In the Middle Ages, Lithuania, which was founded in the middle of the 13th century and stretched from the Baltic to the Black Sea, was a vast feudal kingdom that merged with Poland to create a commonwealth in 1569. Lithuania was a member of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth until the 18th century, when it was partitioned and became part of the Russian Empire.
Following World War I and the collapse of the Czarist monarchy, modern Lithuania declared independence from Russia in 1918. However, Lithuania was forcefully integrated into the Soviet Union in 1940, and was seized by the Nazis soon after, with the assistance of local collaborators, who killed nearly the entire Jewish community as well as many local Poles. Later in World War II, the Soviet Union regained Lithuania, and many Lithuanians were cruelly tormented and murdered, especially under Stalin’s reign of terror. Lithuania declared independence on March 11, 1990, but it was not widely acknowledged until September 1991, after an attempted coup in Moscow. On September 6, 1991, the Soviet Union declared Lithuania independent. On October 25, 1992, a constitution was enacted. In 1993, Russia’s final soldiers left. Lithuania subsequently reorganized its economy in order to integrate into Western European institutions, establishing itself as a stable democracy and NATO member.