to secede from the USSR, built a live chain with a length of almost
Restoration of independence
On March 11, 1990, the Supreme Council announced
the restoration of independence of Lithuania. Lithuania became the
first Soviet republic to announce its withdrawal from the USSR.
On April 20, 1990, the USSR imposed an economic blockade,
cutting off oil supplies. The blockade lasted 74 days, but the
Lithuanian authorities continued the course towards independence.
Gradually, economic relations were restored. Tension reappeared in
January 1991, when Soviet separate parts of the army, police and the
KGB tried to seize power by force. The peaceful resistance of the
Lithuanian population led to the defeat of the putsch, 14 were
killed and 900 wounded civilians. Soon after, in February 1991,
Iceland became the first country to recognize the independence of
On September 6, 1991, the USSR State Council
recognized the independence of Lithuania. On September 17 of the
same year, Lithuania was admitted to the United Nations.
October 25, 1992, citizens of the Republic of Lithuania voted in a
referendum to adopt the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.
On February 14, 1993, Algirdas Brazauskas was elected president of
the country by universal suffrage. On August 31 of the same year,
the last units of the Soviet army left Lithuania.
29, 2004, Lithuania joined the NATO bloc, and on May 1, 2004 became
a full member of the European Union. On January 1, 2015, Lithuania
entered the eurozone.