The Lithuania reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Lithuania

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The Republic of Lithuania is a republic in Northeastern Europe. One of the three Baltic States along the Baltic Sea, it shares borders with fellow Baltic State Latvia to the north, Belarus to the southeast, Poland to the south and the Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia to the southwest.

Lietuvos Respublika
Flag of Lithuania
Lithuania: Coat of Arms
(In Detail) (Full size)
National motto: None
image:LocationLithuania.png
Official language Lithuanian
Capital Vilnius
PresidentValdas Adamkus
Prime MinisterAlgirdas Brazauskas
Area
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 128th
65,200 kmò
Negligible
Population
 - Total (July 2003)
 - Density
Ranked 125th
3,592,561
55.1/km²
GDP (PPP)
 - Total (Year)
 - GDP/head
Ranked 85th
$30,080 million
$8,400
Independence
 - Declared
 - Recognised
From Imperial Russia
16 February 1918
12 July 1920
Currency Litas
Time zone UTC +2
National anthem Tautiska Giesme
Internet TLD.LT
Calling Code370

Table of contents
1 History
2 Politics
3 Counties
4 Geography
5 Economy
6 Demographics
7 Culture
8 Lithuanians Abroad
9 Miscellaneous topics
10 External links

History

Main article: History of Lithuania

First mentioned in 1009, Lithuania grew to be a significant nation in the Middle Ages. Lithuania became an independent Grand Duchy that eventually stretched across much of Eastern Europe. In the 16th century, it joined with Poland in a personal union under one monarch as the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. This union remained until the partitions of Poland in 1795 when Lithuania was itself annexed by Imperial Russia.

Under the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, a smaller Lithuania established its independence in February 1918 as a part of German planned Mitteleuropa, in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, and then as a republic in November, after Germany's defeat in World War I. The republic intended to consolidate territories, where Lithuanians lived, and denied the idea to re-establish union with Poland and subsequently was plagued by territorial disputes with Poland (over Central Lithuania and Suwalki) and Germany (over Klaipėda) and became a dictatorship in 1926. It was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940 during World War II.

Communist rule ended after the advent of glasnost and Lithuania proclaimed its renewed independence on 11 March 1990, the first Soviet republic to do so, though Soviet forces unsuccessfully tried to suppress this until September 1991. Lithuania was admitted into the United Nations in September, 1991. Lithuania has since sought closer ties with the West and so became a member of NATO on 29 March 2004 and of the European Union on 1 May 2004.

Politics

Main article: Politics of Lithuania

The Lithuanian head of state is the president, elected directly for a five-year term, who also functions as commander in chief overseeing foreign and security policy. The president, on the approval of the parliament, also appoints the prime minister and on the latter's nomination the rest of the cabinet, as well as a number of other top civil servants and the judges for all courts, including the Constitutional Court (Konstitucinis Teismas).

The unicameral Lithuanian parliament, the Seimas, has 141 members that are elected for a four-year term. About half of the members of this legislative body are elected in single constituencies (71), and the other half (70) are elected in the nationwide vote by proportional representation. A party must receive at least 5% of the national vote to be represented in the Seimas.

Counties

Main article: Counties of Lithuania

Lithuania consists of 10 counties (apskritys, singular - apskritis), each named after their principal city. The counties are subdivided into 56 municipalities, both cities and districts. The administrative division was created in 1994.

Map of Lithuania with cities

Geography

Main article:
Geography of Lithuania

The largest and most populous of the Baltic states, Lithuania is a partly maritime country with about 100 km of sandy coastline, of which only 38 km face the open Baltic Sea. Lithuania's major warm-water port of Klaipėda lies at the narrow mouth of Kuršių Gulf (Curonian Lagoon), a shallow lagoon extending south to Kaliningrad. The main river Nemunas and some of its tributaries are used for internal shipping.

The Lithuanian landscape is glacially flat, except for morainic hills in the western uplands and eastern highlands no higher than 300 m, with the highest point being the Juozapinės at 292 m. The terrain is marked by numerous lakes (e.g. Lake Vištytis) and swamps, and a mixed forest zone covers 30% of the country. The climate lies between martitime and continental, with wet, moderate winters and summers. According to some geographers, Lithuania's capital, Vilnius, lies at the geographical centre of Europe.

Lithuania consists of historical and cultural regions:

Economy

Main article:
Economy of Lithuania

Lithuania, the Baltic state that has conducted the most trade with Russia, has been slowly rebounding from the 1998 Russian financial crisis. High unemployment, at 12.5% in 2001, and weak consumption have held back recovery. In 2003 Lithuania had the highest economic grow ratio among all European Union candidates, reaching 8,8% in third quarter. Trade has been increasingly oriented toward the West. Lithuania has gained membership of the World Trade Organization and joined the European Union on 1 May 2004. Privatisation of the large, state-owned utilities, particularly in the energy sector, is underway. The litas, the national currency, has been pegged to the euro since 2 February 2002.

Demographics

Main article: Demographics of Lithuania

Over 80% of the Lithuanian population is ethnically Lithuanian and speaks the Lithuanian language, one of the two remaining living members of the Baltic language group, which is also the only official state language. Several sizable minorities exist, such as Russians (8%), Poles (7%) and Belarusians (1.5%), and each respective language is also spoken in Lithuania.

The predominant religion is Roman Catholicism, but Eastern Orthodoxy, Protestantism and Judaism also exist as minority religions.

Culture

Main article: Culture of Lithuania


Lithuanians Abroad

Miscellaneous topics

External links


European Union (EU)
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