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About Lithuania » About Lithuania

Lithuania

Country name: Republic of Lithuania.
Government type: Parliamentary democracy.
Location: the Republic of Lithuania lies on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. Total area 65 300 sq km. In the north, the country borders on Latvia (588 km), in the east – on Belarus (660 km), in the south – on Poland (103 km) and Kaliningrad Region of the Russian Federation (273 km). Lithuania holds a 99 km long area of the Baltic Sea coast. As the National Geographic Institute of France confirmed in 1989, the geographic centre of Europe lies just 24 km northwest of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania.
History: The earliest known mention of the name "Lithuania" is found in the German (Teutonic) chronicles of 1009. The country, however, did not adopt Christianity until 1387 and was, for the most part, under constant military attack by the Germanic Livonia and Teutonic Orders for the first 200 years of its existence as a united territory. Not only did the Teutonic and Livonia Orders fail to conquer Lithuania, but also by the end of the 14th century Lithuania became one of the most powerful states in Eastern Europe . From 1569 Lithuania was a part of the common Lithuanian-Polish state. In 1795 Lithuania was incorporated into Russian Empire. In 1918 Lithuania gained independence. In 1940 the country was occupied and annexed by the Soviet Union. After 1990 Lithuania again rejoined the community of free and democratic states. Beginning with May 1, 2004 Lithuania already NATO member country have joined the European Union.
Population, religion, language: Total population is 3 484 000 inhabitants. Ethnic composition: 81.3% Lithuanians, 8.4% Russians, 7% Polish, 1.5% Belorussians, 1% Ukrainians and 0.8% others. Lithuania is home to as many as 115 ethnic groups. Based on cultural and dialect differences, Lithuania is divided into five ethnic regions: Aukštaitija (north-eastern and eastern Lithuania), Dzūkija (south-eastern and southern Lithuania), Suvalkija (southern and south-western Lithuania south of the Nemunas River), Žemaitija (north-western and western Lithuania), Lithuania Minor (south-western and western edge of Lithuania).Basic religion of Lithuania is Roman Catholic. The state language is Lithuanian. Lithuanian belongs to the Baltic language group, part of the Indo-European language family.
Major cities, administrative division: The capital of Lithuania is Vilnius (pop. 540 thousand). The city was officially established in 1323. But a fortified castle at the confluence of the Neris and Vilnia rivers was set up earlier. The Old Town of Vilnius is one of the largest (360 ha) and prettiest in the Eastern and Central Europe included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The city boasts excellent public transport with trolleybus, bus and minibus routes; plenty of taxis available. Other major cities are Kaunas – 364 thousand; Klaipėda – 188 thousand; Šiauliai – 130 thousand; Panevėžys – 116 thousand of populiation. Lithuania is divide into 10 counties, spanning the country's 60 administrative districts and towns.
Climate: Transitional, between maritime and Continental average temperature in July is +17°C, in January – -4.9°C. However, temperatures can soar up to +30°C in summer, and drop down to -25°C in winter. Summers here are pleasantly mild, whereas not every winter offers abundance of snow.
Resorts, protected areas: The biggest resorts are Palanga and Neringa, seaside resorts; Druskininkai and Birštonas, inland health resorts. In Lithuania are 5 Natural and Cultural reservations, 5 National (Curonian Spit NP was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List) and 30 Regional parks.
National holidays: Banks, offices and shops are closed on the national holidays.
They may also be closed or have earlier time on the eve of the holidays:
New Year - January 1;
Lithuanian Statehood Restoration day - February 16;
Lithuanian Independence Restoration day- March 11;
Easter (Catholic) – March/April;
The International Labor day –May 1;
The feast of St John (The Midsummer Day) – June 24;
Crowning of Lithuanian King Mindaugas/ stated day - July 6;
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - August 15;
All Saint's Day - November 1;
Christmas - December 25 and 26.
Time zone: Lithuania lies in the Central European Time zone (GMT + 2 hours (GTM+3hrs, from April to November) or same as, for instance, Helsinki, Riga, and Tallinn).
Places of interest: Vilnius Old town, Trakai castle, The Curonian Spit, Grūtas Park, Hill of Crosses, Kaunas, Mounds of Kernave, Europos Park (Open-Air Museum of the Center of Europe), Geographical centre of Europe, Druskininkai resort and Dzukija National Park.
Driving: Speed Limit for Motor Vehicles: 50 km/h in town, 90/h out of town on national roads, 110 km/h (November 1 – March 31) and 130 km/h (April 1 – October 31) on highways, unless traffic signs specify otherwise.
Accommodation: There are over 300 internationally classified accommodation establishments throughout the country. For more detailed information, please check accommodation.
Currency: Currency and Credit Cards The national currency is the Litas (Lt).the rate is fixed to the euro (€) at the rate of 3,4528 Lt = 1€. All the convertible currencies can be exchanged at banks and currency exchange offices. The latter can be found in major hotels. Airports, some supermarkets, train and bus stations. Most transactions are made in cash. Most establishments accept major credit cards including Globus, Euro Card, and Master card, Visa and Visa Electron and (less widely) American Express. Traveller’s cheques a rarely accepted by retailers and can only be changed in banks and currency exchange offices (Valiutos keitykla). ATM is common in large cities.
Visas: Citizens of Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, USA, Vatican City and other (50 in total) do not require a visa to enter Lithuania. Visas are issued for the period of 30 days, and the extensions could be granted up to 90 days in a year. Visas for the citizens of other countries of EU or citizens of countries without a Lithuanian embassy could be issued for 160 Lt at the airport for the period of 10 days, and in most cases Lithuanian visa is valid also in Latvia and Estonia (not for the citizens of former republics of Soviet Union - Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, etc). Visas are not issued at the border.