|Republic of Lithuania
Dalia Grybauskaite (2009)
Minister: Algirdas Butkevicius (2012)
area: 25,174 sq mi (65,200 sq km)
Population (2012 est.): 3,525,761 (growth
rate: –0.278%); birth rate: 9.34/1000; infant mortality rate: 6.18/1000;
life expectancy: 75.55
Capital and largest city (2009 est.):
Current government officials
Lithuanian 82% (official), Russian 8%, Polish 6%
Lithuanian 84%, Polish 6.1%, Russian 4.9%, Belarusian 1.1%, other or unspecified 3.9% (2009)
Roman Catholic 79%, Russian Orthodox 4.1%, Protestant (including Lutheran and Evangelical Christian Baptist) 1.9%, other or unspecified 5.5%, none 9.5% (2001 census)
Independence Day, February 16
Literacy: 99.7% (2010 est.)
Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2012 est.):
$64.32 billion; per capita $20,100. Real growth rate: 2.7%.
Inflation: 3.4%. Unemployment: 15.7%. Arable land:
44.81%. Agriculture: grain, potatoes, sugar beets, flax,
vegetables; beef, milk, eggs; fish. Labor force: 1.587 million;
industry 29.1%, agriculture 14%, services 56.9% (2005 est.).
Industries: metal-cutting machine tools, electric motors,
television sets, refrigerators and freezers, petroleum refining,
shipbuilding (small ships), furniture making, textiles, food
processing, fertilizers, agricultural machinery, optical equipment,
electronic components, computers, amber jewelry. Natural
resources: peat, arable land, amber. Exports: $29.01
billion (2012 est.): mineral products 22%, machinery and equipment 10%, chemicals 9%, textiles 7%, foodstuffs 7%, plastics 7%. Imports: $31.41 billion
(2012 est.): mineral products, machinery and equipment,
transport equipment, chemicals, textiles and clothing, metals.
Major trading partners: Germany, Latvia, Russia,
Estonia, Poland, Netherlands, Belarus
main lines in use: 723,000 (2011); mobile cellular: 5.004 million
(2011). Broadcast media: AM 29, FM 142, shortwave 1
(2001). Radios: 1.9 million (1997). Television broadcast
stations: public broadcaster operates 3 channels with the third channel - a satellite channel - introduced in 2007; various privately-owned commercial TV broadcasters operate national and multiple regional channels; many privately-owned local TV stations; multi-channel cable and satellite TV services available; publicly-owned broadcaster operates 3 radio networks; many privately-owned commercial broadcasters, many with repeater stations in various regions throughout the country (2007). Internet
Service Providers (ISPs): 1.205 million (2012). Internet users:
1.964 million (2009).
Railways: total: 1,767 km (2011). Roadways: total: 82,131
km; paved: 72,048 km; unpaved: 10,083 km (2000). Waterways: 441
km perennially navigable. Ports and terminals: Butinge,
Klaipeda. Airports: 81 (2012).
International disputes: Lithuania and Russia committed to demarcating their boundary in 2006 in accordance with the land and maritime treaty ratified by Russia in May 2003 and by Lithuania in 1999; Lithuania operates a simplified transit regime for Russian nationals traveling from the Kaliningrad coastal exclave into Russia, while still conforming, as a EU member state having an external border with a non-EU member, to strict Schengen border rules; boundary demarcated with Latvia and Lithuania; as of January 2007, ground demarcation of the boundary with Belarus was complete and mapped with final ratification documents in preparation.
Major sources and definitions
Lithuania is situated on the eastern shore of
the Baltic Sea and borders Latvia on the north, Belarus on the east and
south, and Poland and the Kaliningrad region of Russia on the southwest.
It is a country of gently rolling hills, many forests, rivers and streams,
and lakes. Its principal natural resource is agricultural land.
The Liths, or Lithuanians, united in the 12th
century under the rule of Mindaugas, who became king in 1251. Through
marriage, one of the later Lithuanian rulers became the king of Poland
(Ladislaus II) in 1386, uniting the countries. In 1410, the Poles and
Lithuanians defeated the powerful Teutonic Knights at Tannenberg. From the
14th to the 16th century, Poland and Lithuania made up one of medieval
Europe's largest empires, stretching from the Black Sea almost to Moscow.
The two countries formed a confederation for almost 200 years, and in 1569
they formally united. Russia, Prussia, and Austria partitioned Poland in
1772, 1792, and 1795. As a consequence, Lithuania came under Russian rule
after the last partition. Russia attempted to immerse Lithuania in Russian
culture and language, but anti-Russian sentiment continued to grow.
Following World War I and the collapse of Russia, Lithuania declared
independence (1918), under German protection.
The republic was then annexed by the Soviet
Union in 1940. From June 1941 to 1944, it was occupied by German troops,
with whom Lithuania served in World War II. Some 240,000 Jews were
massacred in Lithuania during the Nazi years. In 1944, the Soviets again
The Lithuanian independence movement reemerged
in 1988. In 1990, Vytautas Landsbergis, the non-Communist head of the
largest Lithuanian popular movement (Sajudis), was elected president. On
the same day, the Supreme Council rejected Soviet rule and declared the
restoration of Lithuania's independence, the first Baltic republic to take
this action. Confrontation with the Soviet Union ensued along with
economic sanctions, but they were lifted after both sides agreed to a
Lithuania Embarks on Independence and Democracy
Lithuania's independence was quickly recognized
by major European and other nations, including the United States. The
Soviet Union finally recognized the independence of the Baltic states on
Sept. 6, 1991. UN admittance followed on Sept. 17, 1991. Successful
implementation of structural and legislative reforms in Lithuania
attracted greater direct foreign investments by the mid-1990s.
In late 2002, Lithuania was accepted for
membership in the EU and NATO, and it joined both in 2004. In Jan. 2003,
Rolandas Paksas defeated the incumbent, Valdas Adamkus, in the
presidential election. It was a surprising upset, given that Adamkus had
helped bring about his country's entry into NATO and the EU.
In April 2004, President Paksas was removed from office following his
conviction for dealings with Russian mobsters. It was Lithuania's worst
political crisis since independence from the Soviet Union. In July 2004,
Valdas Adamkus was again elected president.
On Oct. 12, 2008, parliamentary elections
turnout was 48.5%. The Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats won
19.7% of the vote (18 of 70 seats). The National Revival Party came in
second with 15.1% (13) of the vote, and the Order and Justice was third
with 12.7% (11) of the vote.
Dalia Grybauskaite, the European Union budget commissioner, was sworn in as Lithuania's first female head of state in July 2009. Grybauskaite won presidential elections in May with 68% of the vote.
In Oct. 2012, Lithuania's conservative Homeland Union lost parliamentary elections to the Social Democrats and Algirdas Butkevicius. The left-wing parties will most likely continue the successful policies of Andrius Kubilius. While painful, the strict austerity measures he imposed have borne fruit: Lithuania's economy is growing again; GDP showed 2.5% growth for 2012, with 3% expected in 2013.
See also Encyclopedia: Lithuania.
U.S. State Dept. Country Notes:
Statistics Lithuania http://www.std.lt/web/main.php .
Information Please® Database, © 2008 Pearson Education,
Inc. All rights reserved.
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