Official name Lietuvos Respublika (Republic of Lithuania)
Form of government unitary multiparty republic with one legislative house (Seimas, or Parliament )
Head of state President: Dalia Grybauskaite
Head of government Prime Minister: Algirdas Butkevicius
Official language Lithuanian
Official religion none
Monetary unit euro (€)
Population (2014 est.) 2,926,000COLLAPSE
Total area (sq mi) 25,212
Total area (sq km) 65,300
- Urban: (2012) 66.8%
- Rural: (2012) 33.2%
Life expectancy at birth
- Male: (2011) 68.5 years
- Female: (2011) 79.1 years
Literacy: percentage of population age 15 and over literate
- Male: not available
- Female: not available
GNI per capita (U.S.$) (2012) 13,350
Background of Lithuania
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 Moscow did not recognize this proclamation until September of 1991 (following the abortive coup in Moscow). The last Russian troops withdrew in 1993. Lithuania subsequently restructured its economy for integration into Western European institutions; it joined both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004.
Lithuania, country of northeastern Europe, the southernmost and largest of the three Baltic states. Lithuania was a powerful empire that dominated much of eastern Europe in the 14th–16th centuries before becoming part of the Polish-Lithuanian confederation for the next two centuries. Aside from a brief period of independence from 1918 to 1940, Lithuania was occupied by Russia beginning in 1795, was controlled by Germany for a brief period during World War II, and was incorporated into the U.S.S.R. in 1944 as one of its constituent republics. On March 11, 1990, Lithuania declared its independence by a unanimous vote of its newly elected parliament. The new Soviet parliament acknowledged Lithuania’s independence on Sept. 6, 1991. Lithuania was admitted into the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 2004. The capital is Vilnius.
Geography of Lithuania
Lithuania is bounded by Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland and the detached Russian oblast of Kaliningrad to the southwest, and the Baltic Sea to the west.
Underlying rock structures are of little significance for the contemporary Lithuanian terrain, which basically is a low-lying plain scraped by Ice Age glaciers that left behind thick, ridgelike terminal deposits known as moraines. The Baltic coastal area is fringed by a region characterized by geographers as the maritime depression, which rises gradually eastward. Sand dunes line an attractive coast; the Curonian Lagoon (Lithuanian: Kuršiu Marios), almost cut off from the sea by the Curonian Spit, a thin 60-mile (100-km) sandspit, forms a distinctive feature. It is bounded by the Žemaičiai Upland to the east, which gives way to the flat expanses of the Middle Lithuanian Lowland.
The lowland, consisting of glacial lake clays and boulder-studded loams, stretches in a wide band across the country from north to south; some portions of it are heavily waterlogged. The elevated Baltic Highlands, adjacent to the central lowland, thrust into the eastern and southeastern portions of the country; their rumpled glacial relief includes a host of small hills and numerous small lakes. The Švenčioniai and the Ašmena highlands—the latter containing Mount Juozapinė, at 957 feet (292 metres) above sea level the highest point in Lithuania—are located in the extreme east and southeast.
Lithuanian rivers drain to the Baltic and generally have the slow, meandering characteristics of lowland rivers. The Neman River (Nemunas), cutting north and then west through the heart of the country, is the largest. Its main tributaries are the Merkys, Neris, Nevėžis, Dubysa, Jūra, Minija, and Šešupė. A distinctive feature of the Lithuanian landscape is the presence of about 3,000 lakes, mostly in the east and southeast. The boggy regions produce large quantities of peat that, dried by air, is used in both industry and agriculture.
Lithuanian soils range from sands to heavy clays. In the northwest the soil is either loamy or sandy (and sometimes marshy) and is quite heavily podzolized, or leached out. In the central region, weakly podzolized loamy peats predominate, and it is there that the most fertile, and hence most cultivated, soils are found. In the southeast there are sandy soils, somewhat loamy and moderately podzolized. Sandy soils in fact cover one-fourth of Lithuania, and most of these are blanketed by woodlands.
The climate of the country is transitional between the maritime type of western Europe and the continental type found farther east. As a result, damp air masses of Atlantic origin predominate, alternating with continental Eurasian and, more rarely, colder Arctic air or air with a southern, tropical origin. Baltic Sea influences dominate a comparatively narrow coastal zone. The mean temperature for January, the coldest month, is in the low 20s F (about −5 °C), while July, the warmest month, has an average temperature in the 60s F (about 17 °C). Average annual rainfall usually exceeds 30 inches (about 800 mm), diminishing inland. Rainfall reaches a peak in August, except in the maritime strip, where the maximum is reached two to three months later.
Plant and animal life
Lithuanian vegetation falls into three separate regions. In the maritime regions, pine forests predominate, and wild rye and various bushy plants grow on the sand dunes. Spruce trees are prevalent in the hilly eastern portion. The central region is characterized by large tracts of oak trees, with elegant birch forests in the northern portions, as well as distinctive black alder and aspen groves. Pine forests prevail in the south. Indeed, about one-third of the country is forested, and about another one-fifth is taken up by meadowlands. Swamps and marshlands account for only a small percentage of the total land.
Wildlife is very diverse and includes numerous mammalian species. There are wolves, foxes, otters, badgers, ermine, wild boars, and many rodents. The deep forests harbour elk, stags, deer, beavers, mink, and water rats. Lithuania is also home to hundreds of species of birds, including white storks, ducks, geese, swans, cormorants, herons, hawks, and even an occasional bald eagle. There are many types of grouse and partridge as well.
Demography of Lithuania
People Ethnic groups, languages, and religion Ethnic Lithuanians make up about four-fifths of the country’s population; there are also Russians and Poles and lesser numbers of Belarusians, Ukrainians, Latvians, Tatars, Roma (Gypsies), and others. There was a significant Jewish community in Lithuania prior to World War II, and an influx of Jews from German-controlled Poland in 1941 boosted this population to nearly 250,000. By 1944, however, the majority of the population had been murdered, deported, or sent to concentration camps (see Holocaust).
The official language of Lithuania is Lithuanian. Russian, Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian, and other languages are spoken in the larger cities. Yiddish is commonly spoken by members of the tiny remaining Jewish community in Lithuania.
Lithuania was the last pagan country in Europe, accepting Roman Catholicism in the late 14th century. About four-fifths of the population is Roman Catholic; there are smaller groups of Evangelical Lutherans and other Protestants, as well as people of other faiths. Elements of the pagan religion have survived in the countryside.
Settlement patterns There has been a modest but steady movement of people to the cities since the 1990s, encouraged by the planning of regional centres, such as Alytus, Marijampolė, Utena, Plungė, and Mažeikiai. By the early 21st century about two-thirds of the total population lived in urban areas.
The largest city is Vilnius, followed by Kaunas, Klaipėda, Šiauliai, and Panevėžys
Economy of Lithuania
Even before independence from the U.S.S.R. was formally established, the Lithuanian government had embarked on a program of dismantling the Soviet economic system. Beginning in February 1991, laws were passed to facilitate privatization. Complications marred the government’s aspirations, however. Foremost, the bulk of Lithuania’s trade was still closely linked to the former republics of the U.S.S.R., which were themselves in the throes of economic collapse. Second, Lithuania was dependent on critically important foreign oil and natural gas and industrial raw materials. Finally, the transition to a market economy had caused high rates of inflation and unemployment. Nevertheless, the succeeding governments continued to implement stringent stabilization policies; by 1995 inflation had been reduced, and the country’s trade balance was positive for the first time since independence. Lithuania was admitted to the EU in 2004.
The development of agriculture since 1991 has been closely linked to land reclamation and swamp-drainage schemes. By the early 21st century agriculture contributed only a small percentage to the gross national product (GNP) and employed only about one-tenth of the economically active population. The chief trend is toward the production of meat and milk and the cultivation of flax, sugar beets, potatoes, and vegetables. A significant portion of total production is made up of fodder crops, grain (barley and rye), and leguminous crops; most of the rest consists of potatoes and vegetables. Livestock breeding is still the leading branch of agriculture, with an emphasis on dairy cattle and pigs. Most crop cultivation is mechanized, though during the autumn harvest large amounts of manual labour are still required.
Lithuania has long been a small net exporter of food products. The privatization of farming in the early 1990s began with the decision to liquidate all former collective and state farms. Some private farms emerged in the period immediately following independence, but the process was slow. Not only were there problems of financing, but equipment appropriate to smaller-scale farming operations was not readily available. By the late 1990s private farms had begun to outnumber state farms. The majority of these farms are not specialized and are involved in mixed production based on crops and livestock.
- Resources and power
Lithuania possesses a range of useful mineral resources, including sulfates, notably gypsum; chalk and chalky marl; limestones; dolomites; various clays, sands, and gravels; peat; some iron ore and phosphorites; and mineral waters. Amber, which is a fossil tree resin, is found along the shore of the Baltic Sea.
Oil deposits have been detected in the offshore regions. A pipeline carries gas from Ukraine, and an oil pipeline transports crude oil from fields in western Siberia to the refinery at Mažeikiai, which was modernized in 2003. In 1999 a crude oil terminal at Būtingė was opened on the Baltic Sea. Almost all the oil that is exported through Būtingė comes from Russia.
Lithuania’s rivers have the potential to generate electricity. Major power plants include a hydroelectric station on the Neman River and a thermal station at the town of Elektrėnai. After 1961 the country’s power system became part of the unified network that also served the northwestern U.S.S.R. Upon entering the EU in 2004, Lithuania agreed to close its Soviet-era nuclear facility at Ignalina. The facility, which had been the country’s only nuclear power plant as well as its largest domestic source of electricity, ceased operations in 2009.
During the Soviet period Lithuanian economic policy emphasized manufacturing. After World War II the country’s machinery, shipbuilding, electronic, electrical and radio engineering, chemical, cement, and fish-processing industries were overhauled. Traditional industries such as food processing and various branches of light industry also expanded significantly. Following independence in 1991, the textile, chemical, and food-processing sectors were the first to adapt to new market conditions. The manufacturing of communications equipment became a dominant economic activity. By the late 1990s much of Lithuania’s manufacturing sector had been privatized.
During the Soviet occupation, Lithuania used the Russian ruble as its currency. The litas, the national currency, which had been introduced to Lithuania in 1922, was restored in 1993. In January 2015 Lithuania became the 19th country to adopt the euro as its official currency. The country’s central bank is the Bank of Lithuania. All state-owned banks in Lithuania had been privatized by 2002. A stock exchange opened in Vilnius in 1993.
Lithuania’s chief trading partners include Russia, Latvia, Germany, Poland, and Estonia. Imports include crude petroleum, machinery, foodstuffs, chemical products, and metals. Lithuania exports refined petroleum, foodstuffs, machinery, textiles, and transport equipment (mainly automotive parts). Lithuania joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.
By the early 21st century the service sector was the largest component of the Lithuanian economy, employing about half the workforce and contributing about two-fifths of the annual GNP. Tourism has grown in importance, and popular attractions in Lithuania include the Baroque-, Renaissance-, and Gothic-style mansions and castles in the historic centres of Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda, and Kėdainiai, as well as in the former capitals of Kernavė and Trakai. The Kernavė archaeological site in eastern Lithuania, which dates from the Middle Ages, encompasses forts, settlements, and other historical monuments. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004. The countryside’s lakes and forests, and the Baltic coastline’s dune-covered Curonian Spit, which was added to the World Heritage list in 2000, are popular recreational areas.
- Labour and taxation
Lithuanians’ salaries have generally been lower than those of workers in other EU member countries. For this reason, and because of high income taxes, many Lithuanian nationals were motivated to seek work in other EU countries after Lithuania joined the EU in 2004. Some of these emigrants started to return in 2007, however, when the government reduced income taxes and raised the minimum wage. More than half of Lithuania’s women are economically active. Trade union membership is low, with only about 10 percent of the workforce participating in organized labour confederations.
- Transportation and telecommunications
Lithuania’s geographic location has created favourable conditions for transit development. Railways are the main means of transport in Lithuania. Two major rail routes run through Lithuania—a north-south highway that connects Scandinavia with central Europe, as well as an east-west route linking Lithuania to the rest of Europe. Moreover, after independence Lithuania emerged as a critical land bridge to Kaliningrad oblast, the region of the Russian Federation on the Baltic coast. A major rail route between Russia and the Kaliningrad region passes through Lithuania.
Sea transport is an important sector, with freight transportation showing a rapid increase since World War II. Klaipėda is the country’s largest and most important port. River transport also is significant, and the country’s hundreds of miles of waterways, which are navigable year-round, are used for internal shipping. Kaunas is a chief inland port.
Lithuania has international airports at Vilnius, Kaunas, and Palanga. Vilnius is the main air transportation centre, with links to many foreign cities. The independent Lithuanian Airlines began operating in 1991.
Lithuania’s telecommunications sector is privatized. Fixed-line telephone use has decreased in Lithuania, but newer technologies were adopted quickly. The degree of cellular phone penetration is among the highest in the EU, and many Lithuanians have access to the Internet through their mobile phones. Roughly two-thirds of households have access to broadband Internet connections, and download speeds—particularly in urban areas—are among the fastest in Europe.
Government and Society of Lithuania
Lithuania is governed under the constitution of 1992. The president, who is the head of state, is elected by popular vote for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. The prime minister, who is the head of government, is appointed by the president, as is the cabinet. The unicameral Parliament ( Seimas ) has 141 members; 71 are elected by popular vote and 70 by proportional representation, all for four-year terms. Administratively, the country is divided into 10 counties.
Government and politics
Since Lithuania declared independence on March 11, 1990, it has held strong democratic traditions. In the first general elections post-independence on October 25, 1992, 56.75% of the total number of voters supported the new constitution. Drafting the constitution was a long and complicated process. The role of the President fueled the most heated debates. Drawing from the interwar experiences, politicians raised many different proposals ranging from strong parliamentarism to the United States' model of representative democracy. Eventually a compromise semi-presidential system was agreed upon.
The Lithuanian President is the head of state, elected directly for a five-year term; he or she may serve a maximum of two consecutive terms. The post of President is largely ceremonial with oversight of foreign affairs and national security policy. The President is also the commander-in-chief. The President, with the approval of the unicameral Parliament, the Seimas, also appoints the prime minister and on the latter's nomination, appoints the remainder of the cabinet, as well as a number of other top civil servants and the judges for all courts. The judges of the Constitutional Court (Konstitucinis Teismas), who serve for nine year terms, are appointed by the President (three judges), the Chairman of the Seimas (three judges) and the chairman of the Supreme Court (three judges). The Seimas has 141 members who are elected to four-year terms. Seventy one of the members of this legislative body are elected in single constituencies, and the other 70 are elected in a nationwide vote by proportional representation. A party must receive at least 5 percent of the national vote to be represented in the Seimas.
Lithuania's current administrative division was established in 1994 and modified in 2000 to meet the requirements of the European Union. Lithuania has a three-tier administrative division: the country is divided into ten counties that are further subdivided into 60 municipalities that consist of over 500 elderates.
The counties are ruled by county governors who are appointed by the central government. These officials ensure that the municipalities adhere to the laws of Lithuania and the constitution. County governments oversee local governments and their implementation of the national laws, programs, and policies.
Municipalities are the most important unit. Some municipalities are historically called "district municipalities," and thus are often shortened to "district"; others are called "city municipalities," sometimes shortened to "city." Each municipality has its own elected government. In the past, the election of municipality councils occurred once every three years, but it now takes place every four years. The council elects the mayor of the municipality and other required personnel. The municipality councils also appoint elders to govern the elderates. There is currently a proposal for direct election of mayors and elders that would require an amendment to the constitution.
Elderates are the smallest units and do not play a role in national politics. They were created so that people could receive necessary services close to their homes; for example, in rural areas the elderates register births and deaths. Elderates are most active in the social sector identifying needy individuals or families, and distributing welfare or organizing other forms of relief.
Culture Life of Lithuania
- Cultural milieu
In Lithuania there is a high level of interest in various aspects of cultural life. In spite of modern influences, Lithuanian folklore continues to be a significant part of national heritage. Lithuanian songs and a remarkable collection of fairy tales, legends, proverbs, and aphorisms have roots deep in a language and culture that are among the oldest in Europe. In the 20th century, however, war and Soviet occupation stifled the works of many Lithuanian artists, writers, poets, and playwrights.
- Daily life and social customs
As a predominantly Roman Catholic country, Lithuania celebrates all the major Christian holidays. The traditional Christmas Eve feast consists of 12 vegetarian dishes served on a straw-covered table, meat being saved for Christmas Day. Cabbages and potatoes form a considerable part of the Lithuanian diet, as do dairy products. Traditional dishes include cepelinai, a large, zeppelin-shaped, stuffed potato dumpling; cabbage rolls; cold beet soup; and potato pancakes.
- The arts
Lithuanian folk art is mainly embodied in ceramics, leatherwork, wood carving, and textiles; its colouring and its original geometric or floral patterns are characteristic features. Lithuanian drawing, noted for the use of natural colour and a highly refined technique, has won international acclaim. The Vilnius Drawing School, founded in 1866, has had a strong influence on the country’s fine arts traditions. The composer and painter Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875–1911), considered one of Lithuania’s most outstanding artists of the early 20th century, was actively involved with the school. Moreover, some of the Lithuanian artists who opposed Soviet ideological constraints produced theatre and art of lasting significance. After the second Soviet occupation in 1944, many Lithuanian artists emigrated and founded art galleries and schools, mainly in other parts of Europe and in North America.
Lithuania’s musical traditions did not develop until the late 19th century. From 1918 to 1940 cultural societies, choirs, and orchestras were formed. In 1924 the first all-Lithuanian song festival was held in Kaunas. Romantic songs combined with Lithuanian folk music became a popular style. One of the most well-known composers and the founder of the Kaunas Conservatory (1933), Lithuania’s first university-level music school, was Juozas Gruodis (1884–1948). Lithuanians are especially proud of their sutartinės, an ancient and unique form of typically two- and three-voiced polyphony notable for its parallel seconds. Song and dance festivals are held every summer throughout the country. Vilnius hosts the National Song and Dance Festival, the International M.K. Čiurlionis Piano and Organ Competition, and the International Balys Dvarionas Competition for Young Pianists and Violinists. Music festivals are also held in Šiauliai, Birštonas, and Panevėžys. Jazz has a strong following, and many jazz clubs can be found in Vilnius.
Until the 18th century most Lithuanian literature was religious in nature. During the 19th century there arose a new movement to create a Lithuanian literary language and foster interest in the early history of the country. The literature of this era sought to rally Lithuanians against the political control of Russia and the cultural influence of Poland. Following independence in 1918, writers began to concentrate on developing national culture and a greater degree of sophistication in literature. Foremost among this group was Vincas Krėvė-Mickievičius, a novelist and dramatist who often used traditional folk songs and legends in his works, and he is regarded by many as one of the greatest Lithuanian writers.
- Cultural institutions
The Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet (1920) in Vilnius is of international renown. Museums of note include the National Museum of Lithuania in Vilnius, the Trakai Historical Museum (featuring artifacts discovered at the island castle at Trakai), and a war museum in Kaunas dedicated to Vytautas the Great. The Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis National Art Museum, also in Kaunas, displays the works of the distinguished artist, as well as Lithuanian folk art and other national art. The open-air Rumšiškės Museum of Folk Art, located between Kaunas and Vilnius, includes re-created villages depicting 19th-century Lithuanian life in different regions of the country. Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania in Vilnius (founded 1919) includes documents dating from the 15th century. Vilnius University’s Yiddish Institute (founded 2001) was created to preserve and enrich Yiddish and East European Jewish culture.
- Sports and recreation
Football (soccer) is Lithuania’s most popular sport, and the country boasts several professional leagues. Basketball has grown in popularity, and Lithuania’s team has excelled in international competitions. Several of the country’s leading players, including ydrunas Ilgauskas, Šarunas Marciulionis, and Arvydas Sabonis, have plied their trade in North America’s National Basketball Association. Cross-country skiing, ice skating, ice hockey, and ice fishing on Curonian Lagoon are favourite winter pastimes. Bicycling and canoeing are popular in the summer.
Lithuania’s first Olympic appearance was at the 1924 Winter Games in Chamonix, France. After World War II, Lithuanian athletes competed for the Soviet Olympic team. Lithuania was able to again contend as an independent country at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. Lithuanian discus throwers have been especially successful in Olympic competition, including gold medalists Romas Ubartas (1992) and Virgilijus Alekna (2000, 2004). Lithuania has also fared well in Olympic basketball.
- Media and publishing
Prior to independence the media were state-owned and controlled by the Communist Party, mainly through state censors. Media censorship was abolished in 1989, and much of the media flourished as the economy became more liberalized. By the 21st century all newspapers were privately owned, though the Lithuanian Telegraph Agency (ELTA), a wire service that serves the local media in Lithuanian and Russian, was state-owned. Several daily newspapers are published in Vilnius, including Lietuvos Rytas (“Lithuania’s Morning,” also published in Russian), Kurier Wileński (“Vilnius Courier,” published in Polish), and Lietuvos Aidas (“Echo of Lithuania,” also published in Russian). There are no government-owned newspapers. Both radio and television stations are a mixture of private and state-owned. The languages of broadcast for both media are Lithuanian, Russian, Polish, Belarusian, and Ukrainian, and there are also some Yiddish radio broadcasts.
History of Lithuania
Early History to the Nineteenth Century
The pagan Liths, or Lithuanians, may have settled along the Nemen as early as 1500 B.C. In the 13th cent. the Livonian Brothers of the Sword and the Teutonic Knights conquered the region now comprising Estonia, Latvia, and parts of Lithuania. To protect themselves against the Knights, who pressed them from the north and the south, the Lithuanians formed (13th cent.) a strong unified state.
The grand dukes Gedimin (1316–41) and Olgerd (1345–77) expanded their territories at the expense of the neighboring Russian principalities, which were weakened by the Mongol invasion. Lithuania became one of the largest states of medieval Europe, including all of what is now Belarus, a large part of Ukraine, and sections of European Russia; at its furthest extent it touched the Black Sea. Olgerd's son, Jagiello, became king of Poland in 1386 as Ladislaus II by his marriage with Jadwiga, daughter of Louis I of Poland and Hungary. He accepted and introduced Christianity.
The union between Lithuania and Poland had at first the character of an alliance between independent nations. Witowt, a cousin of Ladislaus II, ruled Lithuania independently (1392–1430) and brought it to the height of its power and expansion. In 1410 the Polish-Lithuanian forces severely defeated the Teutonic Knights at Tannenberg and Novgorod.
After Witowt's death, decline set in. The Belarusians, who had retained their Greek Orthodox faith, inclined toward the rising grand duchy of Moscow. In 1569, hard pressed by the Russians under Ivan IV, Lithuania was joined with Poland by the Union of Lublin to form a commonwealth. The Lithuanian aristocracy and burghers became thoroughly Polonized. By the three successive partitions of Poland (1772, 1793, 1795) Lithuania disappeared as a national unit and passed to Russia.
- Modern History
A Lithuanian linguistic and cultural revival began in the 19th cent., inspired largely by the Roman Catholic clergy and accompanied by frequent anti-Russian uprisings. World War I and the consequent collapse of Russia and Germany made Lithuanian independence possible. Proclaimed (Feb., 1918) an independent kingdom under German protection, Lithuania became (Nov., 1918) an independent republic.
It resisted attacks by Bolshevik troops and by volunteer bands of German adventurers, but in 1920 Vilnius was seized by Poland. Lithuania remained technically at war with Poland until 1927. In 1923, Lithuania seized the Memel Territory. The virtual dictatorship (1926–29) of Augustine Voldemaras was succeeded (1929–39) by that of Antanas Smetona, and an authoritarian constitution on corporative (fascist) lines became effective in 1938.
Vilnius passed to Lithuania after the Soviet-German partition of Poland in 1939, but a German ultimatum forced the restitution of Memel. In 1940 the USSR, which had obtained military bases in Lithuania, occupied the country. After a Soviet-sponsored "election," Lithuania became a constituent republic of the USSR. When Germany invaded Lithuania in June, 1941, there was an insurrection against the Soviets and a provisional government was established, but Germany refused to recognize Lithuanian independence, and the government was disbanded. During the German occupation (1941–44) of Lithuania in World War II, the considerable Jewish minority was largely exterminated. In 1944 the Communist government returned. An anti-Communist guerrilla movement was active in the late 1940s and early 1950s; meanwhile, there were massive deportations of intellectuals and farmers to European Russia, Central Asia, and Siberia. After the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953, repression eased somewhat, and ethnic Lithuanians became prominent in the Communist elite.
In Mar., 1990, the Lithuanian parliament declared independence from the Soviet Union. Sajudis, a non-Communist coalition, won control of the Lithuanian parliament, and Vytautas Landsbergis became Lithuania's president. The Soviet Union responded with an oil embargo and troop actions in which civilians were killed. A referendum on independence passed in Feb., 1991, and Lithuania's independence was recognized by the Soviet Union on Sept. 6, 1991. In 1992, the Democratic Labor (formerly the Communist) party defeated Sajudis, and Algirdas Brazauskas, a former Communist, was elected president in 1993. Also in 1993, the last Russian troops were withdrawn, and Lithuania signed a free-trade agreement with fellow Baltic states Estonia and Latvia.
Valdas Adamkus, an emigrant from the United States, was elected president in 1998, but lost in a runoff in 2002 to Liberal Democratic party candidate Rolandas Paksas. Charges of corruption and links to Russian organized crime led the parliament to initiate impeachment proceedings against Paksas in Dec., 2003, and he was narrowly removed from office the following April. Parliament speaker Arturas Paulauskas became acting president. The same month Lithuania joined NATO; both events and others led to tensions with Russia in early 2004. Lithuania also became a member of the European Union in 2004. In new elections in June, 2004, Adamkus won a second term as president, after a runoff. In October former president Paksas was acquitted of leaking state secrets, one of the three charges on which he was impeached. Adamkus was succeeded as president by Dalia Grybauskaite, who had been serving as the European Union's budget commissioner and ran as an independent; elected in May, 2009, she became the first woman to hold the presidency.
Lithuania Area: 65,300 sq km (25,212 sq mi) Population (2007 est.): 3,375,000 Capital: Vilnius Chief of state: President Valdas Adamkus Head of government: Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas ...>>>Read On<<<
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