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LIETUVOS RESPUBLIKOS AMBASADA
OSLE
LIETUVOS RESPUBLIKOS AMBASADA NORVEGIJOS KARALYSTĖJE
Dronningens gate 3,
N-0244 Oslo,
NORWAY
Tel.+47 221 292 00
Faks.+47 221 292 01
E-paštas: amb.no@urm.lt
NORVEGIJOS LIETUVIŲ BENDRUOMENĖ
Prašome apsilankyti Norvegijos lietuvių bendrijos ir Norvegijos lietuvių jaunimo sąjungos interneto svetainėse 

  

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
About Lithuania

  STATE SYMBOLS

•  GENERAL INFORMATION

•  ECONOMY

•  HISTORY

•  CULTURE

     •  CITIES

     •  LANGUAGE

     •  EDUCATION AND SCIENCE

     •  TOURISM

     •  SPORTS


STATE SYMBOLS

     Colours of the flag are - yellow, green, red.

    Coat of arms: the white Vytis in the red field.

Names:
conventional long form: Republic of Lithuania
conventional short form: Lithuania
local long form: Lietuvos Respublika
local short form: Lietuva


Digraph: LT

Type: Republic

Capital: Vilnius 


GENERAL INFORMATION

Location: On the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea. In 1989 the National Geographical Institute of France established the geographical centre of Europe 24 km northwest of Vilnius.

Area: 65,300 sq. km.

Climate: Maritime/continental. Average July temperature +23°C; January -4.9°C.

Time: GMT + 2 hours. When it is 12:00 p.m. in Vilnius, it’ll be 11:00 a.m. in Stockholm and Frankfurt, 10:00 a.m. in London and 05:00 a.m. in New York.

Capital: Vilnius.

Type of government: Parliamentary Republic.

Population: 3,403,300.

Largest cities by population: Vilnius 541,800; Kaunas 360,600; Klaipėda 187,000; Šiauliai 129,900; Panevėžys 115,300.

Ethnic composition: Lithuanian 83.5%, Polish 6.7%, Russian 6.3%, Byelorussian 1.2%, other 2.3%. People of 115 different ethnic backgrounds live in Lithuania.

Religions: Predominantly Roman Catholic. Other confessions include Russian Orthodox, Evangelical Lutherans, Evangelical Reformers, Old Believers, Jews, Sunni Muslims, Karaims.

National currency: The litas (Lt). The current exchange rate is 3.4528 Lt = 1 EUR.

National holidays

January 1 – New Year’s Day

February 16 – Independence Day (1918)

March 11 – Restoration of Independence (1990)

Easter (Sunday and the following Monday)

May 1 – Labour Day

June 24 – Midsummer Festival

July 6 – Coronation of Mindaugas, the King of Lithuania (1253)

August 15 – Assumption Day

November 1 – All Saints’ Day

December 25-26 – Christmas

Lithuanian internet gates


ECONOMY

Lithuania’s economy: on a stable and impressive rise

Today Lithuania is a very attractive country to foreign investors with reference to many exclusive features. Firstly, the country is a full member of NATO and the EU and can offer for investors the essential guarantees of political safety and economical stability. Second, strategically the situation of Lithuania is very convenient: it is situated at the crossroad of the markets in the East and in the West and emerges as an economical bridge. Moreover, many experienced and qualified professionals can perform very ambitious tasks. Lithuania can be characterized as a country that offers the best overland routes in the region of Middle and Eastern Europe. Growth and development of the infrastructure expansion of transport in these later years surpassed the average rates of economic growth and it is expected that such a situation will remain at least till the year 2010. An unprecedented growth is in the sector of modern technologies, which has become an overall frontrunner in Lithuania’s economy.

Lithuania’s economy has been growing at one of the highest growth rates in Europe. In 2005, GDP grew steadily by 7.5%, as compared to the year 2004 (8.4% GDP growth in the second quarter 2006), and amounted to 20.5bn euros. The main contributors to this boom are the growth in domestic demand, investment and exports of goods and services.

Monetary policy is based on a currency board. The national currency, the litas, has been stable since 1994. The Bank of Lithuania re-pegged the litas from the US dollar to the euro on 2 February 2002 at a fixed rate of 3.4528 litas to one euro. Lithuania expects to become a member of the European Monetary Union in 2009-10. A prospective entrance into the euro area should not contribute to cause revolution in the real sector of economy and financial market. The country is already in a “quasi” euro zone.

At the moment Lithuania belongs to the same system of securities issues stocks together with other Baltic and Scandinavian countries. The Common market's investment potential in such a big region allows gaining additional business perspectives for investors.

The Lithuanian labour force comprises 1.6 million people, of which more than two-thirds are employed in the private sector. The country has one of the most educated labor force in Europe.


Lithuania pursues a liberal foreign trade policy, which has resulted in the rapid growth of foreign trade turnover. Major export positions are mineral products, means of transport, textiles and textile articles, machinery and equipment, chemicals. The country imports mainly investment goods and raw materials. The largest trade partners are the EU countries.

The main investors in Lithuania’s economy are Denmark, Sweden, Germany, the USA and Finland. More than 50% of foreign direct investment into Lithuania comes from EU countries. Due to the strategic location of the country, the excellent infrastructure and the experience of Lithuanian businesses, the country serves as a gateway between other EU members and the CIS countries. With four international airports, an ice-free seaport and two out of ten international transport corridors (the north-south road and rail route connecting Scandinavia with Central Europe, and the east-west route linking eastern markets with the rest of Europe), the country has become an important transport hub.

The information technology and telecommunications sector is one of the fastest-growing sectors in Lithuania, increasing by nearly 30% annually.

Lithuania is well known in the world for its biotechnology and laser technology. Three large biotech firms export their products to more than 40 countries, while laser technology is exported to about 100 countries.

Lithuanian Development Agency


HISTORY

1009 Lithuania was first mentioned in the Annales Quedlinburgenses.

1253 The Lithuanian state was founded. MINDAUGAS, the ruler of the united Lithuania, was crowned King.

1385 The Act of Krėva was signed with Poland. JOGAILA, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, married the Polish Princess Jadwiga, accepted Christianity and was crowned King of Poland.

1386 JOGAILA established the Vilnius diocese and organised the campaign to baptise Lithuania, which was the last country in Europe to adopt Christianity.

1410 In the Battle of ŽALGIRIS (Grünwald) close to Tannenberg, joint Lithuanian, Polish, Russian and Czech army under the command of VYTAUTAS, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, defeated the Teutonic Order. This victory stopped the 200-year-long attacks of the order.

1569 A union agreement between Lithuania and Poland was signed in Lublin, establishing a Commonwealth.

1579 Vilnius University was founded. For another 200 years it remained the most eastern university in Europe.

1795 Russia, Prussia and Austria carried out the third partition of the Lithuanian-Polish Commonwealth. Lithuania was incorporated into the Russian Empire.

1864–1904 A ban on Lithuanian publications in Latin characters was introduced. Books and newspapers in Latin characters were published in East Prussia and smuggled in across the border.

1918 February 16 The Council of Lithuania adopted a resolution on the restoration of the independent state of Lithuania, with the capital in Vilnius.

1920-1939 Vilnius was occupied by Poland. Kaunas became provisional capital

1940 Following the secret protocols of the Molotov-Ribentropp pact, Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union.

1941–1944 Lithuania was occupied by the Nazi Germany.

1944–1953 The armed resistance movement ‘the war after the war’ took place in forests in Lithuania. It was an attempt to stop the Soviet occupation and colonisation, forced collectivisation, mass persecutions and deportations of the Lithuanian population. The periods of Soviet and Nazi occupation inflicted enormous losses on the population due to the Holocaust of Lithuanian Jews, mass deportation to Siberia and numerous political emigration to the West.

1988 The SĄJŪDIS independence movement was established.

1990 March 11 The restoration of the independence of the Republic of Lithuania was declared.

1991 Lithuania became a member of the United Nations.

1993 Soviet troops left Lithuania.

2004 Lithuania joined NATO.

2004 Lithuania became a member of the EU.


CITIES

Vilnius, as the capital of Lithuania, was first mentioned by Grand Duke Gediminas in his letter of 1323 to European towns inviting merchants and craftsmen, promising them religious freedom and every kind of assistance. Since then Vilnius has been known as a cosmopolitan city, friendly to people of different nations and religions. The old street names (German, Jewish, Tartar and Russian) speak about the multiculturalism of the city, the houses of worship of nine different religions stand together close to one another.

Despite wars, occupations and destruction, the architecture of Vilnius remains unique. It is the largest Baroque city north of the Alps, and one of the farthest to the east. Nearly all styles in European architecture, from Gothic to Classicism, are represented in Vilnius.

Vilnius’ Old Town is one of the largest old town centres in Central and Eastern Europe, covering almost 360 hectares and including over 1,500 buildings. As one of the most authentic and best-preserved cities in Europe, Vilnius was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994.

Vilnius is announced the European Capital of Culture 2009. For more information please visit www.culturelive.lt

Vilnius is not only a city with a rich history and wonderful architecture in a beautiful natural setting where the Neris and Vilnia meet. The capital of Lithuania is a modern city, the political, administrative and economic centre of the country and the heart of its education and culture.

An ambitious project is being carried out: by 2020 Lithuania’s capital should be the most modern city in Central and Eastern Europe, a centre for international politics, business, research and culture.

Vilnius. Visitor‘s guide

Vilnius hotel and restaurant guide

Kaunas, the second largest Lithuanian city, situated in the centre of the country, has survived a dramatic past. Situated at the confluence of the rivers Nemunas and Neris, it flourished in the 15th and 16th centuries. It was important both for its strategic location as a fortress and as a convenient place for the transit of goods. Its development was then adversely affected by wars. Later, for almost three centuries it sank into oblivion.

The reestablishment of the independence at the beginning of the 20th century, the conflict with Poland and the loss of Vilnius, made Kaunas the provisional capital of Lithuania. It was transformed to the city, with elegant architecture and an active cultural life. Modern communications, new urban planning and modern Bauhaus architecture dramatically changed the look and the spirit of the city. Reminiscences of this spirit made Kaunas a symbol of nation’s revival during the Soviet years.

After the reestablishment of the independence in 1990, the center of national attention has returned to Vilnius. Today Kaunas is gradually recovering its importance as a centre for education, sports (especially basketball), technology and small businesses.

Klaipėda, the seaport of Lithuania, has recently marked its 750th anniversary. Founded by the Order of Cross Bearers, it is the only ice-free port on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. For a long time it was a part of Prussia. After the First World War, according to the Treaty of Versailles control of the city was transferred from Germany to France. In 1923, Klaipėda became a part of Lithuania.

During the Soviet period Klaipėda became a centre for industry and fisheries. After the reestablishment of the independence the port grew rapidly, specialising in the reloading of dry cargo and the export of oil products. A dynamically developing town, it has overtaken Kaunas, the second largest city, in the volume of direct investment. 

Šiauliai  www.siauliai.lt

Panevėžys  www.panevezys.lt

Alytus    www.alytus.lt

Telšiai    www.telsiai.lt

Tauragė  www.taurage.lt

Utena    www.utena.lt

Marijampolė  www.marijampole.lt


CULTURE

An unexpected fusion of numerous colourful traditions, values and influences: this is what characterises Lithuanian culture. This complex phenomenon has successfully combined elements of pagan mythology with Christianity. It received a significant input of West European influence on the birth of the professional Lithuanian arts in the period of the Renaissance and later. Fruitful links between Lithuania and the rest of Europe in the first period of independence in the 20th century made a notable contribution to the development of modern Lithuanian culture.

The diversity of Lithuanian culture has its roots in the multiethnic legacy of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (14th to 18th century). The limits of the Lithuanian cultural identity have always exceeded the limits of the ethnic territory of Lithuania. Due to historical reasons, Lithuanian culture exists today in Poland, Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, the United States of America and numerous West European countries.

Though tolerant of the numerous influences which came with guest artists, occupations, forced and strategic unions, and cultural and scientific exchanges, for centuries Lithuanians have arduously safeguarded the identity-forming elements of their traditional culture. As a truly unique example of Lithuanian folk music, sutartinės (from the word sutarti, ‘to be in concordance, in agreement’) represent an ancient form of two and three-voiced polyphony, based on the oldest principles of multivoiced vocal music: heterophony, parallelism, canon and free imitation. One of the most prominent phenomena of traditional Lithuanian culture, the cross-crafting tradition, is nowadays proclaimed as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. This tradition originates from the pre-Christian world. It refers to the making of wooden crosses and shrines. Adorned with geometric and floral decorations which have symbolic meanings, each cross is erected in accordance with a specific intention in graveyards as well as by roads or at crossroads, or close to dwelling places.

The National Song and Dance Celebration tradition, which has lasted for a hundred years now, is one of the largest cultural events in Lithuania. Taking place every four years, the Song and Dance Celebration tradition is seen as the most universal manifestation of the Lithuanian national, cultural, artistic, public and political identity nationwide. It has become a link between the archaic folk culture heritage and contemporary national culture and professional art. The tradition and symbolism of the Song and Dance Celebration process in Lithuania has been proclaimed by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

The history of the modern Lithuanian professional arts started with the painter and composer Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875–1911). His uniqueness has hardly any parallels in Lithuanian art, though he was not isolated from the artistic currents of the time. The work of this gifted artist embraced Symbolism and Romanticism. He is considered a pathfinder both in professional art and music.

Most contemporary cultural phenomena in Lithuania are strongly influenced by the traditions of the rich local culture and the European context. The excellent reputation of Lithuanian theatre has been proved many times in front of domestic and foreign audiences. Directors like Eimuntas Nekrošius, Oskaras Koršunovas, Rimas Tuminas, Jonas Vaitkus and Gintaras Varnas form a part of the national cultural pride.

Strange as it may seem, Lithuanian theatre reached the level of appreciation even before the restoration of Lithuania‘s Independence on 11th 1990. The great Lithuanian theatre artist Juozas Miltinis, during his years of studies at Charles Dullin “Theatre de l’Atelier” in Paris, became renowned on the cinema and theatre scene in Paris. Among his friends there were such famous and talented artists as Jean Vilar and world-known mime Marcel Marceu. After finishing his studies Juozas Miltinis returned to Lithuania and established a drama theatre in Panevėžys. Among his students there were famous and talented Lithuanian artists such as Bronius Babkauskas, Gediminas Karka, Donatas Banionis, Algimantas Masiulis, Stasys Petronaitis and Dalia Melėnaitė. The opening night of every new performance was an important event in the theatre and sometimes even caused a sensation. Although it sounds unbelievably, but at that time many admirers of his theatre used to come from Moscow or Leningrad (St.Petersburg now) to Panevėžys (not to Vilnius or Kaunas) in order to see the performance directed by Juozas Miltinis.

The country can boast of a number of well-known professional symphony and chamber orchestras, choirs, and opera singers and ballet dancers. Suffice to mention such eminent operatic singers as Violeta Urmana and Edgaras Montvidas, pianists Mūza Rubackytė and Petras Geniušas, or young pianists Indrė Petrauskaitė and Lukas Geniušas, whom the world honours.

Cultural events all the year round include an excellent choice of annual international festivals of classical music, theatre, cinema and poetry, featuring many prominent Lithuanian and guest performers. Lithuania is also widely known as a country of jazz performers and fans, who are happy to hold several annual international festivals in Kaunas, Birštonas and Vilnius.

Despite the fact that Lithuania is a relatively small country, its culture has spread throughout the world. In the previous century Lithuanians were a nation of emigrants. They settled down in Western Europe, North and South America and Australia. A very active and influential community of Lithuanian emigrants is located in the United States of America. A few names of emigrants, who cherished Lithuanian culture are worth a mention: archaeologist and researcher into mythology Marija Gimbutas (the United States), theoretician and sociologist of culture Vytautas Kavolis (the United States), semiotician and literary scholar Algirdas Julius Greimas (France), art historian Jurgis Baltrušaitis (France) (his father Jurgis Baltrušaitis was a Lithuanian diplomat in Moscow, known as a poet writing in Russian and also one of the greatest Russian symbolists), theorist of politics Aleksandras Štormas (the UK and the United States) and philosopher Algis Mickūnas (United States), Tomas Venclova, a poet and literary scholar, Yale University professor. In 1981 in Chicago he edited a selection called “Lithuania in the world”. His poetry is translated not only into English, but also into Russian, Hungarian, Polish, Slovenian and German.

Links

Lithuanian Institute

Contemporary Art Centre

Lithuanian Music Information and Publishing Centre

Lithuanian Dance Information Centre

The Theatre and Cinema Information Centre

Lithuanian Folk Art

Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre

Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society

Vilnius Festival

Christopher Festivals

Lithuania. Cultural highlights

Presentation of the „Vilnius – European capital of culture“ programme


LANGUAGE

The Lithuanian language and the kindred Latvian belong to the Baltic group of Indo-European languages. Out of all the living Indo-European languages, Lithuanian has best retained its ancient system of phonetics and most of its morphological features. Since the 19th century, when the similarity between Lithuanian and Sanskrit was discovered, Lithuanians take a particular pride in their mother tongue as the oldest living Indo-European language. To this day, to some people their understanding of their ethnicity is based on their linguistic identity. Lithuanians proudly quote the French linguist Antoine Meillet, who said that anyone who wanted to hear old Indo-European should go and listen to a Lithuanian farmer. One can safely say that Lithuanian is a language that cannot be understood by a speaker of any other language who has not learnt it. More than that, even users of the main dialects: aukštaičių (highland) and žemaičių (lowland or Samogitian) can hardly understand  each other unless they communicate in Standard Lithuanian. Linguists divide the main dialects into numerous sub-dialects, forms of speech, etc, which have endured up till now. This is a unique phenomenon in all Europe.

 In the Renaissance times the Lithuanian language was not derived from the Indo-Europeans, which were even not known at that time. There were completely different theories on the origins of the language. One of them was an Italian origin theory. Lithuanians noticed that many words in Lithuanian and Latin were similar. Venclovas Mikalojaitis (Michalo Lituanus, Mykolas Lietuvis) made a list of 74 words with roots from Latin: lot. dentes – lit. dantys, deus – dievas, nasus – nosis. It is not necessary to master both languages to recognize the Latin resembling words. The Latin similar words led Lithuanians to suspect that the Lithuanian language is a distorted dialect of the Latin language. Such an inference seemed to be very ‘honourable’ for Catholic Lithuania, because Latin was the sacred language par excellence.

Indo-European origin. In XIXth century with the rise of the Indo-Europeistics all the previous theories concerned with the origin of Lithuanians were dismissed. The conclusion was drawn that languages spoken by the Indo-Europeans in the Old continent split into different languages. It came to light that Lithuanians did not distort a dialect of the Latin language. However, Lithuanian, Italian and Latin are cognate languages, but this affinity is rather far off.

The written Lithuanian language evolved relatively late in comparison with some of its neighbours. The first piece of the written Lithuanian is Catechismus (1547) by Martynas Mažvydas. Postilė (1599) by Mikalojus Daukša, the trilingual Polish-Latin-Lithuanian dictionary (around 1620) by Konstantinas Sirvydas, and the grammar of the Lithuanian language by Danielius Kleinas (1653) had a great impact on the standardisation of the language. A masterpiece of Lithuanian literature, a poem in hexameter ‘Metai’ (The Year), written by Kristijonas Donelaitis between 1758 and 1765, was an encyclopaedia of the peasant’s life. For his merits to the written Lithuanian language, Donelaitis is compared to Dante or Shakespeare and their influence on the written Italian and English.

Lithuania is the only country that has built monuments to book distributors. After the uprising of 1863, the Russian tsarist authorities prohibited using Latin characters in publishing Lithuanian texts. The prohibition lasted for several decades. Lithuanians categorically rejected the idea of writing in Cyrillic, as proposed by the authorities. The resistance to the ban on Lithuanian schools and publishing was highly organised and effective. Manuscripts were taken secretly to East Prussia, from where the printed books were smuggled back over the border to Lithuania. The Russian authorities tried to suppress the distribution of books that they considered illegal, book distributors were shot, and several thousand, mostly peasants, were exiled to Siberia. The linguistic and cultural resistance was so strong that during the ban on the printed Lithuanian language the foundations for standard Lithuanian were laid. In 2004 Lithuania marked the 100th anniversary of re-introduction of Lithuanian language into public and cultural life.

At the beginning of the 20th century the present alphabet was introduced. The standardisation of the language was influenced by the studies of the famous Lithuanian linguists Jonas Jablonskis and Kazimieras Būga. The Lithuanian Language Institute, having accumulated

a 4.5-million-word file, published a definitive 20-volume ‘Dictionary of the Lithuanian Language’.

The Lithuanian Constitution stipulates that ‘the Lithuanian language is the official language of the Republic of Lithuania’. Consequently, Lithuanian language is used in all walks of life. There is a Commission of the Lithuanian language which observes the usage of the Lithuanian language. This commission has the power to punish with a pecuniary punishment people for the incorrect usage of the Lithuanian language in public. The right of persons belonging to national minorities to use their national language is also respected in Lithuania and it is concerned with the retention of Russian, Polish, Belarusian and other languages of national minorities, whose members have been traditionally settled in Lithuania. Lithuanian is the language studied as a foreign language in Italy, United States, Germany, Poland, Czech, Latvia, Finland, Sweden, France, Slovakia, Brazil, Australia, the UK, and Canada and in many other countries.

For more information please visit : www.lki.lt


EDUCATION AND SCIENCE

Education

The creation of the system of formal education in Lithuania started at the end of the 16th century. The very first European ministry of education (to use a modern term), the Education Commission for the Lithuanian-Polish state, was established in 1773. It created a new system for the management of education, and guidelines for the reform of teaching practice.

The interwar period of independence (1918–1940) was marked by the introduction of compulsory four-year primary education for all children of school age. During the years of the Soviet occupation (1940–1990) Lithuania had a strictly centralised educational system (ruled by the Moscow authorities). Learning Russian was compulsory, but secondary and higher education were available in Lithuanian, as well as numerous cultural activities. Though dominated by communist ideology, the system had a positive influence on the development of the network of schools. Among the other accomplishments of the period, one might list the guarantee of a free education, and good schooling in the natural and exact sciences.

The contemporary Lithuanian system of education is based on European cultural values. Systematic educational reform has been going on since 1992. Pre-university education in Lithuania lasts 12 years. Children start school at the age of six or seven. Primary education lasts for four years (1st to 4th years), basic secondary - six years (5th to 10th years) and general secondary - two years (10th to 12th years). Children must attend school until they are 16. The evaluation system is based on a ten-point grading scale. There are some 1,900 secondary schools in Lithuania, with 558,000 pupils. Pupils get top awards in international contests in chemistry, physics, mathematics and information technology. The country has a well-developed system of vocational schools and colleges in all the regions. Students can choose between 48 accredited institutions of higher education: 37 state institutions (15 universities and 16 colleges) and 17 private ones (six universities and 11 colleges).


Science

The history of the sciences in Lithuania starts with the founding of Vilnius University, one of the oldest universities in Eastern Europe, in 1579. The Statute of Lithuania (1529), which began the creation of legislative processes in many East European countries, as well as the work of Kazimieras Simonavičius Artis Magnae Artilleriae (1650), which presented the idea of rocket artillery and introduced the main principles of the construction of multistage rockets, were among the first works to make a statement about the country’s intellectual potential.

Lithuania’s contribution to world science in later times was made by a number of well-known names. Ignas Domeika, a nature researcher in Chile and a professor and rector of the University of Santiago, Marija Gimbutas in anthropology, Emanuel Levinas in philosophy, Algirdas Julius Greimas in linguistics and semiotics, Vytautas Andrius Graičiūnas in management theory – these are just a few of them.

Once known as ‘the Soviet Silicon Valley’, Lithuania now has world-class specialists in biotechnology, lasers, telecommunications and information technologies, bringing leading products and services to global markets. A new branch of mathematics, the theory of probability, was generated at Vilnius University by Professor Jonas Kubilius and his associates. Also, Lithuania is the birthplace for laser methods for research in physics and biophysics, a multicolour astrophotometric system for two-dimensional star classification, and much more.


TOURISM

Tourists know Lithuania as a country of cities with architectural splendour and ample choice of entertainment. It is a land of an exquisite coastline, health resorts, ancient woodlands, thousands of lakes, meandering rivers and traditional villages.

The Kuršių Nerija (Curonian Spit) is a natural wonder with the highest sand dunes in Eastern Europe. This sandy stretch of land, with its long central street winding for almost 50 kilometres from Smiltinė to Nida, separates the Kuršių Marios (Curonian Lagoon) from the Baltic Sea. This tiny ‘Sahara’ was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in December 2000. Swimming, walking, fishing and eating in coastal restaurants with the smell of eels attract many tourists. There are now four friendly holiday resorts, with quays for yachts and ancient ships, surrounded by pine tree forests.

The Amber Museum in Palanga houses the world’s largest collection of amber with inclusions. The whole history of amber, from its formation to its possible applications, is displayed in the museum’s showcases.

Visiting Lithuania provides a chance to see the world-famous Hill of Crosses, a unique Christian site of pilgrimage near the city of Šiauliai. For 300 years people have come here with hundreds of thousands of votive crosses brought from all over the world.

Trakai Historical National Park, located about 30 kilometres from Vilnius, is dotted with 33 lakes. It encapsulates the medieval capital of Lithuania and its surrounding lakes and majestic countryside. A red brick castle fortress built in the 14th century on one of the islands on Lake Galvė is a very popular tourist destination.

Druskininkai, a spa haven with pine forests and natural springs, is the birthplace of the most famous Lithuanian artist Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis. The Grūtas Park-Museum provides the possibility to stroll among relics of the Soviet empire, have lunch at a Soviet-style canteen, and listen to Red Army military marches and speeches by Soviet leaders.

Rumšiškės Open Air Museum is a miniature display of Lithuania in the second half of the 18th century, with old houses, farms, pubs and mills and with men and women in traditional costume. Old farmsteads have been created out of relocated authentic buildings, with authentic furniture and decorations. The museum features the traditional countryside of the four main ethnic regions of the country: Samogitia in the west, the highlands in the east, Suvalkija in the southwest, and Dzūkija in the south. Crowds of people come here to see off the winter, to roll Easter eggs, and to celebrate the Midsummer festival.

Links

Lithuania. See it! Feel it! Love it!

Lithuania. New and exciting experience

10 Reasons to visit Lithuania

Lithuania. Incentive Travel

Lithuania. Active holidays

Lithuania. The amber coast

4 Course Lithuania map:
   North
   South
   East
   West


SPORTS

Modern sports started gaining popularity right after the declaration of independence of Lithuania.

In 1924, Lithuanian sportsmen made their debut at the Olympic Games in Paris. In 1937 and 1939, the Lithuanian basketball team won medals at the European Championship. This was the beginning of the basketball era in Lithuania. After the Second World War, the country’s basketball players were the strongest in the Soviet Union, and many times won Soviet Championships. Many players were awarded gold medals: Modestas Paulauskas (1972); Angelė Rupšienė (1976 and 1980); Valdemaras Chomičius, Rimas Kurtinaitis, Šarūnas Marčiulionis and Arvydas Sabonis (1988, Seoul). After the country regained its independence in 1990, the Lithuanian basketball team participated in the Olympics in Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney, Athens and Beijing, and won bronze medals three times. The Lithuanian national men’s basketball team became 2003 European Champions.

Women are also active in basketball. In 1938 in Rome, they took second place in Europe, and in 1997, they won the European Championship.

Basketball Club Žalgiris (BC Žalgiris), which was founded in 1944 in Kaunas, is one of the most prestigious men’s basketball clubs in Lithuania. BC Žalgiris played for 40 years in the Basketball Super League of the former USSR. During this time, it became a four-time Champion of the USSR (1951, 1985, 1986, and 1987), won silver medals twice and was awarded six bronze medals. In 1986, BC Žalgiris won the Intercontinental W. Jones World Clubs Cup in Argentina.

The end of the 20th century was also successful for BC Žalgiris. In 1998, the team won the Cup Winners' Cup, also known as the European Cup Winners' Cup. A year later, Žalgiris became the strongest men’s basketball team in the old continent. During that successful period, coaches Jonas Kazlauskas and Algirdas Brazys were training the team. Many talented Lithuanian basketball players started their professional career in this club.

In April 2005, Lithuanian basketball celebrated an unforgettable victory. BC Lietuvos Rytas won the ULEB Cup. The next year they won the second ULEB title.

Over 250 participants of the Olympics brought back to Lithuania 29 gold, 22 silver and 57 bronze medals.

The country’s first Olympic champion was boxer Danas Pozniakas.

The first Olympic champion of independent Lithuania was Romas Ubartas, who had success in track and field athletics.

Virgilijus Alekna, a gifted discus thrower, became champion at the Sydney Olympics. In summer 2003, Virgilijus Alekna proved that he could be the best discus thrower in the world. In Athens, Alekna won his second Olympic Champion title and in 2008 he won the bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics.

Daina Guzinevičiūtė became Women’s Shooting Champion at the Sydney Olympics. Austra Skujytė won the silver medal in heptathlon in the Olympics in Athens.

Lithuania is well known due to the victories of its athletes in modern pentathlon. Andrejus Zadneprovskis won the silver medal at the Olympics in Athens. Edvinas Krungolcas became the Champion of Europe in 2003, 2004 and 2005. He also won the World Cup. At the Beijing Olympics in 2008 Edvinas Krungolcas won the silver medal and Andrejus Zadneprovskis achieved the bronze medal.

Gintarė Volungevičiūtė also had success at the Beijing Olympics. She finished with the sailing silver medal and wrestler Mindaugas Mizgaitis won the bronze medal.

Victories of Lithuanian winter sports athletes are more moderate, but still there are some reasons to be proud of. Biathlonist Algimantas Šalna together with his team-mates won the gold medal at the Sarajevo Olympics. It was the first Olympic gold medal won by a Lithuanian athlete at the Winter Olympics.

In 1998, Vida Vencienė won the gold medal in 10 km classical skiing at the Calgary Olympics. She was the first Lithuanian woman who became the Olympic champion. In the same Games she was the third in skiing 5 km.

National Anthem of Lithuania is also played at the Parolympics. Lithuania is proud of its sportsmen, who have been awarded medals at the Parolympics.

The Lithuanian national ice hockey team has not participated at the Olympics so far, but we are proud of Lithuanian-born Darius Kasparaitis and Dainius Zubrus, who have played an important role in the NHL.

Lithuanian ice dancing duo Margarita Drobiazko and Povilas Vanagas won the bronze medals at the 2006 European Championship.

Would it be easy to imagine that a man could raise a balk above his head, which weighs 202,5 kg, raise 150 kg 8 times and the axis of Apollo 6 times, which weighs 166 kg? Would it be possible for a person to raise the weight of 320 kg from the earth for 10 times and to carry for 30 m things, which weigh 410 kg, or even to throw into a 17 feet (5 m 18,16 cm) height a weight of 22 kg? All these results set the World Record. All these records were set by Žydrūnas Savickas, who has won the title of the World's Strongest Man five times.

The dancesport formation team Žuvėdra is a five-time World Champion and five-time European Champion.

A couple of standard dances Edita Daniūtė and Arūnas Bižokas have won World Standard Dance formation Championship and the European Cup Standard, as well as the classical dance programme at Non-Olympics.

Mountain climber Vladas Vitkauskas took the highest peak on every continent between 1993 and 1996.

Pilot Jurgis Kairys has distinguished himself in acrobatic flying.

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