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Lithuania

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Lithuania

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Population: 2,979,000 (est.)

Language(s): Lithuanian

Capital: Vilnius

Interesting Facts:

  • The Lithuanian litas is the official currency of Lithuania.
  • The predominant religion in Lithuania is Christianity, with the largest confession being Roman Catholicism.
  • 49% of Lithuanian citizens state that they believe there is a God, 36% believe there is some sort of spirit or life-force and 12% answered do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life-force.
  • Lithuania was the last pagan country in Europe, with the Roman Catholic Church becoming widely accepted only in the late 14th century.
  • Lithuania is one of countries that make up the ‘Baltic States’. However the states do not share political unity.
  • The state of Lithuania is an independent, democratic republic and follows Parliamentary democracy.
  • Lithuania was the first Soviet republic to declare independence from the USSR.
  • Lithuania joined the United Nations on 17th September 1991 and the European Union on 1st May 2004.
  • As per the United Nations Human Development Index list Lithuania is a “Very High Human Development” country.
  • Basketball is the most popular sport in Lithuania.
  • Bread and salt are intrinsic to Lithuanian life. Lithuanian’s welcome important guest or a new bride and groom with a loaf of bread and salt.
  • Before the financial crisis of 2007–2010, the Lithuanian economy was considered to be one of the fastest growing in the European Union.

Lithuania, officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the largest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, to the east of Sweden and Denmark. It borders Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland to the south, and a Russian exclave (Kaliningrad Oblast) to the southwest. Lithuania has an estimated population of 3 million as of 2012, and its capital and largest city is Vilnius. The Lithuanians are a Baltic people, and the official language, Lithuanian, is one of only two living languages (together with Latvian) in the Baltic branch of the Indo-European language family.

For centuries, the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea was inhabited by various Baltic tribes. In the 1230s the Lithuanian lands were united by Mindaugas, who was crowned as King of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the first Lithuanian state, on 6 July 1253. During the 14th century, the Grand Duchy of 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, Lithuania and Poland formed a voluntary two-state union, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Commonwealth lasted more than two centuries, until neighbouring countries systematically dismantled it from 1772 to 1795, with the Russian Empire annexing most of Lithuania’s territory.

In the aftermath of World War I, Lithuania’s Act of Independence was signed on 16 February 1918, declaring the re-establishment of a sovereign state. Starting in 1940, Lithuania was occupied first by the Soviet Union and then by Nazi Germany. As World War II neared its end in 1944 and the Germans retreated, the Soviet Union reoccupied Lithuania.

On 11 March 1990, the year before the break-up of the Soviet Union, Lithuania became the first Soviet republic to declare independence. Prior to the global financial crisis of 2007–2010, Lithuania had one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union. Lithuania is a member of NATO, the Council of Europe, and the European Union. Lithuania is also a full member of the Schengen Agreement. The United Nations Human Development Index lists Lithuania as a “Very High Human Development” country. Lithuania will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2013.

Source: Wikipedia

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