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Lithuania travel guide - Travel S helper

Lithuania

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Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe. Its official name is the Republic of Lithuania (Lithuanian: Lietuvos Respublika). It is one of the three Baltic nations and is located on the Baltic Sea’s southeastern coast, east of Sweden and Denmark. It is bounded on the north by Latvia, on the east and south by Belarus, on the south by Poland, and on the southwest by Kaliningrad Oblast (a Russian exclave). Lithuania has a population of about 2.9 million people as of 2015, with Vilnius serving as the capital and biggest city. Lithuanians are a member of the Baltic peoples. Lithuanian, along with Latvian, is one of only two surviving languages of the Indo-European language family’s Baltic branch.

For millennia, different Baltic tribes occupied the southeastern coasts of the Baltic Sea. In the 1230s, Mindaugas, King of Lithuania, united the Lithuanian territories, and on 6 July 1253, the Kingdom of Lithuania became the first unified Lithuanian state. During the 14th century, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was the biggest nation in Europe; its borders included modern-day Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, and portions of Poland and Russia. Lithuania and Poland established a consensual two-state union, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, in 1569 with the Lublin Union. The Commonwealth lasted more than two centuries, until it was gradually destroyed by surrounding nations between 1772 and 1795, with the Russian Empire annexing the majority of Lithuania’s land.

On 16 February 1918, as World War I drew to a close, Lithuania’s Act of Independence was signed, establishing the modern Republic of Lithuania. Lithuania was controlled by the Soviet Union and subsequently by Nazi Germany beginning in 1940. In 1944, as World War II drew to a close and the Germans withdrew, the Soviet Union reoccupied Lithuania. Lithuania declared independence from the Soviet Union on 11 March 1990, a year before the Soviet Union’s official collapse. This resulted in the restoration of an independent State of Lithuania.

Lithuania is a full member of the European Union, the Council of Europe, Schengen, and NATO. Additionally, it is a member of the Nordic Investment Bank and a participant in the Northern European nations’ Nordic-Baltic cooperation. Lithuania is classified as a “very high human development” nation by the United Nations Human Development Index. Lithuania is one of the European Union’s fastest growing economies and is rated 20th in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index. Lithuania adopted the euro as its official currency on 1 January 2015, becoming the Eurozone’s 19th member.

Geography

Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe with a land size of 65,200 square kilometers (25,200 sq mi). It is located between 53° and 57° north latitude, and mainly between 21° and 27° east longitude (part of the Curonian Spit is located west of 21°). It has a sandy coastline of approximately 99 kilometers (61.5 miles), with just around 38 kilometers (24 miles) facing the open Baltic Sea, which is less than the other two Baltic Sea nations. The Curonian sand peninsula protects the remainder of the shore. Klaipda, Lithuania’s main warm-water port, is located at the narrow entrance of the Curonian Lagoon (Lithuanian: Kuri marios), a shallow lagoon that stretches from Kaliningrad to the south. The Nemunas River, the country’s major and biggest river, and several of its tributaries carry international shipping.

Lithuania is located at the northernmost point of the North European Plain. Its terrain, which is a mix of mild plains and highlands, was polished by glaciers during the previous ice age. Auktojas Hill, at 294 meters (965 feet) in the eastern portion of the nation, is the country’s highest point. Numerous lakes (such as Lake Vitytis) and marshes dot the landscape, and a mixed forest zone occupies almost 33% of the nation.

Jean-George Affholder, a scientist at the Institut Géographique National (French National Geographic Institute), determined that the geographic centre of Europe was in Lithuania, at 54°54′N 25°19′E, 26 kilometers (16 miles) north of Lithuania’s capital city of Vilnius, after a re-estimation of the continent’s boundaries in 1989. Affholder achieved this by estimating the geometrical figure of Europe’s center of gravity.

Climate

Lithuania has a moderate climate that alternates between marine and continental. In January, the average temperature on the shore is 2.5 degrees Celsius (27.5 degrees Fahrenheit) while in July, it is 16 degrees Celsius (61 degrees Fahrenheit). The average temperature in Vilnius is 6 degrees Celsius (21 degrees Fahrenheit) in January and 17 degrees Celsius (63 degrees Fahrenheit) in July. During the summer, temperatures may rise as high as 30 or 35 °C (86 or 95 °F) during the day and 14 °C (57 °F) at night; in the past, temperatures have gone as high as 30 or 35 °C (86 or 95 °F). Winters may be extremely chilly in certain areas. Almost every winter, temperatures of 20 °C (4 °F) are recorded. Winter extremes in Lithuania are 34 °C (29 °F) in coastal regions and 43 °C (45 °F) in the east.

The average annual precipitation on the coast is 800 millimeters (31.5 inches), 900 millimeters (35.4 inches) in the Samogitia highlands, and 600 millimeters (23.6 inches) in the eastern portion of the nation. Snow falls every year, and it may fall anywhere between October and April. Sleet may fall in September or May in certain years. In the western portion of the nation, the growing season lasts 202 days, whereas in the eastern half, it lasts 169 days. Storms are uncommon in the eastern portion of Lithuania, although they are frequent towards the shore.

The longest temperature records in the Baltic region date back approximately 250 years. The statistics indicate warm times in the second half of the 18th century, and a comparatively cold era in the 19th century. A large-scale warming in the early twentieth century peaked in the 1930s, followed by a lesser cooling that lasted until the 1960s. Since then, a warming trend has continued.

In 2002, Lithuania was hit by a drought, which resulted in forest and peat bog fires. During a heat wave in the summer of 2006, the nation suffered along with the rest of Northwestern Europe.

Demographics

Because the native inhabitants of Lithuanian territory have not been replaced by any other ethnic group since the Neolithic period, there is a good chance that the genetic composition of today’s Lithuanians has remained relatively undisturbed by major demographic movements, despite not being completely isolated from them. Lithuanians seem to be highly homogenous, with no discernible genetic distinctions across ethnic groupings.

Lithuanians are genetically similar to the Slavic and Finno-Ugric speaking groups of Northern and Eastern Europe, according to a 2004 MtDNA study of the Lithuanian population. Lithuanians are most closely related to Latvians and Estonians, according to Y-chromosome SNP haplogroup research.

According to 2014 estimations, the population’s age structure was as follows: 15–64 years: 69.5 percent (male 1,200,196/female 1,235,300); 65 years and over: 16.8 percent (male 207,222/female 389,345); 0–14 years: 13.5 percent (male 243,001/female 230,674); 15–64 years: 69.5 percent (male 1,200,196/female 1,235,300); 65 years and over: 16.8 percent (male 207,222/female The median age of the participants was 41.2 years (male: 38.5, female: 43.7).

The total fertility rate (TFR) of Lithuania is 1.59 children born per woman, which is below the replacement rate (2015 estimates). Unmarried women accounted for 29% of births in 2014. In 2013, women were 27 years old when they married for the first time, while males were 29.3 years old.

Ethnic groups

Lithuania has the most homogeneous population among the Baltic States, with ethnic Lithuanians accounting for approximately five-sixths of the population. According to the 2011 census, Lithuania has a population of 3,043,400 people, 84 percent of whom are ethnic Lithuanians and speak Lithuanian, the country’s official language. Poles (6.6 percent), Russians (5.8%), Belarusians (1.2 percent), and Ukrainians are all significant minorities (0.5 percent ).

Poles make up the majority of the population, which is centered in southeast Lithuania (the Vilnius region). Russians are the second-largest ethnic group, with the majority of them located in two cities. They make up significant minority in Vilnius (14 percent) and Klaipda (28 percent), as well as a majority in Visaginas (52 percent ). About 3,000 Roma reside in Lithuania, mainly in Vilnius, Kaunas, and Panevys; the National Minority and Emigration Department supports their groups. In Lithuania, a tiny Tatar community has thrived for generations.

Lithuanian is the official language. In the bigger cities, the alininkai District Municipality, and the Vilnius District Municipality, other languages like as Russian, Polish, Belarusian, and Ukrainian are spoken. Members of Lithuania’s small surviving Jewish community speak Yiddish. According to the 2001 Lithuanian population census, 84 percent of the country’s inhabitants speak Lithuanian as their first language, with 8% speaking Russian and 6% speaking Polish. According to a Eurobarometer study performed in 2012, 80% of Lithuanians can communicate in Russian and 38% can communicate in English. At most Lithuanian schools, English is taught as the first foreign language, although pupils may also learn German, French, or Russian in certain institutions. In the regions where ethnic minority live, there are schools where Russian or Polish is the main language of instruction.

Religion

According to the 2011 census, 77.2 percent of Lithuanians were Roman Catholics. Since the Christianization of Lithuania at the end of the 14th century, the Church has been the dominant denomination. Some clergymen actively participated in the anti-Communist struggle (symbolised by the Hill of Crosses).

The Lutheran Protestant church had around 200,000 members in the first half of the twentieth century, accounting for about 9% of the total population, mostly Protestant Lithuanians and ethnic Germans from the former Memel Territory, but it has declined since 1945 due to the removal of the German population. Small Protestant settlements may be found across the country’s northern and western regions. During the Soviet occupation, many believers and clergy were murdered, tortured, or exiled to Siberia. Since 1990, a number of Protestant churches have started missions in Lithuania. 4.1 percent of the population is Orthodox (primarily among the Russian minority), 0.8 percent is Protestant, and 6.1 percent is agnostic.

From the 18th century until the eve of World War II, Lithuania was home to a large Jewish population and was an important center of Jewish study and culture. Outside of the Vilnius area (which was then in Poland), the Jewish population was estimated to be about 160,000. When the Soviets handed the Vilnius area (of the old Polish state) to Lithuania in September 1939, tens of thousands of Polish Jews became Lithuanian nationals, and more Jewish refugees arrived in Lithuania prior to June 1941. During the Holocaust, almost all of the roughly 220,000 Jews who resided in the Republic of Lithuania in June 1941 were exterminated. At the end of 2009, the population of the hamlet was estimated to be about 4,000 people.

According to the most recent Eurobarometer Poll in 2010, 47 percent of Lithuanian people believe in God, 37 percent believe in some kind of spirit or life force, and 12 percent think there is no such thing as a spirit, god, or life force.

Economy

In the decade leading up to 2009, Lithuanian GDP had very high real growth rates, peaking at 11.1 percent in 2007. As a consequence, the nation was dubbed the “Baltic Tiger” by many. However, the economy overheated in 2009, resulting in a severe drop in GDP of 14.9 percent. Domestic demand and exports, rather than housing and financial bubbles, drove the economy forward in the ensuing years at a slower but more sustainable pace. At the end of 2015, the unemployment rate was 9.1%, down from 17.8 percent in 2010.

Rather than a progressive tax system, Lithuania maintains a flat tax rate. Personal income tax (15%) and corporation tax (15%) rates in Lithuania are among the lowest in the EU, according to Eurostat. In the EU, the nation has the lowest implicit rate of capital tax (9.8%). In the European Union, Lithuania likewise has the lowest total taxes as a percentage of GDP (27.2).

Lithuanian income levels are lower than those of older EU member states, but higher than those of most new EU member states that have entered in the past decade. Lithuanian GDP per capita (PPP) was 75 percent of the EU average in 2015, according to Eurostat statistics. In 2015, Lithuania’s average yearly salary (before taxes, for full-time workers) was approximately $10,000, still less than a fifth of the wealthiest EU member states.

In terms of structure, there is a slow but continuous move toward a knowledge-based economy, with a focus on biotechnology (industrial and diagnostic). Lithuania is home to the Baltics’ main biotechnology businesses and laser producers (Ekspla, viesos Konversija). Mechatronics and information technology (IT) are also being considered as potential knowledge-based economic paths.

Technology Centre Lithuania was created in 2009 as one of four key engineering centers serving Barclays Retail Banking operations across the world. Western Union built its new European Regional Operating Centre in Vilnius in 2011. The Lithuanian government has declared that high added-value goods and services are the emphasis of the Lithuanian economy. PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, Societe Generale, UniCredit, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Phillip Morris, Kraft Foods, Mars, Marks & Spencer, GlaxoSmithKline, United Colors of Benetton, Deichmann, Statoil, Neste Oil, Lukoil, Tele2, Hesburger, and Modern Times Group are among the international companies operating in Lithuania. Local telecoms firm Omnitel, store Rimi, and beer brewers (vyturys, Kalnapilis, and Utenos Alus) are owned by TeliaSonera, ICA, and Carlsberg, respectively. The Scandinavian banks Swedbank, SEB, Nordea, Danske Bank, and DNB ASA dominate the Lithuanian banking industry.

ORLEN Lietuva, Maxima Group, Achema Group, Lukoil Baltija, Linas Agro Group, Indorama Polymers Europe, Palink, and Sanitex are among the largest privately held Lithuanian businesses. Lithuania’s corporate tax rate is 15%, with a 5% rate for small companies. Special tax breaks are available for investments in high-tech industries and high-value-added goods. The majority of Lithuania’s commerce is with the European Union and Russia.

Until 2015, the litas was the national currency, which was replaced by the euro at a rate of EUR 1.00 = LTL 3.45280. Since February 2, 2002, the litas have been linked to the euro at this rate.

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