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Lithuania

From Academic Kids

The Republic of Lithuania (Lithuanian: Lietuva) is a republic in Northeastern Europe. One of the three Baltic States along the Baltic Sea, it shares borders with fellow Baltic State Latvia to the north, Belarus to the southeast, Poland to the south, and the Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia to the southwest.

Vilnius is a capital of Lithuania since 1940 (as well as for centuries from 1323 to 1919). Between 1919 and 1940, its capital was at Kaunas, though until March 1938 Lithuanian authorities did not recognize Poland's control of Vilnius at the time and considered Kaunas a "temporary capital".

Lietuvos Respublika
Flag of Lithuania Lithuania: Coat of Arms
(In Detail) (Full size)
National motto: Vienybė težydi (Let the unity bloom)
image:LocationLithuania.png
Official language Lithuanian
Capital Vilnius
President Valdas Adamkus
Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas
Area
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 123rd
65,200 km²
Negligible
Population
 - Total (July 2004 est.)
 - Density
Ranked 125th
3,607,899
55.1/km²
GDP (PPP)
 - Total (Year)
 - GDP/head
Ranked 75th
$44.4 billion
$12,837
Independence
 - Declared
 - Recognised
 - Lost
Independence
 - Declared
 - Recognised
From Imperial Russia
16 February 1918
12 July 1920
1940
From Soviet Union
11 March 1990
6 September 1991
Currency Litas
Time zone
 - in summer
EET (UTC+2)
EEST (UTC+3)
National anthem Tautiska Giesme
Internet TLD .lt
Calling Code 370
Contents

History

Main article: History of Lithuania

First mentioned in February 14 1009, Lithuania grew to be a significant nation in the Middle Ages. The date of statehood is counted from the official crowning of Mindaugas as a King of Lithuania in July 6 1253 in Voruta. Mindaugas managed to unite warring dukes into a single nation and state. Later, in course of Gediminas' conquers, Lithuania became a part of an independent multi-ethnic Grand Duchy of Lithuania, that also united lands of modern Belarus and Ukraine. Grand Duchy stretched across much of Eastern Europe from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea in 15th century. Since February 2, 1386, when Grand Duke Jogaila was crowned the King of Poland, Grand Duchy was joint with Poland in a personal union under one monarch. In 1569 Poland and Grand Duchy formally merged into the new state of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. This union remained in force until the May Constitution of 1791, which abolished all the subdivisions of the states and merged into Kingdom of Poland. However, the new state was annexed soon afterwards by Imperial Russia, Prussia and Austria in the effect of the Partitions of Poland of 1795.

Lithuania re-established its independence in severely limited territory on February 16th, 1918. It subsequently lost most of its previous grounds to Soviet Union and was plagued by territorial disputes with Poland (over Central Lithuania and Suvalkija/Suwałki) and Germany (over Klaipėda/Memel). It was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940 during World War II in line with the secret clauses of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact signed in Moscow on August 23, 1939.

Communist rule ended after the advent of glasnost and Lithuania, lead with anti-communist and anti-soviet movement for independence Sajūdis, proclaimed its renewed independence on March 11, 1990. Lithuania was the first Soviet republic to do so, though Soviet forces unsuccessfully tried to suppress this until August 1991. The last Russian troops left on 31 August 1993 - even earlier than from East Germany.

On February 4, 1991 Iceland became the first country to recognise Lithuanian independence and Sweden first country to open its embassy in the country. The United States of America never recognized the U.S.S.R.'s claim on Lithuania.

Lithuania was admitted into the United Nations on September 17, 1991. On May 31, 2001, Lithuania became 141st member of the World Trade Organization. Lithuania has since 1988 sought closer ties with the West and so on January 4, 1994, it became the first of the Baltic States to apply for NATO membership. On November 21, 2002 Lithuania was invited to start membership negotiations with NATO and on March 29, 2004 it became a full and equal NATO member. On February 1, 1998 it became an Associate Member of the EU and on April 16, 2003 it signed the EU Accession Treaty. 91% of Lithuanians backed EU membership in a referendum held on May 11, 2003 and on May 1, 2004 Lithuania became a member of the European Union.

Politics

Main article: Politics of Lithuania

The Lithuanian head of state is the president, elected directly for a five-year term, who also functions as commander in chief overseeing foreign and security policy. The president, on the approval of the parliament, also appoints the prime minister and on the latter's nomination the rest of the cabinet, as well as a number of other top civil servants and the judges for all courts, including the Constitutional Court (Konstitucinis Teismas).

The unicameral Lithuanian parliament, the Seimas, has 141 members that are elected for a four-year term. About half of the members of this legislative body are elected in single constituencies (71), and the other half (70) are elected in the nationwide vote by proportional representation. A party must receive at least 5% of the national vote to be represented in the Seimas.

Administrative division

Main article: Administrative division of Lithuania

Lithuania consists of 10 apskritys', (singular - apskritis), each named after their principal city. The counties are subdivided into 56 municipalities, both cities and districts (see: List of municipalities in Lithuania). Municipalities cosists of over 300 elderships. This administrative division was created in 1994. The most important unit is the municipality (some muicipalities are historically called "district municipalities", and thus shortened just to "district", others are called "city municiaplities", sometimes shortened just to "city", or leaving just the name of city, and some are called just "municipalities"). Each municipality has its elected government, which is elected in elections of municipality councils, which previously used to be done every 3rd year but now is done every 4th year. Then the municiaplity council elects mayor of the municipality and other required personell (larger municipalities has larger councils and more officials). Also, municipality council sends elders to the elderships in its territory (small municipalities do not have elderships though). Now there is a proposal though that both mayors and elders would be elected in direct elections by people. As for apskritys, these are regions to which whole Lithuania is partitioned and they are ruled by people (called "Ruler of Apskritis") who are sent by central government. Their job is to ensure that in the municipalities which are in territory of their apskritis are working according to the laws of Lithuania and the constitution. They don't have a big power vested on them, and so there is idea that 10 apskritys are not needed for Lithuania, because that puts on average each just 6 municipalities to look after (and in reality smaller ones has only 4 municipalities in their territory), therefore there is a proposal to change apskritys by 4 lands, a new administrative unit, which would be carved according to the ethnographic regions of Lithuania. Another proposed solution is to expand apskritys so that there would be 5 of them, each based in one of five largest cities, while territories of 5 other municipalities, those, based in smaller cities, would be merged into these remaining municipalities.

Also see: Apskritys of Lithuania, List of municipalities in Lithuania, Elderships

Map of Lithuania with cities

Geography

Main article: Geography of Lithuania

The largest and most populous of the Baltic states, Lithuania is a partly maritime country with about 100 km of sandy coastline, of which only 38 km face the open Baltic Sea. Lithuania's major warm-water port of Klaipėda lies at the narrow mouth of Kuršių Marios (Curonian Lagoon), a shallow lagoon extending south to Kaliningrad. The main river Nemunas and some of its tributaries are used for internal shipping.

The Lithuanian landscape is glacially flat, except for morainic hills in the western uplands and eastern highlands no higher than 300 m, with the highest point being the Juozapinės at 292 m. The terrain is marked by numerous lakes (e.g. Lake Vištytis) and swamps, and a mixed forest zone covers 30% of the country. The climate lies between maritime and continental, with wet, moderate winters and summers. According to some geographers, Lithuania's capital, Vilnius, lies a few kilometres south of the geographical centre of Europe.

Lithuania consists of historical and cultural regions:

Economy

Main article: Economy of Lithuania

In 2003 Lithuania had the highest economic growth ratio among all European Union candidates, reaching 8.8% in the third quarter. In 2004, Lithuania's 6.6% growth in GDP reflects impressive economic development. Prior to 1998 Lithuania was the Baltic state that conducted the most trade with Russia; however, the 1998 Russian financial crisis forced the country to orient toward the West. Lithuania has since gained membership in the World Trade Organization, and joined the European Union on 1 May 2004. Accession to the EU has reduced previously high unemployment to 10.6% in 2004. Lithuania has nearly completed its privatization of the large, state-owned utilities, with one of two power distribution networks and railways left. The litas, the national currency, has been pegged to the euro since 2 February 2002 at a rate of EUR 1.00 = LTL 3.4528 and country is expected to switch to the euro and thus become one of the first among the new EU members to do so in 2006.

Demographics

Main article: Demographics of Lithuania

83.5% of the Lithuanian population are ethnically Lithuanian and speak Lithuanian language (one of two remaining living members of the Baltic language group), which is also the official language of the state. Several sizable minorities exist, such as Russians (6%), Poles (6%) and Belarusians (1.5%), and each respective language is also spoken in Lithuania.

The predominant religion is Roman Catholicism, but Eastern Orthodoxy, Protestantism and Judaism, and Karaism (an ancient offshoot of Judaism represented by a long-standing community in Trakai) also exist as minority religions.

Culture

Main article: Culture of Lithuania


Lithuanians Abroad

Miscellaneous topics

External links

  • Lithuanian Central Internet Gates (http://www.lietuva.lt/index.php?Lang=5&ItemId=27616) - Main Lithuanian portal
  • Vyriausybe (http://www.lrv.lt/main_en.php) - Official governmental site
  • Prezidentas (http://www.president.lt/en) - Official presidential site
  • Seimas (http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter/w3_eng_h.home) - Official parliamentary site
  • Lithuania Online (http://www.on.lt) - Wide collection of Lithuanian links
  • mii.lt (http://neris.mii.lt/) - Portal of the Lithuanian Institute of Mathematics and Informatics with rich material about Lithuania
  • Istorija.net (http://www.istorija.net) - Pages and forum on the history of Lithuania (in Lithuanian, English, Russian)

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ar:لتوانيا

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