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
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