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Lithuania

 

Lithuania


 

60,300 sq km
Pop - 3,565,205 (july 2008)
Capital - Vilnius
Religion
R Catholic 79%
Russian Othodox 4.1%
Protestant 1.9%
other 5.5%

Languages Lithuanian -82%
none 9.5% Russian 8% & Polish 5.6%

Lithuania officially the Republic of Lithuania (Lithuanian: Lietuvos Respublika; Samogitian: Lietovas Respoblėka) 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. Across the Baltic Sea to the west lie Sweden and Denmark. Its population is 3.2 million. Its capital and largest city is Vilnius.

 

History

The first people settled in the territory of Lithuania after the last glacial period in the 10th millennium BC. Over a millennium, the Proto-Indo-Europeans, who arrived in the 3rd – 2nd millennium BC, mixed with the local population and formed various Baltic tribes. The first written mention of Lithuania is found in a medieval German manuscript, the Annals of Quedlinburg, in an entry dated 9 March 1009.

Initially inhabited by fragmented Baltic tribes, in the 1230s the Lithuanian lands were united by Mindaugas, who was crowned as King of Lithuania on 6 July 1253. After his assassination in 1263, pagan Lithuania was a target of the Christian crusades of the Teutonic Knights and the Livonian Order. Despite the devastating century-long struggle with the Orders, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania expanded rapidly overtaking former Slavic principalities of Kievan Rus'.

 

Geography

Lithuania is situated in Northern Europe, lying between latitudes 53° and 57° N, and mostly between longitudes 21° and 27° E (part of the Curonian Spit lies west of 21°). 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 Nemunas River, and some of its tributaries carry international shipping.

 

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 – 7.4%; 2005 – 7.8%; 2006 – 7.8%; 2007 – 8.9%, 2008 Q1 – 7.0% growth in GDP reflects the impressive economic development. Most of the trade Lithuania conducts is within the European Union.