Lithuania Travel Information

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Lithuania > Map Economy History

Facts About Lithuania

Background: Independent between the two World Wars, Lithuania was annexed by the USSR in 1940. On 11 March 1990, Lithuania became the first of the Soviet republics to declare its independence, but this proclamation was not generally recognized until September of 1991 (following the abortive coup in Moscow). The last Russian troops withdrew in 1993. Lithuania subsequently has restructured its economy for eventual integration into Western European institutions.
Government type: parliamentary democracy
Capital: Vilnius
Currency: 1 Lithuanian litas = 100 centas

Geography of Lithuania

Location: Eastern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, between Latvia and Russia
Geographic coordinates: 56 00 N, 24 00 E
total: 65,200 sq km
land: 65,200 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Land boundaries:
total: 1,273 km
border countries: Belarus 502 km, Latvia 453 km, Poland 91 km, Russia (Kaliningrad) 227 km
Coastline: 99 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate: transitional, between maritime and continental; wet, moderate winters and summers
Terrain: lowland, many scattered small lakes, fertile soil
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Baltic Sea 0 m
highest point: Juozapines/Kalnas 292 m
Natural resources: peat, arable land
Land use:
arable land: 35%
permanent crops: 12%
permanent pastures: 7%
forests and woodland: 31%
other: 15% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 430 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: NA
Environment - current issues: contamination of soil and groundwater with petroleum products and chemicals at military bases
Environment - international agreements:
party to:  Biodiversity, Climate Change, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Geography - note: fertile central plains are separated by hilly uplands that are ancient glacial deposits

People of Lithuania

The name "Lietuva" or Lithuania, might be derived from the word "lietava," for a small river, or "lietus," meaning rain (or land of rain). Lithuanian still retains the original sound system and morphological peculiarities of the prototypal Indo-European tongue and therefore is fascinating for linguistical study. Between 400-600 AD, the Lithuanian and Latvian languages split from the Eastern Baltic (Prussian) language group, which subsequently became extinct. The first known written Lithuanian text dates from a hymnal translation in 1545. Written with the Latin alphabet, Lithuanian has been the official language of Lithuania again since 1989. The Soviet era had imposed the official use of Russian, so most Lithuanians speak Russian as a second language while the resident Slavic populace generally speaks Russian as a first language.

Lithuanians are neither Slavic nor Germanic, although the union with Poland and Germanic colonization and settlement left cultural and religious influences. This highly literate society places strong emphasis upon education, which is free and compulsory until age 16. Most Lithuanians and ethnic Poles belong to the Roman Catholic Church, but a sizable minority are Russian Orthodox.

Enduring several border changes, Soviet deportations, a massacre of its Jewish population, and postwar German and Polish repatriations, Lithuania has maintained a fairly stable percentage of ethnic Lithuanians (from 84% in 1923 to 80% in 1993). Lithuania's citizenship law and constitution meet international and OSCE standards, guaranteeing universal human and civil rights.

Population: 3,596,617 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  18.75% 
15-64 years:  67.69% 
65 years and over:  13.56% 
Population growth rate: -0.27% 
Birth rate: 10 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 12.86 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: 0.15 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 14.5 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  69.25 years
male:  63.3 years
female:  75.5 years 
Total fertility rate: 1.37 children born/woman 
noun: Lithuanian(s)
adjective: Lithuanian
Ethnic groups: Lithuanian 80.6%, Russian 8.7%, Polish 7%, Byelorussian 1.6%, other 2.1%
Religions: Roman Catholic (primarily), Lutheran, Russian Orthodox, Protestant, evangelical Christian Baptist, Muslim, Jewish
Languages: Lithuanian (official), Polish, Russian
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98%
male: 99%
female: 98% (1989 est.)

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Lithuania > Map Economy History