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Country Profile: Lithuania

TJC Global Translation & Interpreting Services since 1985



65,200 km sq


3,350,400 (2009 est.)

Capital and largest city



Lithuanian litas

Official languages

Lithuanian, Russian,


Lithuanian 83.4%, Polish
6.7%, Russian 6.3%, other
or unspecified 3.6%


Roman Catholic 79%,
Russian Orthodox 4%, Protestant (including
Lutheran, Evangelical
Christian Baptist) 2%,
none 10%



Economic summary

GDP $59.64 billion


Of labour force (1.61
million): Industry 30%, Agriculture 20%, Services

Electronics and
Manufacturing, Fuel,
Ship Building, Furniture
and Textiles, Food
Processing, Agricultural Manufacturing, Amber

Major trading partners

Germany, Latvia, Russia,
France, UK, Sweden,
Estonia, Poland,
Netherlands, Denmark,
U.S., Switzerland


Lithuania is a member of the EU, WTO, and is expected to join the Euro in 2013. Theirs is a knowledge-based economy, with industries such as biotechnology, mechatronics and IT. Its GDP is approximately $59 billion, and other key industries include electronics, shipbuilding and petroleum refining. Lithuania's major trading partners are Germany, France, US, Latvia, UK, Sweden, Estonia and Poland.

A brief history of Lithuania

Lithuania, officially known as the Republic of Lithuania, is a country in Northern Europe, the southernmost of the three Baltic states. 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 Kaliningrad to the southwest. Lithuania is a member of NATO and of the European Union. Its population is 3.4 million. Its capital and the 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.

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.

During the Soviet and Nazi occupations between 1940 and 1944, Lithuania lost over 780,000 residents. Among them were around 190,000 Lithuanian Jews, one of the highest total mortality rates of the Holocaust. An estimated 120,000 to 300,000 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 SÄ…jÅ«dis, 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.  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.

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 and in 2009, Lithuania will celebrate the millennium of its name. 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.



Art and Museums

Several museums exist in Lithuania, The Lithuanian Art Museum was founded in 1933 and is the largest museum of art preservation and display in Lithuania.  Among other important museums are Palanga Amber Museum, there amber pieces comprise a major part of the museum. Lithuania's art community is famous for Mikalojus Konstantinas ÄŒiurlionis (1875-1911). ÄŒiurlionis was an nationally renowned musician and artist in Lithuania, usually regared as the most prominent Lithuanian artist. After ÄŒiurlionis's death, the 2420 ÄŒiurlionis asteroid honors his achievements after being discovered in 1975. Under ÄŒiurlionis name is opened museum in Kaunas as well.  A future museum, Vilnius Guggenheim Hermitage Museum, will present exhibitions of new media art, parts of the New York City anthology film archive, and Fluxus art.


A wealth of Lithuanian literature was written in Latin, the main scholarly language in the Middle Ages. One of the first instance of such, was the edicts of Lithuanian King Mindaugas. Letters of Gediminas is another important monuments of Lithuanian Latin writings.  Lithuanian literary works in Lithuanian language were first published in the 16th century. In 1547 Martynas Mažvydas compiled and published the first printed Lithuanian book The Simple Words of Catechism, which marks the beginning of printed Lithuanian literature. He was followed by Mikalojus Daukša in Lithuania Propria with his Katechizmas. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Lithuanian literature was primarily religious. Development of the old Lithuanian literature (14th - 18th centuries) ends with Kristijonas Donelaitis, one of the most prominent authors of the Age of Enlightenment. Donelaitis poem "The Seasons" is a national epos and is a cornerstone of Lithuanian fiction literature.

Lithuanian literature of the first half of the 19th century with its mix of Classicism, Sentimentalism, and Romanticism features is represented by Antanas Strazdas, Dionizas Poška, Silvestras ValiÅ«nas, Maironis, Simonas StaneviĬćius, Simonas Daukantas, and Antanas Baranauskas.  During Tsarist annexation of Lithuania, Lithuanian press ban was implemented, which lead to a formation of the Knygnešiai (Book smugglers) movement.


Among all the sports personalities of Lithuana, the most popular individual known to the Western world is basketball star Žydrūnas Ilgauskas who plays as center for the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA. Another popular individual is professional ice hockey player Darius Kasparaitis who played for the New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins, Colorado Avalanche, and New York Rangers of the NHL.

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For other languages, please visit our Multiple Language Services Translation page.

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