Lithuania


Lithuania

Infobox Country
native_name = "Lietuvos Respublika"
conventional_long_name = Republic of Lithuania
common_name = Lithuania









map_caption = map_caption |region=on the European continent |subregion=the European Union |

national_motto = "Tautos jėga vienybėje" "The strength of the nation lies in unity"
national_anthem = "Tautiška giesmė"
official_languages = Lithuanian
demonym = Lithuanian
capital =
latd=54 |latm=41 |latNS=N |longd=25 |longm=19 |longEW=E
largest_city = capital
government_type = nowrap|Semi-presidential republic
leader_title1 = President
leader_name1 = Valdas Adamkus
leader_title2 = Prime Minister
leader_name2 = Gediminas Kirkilas
leader_title3 = Seimas Speaker
leader_name3 = Česlovas Juršėnas
sovereignty_type = Independence
sovereignty_note = from the Russian Empire (1918)
established_event1 = Lithuania mentioned
established_date1 = February 14, 1009
established_event2 = Statehood
established_date2 = July 6, 1253
established_event3 = Personal union with Poland
established_date3 = February 2, 1386
established_event4 = Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth declared
established_date4 = 1569
established_event5 = Russian/Prussian occupation
established_date5 = 1795
established_event6 = Independence declared
established_date6 = February 16, 1918
established_event7 = 1st Soviet occupation
established_date7 = June 15, 1940
established_event10 = Nazi occupation
established_date10 = 1941
established_event8 = 2nd Soviet occupation
established_date8 = 1944
established_event9 = Independence restored
established_date9 = March 11, 1990
accessionEUdate = 1 May 2004
area_rank = 123rd
area_magnitude = 1 E10
area_km2 = 65,200
area_sq_mi = 25,173
percent_water = 1,35%
population_estimate = 3,369,600
population_estimate_rank = 130th
population_estimate_year = 2007
population_census =
population_census_year =
population_density_km2 = 52
population_density_sq_mi = 134
population_density_rank = 120th
GDP_PPP = $59.644 billioncite web|url=http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2008/01/weodata/weorept.aspx?pr.x=64&pr.y=13&sy=2004&ey=2008&scsm=1&ssd=1&sort=country&ds=.&br=1&c=946&s=NGDPD%2CNGDPDPC%2CPPPGDP%2CPPPPC%2CLP&grp=0&a=|title=Report for Selected Countries and Subjects ]
GDP_PPP_rank = 75th
GDP_PPP_year = 2008
GDP_PPP_per_capita = $19, 730
GDP_PPP_per_capita_rank = 46th
GDP_nominal = $48.132 billion [http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2008/01/weodata/weorept.aspx?sy=2008&ey=2008&scsm=1&ssd=1&sort=country&ds=.&br=1&c=946&s=NGDPD%2CNGDPDPC&grp=0&a=&pr1.x=41&pr1.y=8]
GDP_nominal_rank = 75th
GDP_nominal_year = 2008 IMF April
GDP_nominal_per_capita = $14, 273
GDP_nominal_per_capita_rank = 39th
HDI = increase 0.862
HDI_rank = 43rd
HDI_year = 2007
HDI_category = high
Gini = 36
Gini_year = 2003
Gini_category = medium
currency = Lithuanian litas (Lt)
currency_code = LTL
time_zone = EET
utc_offset = +2
time_zone_DST = EEST
utc_offset_DST = +3
cctld = .lt1
calling_code = 370
footnote1 = Also .eu, shared with other European Union member states.

Lithuania Audio-IPA|en-us-Lithuania.ogg| [ˌlɪθuˈeɪniə] , officially the Republic of Lithuania ( _lt. Lietuvos Respublika) is a country in Eastern, often referred to as Northern Europe [United Nations [http://unstats.un.org/unsd/methods/m49/m49regin.htm#europe Geographical region and composition] ] or in the Baltic Division. [ http://unstats.un.org/unsd/geoinfo/ungegndivisions.htm#baltic ] Situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, it shares borders with Latvia to the north, Belarus to the southeast, Poland, and the Russian exclave of the Kaliningrad Oblast to the southwest. Lithuania is a member of NATO and of the European Union. Its population is 3.4 million. Its capital and largest city is Vilnius.

During the 14th century, Lithuania was the largest country in Europe: present-day Belarus, Ukraine, and parts of Poland and Russia were territories of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. With the Lublin Union of 1569 Poland and Lithuania formed a new state, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Commonwealth lasted more than two centuries, until neighboring countries systematically dismantled it from 1772 to 1795, with the Russian Empire annexing most of Lithuania's territory. In the wake of the First World War, Lithuania's Act of Independence was signed on February 16, 1918, declaring the re-establishment of a sovereign state. Starting in 1940, Lithuania was occupied first by the Soviet Union then Nazi Germany. As World War II neared its end in 1944 and the Nazis retreated, the Soviet Union reoccupied Lithuania. On March 11, 1990, Lithuania became the first Soviet republic to declare its renewed independence.

Present-day Lithuania has one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union. Lithuania became a full member of the Schengen Agreement on 21 December 2007. [cite news | first=Press release | last= | coauthors= | title=Lietuva įsiliejo į Šengeno erdvę | date= | publisher=Vidaus reikalų ministerija | url =http://www.vrm.lt/index.php?id=131&backPID=4&tt_news=1458& | work = | pages = | accessdate = 2007-12-22 | language = Lithuanian ] In 2009, Lithuania will celebrate the millennium of its name.

History

The first written mention of Lithuania is found in a medieval German manuscript, the "Quedlinburg Chronicle", on 14 February 1009. The Lithuanian lands were united by Mindaugas in 1236, and neighbouring countries referred to it as "the state of Lithuania". The official coronation of Mindaugas as King of Lithuania was on July 6, 1253, and the official recognition of Lithuanian statehood as the Kingdom of Lithuania. [ lt icon Tomas Baranauskas. [http://www.voruta.lt/article.php?article=118&showtype=archive "Lietuvos karalystei — 750 (750 years for Kingdom of Lithuania)"] . 2001.]

During the early period of Vytautas the Great (1316–1430), the state occupied the territories of present-day Belarus, Ukraine, and parts of Poland and Russia. [Paul Magocsi. "History of the Ukraine". University of Toronto Press, 1996. p.128 ] By the end of the fourteenth century, Lithuania was the largest country in Europe, and was also the only remaining pagan state. [Robert Bideleux. A History of Eastern Europe: Crisis and Change. Routledge, 1998. p.122] The Grand Duchy of Lithuania stretched across a substantial part of Europe, from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Lithuanian nobility, city dwellers and peasants accepted Christianity in 1386, following Poland's offer of its crown to Jogaila, the Grand Duke of Lithuania. Grand Duke Jogaila was crowned King of Poland on February 2, 1386. Lithuania and Poland were joined into a personal union, as both countries were ruled by the same Gediminas branch, the Jagiellon dynasty.

In 1401, the formal union was dissolved as a result of disputes over legal terminology, and Vytautas, the cousin of Jogaila, became the Grand Duke of Lithuania. Thanks to close cooperation, the armies of Poland and Lithuania achieved a great victory over the Teutonic Knights in 1410 at the Battle of Grunwald, one of the largest battles of mediaeval Europe.

A royal crown had been bestowed upon Vytautas in 1429 by Sigismund, the Holy Roman Emperor, but Polish magnates prevented his coronation by seizing the crown as it was being brought to him. [cite book | last = Stone | first = Daniel | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = The Polish-Lithuanian State, 1386-1795 | publisher = University of Washington Press | date = 2001 | location = Seattle | pages = p.11 | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 0-295-98093-1 ] New attempts were made to send a crown, but a month later Vytautas died as the result of an accident. [cite book | last = Gudavičius | first = Edvardas | authorlink = Edvardas Gudavičius | coauthors = | title = Lietuvos istorija T.1 | publisher = Lietuvos rašytojų sąjunga | date = 1999 | location = Vilnius | pages = p.267 | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 9986-39-111-3 ] As a result of the growing centralised power of the Grand Principality of Moscow, in 1569, Lithuania and Poland formally united into a single state called the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. As a member of the Commonwealth, Lithuania retained its institutions, including a separate army, currency and statutory law which was digested in three Statutes of Lithuania. [Stone, Daniel. "The Polish-Lithuanian state: 1386–1795". University of Washington Press, 2001. p. 63] In 1795, the joint state was dissolved by the third Partition of the Commonwealth, which forfeited its lands to Russia, Prussia and Austria, under duress. Over ninety percent of Lithuania was incorporated into the Russian Empire and the remainder into Prussia.

After a century of occupation, Lithuania re-established its independence on February 16, 1918. The official government from July through November 1918 was quickly replaced by a republican government. From the outset, the newly independent Lithuania's foreign policy was dominated by territorial disputes with Poland (over the Vilnius region and the Suvalkai region) and with Germany (over the Klaipėda region or "Memelland"). Most obviously, the Lithuanian constitution designated Vilnius as the nation's capital, even though the city itself lay within Polish territory as a result of a general election. At the time, Poles and Jews made up a majority of the population of Vilnius, with a small Lithuanian minority of only 0.8%.pl icon cite journal | author= | title=Drugi Powszechny Spis Ludności z dnia 9 XII 1931 r | journal=Statystyka Polski | volume=D | issue=34 | year=1939 | pages= ] In 1920 the capital was relocated to Kaunas, which was officially designated the provisional capital of Lithuania. (See History of Vilnius for more details.) [L. Donskis. Identity and Freedom: mapping nationalism and social criticism in twentieth-century Lithuania. Routledge (UK), 2002 p. 23.]

In June 1940, around the beginning of World War II, the Soviet Union occupied and annexed Lithuania in accordance with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. [I. Žiemele. Baltic Yearbook of International Law, 2001. 2002, Vol.1 p.10] [K. Dawisha, B. Parrott. The Consolidation of Democracy in East-Central Europe. 1997 p. 293.] A year later it came under German occupation. After the retreat of the German armed forces ("Wehrmacht"), Lithuania was reoccupied by the Soviet Union in 1944.

From 1944 to 1952 approximately 100,000 Lithuanians participated in partisan fights against the Soviet system and the Red Army. More than twenty thousand partisans ("forest brothers") were killed in those battles and many more were arrested and deported to Siberian GULAGs. Lithuanian historians view this period as a war of independence against the Soviet Union. During the Soviet and Nazi occupations between 1940 and 1944, Lithuania lost over 780,000 residents. Among them were around 190,000 Lithuanian Jews (91% of the pre-war Jewish community), one of the highest total mortality rates of the Holocaust. An estimated 120,000 to 300,000 [ [http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5379.htm US Department of State Bureau of Public Affairs, August 2006] ] were killed by Soviets or exiled to Siberia, while others had been sent to German forced labour camps or chose to emigrate to western countries.

Forty-six years of Soviet occupation ended with the advent of perestroika and glasnost in the late 1980s. Lithuania, led by Sąjūdis, an anti-communist and anti-Soviet independence movement, proclaimed its renewed independence on March 11, 1990. Lithuania was the first Soviet republic to do so, though Soviet forces unsuccessfully tried to suppress this secession. The Red Army attacked the Vilnius TV Tower on the night of January 13, 1991, an act that resulted in the death of 13 Lithuanian civilians. [" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/january/13/newsid_4059000/4059959.stm BBC Story] "] The last Red Army troops left Lithuania on August 31, 1993 — even earlier than they departed from East Germany.

On February 4, 1991, Iceland became the first country to recognize Lithuanian independence. Sweden was the first to open an embassy in the country. The United States of America never recognized the Soviet claim to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Russia currently refuses to recognize the occupation of Lithuania, claiming that Lithuanians decided to join the Soviet Union voluntarily, although Russia signed a treaty with Lithuania before the disintegration of the USSR which acknowledged Lithuania's forced loss of sovereignty at the hands of the Soviets, thereby recognizing the occupation.

Lithuania joined the United Nations on September 17, 1991, and on May 31, 2001, it became the 141st member of the World Trade Organization. Since 1988, Lithuania has sought closer ties with the West, and so on January 4, 1994, it became the first of the Baltic states to apply for NATO membership. On March 29, 2004, it became a NATO member, and on May 1, 2004, Lithuania joined the European Union.

Politics

Since Lithuania declared independence on March 11, 1990, it has maintained strong democratic traditions. In the first general elections after the independence on October 25, 1992, 56.75% of the total number of voters supported the new constitution.lt icon [http://www3.lrs.lt/docs2/QKVXRGNF.DOC Nuo 1991 m. iki šiol paskelbtų referendumų rezultatai (Results from Refrenda 1991-Present)] , Microsoft Word Document, Seimas. Accessed June 4, 2006.] There were heavy debates concerning the constitution, especially the role of the president. Drawing from the interwar experiences, many different proposals were made ranging from a strong parliamentary government to a presidential system similar to the one in the United States. A separate referendum was held on May 23, 1992 to gauge public opinion on the matter and 41% of all the eligible voters supported the restoration of the President of Lithuania. Eventually a semi-presidential system was agreed upon. [Lina Kulikauskienė, Lietuvos Respublikos Konstitucija (Constitution of Lithuania), Native History, CD, 2002. ISBN 9986-9216-7-8]

The Lithuanian head of state is the President, elected directly for a five-year term, serving a maximum of two consecutive terms. The post of president is largely ceremonial; main policy functions however include foreign affairs and national security policy. The president is also the military commander-in-chief. The President, with the approval of the parliamentary body, the Seimas, also appoints the prime minister and on the latter's nomination, appoints the rest of the cabinet, as well as a number of other top civil servants and the judges for all courts. The judges of the Constitutional Court ("Konstitucinis Teismas"), who serve nine-year terms, are appointed by the President (three judges), the Chairman of the Seimas (three judges) and the Chairman of the Supreme Court (three judges). The unicameral Lithuanian parliament, the "Seimas", has 141 members who are elected to four-year terms. 71 of the members of this legislative body are elected in single constituencies, and the other 70 are elected in a nationwide vote by proportional representation. A party must receive at least 5% of the national vote to be represented in the Seimas.

Counties, municipalities and elderates

The current administrative division was established in 1994 and modified in 2000 to meet the requirements of the European Union. Lithuania has a three-tier administrative division: the country is divided into 10 counties (Lithuanian: singular — "apskritis", plural — "apskritys") that are further subdivided into 60 municipalities (Lithuanian: singular — "savivaldybė", plural — "savivaldybės") which consist of over 500 elderates (Lithuanian: singular — "seniūnija", plural — "seniūnijos").

Counties

The counties are ruled by county governors (Lithuanian: "apskrities viršininkas") appointed by the central government. They ensure that the municipalities adhere to the laws of Lithuania and the constitution. County government oversees local governments and their implementation of the national laws, programs and policies.lt icon [http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter3/dokpaieska.showdoc_l?p_id=270541 Lietuvos Respublikos apskrities valdymo įstatymas (Republic of Lithuania Law on County Governing)] , Seimas law database, December 15, 1994, Law no. I-707. Accessed June 3, 2006.] Lithuania is divided into 10 counties:

# Alytus County
# Kaunas County
# Klaipėda County
# Marijampolė County
# Panevėžys County
# Šiauliai County
# Tauragė County
# Telšiai County
# Utena County
# Vilnius County

Municipalities

Municipalities are the most important unit. Some municipalities are historically called "district municipalities", and thus are often shortened to "district"; others are called "city municipalities", sometimes shortened to "city". Each municipality has its own elected government. In the past, the election of municipality councils occurred once every three years, but it now takes place every four years. The council elects the mayor of the municipality and other required personnel. The municipality councils also appoint elders to govern the elderates. There is currently a proposal for direct election of mayors and elders, however that would require an amendment to the constitution. [lt icon Justinas Vanagas, [http://www.delfi.lt/news/daily/lithuania/article.php?id=7418983 Seimo prioritetai šią sesiją – tiesioginiai mero rinkimai, gyventojų nuosavybė ir euras (Seimas Priorities this session: direct election of mayors, property of residents, and euro)] , Delfi.lt, September 5, 2005. Accessed June 3, 2006.] Lithuania is divided into 70 municipalities.

Elderates

Elderates are the smallest units and they do not play a role in national politics. They were created so that people could receive necessary services close to their homes; for example, in rural areas the elderates register births and deaths. They are most active in the social sector: they identify needy individuals or families and distribute welfare or organise other forms of relief. lt icon [http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter2/dokpaieska.showdoc_l?p_id=146527 Lietuvos Respublikos vietos savivaldos įstatymo pakeitimo įstatymas (Republic of Lithuania Law on Amending the Law on Local Self-Governing)] , Seimas law database, October 12, 2000, Law no. VIII-2018. Accessed June 3, 2006.] Lithuania is divided into more than 500 elderates.

Possible changes of administrative division

The current system of administrative division receives frequent criticism for being too bureaucratic and ineffective. Significant complaints have been made about the number of counties, since they do not have much power. One proposal is to create four lands, a new administrative unit, the boundaries of which would be determined by the ethnographic regions of Lithuania. The benefit would be that the lands would follow natural boundaries, rather than being defined by bureaucrats or politicians. [lt icon Dr. Žilvytis Bernardas Šaknys [http://www3.vrk.lt/pls/inter/dba_intra.W3_VIEWER.ViewDoc?p_int_tekst_id=21329&p_int_tv_id=2231&p_org=0 Lietuvos Respublikos administracinio teritorinio suskirstymo perspektyvos: etnografiniai kultūriniai regionai (Perspectives of Republic of Lithuania Administrative Subdivision: Ethnographic — Cultural Regions)] , The Council for the Protection of Ethnic Culture, Seimas, December 12, 2002. Accessed June 4, 2006.] Another of the proposed solutions involves reducing the number of counties so that there would be five in total, each based in one of the five largest cities with populations of over 100,000. [lt icon Dr. Antanas Tyla, [http://www3.vrk.lt/pls/inter/dba_intra.W3_VIEWER.ViewDoc?p_int_tekst_id=21323&p_int_tv_id=2231&p_org=0 Pastabos dėl Apskričių valdymo reformos koncepcijos (Notes on Conception of County Governing Reform)] , The Council for the Protection of Ethnic Culture, Seimas, May 16, 2001. Accessed June 4, 2006.] Others complain that elderates have no real power and receive too little attention; they could potentially become local initiative communities which could tackle many rural problems. [lt icon Indrė Makaraitytė, [http://www.delfi.lt/news/daily/atgimimas/article.php?id=5663231 Europos Sąjungos pinigai kaimo neišgelbės (Money from the European Union Will Not Save the Rural Areas)] , Atgimimas, Delfi.lt, December 16, 2004. Accessed June 4, 2006.]

Geography

Lithuania is situated in Northern Europe. It has around 99 kilometres (61.5 mi) of sandy coastline, of which only about 38 kilometres (24 mi) face the open Baltic Sea and which is the shortest among the Baltic Sea countries; the rest of the coast is sheltered by the Curonian sand peninsula. Lithuania's major warm-water port, Klaipėda, lies at the narrow mouth of the Curonian Lagoon (Lithuanian: "Kuršių marios"), a shallow lagoon extending south to Kaliningrad. The main river, the Neman River, and some of its tributaries carry international shipping vessels.

The Lithuanian landscape has been smoothed by glaciers. The highest areas are the moraines in the western uplands and eastern highlands, none of which are higher than 300 metres (1,000 ft) above sea level, with the maximum elevation being Aukštojas Hill at 294 metres (964 ft). The terrain features numerous lakes, Lake Vištytis for example, and wetlands; a mixed forest zone covers nearly 33% of the country. The climate lies between maritime and continental, with wet, moderate winters and summers. According to one geographical computation method, Lithuania's capital, Vilnius, lies only a few kilometres south of the geographical centre of Europe.

Phytogeographically, Lithuania is shared between the Central European and Eastern European provinces of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. According to the WWF, the territory of Lithuania can be subdivided into two ecoregions: the Central European mixed forests and Sarmatic mixed forests.

Lithuania consists of the following historical and cultural regions:
*Aukštaitija — literally, the "Highlands"
*Samogitia (Lithuanian: "Žemaitija") — literally, the "Lowlands"
*Dzūkija (Lithuanian: "Dzūkija" or "Dainava")
*Suvalkija (Lithuanian: "Suvalkija" or "Sūduva")
*Lithuania Minor also known as "Prussian Lithuania" — (Lithuanian: "Mažoji Lietuva" or "Prūsų Lietuva"). The region was part of Prussia from the Middle Ages until 1945. Most of it today is part of Russia (Kaliningrad Oblast).

Economy

In 2003, before joining the European Union, Lithuania had the highest economic growth rate amongst all candidate and member countries, reaching 8.8% in the third quarter. In 2004 — 7.3%; 2005 — 7.6%; 2006 — 7.4%; 2007 — 8.8%, 2008 Q1 — 7.0% growth in GDP reflects the impressive economic development. [Department of Statistics to the Government of the Republic of Lithuania. " [http://www.stat.gov.lt/en/pages/view/?id=1665 Change of GDP, 2002-2006] "] Most of the trade Lithuania conducts is within the European Union.

It is a member of the World Trade Organization, and the European Union. By UN classification, Lithuania is a country with a high average income. The country boasts a well developed modern infrastructure of railways, airports and four-lane highways. It has almost full employment, with an unemployment rate of only 2.9%. According to officially published figures, EU membership fuelled a booming economy, increased outsourcing into the country, and boosted the tourism sector. The litas, the national currency, has been pegged to the Euro since February 2, 2002 at the rate of EUR 1.00 = LTL 3.4528, [" [http://www.lb.lt/home/default.asp Lietuvos Bankas] "] and Lithuania is expected to switch to the Euro on January 1, 2010. There is gradual but consistent shift towards a knowledge-based economy with special emphasis on biotechnology (industrial and diagnostic) – because major biotechnology producers in the Baltic countries are concentrated in Lithuania – as well as laser equipment. Also mechatronics and information technology (IT) are seen as prospective knowledge-based economy directions in Lithuania.

Like other countries in the region (Estonia, Latvia) Lithuania also has a flat tax rate rather than a progressive scheme. Lithuanian income levels still lag behind the rest of the older EU members, with per capita GDP in 2007 at 60% of the EU average. Lower wages may have been a factor that in 2004 influenced the trend of emigration to wealthier EU countries, something that has been made legally possible as a result of accession to the European Union. In 2006, income tax was reduced to 27% and a reduction to 24% was made in October 2007. Income tax reduction and 19.1% annual wage growth [ [http://www.delfi.lt/news/economy/business/article.php?id=12277193 Lithuanian News] ] is starting to make an impact with some emigrants gradually beginning to come back. [ [http://www.delfi.lt/news/daily/lithuania/article.php?id=10004761 Lithuanian News] ] The latest official data show emigration in early 2006 to be 30% lower than the previous year, with 3,483 people leaving in four months.

Corporate tax rate is 15%, one of the lowest in the European Union. The government offers special incentives for investments into the high-technology sectors and high value-added products.

Lithuania has the highest rating of Baltic states in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s quality of life index.

Education

According to Invest in Lithuania, Lithuania has twice as many people with higher education than the EU-15 average and the proportion is the highest in the Baltic. Also, 90% of Lithuanians speak at least one foreign language and half of the population speaks two foreign languages, mostly Russian and English or Polish. [ [http://www.lda.lt/en/InvestInLithuania.html Invest in Lithuania] ]

Vilnius University is one of the oldest universities in Northern Europe and the largest university in Lithuania. Kaunas University of Technology is the largest technical university in the Baltic States and the second largest university in Lithuania. Other universities include Kaunas University of Medicine, Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, Vytautas Magnus University, and Mykolas Romeris University.

Infrastructure

Klaipėda port is the only port in Lithuania. Vilnius International Airport is the largest airport. It served 1.7 million passengers in 2007.

Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant is a Soviet-era nuclear station. Unit #1 was closed in December 2004, as a condition of Lithuania's entry into the European Union; the plant is similar to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in its lack of a robust containment structure. The remaining unit, as of 2006, supplied about 70% of Lithuania's electrical demand. [cite web|title=Electricity Market in the Baltic Countries|url= http://events.le.lt/uploads/File/20060126/Electricity%20markets%20in%20BalticStates_Jank.ppt|publisher=Lietuvos Energija|accessdate=2008-04-19] Unit #2 is tentatively scheduled for closure in 2009. Proposals have been made to construct another nuclear power plant in Lithuania.

Demographics

Ethnic composition

The population of Lithuania stands at 3.3662 million, 84.6% of whom are ethnic Lithuanians who speak the Lithuanian language (one of the two surviving members of the Baltic language group), which is the official language of the country. Several sizable minorities exist, such as Poles (6.3%), Russians (5.1%), and Belarusians (1.1%). [Department of Statistics to the Government of the Republic of Lithuania." [http://www.stat.gov.lt/lt/pages/view/?id=2176 Population by ethnicity, census] ". Updated in 2007.]

Poles are the largest minority, concentrated in southeast Lithuania (the Vilnius region). Russians are the second largest minority, concentrated mostly in two cities. They constitute sizeable minorities in Vilnius (14%) and Klaipėda (28%), and a majority in the town of Visaginas (52%). [ [http://www.visaginas.lt/town/inhabit?lang=en] ] About 3,000 Roma live in Lithuania, mostly in Vilnius, Kaunas, and Panevėžys; their organizations are supported by the National Minority and Emigration Department. [ [http://www.tspmi.vu.lt/files/mprojektai/finallithsecpapergalutinis.pdf Lithuanian Security and Foreign Policy] .]

Most Lithuanian schools teach English as a first foreign language, but students may also study German, or, in some schools, French. Schools where Russian and Polish are the primary languages of education exist in the areas populated by these minorities.

Health and welfare

As of 2004 Lithuanian life expectancy at birth was 69 years for males and 79 for females. As of 2008 The infant mortality rate was 5.9 per 1,000 births. [ [http://www.stat.gov.lt/en/ Statistics Lithuania] .] The annual population growth rate increased by 0.3% in 2007. Less than 2% of the population live beneath the poverty line, and the adult literacy rate is 99.6%. [ [http://www3.who.int/whosis/core/core_select.cfm?path=whosis,core&language=english WHO statistical database] .]

Lithuania leads all countries in its suicide rate, 42.1 per 100,000 persons, according to World Health Organization statistics as of 2007. Lithuania is followed by Belarus (36.8) and the Russian Federation (36.2). The other Baltic states, Latvia (25.7) and Estonia (21.4), are in 9th and 13th place, respectively. [ [http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide_rates/en/ Suicide rates per 100,000 by country, year and sex (Table)
Most recent year available; as of 2007, retrieved August 11. 2008.
] The problem is most acute among middle-aged men and is growing most rapidly in rural areas. [ [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=16081405&dopt=Abstract Abstracts in NIH with references to Lithuania and suicide] .]

Largest cities

Religion

In 2005 79% of Lithuanians belonged to the Roman Catholic Church. [Department of Statistics to the Government of the Republic of Lithuania. " [http://www.std.lt/en/pages/view/?id=1734 Population by Religious Confession, census ] ". Updated in 2005.] The Church has been the majority denomination since the Christianisation of Lithuania in the end of fourteenth century and beginning of fifteenth century. Some priests actively led the resistance against the Communist regime (symbolised by the Hill of Crosses). Church attendance has increased since the end of the Soviet Union and the country has a high level of religious practice.Fact|date=October 2007

In the 16th century, Protestantism started to spread from Western Europe. A united reformed church organization in Lithuania's church province can be counted from the year 1557 at the Synod in Vilnius on December 14th of that year. From that year the Synod met regularly forming all the church provinces of The Grand Duchy of Lithuania, at first from two and later growing to six districts and representative district synods. The abbreviated name for the church is in Latin, Unitas Lithuaniae or in Polish, Jednota Litewska (Lithuanian church provincial union). It sent its representatives to the General Polish/Lithuanian Synods; however in its administration it was in fact a self-governing Church. The first Superintendent was Simonas Zacijus (Szymon Zacjusz, approx 1507-1591). In 1565 the anti- Trinitarian Lithuanian Brotherhood who rejected the learning of the Trinity separated from UL. The UL parish network covered nearly all of The Grand Duchy. Its district centers were Vilnius, Kedainai, Biržai, Slucke, Kojdanove and Zabludove later Izabeline.

In the first half of 20th century Lutheran Protestant church had around 200,000 members, 9% of total population, although Lutheranism has declined since 1945. Small Protestant communities are dispersed throughout the northern and western parts of the country. Various Protestant churches have established missions in Lithuania since 1990. [ [http://www.umc.org/site/c.gjJTJbMUIuE/b.2012693/k.AEBE/United_Methodists_evangelize_in_Lithuania_with_ads_brochures.htm United Methodists evangelize in Lithuania with ads, brochures] ] 4.9% are Eastern Orthodox (mainly among the Russian minority), 1.9% are Protestant and 9.5% have no religion. The country also has minority communities of Judaism, Islam, and Karaism which make up another 1.6% of the population. According to the most recent Eurobarometer Poll 2005, cite web|url= http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_225_report_en.pdf |title=Eurobarometer on Social Values, Science and technology 2005 — page 11|accessdate=2007-05-05|format=PDF] 12% that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, god, or life force" , 36% answered that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 49% of Lithuanian citizens responded that "they believe there is a God".

Culture

* List of famous Lithuanians
* Lithuanian literature
* Lithuanian mythology
* Music of Lithuania
* Symbols of Lithuania

ee also

* Lithuanians
* Foreign relations of Lithuania
* Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic
* Lithuania national football team
* Lithuania national basketball team
* Lithuania national rugby union team
* Military of Lithuania
* Culture of Lithuania

Notes and references

External links

* [http://www.president.lt/en Prezidentas] [http://www.president.lt (in Lithuanian)] — Official presidential site
* [http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter/w5_home.home?p_kalb_id=2 Seimas] [http://www3.lrs.lt (in Lithuanian)] — Official parliamentary site
* [http://www.lrv.lt/main_en.php Vyriausybė] [http://www.lrv.lt (in Lithuanian and English)] — Official governmental site
* [http://www.stat.gov.lt/en/ Statistics] - Official site of Department of Statistics
*
* [http://www.lithuania-vilnius.com Lithuania Pages] — Sights, history, a picture gallery and a lot of links.
* [http://www.on.lt Lithuania Online] — Wide collection of Lithuanian links
* [http://www.travel.lt www.travel.lt] - The Official Lithuanian Travel Guide
* [http://www.tourism.lt Lithuanian State Department of Tourism]
* [http://lietuva.lt/en/ Lietuva.lt (in english)] - Information about Lithuania
* [http://www.welcometo.lt Information about Lithuania]
* [http://www.neregetalietuva.lt/nuotraukos.en.php Aerial photos of Lithuania by Marius Jovaiša]

Maps and GIS

* [http://www.maps.lt Maps of Lithuania on Maps.lt]
* [http://www.mapquest.com/maps/main.adp?country=LT Maps of Lithuania on Mapquest]

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