Lithuanian version

LITHUANIA

 


 On the map of Europe Lithuania can hardly catch your attention. It is a small country on the shores of the Baltic sea with on area of 65.2 thousand square kilometres, which is almost four times smaller than Great Britain and more then eight times smaller France. However, Lithuania is not the smallest country in Europe. It is larger than Switzerland, Holland, Belgium.
Lithuania’s borders stretch for about 1850 km. On the north Lithuania is bordered by Latvia, on the east and on the south by Byelorussia. In the south-west her neighbours are the Republic of Poland and the Kaliningrad region of the Russian.
Vilnius is the capital, the largest city of Lithuania.
Kaunas – the second city of Lithuania both in size and in importance – is located in the central part of country.
Klaipeda is the third largest town of Lithuania and her large sea port.

NAME

It is believed that Lithuania got its name from the River Lietava (Lietauka), a tributary of the Neris. It flows about 25km from the little town of Kernave, an important political centre in ancient Lithuania in the eastern part of the country. Lithuania was first mentioned in the Annales Quedlinburgenses, a Latin chronicle, in 1009.

STATE EMBLEMThe Coat of  Arms

The Lithuanian mounted knight, called Vytis, is one of the oldest state emblems in Europe. It dates back to 1366, the time  of Grand Duke Algirdas, and became an   emblem of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania  at the beginning of the 15th century. In 1918 Vytis became the foremost symbol of statehood of Lithuania.

FLAG

The state flag was created in 1918.Flag of Lithuania The colours of the flag symbolise:  yellow - the sun, light and prosperity; green - the Lithuanian landscape, hope and joy; red - the colour of earth, life and blood. It symbolises the nation’s courage and tenacity in the struggle for freedom.

 

NATIONAL ANTHEM

The words and music of the Lithuanian national anthem, also known as Tautine giesme, were written by Vincas Kudirka. It was published for the first time in 1898, and first publicly performed in Vilnius in 1905.
1918 Tautine giesme officially became the national anthem of the Republic of Lithuania. During the years of Soviet occupation it was forbidden to play it.

GOVERMENT

The Seimas (Parliament) is the highest body of state power. It consists of 141 MPs elected for four-year terms.
The President of the Republic is elected by direct suffrage for a term of five years. President Valdas Adamkus took out oath on 26 February 1998.
The Government is composed of the Prime Minister and 14 ministers.
The Prime Minister is appointed or dismissed by the President with the approval of the Seimas.

BORDERS, DISTANCES

The total length of the inland borders is 1,747km, with the coastline adding another 99km. There are no islands in the Baltic Sea belonging to Lithuania.
In the north it borders Latvia (610km border), in the east and south Belarus (724km), in the south-west Poland (110km) and the Kaliningrad region of the Russian Federation (303km).
From east to west the country is 373km, and from south to north 276km.

LANDSCAPE

The country has a diverse landscape - three hilly uplands, and three lowlands plains. The highest point is Juozapine Hill, not far from Vilnius; it is 293.6m above sea level.Lithuanian landscape
There are over 4,000 lakes and 722 rivers.
The longest river is the Nemunas which is 937km long. Its length through Lithuania is 457km.

CLIMATE

Transitional between maritime and continental. Average temperatures: yearly 6.7*C; January - 4.9*C; July 17*C; but it can be as high as 30*C in summer and as low as -32*C in winter. Annual precipitation level: 744.6mm. Humidity: 78%. Any season, don’t forget your umbrella.

ETHNIC VARIATION

Cultural and language differences distinguish the regions of Zemaitija (Western Lithuania), Aukštaitija (mid and eastern Lithuania), Suvalkija (below the Nemunas) and Dzukija (southern Lithuania).

RELIGION

Mostly Roman Catholic. Others - Russian Orthodox, Evangelical Lutheran, Judaic, etc.

LANGUAGE

Lithuanian is an archaic language. It has retained its ancient sound system and morphological characteristics. Of all the living Indo-European languages, Lithuanian is the most similar to Sanskrit. The 32-letter alphabet is Latin based.

BASIC DATA

Area: 65,300 sq. km.
Population: 3,707,200
Capital: Vilnius
Government: Parliamentary Republic
 
Official language:
Lithuanian
 
Largest cities by population:
Vilnius 580,100
Kaunas 418,700
Klaipeda 203,300
Siauliai 147,000
Panevezys 133,300.
 
Ethnic composition:
Lithuanian 81.3 %
Russian 8.2 %
Polish 6.9 %
Belarusian 1.5 %
Others 2.1 %.
 
Population by age:
Under 15 years 21.9 %
Working age 61 %.
Retired 17.1 %.
Population by area:
Urban 67 %.
Rural 33 %.
 
Life expectancy:
Male 65 years
Female 76 years.
 
Population density:
56.8 per sq. km.
 
Language courses:
Department of Lithuanian Studies,
Vilnius University
 
Universiteto g. 3
2734 Vilnius
Tel/fax (370 2) 610786.
NATIONAL HOLIDAYS AND COMMEMORATIVE DAYS IN 1999
 
January 1
New Year’s Day
January 13
The Day of the Defenders of Lithuanian’s Freedom, to commemorate the peaceful protesters who were killed in 1991, by Soviet troops.Homesteads of Zemaitija
February 16
Independence Day. Lithuania declared its independence in 1918
March 11
Day of the Restoration of Lithuania’s Independence. The act was signed in 1990
April 4
Easter Sunday
May 2
Mother’s Day
June 1
International Children’s Day
June 14
Day of Mourning and Hope. In 1941 the Soviets began mass deportation to Siberia
June 23
Insurrection Day. An armed uprising against the Soviet occupation occurred in Vilnius and Kaunas in 1941
July 6
Statehool Day commemorates the coronation of Lithuania’s first and only king, Mindaugas, in 1253
August 23
Black Ribbon Day. In 1939 the Molotov - Ribentrop pact was signed which handed the Baltic republics over to the Soviet sphere of interest
September 8
Day of the Nation. The coronation of Grand Duke Vytautas was originally planned for this day in 1430; he died before it took place.
September 23
Commemoration Day of the Victims of the Holokaust
November 1
All Saint’s Day
December 25
Christmas Day

From the LITHUANIA IN THE WORLD (No.1, 1999)


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Samogitian Cultural Association Editorial Board, 1998.
Comments to: samogitia@mch.mii.lt

Page updated 2003.05.15.