Lying on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea, Lithuania is the largest of the Baltic states. The first Soviet republic to declare independence from Moscow in 1991, it joined the EU in  2004.

Geography: Mostly flat with moors, bogs, and an intensively farmed central lowland. Numerous lakes and forested sandy ridges in the east.

 Climate: Coastal location moderates continental extremes. Cold winters, cool summers, and steady rainfall.

 People and Society: Homogeneous population, with Lithuanians forming a large majority. Only 4000 Jews, known as Litvaks, remain in Lithuania. Strong Roman Catholic tradition and historic links with Poland. There are better relations among ethnic groups than in other Baltic states and interethnic marriages are fairly common. However, ethnic Russians and Poles see a threat from “Lithuanianization.” A large income gap has grown since  independence.

 The Economy: High-tech and heavy industries: engineering, shipbuilding, and food processing. Litas pegged to euro. High inflation has delayed euro’s adoption. Recession in 2009 after strong growth.

 Insight: The “amber coast” of Lithuania produces most of the world’s amber – fossilized resin


 Official Name: Republic of Lithuania

 Date of Formation: 1991

 Capital: Vilnius

 Population: 3.29 million

 Total Area: 25,174 sq. miles (65,200 sq. km)

 Density: 131 people per sq. mile

 Languages: Lithuanian*, Russian

 Religions: Roman Catholic 83%, other 12%, Protestant 5%

 Ethnic Mix: Lithuanian 85%, Polish 6%, Russian 5%, other 3%, Belarussian 1%

 Government: Parliamentary system

 Currency: Litas = 100 centu

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