Lithuania is a new and active member of the European Union (since May 1, 2004) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (since March 29, 2004). It is the only Baltic country with a tradition of nearly eight hundred years of statehood. Its name was first mentioned almost one thousand years ago, in 1009. Wedged on the dividing line between Western and Eastern civilizations, Lithuania battled dramatically for its independence and survival. Once in the Middle Ages, Lithuania was the largest state in the entire Eastern Europe, crafts and overseas trade prospered.
Vilnius has always been a multinational, multilingual, and multicultural European city. Trying to position itself as an informal political leader of the Baltic countries, it shares its experience in democratic development with other countries of the post-Soviet bloc and takes an active part in the EU renewal process.
The State of Lithuania. Independent and democratic republic. The powers of the State are exercised by the Seimas (the Parliament), the President of the Republic, the Government, and the Judiciary. The scope of their powers is defined by the Constitution. National Emblem. As of March, the National Emblem has been a white Vytis (a mounted armed knight with a raised sword) against a red background.
National Flag. The colors of the State Flag are yellow, green, and red. The tricolor’s stripes are horizontal.
Administrative Regions. The country is divided into 10 counties, spanning the country’s 60 administrative districts and towns.
Total area: 65,300 sq. km. Nearly one-third of the country is covered by forests, and 4.5% by inland waters. There are over 2,800 lakes larger than 0.5 hectares in size, and 18 rivers longer than 100 kilometers.
Climate: Maritime/continental. The average temperature in July is +17°C, in January -4.9°C. However, temperatures can soar up to +30°C in summer, and drop to -32°C in winter. Summers are pleasantly mild, whereas not every winter offers an abundance of snow.
Local Time: Lithuania lies in the Central European Time zone (GMT +2 hours, or the same as, for instance, Helsinki, Riga, and Tallinn).
Population: 2.85 million.
Largest Cities by population: Vilnius 554,409; Kaunas 358,111; Klaipėda 185,936; Šiauliai 128,397; Panevėžys 114,582
Capital: Vilnius. The city was officially founded in 1323. But a fortified castle at the confluence of the rivers Neris and Vilnia was built earlier. The Old Town of Vilnius is one of the largest (360 ha) and prettiest in East and Central Europe and is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The city boasts excellent public transport with trolleybus, bus and minibus routes; plenty of taxis are available.
Ethnic Composition: Lithuanians 83.5%, Polish 6.7%, Russians 6.3%, Belarusians 1.2%, others 2.3%. Lithuania is home to as many as 115 ethnic groups.
Religion: Predominantly Roman Catholic (approximately 80% of the total population). Other confessions include Orthodox, Old Believers, Lutheran, Reformed, Judaist, Sunni, Karaite and other communities.
Language: the state language is Lithuanian. All correspondence and official communication is conducted in Lithuanian. National Currency and Payments: The currency in Lithuania is the euro. It is the official legal tender in Lithuania, which means it is officially recognized by the Lithuanian government, and you can use it to settle all financial obligations in the country, including paying for goods, services, taxes, and debts.; however many shopping centers and other service outlets take credit cards.