Largest and southernmost of the Baltic nations, Lithuania is bordered by Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, and Poland and the Russian Federation to the southwest. Forests spread through almost 30 percent of the country, and rivers, streams and more than 3,000 lakes shape the land. Five national and 30 regional parks preserve this paradise for boating, fishing, hunting, bird watching or horseback riding.
The largest river, the Nemunas, flows into the Curonian Lagoon, separated from the Baltic by the Curonian Spit. This 60 mile long bank of sand dunes and pine trees stretches from the southwest to the seaport of Klaipéda. One of the most beautiful unspoiled natural spots in the whole Baltic region, it is also known as the amber coast, for the precious amber that has washed onto this shore for many centuries.
The capital, Vilnius, is one of the most beautiful old towns in
eastern Europe, situated where the Neris and Vilnia rivers meet
and surrounded by picturesque wooded hills. Founded in 1323, its
unique character and architecture reflects its history at the crossroads
of the Roman, Byzantine and Eurasian worlds. Vilnius’ many
churches and towers, fortifications, secluded medieval courtyards
and narrow streets are a mix of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and
Vilnius, like all Lithuanian cities, has a wide selection of restaurants. Lithuanian beer is widely considered to be some of the best in the world. Drink it with tasty local breads and cheeses or national dishes like “zeppelins,” balloon-shaped parcels of dough filled with meat or potato, or potato “sausages” and pancakes.
The second-largest city, Kaunas, is an important industrial and cultural
center, situated at the confluence of the Nemunas and Neris rivers in
the center of the country. Kaunus is also noted for its ancient buildings,
as are other towns such as Klaipéda and Kedainiai. Siauliai is
a base from which to explore one of the most prominent attractions,
the Hill of Crosses, located 7½ miles away. A unique place, the
hill is a shrine for Catholics and pilgrims, covered by more than 50,000
crosses of different sizes, symbolizing faith and hope.
In 2003, Lithuania celebrates 750 years since it became a state and, in 2009, a full millennium since the first mention in historical sources. As you can see, today’s Lithuania is a place where past and present combine. Come and treat yourself to new experiences and pleasant surprises.
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Lithuania FactsArea: 25,210 square miles, about the size of West Virginia.
Population: 3.48 million (Vilnius: 553,000; Kaunus: 377,000).
Language: Lithuanian (Russian and English widely spoken).