|Republic of Lithuania|
|State and form of government||semi-presidential republic|
|Head of state||
|Head of government||
|population||3,029,118 (January 2021)|
|Population density||43 inhabitants per km²|
|Population development||- 0.5% (estimate for 2019)|
gross domestic product
|Human Development Index||0.882 ( 34th ) (2019)|
|independence||February 16, 1918 ( declaration )
March 11, 1990 (recovery)
UTC + 2 EET
UTC + 3 EESZ (March to October)
|ISO 3166||LT , LTU, 440|
Lithuania [ ˈliːta͜uən; ˈLɪta͜uən ] ( Lithuanian Lietuva , officially the Republic of Lithuania , Lithuanian Lietuvos Respublika ) is the southernmost of the three Baltic states . It is bordered on the west by the Baltic Sea , sharing borders with Latvia , Belarus , Poland and Russia ( exclave of Kaliningrad Oblast ).
From around 1253 to 1795 Lithuania was a grand duchy, from 1569 as Poland-Lithuania part of a union. With the third partition of Poland , Lithuania became part of Russia in 1795, until it became a sovereign republic in 1918 in the act of Lithuania's declaration of independence . After the Soviet occupation (1940), interrupted by the German occupation (1941–1944), it regained independence in 1990. In the course of the EU enlargement in 2004 , Lithuania became a member state of the European Union and a member of NATO . As of January 1, 2015, Lithuania became the 19th member of the euro area .
Lithuania has over three million inhabitants (as of 2021). The capital and largest city of Lithuania is Vilnius (588,412 inhabitants). Other major cities are Kaunas (315,000), Klaipėda (166,861) and Šiauliai (111,967). Panevėžys is the fifth largest city with 92,944 inhabitants.
Lithuania is located in the south of the Baltic States . The allocation of the entire region is in turn controversial and is influenced not only by geographical factors but also by historical, cultural and political aspects. The Baltic states are assigned to Northern Europe , Central Europe ( East Central Europe ), Eastern Europe and Northeastern Europe .
Lithuania borders Latvia to the north and Belarus to the east and south-east . The border with Poland in the south is only about 100 kilometers long; it is considered the most important connection to Central and Western Europe. The Russian Oblast Kaliningrad joins the south-west as an exclave , the border is partly formed by the Memel . To the west lies the Baltic Sea, to which Lithuania has access via the port of Klaipėda .
Geographers from the Institut Géographique National , the national geography institute of France, calculated the geographical center of Europe in 1989 and found a location in the village of Purnuškės a little north of Vilnius .
Lithuania lies within the Eastern European Platform and has therefore been tectonically relatively calm for a long time geologically. The surface was decisively shaped by the repeated advances of the inland ice during the Ice Age . Therefore, there are only very few older rocks on the earth's surface. In terms of landscape, almost all of Lithuania belongs to the young moraine land , which was covered by the ice of the last, the Vistula Ice Age. 20,000 years ago, at the height of the Vistula glaciation, only a small strip in the extreme south-east remained ice-free.
In the west, the country borders the Baltic Sea with sandy beaches. The Lower Lithuanian Ridge in the western part of Lithuania belongs to the Baltic Ridge . The hill country in the southeast belongs to the Belarusian ridge . Here are the highest elevations in Lithuania with 294 m ( Aukštasis kalnas and Juozapinės kalnas ). The largest rivers are the Memel and Neris , both of which have their source in Belarus. In the northeast is the Lake District of High Lithuania. There are also numerous lakes in the south. In total, lakes take up about 1.5% of the country's area. A part of the Curonian Lagoon and the Curonian Spit also belong to Lithuania.
Most of the land area is used for agricultural purposes. Just over 30% of the area is covered by forests and over 3% by moors and swamps. The area of Lithuania consists of 62,680 km² of land and 2,620 km² of water.
The climate in Lithuania is a temperate continental climate . The westerly wind prevailing on the coast carries warm and humid air from the Baltic Sea into the interior.
The warmest month is July with an average of 17 ° C, the coldest month is January with an average of −5.1 ° C. The annual average temperature is 6.2 ° C. The mean annual rainfall is 661 mm, in the southwest significantly higher, in the north below.
There are over 200 nature reserves of various purposes and of various ranks in Lithuania. These include five national parks , seven protected areas under the Ramsar Convention , four total reserves and thirty regional parks. Over 14% of the country's area is taken up by nature reserves, such as the Praviršulio tyrelis area . A raised bog that is well known among bog experts is the Aukštumala bog between Sowetsk and Klaipėda , as it was the first bog in the world to which a special monograph ( CA Weber , 1902) was dedicated. While the western part is still very well preserved, a subsidiary of the German Klasmann-Deilmann group is mining large areas of peat in the eastern part. The raised bog is part of the Memel Delta Regional Park. Upper Lithuania (Aukštaitija) is partly very hilly and rich in lakes, in the center of this area lies the Aukštaitija National Park .
The Lithuanian population has been decreasing steadily since the end of the Soviet Union in 1990. In 1992 the maximum was reached with just over 3.7 million residents. In 2000 the population was 3.5 million and in 2010 it was only 3.32 million. Emigration (see below) contributes to this decline, as does the surplus of deaths . In terms of births, the absolute low point was reached in 2002 with 30,000 births (8.6 per 1000 inhabitants), since then the rate has increased slightly again: in 2010 there were 35,625 births nationwide (10.8 per 1000 inhabitants). While the west of the country is more fertile than the rest of Lithuania, the death surplus is greatest in the eastern border regions, as they are most affected by aging (over 20 deaths per 1000 inhabitants in the Ignalina , Švenčionys and Zarasai counties , with a national average of 13, 5 for 2007).
On September 28, 2012, the Statistical Office of Lithuania announced that fewer than three million people have lived in Lithuania since April of the same year. Here, too, the main reason is emigration . Around 15,100 Lithuanians emigrated to another country between January and August 2012. The majority of them are young adults. They see greater opportunities on the job market abroad than in Lithuania. The destination countries are European countries such as the United Kingdom , Ireland , Norway , Sweden and Denmark . In 2017, 4.3% of the population in Lithuania was born abroad.
Since the end of World War II , Lithuania has seen rapid change into an urban society. In 1959, three-fifths (60%) of the population lived in rural areas, in 1970 the ratio was balanced, and in 1990 the ratio of two-thirds urban to one-third rural population was achieved.
It is estimated that around 200,000 Lithuanians live or work in western countries without the Lithuanian registration authorities being officially aware of this. According to statistics, over 218,000 people have officially left the country since 2005; with an immigration of a good 60,000, a migration loss of almost 158,000 people, which corresponds to more than 3% of the population. The Lithuanian statistical office gives the unofficial emigration rate for 2001 to 2007 with about 112,000 people. Since then, Lithuanians have always made up 85% of emigrants, in 2001 less than half were Lithuanian citizens . Conversely, Lithuanians have made up around 70% of immigrants since 2005, compared to only 15% in 2001. As a result of the positive economic development in Lithuania, (official) immigration from neighboring Belarus has increased, but is still well below 1000 people per year, on balance below 500 people. There was a striking difference between 2009 and 2010: In 2009, only 22,000 people left the country, compared to 84,000 in 2010. There was a decline in 2011: 54,000 people left the country, while 16,000 immigrated. 39,000 people emigrated in 2013, 36,600 the next year and as many as 44,500 in 2015. In 2016 51,000 Lithuanians emigrated, in 2017 even 57,200.
The total number of inhabitants fell from 3.7 to 2.8 million between 1990 and 2017 due to emigration (there were 1.4% fewer permanent residents in 2017 and 0.5% fewer permanent residents in 2018).
Destination countries for emigration
The statistical average life expectancy in Lithuania in 2015 was just under 74 years, with a clear unequal distribution according to gender: women live on average 79.3 years old (in Germany 82.9 years), men only 68.5 (in Germany 77.9 years old ) Years). Compared to 1990, life expectancy has increased both for women (from 76.3 years) and that of men (from 66.4 years). In 2007 there was still a slight decrease in the number of men. Alcohol abuse has clearly negative effects on life expectancy in men. According to the 2014 WHO report, 2,900 men and 950 women die each year as a result of alcohol consumption (30% of all deaths).
Since 2007, however, life expectancy has also increased for men. In 2013 Lithuania had the highest per capita consumption of pure alcohol compared to the 34 member countries of the OECD at the time .
According to the WHO , Lithuania was the country with the highest suicide rate in the world in 2005, with a statistical figure of 38.6 cases per 100,000 inhabitants . In 2009, Lithuania was still at the top of the list of suicide rates with an average of 35.6 cases per 100,000 population (61.3 cases in men, 10.4 in women), followed by Russia with 31.7 cases (2006) per 100,000 inhabitants. The main reasons for the high suicide rates are high alcohol consumption, pronounced youth unemployment and existential fears. Lithuania also has the highest homicide rate in the EU.
By far the largest part of the population consists of Lithuanians . However, there are also national minorities in the country, predominantly Slavs . The Polish minority in Lithuania , most of which live in the Vilnius district , has been resident in some cases for over a hundred years.
The small remnants of the German minority in Lithuania ("Lithuanian Germans") , which are always small in number , remained in their long history in contrast to the Baltic Germans of no great historical, political, cultural and economic significance. Their complete relocation to Germany in the spring of 1941 was a consequence of the Hitler-Stalin Pact .
Russians mostly came to Lithuania during and after World War II when the country was part of the Soviet Union . The Russian-speaking population in Lithuania , which is the second largest minority after the Poles, is concentrated in the capital Vilnius (especially the Naujoji Vilnia district ), the port city of Klaipėda ( Memel ), the Mažoji Lietuva region ( Lithuania Minor ) and on industrial locations such as Elektrėnai and Visaginas .
|Lithuania population by ethnic group 1959–2011|
|Ethnic group||1959 census||1970 census||1979 census||1989 census||2001 census||2011 census|
|Other or unspecified||4,425||0.2||6.004||0.2||10,327||0.3||12,727||0.3||40.136||1.2||39,279||1.3|
In addition, there are still living in Lithuania (2011):
- 1,233 Armenians (1989: 1,655)
- 648 Azerbaijanis (1989: 1314)
- 540 Moldovans (1989: 1,450)
- 372 Georgians (1989: 658)
- 3,508 people from another nation (1989: 7,595)
The smallest minority are the Karaites , a Judaized Turkic people who mainly settled in Trakai and still number around 241 people (1989: 289). Almost 33,000 inhabitants (1% of those surveyed) do not indicate any ethnicity .
Lithuanian as a native language speaking about 2,694,000 inhabitants (including the speaker of Samogitian ). Lithuanian is one of the Baltic languages , including Latvian . In many properties it is considered to be particularly archaic and therefore particularly close to the reconstructed Indo-European original language .
- Approx. 358,000 speak Polish ,
- Russian approx. 344,000,
- Belarusian approx. 63,000,
- Ukrainian approx. 45,000,
- Tatar approx. 5,100,
- Latvian approx. 5,000,
- Karaim approx. 300.
In Klaipėda (Memel) and on the Curonian Spit there are still some Lithuanians who speak German . Polish is common in the eastern part, especially in the rural areas around Vilnius and in the area around Dieveniškės , as a large Polish minority remained there despite the expulsions after the Second World War . Due to the long presence of Russian in Lithuania, the Polish spoken by the Poles has mixed in part with Russian words and expressions that are now spoken as Lithuanian Polish .
The majority of Lithuanians (2011: 77%) are Roman Catholic and belong to the Catholic Church in Lithuania , around 4.1% are Russian Orthodox . About 1.9% belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lithuania and 0.2% (7000 members) belong to the Evangelical Reformed Church in Lithuania . According to a survey from October 2008, a good two thirds of the Catholics surveyed describe themselves as practicing the faith. 10% of all respondents saw themselves as non-believers. The overwhelming majority (75–80%, depending on the issue) reject the participation of the (Catholic) Church in legislation or speaking on current topics or election recommendations.
Vilnius is the seat of an Apostolic Nuncio who is the Pope's diplomatic representative for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. There are around 21,000 (0.6%) Muslims in Lithuania and around 3,000 Jehovah's Witnesses . Around 4,000 Lithuanians profess the neo-pagan Romuva movement, which is officially recognized as a religious community.
The proportion of the Jewish population in Lithuania before World War II was around 9%. During the German occupation of Lithuania from 1941 to 1944, over 90% of the Jewish population was murdered.
Baltic tribes settled the area from the 3rd millennium BC. Lithuania as a state began in the 13th century. Prince Mindaugas , who even had himself crowned king in 1253 with the approval of the Pope , brought the neighboring tribes under his sovereignty with military force. At his death in 1263, his principality / kingdom roughly encompassed the area of present-day Lithuania. The formation of states took place just in time to be able to successfully resist the knights of the Teutonic Order advancing from the north and south .
At the same time, expansion to the east took place as early as the 14th century. From the collapse of the old Kievan Rus after the Mongol storm by 1240, several successor principalities had developed. The Teutonic Order prevented Lithuania from pursuing an expansive western policy, while the eastern flank was left open due to the Tatar invasion . The Grand Duchy of Lithuania now advanced into this power vacuum and, with the conquest of Kiev (after 1362), it came into competition with the Grand Duchy of Moscow for supremacy among the sub-principalities of Russia. Lithuania's eastward expansion reached its peak in the first half of the 15th century.
Grand Duke Jogaila took over the Polish royal crown in 1386 through marriage and conversion to Christianity (after Mindaugas' death in 1263 Lithuania had "become" pagan again) and thus founded the Polish-Lithuanian personal union . Jogaila (Polish: Jagiello) founded the ruling dynasty of the Jagiellonians . After the victorious Battle of Tannenberg in 1410, the threat posed by the Teutonic Order was finally eliminated. This battle had been won by a united Polish-Lithuanian army.
The close political unity of Poland and Lithuania culminated in the Realunion of Lublin in 1569 , which meant the end of independent Lithuania after the Lithuanian nobility had increasingly come under the influence of Polish culture and language in the previous decades. During the Reformation , Lithuania followed the Polish path and remained Catholic, while the northern, German-influenced Baltic states became Protestant. Lithuania remained under the Polish state until the partitions of Poland and then came under Russian rule in 1795. Two Polish-Lithuanian uprisings in 1831 and 1863 were bloodily suppressed by the Russian tsar .
Lithuania in World War I: On August 18, 1915, the city of Kaunas was conquered by the Germans during the summer offensive . This was followed by the German occupation of Lithuania. The territory was subordinated to the Commander in Chief East . Prince Franz Joseph von Isenburg became head of the administration of Lithuania . First based in Tilsit, this administration was moved to Kaunas in April 1916 and to Vilnius in March 1917.
The end of the First World War with the October Revolution and the civil war that followed led in February 1918 - still under German occupation - to the proclamation of the independent Republic of Lithuania, which was also enforced after fighting against the Red Army and Polish troops. The capital at this time was not the historic seat of the Grand Duke Vilnius , but Kaunas , as the Vilnius area was occupied by Poland (1920 to 1939, recognized by the League of Nations in 1923 ). Parliamentary democracy, which had been introduced by the 1922 constitution , was overthrown by the coup of Antanas Smetona in December 1926; Smetona then ruled dictatorially until 1940. New constitutions were introduced confirming Smeton's authoritarian leadership, including the 1928 and 1938 Lithuanian Constitutions . After a German ultimatum , Lithuania had to cede Memelland to Germany on March 23, 1939 . The Memelland belonged to the German Reich until 1919, since then it has been controversial between Germany and Lithuania and has therefore been under the administration of the French League of Nations since the Treaty of Versailles . It was occupied by Lithuanian militants on January 10, 1923 and then annexed by Lithuania.
Second World War
With the outbreak of World War II , the pressure from the Soviet Union increased . Smetona abdicated in June 1940, and after the invasion of Soviet troops, a pro-Soviet government was brought into office, which declared membership of the Soviet Union (August 3, 1940). After the start of the German-Soviet War , German troops took Lithuanian territory until July 1941. Task forces of the Security Police and the SD with Lithuanian volunteers and so-called protection teams murdered a large part of the Jewish population in the period that followed up to December 1941 , the survivors were concentrated in ghettos . 90% of the country's Jewish population did not see the end of the war.
In the course of their summer offensive in 1944 , the Red Army occupied large parts of Lithuania again. The Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic (LSSR) was re-established. The resistance of the so-called " Forest Brothers " to the Soviet occupation was lost without foreign support and had shrunk to a few partisan groups from 1948 onwards . In 1949, in a third large wave of deportations, Stalin had tens of thousands of "subversive elements" deported to Siberia, after large-scale arrests and deportations had already been carried out in 1940/41 and 1945/46. Many of the deportees died in penal camps in the east of the Soviet Union. The deportees also included German " wolf children " who had fled the Koenigsberg area to Lithuania from starvation in the course of the chaos of war and who had often found accommodation with farmers.
In the course of perestroika , the the Baltic Singing Revolution provoked, declared himself Lithuania in 1990 as the first union republic of the Soviet Union to the sovereign state and called the Supreme Soviet in the Constituent Assembly to. Iceland was the first state to recognize independent Lithuania, also in 1990. During the January events in Lithuania on January 13, 1991, pro-Soviet military forces tried unsuccessfully to overthrow the young democracy with tanks, 14 young demonstrators died at the television tower. In response to this, the Lithuanians declared their “yes” to the country's independence in a referendum on February 8, 1991. With a turnout of 84.7%, 90.5% were in favor of independence. After the unsuccessful Moscow coup against Gorbachev in August 1991, the western countries recognized the independence of Lithuania, as did the neighboring countries of Latvia and Estonia . After the initial economic crisis and political instability due to radical privatization, the reform policy increasingly gained momentum, especially after overcoming the Russian crisis in 2000.
Lithuania is a semi-presidential republic . The capital and seat of government of Lithuania is Vilnius . After the Constitution of Lithuania is a democratic and constitutional republic with separation of powers . Citizens' trust in the realization of democracy is rather low: in the Eurobarometer survey of April 2006 “How satisfied are you with the way democracy works in your country?” Only 23% said it was positive.
The head of state is the president , who, in contrast to the German federal president, does not only perform representative tasks. Rather, the President of the Republic of Lithuania is responsible for the country's foreign policy even before the Foreign Minister. In addition, he has an extensive right of veto, which enables him to block laws previously enacted by the Seimas. In terms of protocol, he is followed by the chairman of the Seimas and the prime ministers who, according to the constitution, can lead the Republic of Lithuania (domestically) or represent it vis-à-vis foreign state guests in the absence of the president. The incumbent president has been Gitanas Nausėda (* 1964) since July 12, 2019 .
houses of Parliament
The Lithuanian parliament is called the Seimas . The name comes from the Polish name Sejm and refers to the long common Lithuanian-Polish history. The unicameral parliament consists of 141 members of parliament who are elected for four years. The last parliamentary elections took place in October 2020. The chairman of the Seimo is the non-party Saulius Skvernelis (* 1970).
The temporary constitution of November 1918 granted all Lithuanians the right to vote and stand for parliamentary elections regardless of their wealth. On November 20, 1919, the electoral law was passed by the constituent parliament. From 1919 onwards, Lithuanian women could vote and be elected under the same conditions as men. This right was then applied for the first time in the first constituent parliamentary election of 1920. Even under Soviet administration, the active and passive right to vote for women was protected by law. The right was implicitly confirmed when Lithuania declared independence and explicitly institutionalized by the constitution.
The country caused an international stir in 2009 when a “moral law” was passed that promoted discrimination against homosexuality . The then head of state Dalia Grybauskaitė also rejected the law, but she was constitutionally obliged to sign it.
The Lithuanian party landscape is fragmented. Owing to the frequent government crises and changing majorities in parliament, the smaller parties have a not inconsiderable influence on parliamentary decision-making
Apart from the conservatives ( Tėvynės Sąjunga ) and social democrats ( Lietuvos socialdemokratų partija ) , most parties do not have a distinct party hierarchy. In determining their practical positions, they are more dependent on their political leaders and their personal interests than on party programs or fixed ideological views.
Several parties were founded with the purpose of offering individuals a party platform: for example, the New Union for Artūras Paulauskas in 1998 , Order and Justice (Liberal Democrats) for Rolandas Paksas in 2002, the Labor Party for Viktoras Uspaskichas in 2003 and the Liberal Movement for Petras Auštrevičius in 2006 . The party leaders mentioned could not prevail in their main party before and without further ado founded a new party to give their interests more weight. The most recent successful establishment of the People's Resurrection Party (since April 2008) is also determined more by its popular chairman Arūnas Valinskas than by its programmatic statements.
Almost all parties pursue a market economy concept, most openly the Liberals of the Liberal and Central Union and the Liberal Movement, as well as the Conservatives - with some restrictions also the Social Democrats, the Labor Party and the Liberal Democrats. Conservatives and liberals are more likely to find their electorate among the educated and “winners” of the past ten years, while Social Democrats, Labor and Liberal Democrats use populist promises to seek support from the common people who have benefited little from the economic boom in recent years. Geographically, the liberal parties are almost exclusively represented in the cities, while the Peasant Party and the Christian Democrats rely on the rural population.
After the affair surrounding the former president Rolandas Paksas, part of his electorate defected to the newly founded Labor Party. Paksas won over many of the less affluent voters by promising to defend their interests, the interests of the runkeliai ("turnips") against the country's power-political elites . With the decline of the Labor Party, the Liberal Democrats were able to consolidate their position. In addition to Social Democrats and Conservatives, they are equally well represented in town and country.
After the fragmentation of the party landscape after the elections of 1996, a certain periodic consolidation has been observed in recent years before the upcoming elections in order to improve the electoral prospects in a coalition, for example the coalition of the Liberal Union , Center Union and Modern Christian Democrats for Liberals and Center union in 2003. The Social Democrats formed an electoral alliance with the Social Liberals in 2004 in view of the devastating election prognoses A. Brazausko ir A. Paulausko koalicija "Už darbą Lietuvai" (A. Brazauskas 'and A. Paulauskas' coalition "Work for Lithuania") , but here only for the election on the basis of two independent parties. Most recently, the Christian Democrats merged with the Fatherland League.
|Name of the index||Index value||Worldwide rank||Interpretation aid||year|
|Fragile States Index||36.5 out of 120||154 of 178||Stability of the country: very stable
0 = very sustainable / 120 = very alarming
|Democracy index||7.13 out of 10||43 of 167||Incomplete democracy
0 = authoritarian regime / 10 = complete democracy
|Freedom in the World||90 out of 100||---||Freedom status: free
0 = not free / 100 = free
|Freedom of the press ranking||20.15 out of 100||28 of 180||Satisfactory situation for freedom of the press
0 = good situation / 100 = very serious situation
|Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI)||60 out of 100||35 of 180||0 = very corrupt / 100 = very clean||2020|
Interest groups do not play as important a role in the political system as they do in other countries. The trade unions are of very little importance in political and social life. The delimitation of the parties from one another is low and hardly hindered by ideological barriers. Personal acquaintance, on the other hand, plays a major role and is therefore asserted at the various levels of political decision-making.
Lithuania is a member of many international organizations. The most important guidelines of Lithuanian foreign policy are ties to the West, transatlantic and European integration, and regional stability in Europe. Membership in NATO , which Lithuania joined on March 29, 2004, is a central aspect of security policy and an expression of its ties to the West .
During the conflict over the presidential elections in Ukraine in November / December 2004, the Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus and the Polish President Aleksander Kwaśniewski acted as mediator between the conflicting parties. The media in both countries supported Viktor Yushchenko .
With the expansion of the Schengen area in 2007, Lithuania also joined it. The border controls at the border with EU countries, d. H. Latvia and Poland were abolished on December 21, 2007.
The relationship between Lithuania and Russia is tense. Among other things, the Russian government banned the import of dairy products from Lithuania in 2013. In return, the Lithuanian government took a Russian television station out of its program; at the beginning of 2018, entry bans were imposed on 49 Russian officials in November 2017 for alleged human rights violations, money laundering and corruption.
It joined the OECD on July 5, 2018.
Lithuania has been a member state of the European Union since May 1st, 2004 . The accession negotiations between Lithuania and the EU made important progress in 2001, mainly under the then Swedish EU Presidency . Lithuania had decided in a referendum in May 2003 with over 90% approval for membership (from May 2004) in the European Union. For the first time since the start of monetary union , the European Commission refused to allow a member state to introduce the euro in 2006. Lithuania was not allowed to join the euro zone due to excessive inflation in the litas . The country has only been part of the euro zone since January 2015 . This makes the euro the national currency in Lithuania.
In the second half of 2013 (July to December 2013) Lithuania took over the EU Council Presidency , followed by Ireland (January to June 2013). Lithuania was replaced by Greece (January to June 2014).
In the course of NATO's eastward expansion , Poland , the Czech Republic and Hungary became members of NATO in 1999. This was followed by the invitation of the countries Bulgaria , Estonia , Latvia , Lithuania, Romania , Slovakia and Slovenia , which joined NATO on March 29, 2004.
Lithuanian troops take part in international peace operations in Kosovo and Afghanistan . When George W. Bush applied to allied or friendly states for support in the Iraq War (Third Gulf War) at the beginning of 2003 , some Eastern European states (including Lithuania) agreed to help. From the beginning, Lithuania was a country of the coalition of the willing ; it provided support troops (medical personnel, logistics) for use in Iraq. In June 2006 there were 150 Lithuanians in Iraq.
After the threat from neighboring Russia in the wake of the annexation of Crimea and the war in Ukraine , which was perceived as ever greater , the Lithuanian parliament reintroduced general conscription in 2015. After analyzing the Russian actions in Ukraine, television reports and campaigns in the social media spreading the idea of a historical affiliation of parts of Lithuania to Russia and information about the alleged oppression of ethnic Russians in today's Lithuania were interpreted as an attempt by the government of the Russian Federation to prepare the Russian public for a confrontation. The presence of a combat group of around 1,000 soldiers from other European countries in Lithuania is therefore necessary as a deterrent, according to the Lithuanian Defense Minister's assessment in March 2017. Military spending has also increased significantly. Lithuania spent almost 1.7% of its economic output or $ 0.8 billion on its armed forces in 2017.
Since the administrative reform of the 1990s, Lithuania has only had one level of local authority with elected council assemblies and elected mayors. These are the 60 Savivaldybės (self-governments) . In terms of shape and function, they lie between German municipalities and German districts. One differentiates:
- 7 municipalities
- 2 self-managed health resorts
- 43 Rajongeminden (emerged from earlier districts / Rajonen)
- 8 genuine communities
Below the self-government there are more than 600 municipal districts, with administrative tasks but without self-government bodies. Most cities and villages are not regional authorities, just statistical units.
There is also an administrative level above the self-government. The ten administrative districts (lit. apskritis , pl.apskritys ):
- Alytus District ( Alytus )
- Kaunas District ( Kaunas )
- Klaipeda District ( Klaipeda )
- Marijampolė District ( Marijampolė )
- Panevėžys District ( Panevėžys )
- Šiauliai District ( Šiauliai )
- Tauragė District ( Tauragė )
- Telšiai District ( Telšiai )
- Utena District ( Utena )
- Vilnius District ( Vilnius )
Until July 1, 2010, the districts were equipped with prefects appointed by the government without elected organs, but with administrations (civil servants).
Lithuania is traditionally divided into four historical regions: These are: Aukštaitija ( Upper Lithuania ) in the northeast down to the capital Vilnius, the largest of the four regions, Žemaitija ( Lower Lithuania ) , the traditionally wealthy Suvalkija or Sūduva in the southwest and the traditionally rather poor Dzūkija in the south. A fifth region, which in Lithuania is mostly regarded as part of Lower Lithuania, is Little Lithuania (Mažoji Lietuva) , which forms the extreme western strip of Lithuania, belonged to the German Empire as part of East Prussia until 1918 and was then called Memelland . However, it is only a part of historical Lithuania Minor .
A structural change was associated with the transition from the planned to the market economy . This has worsened since the country joined the EU in 2004. The Lithuanian economy has been growing for a number of years (around 3% annually). The gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015 was 37.2 billion euros, the GDP per capita was 13,282 euros. In the Global Competitiveness Index , which measures a country's competitiveness, Lithuania ranks 41st out of 137 countries (2017-2018). In 2017, Lithuania ranked 16th out of 180 countries in the Economic Freedom Index .
The most important export items from Lithuania are machines, electrical goods, textiles and food.
All GDP values are given in US dollars.
(purchasing power parity)
|24.63 billion||33.66 billion||54.56 billion||60.40 billion||68.89 billion||72.08 billion||61.87 billion||63.65 billion||68.90 billion||72.85 billion|
GDP per capita
(purchasing power parity)
(as a percentage of GDP)
(purchasing power parity)
|76.72 billion||80.75 billion||83.29 billion||86.33 billion||91.24 billion|
GDP per capita
(purchasing power parity)
(as a percentage of GDP)
The unemployment rate was 6.8% in June 2018, which is slightly below the EU average. In 2017, youth unemployment was 13.5%. In 2015, 9.1% of the total workforce worked in agriculture, 25.2% in industry and 65.8% in the service sector. The total number of employees is estimated at 1.47 million for 2017; 50.6% of them are women.
The country had 1.79 million foreign tourists in 2011; the largest group by country of origin were Russians.
2016 included budget spending of the equivalent of 15.1 billion US dollars ; this contrasted with revenues of the equivalent of 14.6 billion US dollars. This results in a budget deficit of 1.0% of GDP .
The national debt was 40.0% of GDP in 2016.
In 2006 the share of government expenditure (as a percentage of GDP) was in the following areas:
In Lithuania in the 1990s and 2000s, in some cases more than 75 percent of the electricity required was provided by the Ignalina nuclear power plant (type: RBMK as in Chornobyl ). During this period, Lithuania, along with France, had the highest percentage of nuclear power in the world. After the first reactor was shut down at the beginning of 2005, the second (and last) reactor went offline on December 31, 2009 due to the obligations of the EU accession agreement . A referendum put to the vote by the Lithuanian government in the parliamentary elections in 2008 on extending the lifetime of the Ignalina nuclear power plant was approved by over 90% of those who voted, but failed because the turnout was too low (48.4%). In any case, the EU Commission would probably not have approved an amendment to the accession treaty.
The gas and heavy fuel oil power plant of Lietuvos energija in Elektrėnai , which currently only peak load covers, will be able to ensure the Lithuanian self-supply of electricity to the 2015th However, this results in a high dependency on supplies of fossil fuels ( gas , heavy oil ) from Russia . In order to reduce this dependency again for the foreseeable future, the construction of the Visaginas nuclear power plant is planned. In the referendum on the return of Lithuania to the use of nuclear energy on October 14, 2012, 64.8% of voters spoke out against the power plant.
Renewable energies have been used more and more in recent years, especially energy generation from biomass . This is ensured in particular by EU funding as well as non-governmental organizations and associations of energy producers. In Lithuania there were 68 wind turbines in operation in 2009 , with an installed capacity of 91.2 MWe and an annual capacity utilization of 21.89%. There is no state funding.
Lithuania has the best-developed fiber optic network in the EU and Europe . According to an annual study published by the FTTH Council Europe in 2013, around 32% of households in the country are supplied with FTTH . Of these, around 31% have signed a corresponding contract. This means that Lithuania leads in percentage terms in a European comparison. Sweden has the next highest FTTH penetration in Europe with almost 23%.
The connection to the landline network is to be financed by the subscriber, so that, especially in rural areas, landline connections are usually only available where they were already built under Soviet occupation. The Lithuanian cellular network (telephone and internet) is therefore very well developed, even in rural areas and in the forest there are seldom dead spots. In 2019, 82 percent of Lithuania's residents used the internet .
Lithuania is of great importance as a transit country between Central Europe and Northern Europe , between the Kaliningrad Oblast and the Russian heartland and between Belarus and Scandinavia . Lithuania also has an important function as an oil transit country.
The capital Vilnius is located in a kind of "dead angle" due to its proximity to the strongly sealed-off EU external border to Belarus. Therefore, Kaunas, the second largest city, is more important to Lithuania from a traffic planning perspective than Vilnius.
The entire road network covered around 84,166 km in 2012, of which 72,297 km are paved. Lithuania's road network is still being developed. The most important connections are the highways Vilnius - Kaunas - Klaipėda (German: Memel ) and Vilnius - Panevėžys as well as the trunk road E 67 " Via Baltica " from Warsaw via Kaunas and Riga to Tallinn and Helsinki , which is to be expanded into a full motorway in the long term. Motorways around Šiauliai and in the Telšiai region are also under construction .
The road transport in Lithuania included 2012 5.960 million tonne-kilometers , of which about 40% of domestic shipments. In the domestic market, almost 30% of goods were transported by road in the same year ( modal split , measured according to tkm).
In Klaipėda there is an important sea port with ferry connections to the entire Baltic Sea area (including to Kiel ) and increasing importance for freight traffic. In addition, the Memel and the Neris are navigable for inland navigation , which is, however, insignificant.
Lithuania has four international airports: Vilnius , Kaunas (in Karmėlava ); Palanga and Šiauliai are rarely or only seasonally served . There are connections to numerous European countries. The catchment area of Riga Airport in Latvia extends to Lithuania.
Cheap flights with Air Baltic , Ryanair and Wizz Air are also offered from German cities such as Frankfurt am Main , Hahn , Berlin , Bremen , Hamburg , Hanover , Munich , Düsseldorf , Dortmund and Karlsruhe .
Up until 1990, the fast direct train services between Vilnius and Warsaw passed through Belarusian territory, which until then belonged to the Soviet Union. To avoid the resulting border formalities, an alternative branch line is operated via Šeštokai (LT) and Suwałki (PL) with the reopened Mockava railway border crossing. Since June 2016 there are direct train connections from Poland to Lithuania ( Białystok - Kaunas ) on weekends ; there is no need to change trains in Šeštokai , as the route has been switched to standard gauge.
The direct night traffic was served by an IC bus connection until 2011 , operated by the Polish state railway PKP . This bus connection replaced the direct night train that ran between Vilnius and Warsaw until 2004.
Lithuania's railways (as in the entire former Soviet Union and Finland ) run on a gauge of 1520 mm ( Central Europe : 1435 mm), which is why the trains from Poland to the Baltic states have to be re-gauged. In some cases, modern gauging systems such as the Polish SUW-2000 system are used for this purpose.
Lithuania is shaped by many different cultural influences. On the one hand there is the long independence and maintenance of a non-Christian state religion, the long shared history with Poland, relations with the Hanseatic League and in the Baltic Sea region, membership of the Russian Empire. This is where the Orthodox churches, which cannot be overlooked in the big cities, come from. In the west of the country you can see the Hanseatic - Northern European tradition with strong German, Danish and Swedish influences. B. ( brick Gothic , half-timbered houses ). In the east, especially in Vilnius, Polish cultural elements are often present.
The first Lithuanian films were made by Lithuanians who emigrated to America as early as 1909. In the early 1940s, the Lietuvos kino studija was founded, which was under state control at the time of the Soviet Union and became the sole headquarters for the Lithuanian film industry. About three to four feature films and thirty to forty documentaries were produced annually.
After independence in 1990, the number of Lithuanian films fell sharply and private companies took over the film industry. Filmmakers like Arūnas Matelis and Šarūnas Bartas receive attention at international film festivals, and Algimantas Puipa is particularly successful in Lithuania.
Museums and galleries
There are numerous museums and galleries in Lithuania. Not only in the larger cities, but sometimes also in remote homesteads where famous Lithuanian personalities have lived.
- National Museum
- The National Museum is located in Vilnius next to the cathedral. Other branches are spread across the city. The exhibition is rich in archaeological and ethnographic exhibits.
Devil Museum in Kaunas
- The devil plays an important role in Lithuanian mythology and as a symbol in everyday life . In contrast to central European ideas, he is not considered to be the embodiment of absolute evil, but more of a kind of trickster who also helps people. That is why there are relatively many devil statues and images in public.
- The Amber Museum in the spa town of Palanga on the Baltic Sea , in the castle of Count Tiškevičius, offers unique collections of amber . There is also a smaller amber museum in Nida.
- KGB Museum
In the heart of Vilnius is the former KGB prison , which serves as a museum. Various cells and firing chambers can be viewed.
Symbols and saints
- The national coat of arms shows a rider riding to the west (lit. vytis , zu vyti ; dt. "Hunt, pursue"). The Lithuanian coat of arms has been documented since 1366.
- The patron saint of Lithuania is Saint Casimir . The Kasimirsmesse held every year the weekend before 3 March in the Old Town of Vilnius instead. Products of traditional and handicrafts are offered and ancient arts and crafts are shown.
- A sculpture of the Man of Sorrows (lit. Rūpintojėlis ; dt. "The caring") is often to be found . This shows Jesus Christ in a sitting position, his chin resting on his hand in a pensive position. It is not canonical, which is why an origin from the pre-Christian religion is being considered. Small sculptures can be bought as souvenirs in many Lithuanian galleries.
- Amber is also a typical souvenir often offered by travelers to the Baltic States, even if most of the stones come from Kaliningrad Oblast.
- The Hill of Crosses (lit. Kryžių Kalnas ) is located near the town of Šiauliai (dt. Schaulen ). It also symbolizes the struggle against Soviet power and occupation.
- The rue , although not native to Lithuania, is considered the national flower. It was (and is) indispensable, especially in weddings. So now it can still be found in village gardens and cemeteries.
Since Lithuania gained independence in 1991, which was supported by broad sections of the population, support for democracy has been high. Correspondingly, relatively stable institutions have developed. In Lithuania, more and more socially anchored interest groups emerged, although the role of the trade unions is rather insignificant. In general, there is more skepticism towards state institutions and the decisions of parliament.
The Church's influence in Lithuania has increased significantly since the country gained independence in 1991. Homosexuality was legalized in 1993, but it is still largely a taboo.
The Lithuanian public media group, Lietuvos nacionalinis radijas ir televizija operates three television channels, three radio stations and a media portal. The most popular private TV channels include TV3 and Laisvas ir nepriklausomas kanalas (LNK).
Basketball is the national sport in Lithuania. The Lithuanian basketball team is one of the best teams in Europe and has won the European championship three times. Lithuania was able to win the European championships in this sport as early as 1937 and 1939 . This tradition was continued in the Soviet era when Lithuanian players were repeatedly part of the Soviet selection teams. Well-known names are Kazys Petkevičius , Modestas Paulauskas , Sergejus Jovaiša , Arvydas Sabonis , Rimas Kurtinaitis and Šarūnas Marčiulionis . Together with Sabonis, Marčiulionis belongs to the golden generation of Lithuanian basketball players who from the early 1980s earned numerous successes , first for the Soviet Union and from 1991 for the again independent Lithuania . Both were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (Sabonis in August 2011, Marčiulionis 2014).
At the first Olympic Games after regaining independence, the Lithuanian men's basketball team surprisingly won bronze in 1992 in Barcelona, a success that was repeated in 1996 and 2000 . After silver in 1995 , the new generation around Šarūnas Jasikevičius and Arvydas Macijauskas became European champions in 2003 .
In contrast, other team sports lead a shadowy existence. The country's largest football stadium in Kaunas has a capacity of just 20,000 spectators.
The Lithuanian tennis player Ričardas Berankis reached number one in the junior world rankings in 2007 and made it into the top 100 of the world rankings in November 2010 as the first Lithuanian . With Laurynas Grigelis there is another tennis player from Lithuania who is currently in the top 300.
In the summer of 2011, the European basketball championship took place in Lithuania.
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