Republic of Lithuania
FLAG: Three equal horizontal bands of yellow (top), green, and red.
ANTHEM: Tautiška Giesme (The National Song).
MONETARY UNIT: The Lithuanian lita (LTL) of 100 cents has replaced the transitional system of coupons (talonas) which had been in force since October 1992, when the Soviet ruble was demonetized. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents and 1, 2, and 5 litas, and notes of 10, 20, 50, and 100 litas; LTL1 = $0.36364 (or $1 = LTL2.75) as of 2005.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is in force.
HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Day of the Restoration of the Lithuanian State, 16 February; Good Friday (movable); Anniversary of the Coronation of Grand Duke Mindaugas of Lithuania, 6 July; National Day of Hope and Mourning, 1 November; Christmas, 25–26 December.
TIME: 2 pm = noon GMT.
Lithuania is located in eastern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, between Latvia and Poland. Comparatively, it is slightly larger than the state of West Virginia with a total area of 65,200 sq km (25,174 sq mi). Lithuania shares boundaries with Latvia on the n and ne, Belarus on the s and se, Poland on the sw, Russia-Kaliningrad Oblast on the w, and the Baltic Sea on the nw. Lithuania's land boundary length totals 1,273 km (791 mi). Its coastline is 99 km (62 mi).
Lithuania's capital city, Vilnius, is located in the southeastern part of the country.
The topography of Lithuania features a central lowland terrain with many scattered small lakes and fertile soil. Moderate high-lands lie to the east and south, with a few hilly regions in the west. The main hill regions are the Zemaical Uplands of the northwest and the Baltic Highlands of the southeast. The highest point in the country is Juozapine, located in the Baltic Highlands. It has an elevation of 292 meters (958 feet). The lowest point is at sea level (Baltic Sea).
There are about 758 rivers in the country that are longer than 10 kilometers; but very few are navigable. The Neman, which cuts through the center of the country from Belarus to the Baltic Sea, is the longest river, with a length of 936 kilometers (582 miles). There are over 2,500 lakes in the country, most of which are in the eastern central regions. The largest is Lake Druksiai, which is located on the northeast border with Belarus and covers an area of 44.5 square kilometers (17.2 square miles).
Lithuania's climate is transitional between maritime and continental. Yearly, the mean temperature is 6.1°c (43°f). The mean temperature in July is 17.1°c (63°f). Rainfall averages from 49 cm (24 in) to 85 cm (33 in) depending on location.
The country is located in the mixed forest zone. The country's vegetation is a mixture of coniferous, broadleaf woodlands, arctic, and steppe species. There are about 68 species of mammals, 203 breeding bird species, 7 reptile species, 13 amphibian species, and about 60 fish species. The country has rabbit, fox, red deer, roe, elk, wild boar, badger, raccoon dog, wolf, lynx, and gallinaceous birds. Roach, ruff, bream, and perch can be found in Lithuania's lakes and streams.
Lithuania's environmental problems include air pollution, water pollution, and the threat of nuclear contamination. In 2000, the total of carbon dioxide emissions was at 11.9 million metric tons. A UN report on Lithuania stated that air pollution has damaged about 68.4% of the nation's forests. Water pollution results from uncontrolled dumping by industries and the lack of adequate sewage treatment facilities.
After the nuclear accident at Chernobyl that contaminated much of Lithuania with excessive radiation, Lithuanians are concerned about nuclear energy development, especially the use of nuclear power generated by plants of the same kind as the one at Chernobyl.
Lithuania's pollution problems have also affected the nation's wildlife. Although 10% of Lithuania's total land area was protected as of 2003, many of the country's original animal and plant species are now extinct. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included five types of mammals, four species of birds, three species of fish, and five species of invertebrates. Threatened species include the European bison, the asp, the red wood ant, the marsh snail, and the Russian desman. The wild horse has become extinct.
The population of Lithuania in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 3,415,000, which placed it at number 128 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 15% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 18% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 87 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 2005–10 was expected to be -0.3%, a rate the government viewed as too low; the population growth rate fell below zero in the mid-1990s. The projected population for the year 2025 was 3,134,000. The population density was 53 per sq km (136 per sq mi).
The UN estimated that 67% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, but that population in urban areas was declining at an annual rate of -0.49%. The capital city, Vilnius, had a population of 549,000 in that year. Other large cities include Kaunas and Klaipėda.
Many Lithuanians unable to accept Soviet occupation in 1940 were deported to Siberia. However, Russian immigration to Lithuania was never as heavy as to the other Baltic republics. Lithuania has been used as a transit country to western Europe for many years. Government policy was to return asylum seekers to their homelands or detain them indefinitely. However, a Lithuanian refugee law passed 27 July 1997 established an asylum procedure. The total number of migrants living in Lithuania in 2000 was 339,000. In 2004, there were 9,459 persons of concern to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 9,028 stateless, 408 refugees, and 28 asylum seekers. Remittances in 2003 were $30.5 million. In 2005, the net migration rate was an estimated -1.71 migrants per 1,000 population. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.
According to the 2001 census, Lithuanians form about 83.4% of the population. Russians constituted about 6.3%; Poles made up 6.7%; the remaining minority ethnic groups include Belarussians, Ukrainians, Tatars, and Karaites. There are about 3,000 in the Romani community.
Lithuanian, the official language, is noted for its purity in retaining ancient Indo-European language forms and has some remarkable similarities with Sanskrit. It is highly inflected, with seven noun cases. Like Latvian, it has rising, falling, and short intonations. Its Roman alphabet has many special symbols, including the hacek, dot, and cedilla. The majority (82%) speak Lithuanian for their first tongue. Polish (5.6%) and Russian (8%) are also widely used. Minorities have the right to official use of their languages where they form a substantial part of the population.
The country witnessed extensive suppression of religious activities during the Soviet period. The 2001 census indicated that about 79% of the population were nominally Roman Catholic. The next largest denomination, the Russian Orthodox Church, accounted for about 4.1% of the population. The Old Believers (an Orthodox sect) have about 27,000 members. About 20,000 people are Lutherans, 7,000 are Evangelical Reformed, 4,000 are Jewish, 2,700 are Sunni Muslim, and about 300 are Greek Catholic. About 9.4% of the population claimed no specific religious affiliation.
Lithuania is one of a few countries to have an active community of Karaites. The faith is a branch of Judaism, with tenets based exclusively on a literal interpretation of the Hebrew scriptures. The Karaites have two centers of worship in the country, in Vilnius and Trakia, with a total of about 250 members. The Karaites are considered to be an ethnic community as well. They speak a Turkic-based language and use the Hebrew alphabet.
The constitution allows for freedom of religion, but the government reserves the right to place restrictions on religious organizations with practices that might contradict the constitution or public law. The government recognizes nine groups as "traditional" faiths that are eligible for state assistance: Latin Rite Catholics, Greek Rite Catholics, Evangelical Lutherans, the Evangelical Reformed Church, Orthodox Christians, Old Believers, Jews, Sunni Muslims, and Karaites. Denominations considered "nontraditional" by the government include Jehovah's Witnesses, Baptists, Seventh-Day Adventists, and Pentecostals, as well as about 160 other religious organizations. Certain Christian holidays are celebrated as national holidays.
Lithuania's railroad system in 2004 consisted of 1,998 km (1,241 mi) of broad, standard and narrow gauge lines that were used to provide rail access to the Baltic Sea for Vilnius, Kaunas, and other major urban areas. Of that total, broad gauge lines accounted for the bulk at 1,807 km (1,124 mi) of which, 122 km (76 mi) was electrified. Narrow gauge accounted for another 169 km (105 mi), with standard gauge accounting for the remainder.
As of 2003, Lithuania had 78,893 km (49,071 mi) of roadway, of which 21,617 km (13,446 mi) were paved, including 417 km (259 mi) of expressways. In 2004 there were 600 km (373 mi) of perennial navigable waterways. Sea routes link Klaipėda on the Baltic Sea with 200 foreign ports. Kaunas is the principal inland port. In 2005, the merchant fleet consisted of 54 ships (of 1,000 GRT or over) totaling 296,856 GRT. A railway sea ferry from Klaipėda to Mukran (Germany) began in 1986. As of 2004, there were an estimated 102 airports, of which 33 had paved runways as of 2005. Principal airports include Palanga, Vilnius, and Kaunas International at Kaunas, and one commercial airport in Siauliai. Two international airlines serve Lithuania: Lithuanian Airlines and Lietuva. In 2003, about 329,000 passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.
Lithuanians are a branch of the Balts, whose permanent and lasting settlement of modern day Lithuania dates back to 200 BC, much earlier than most of Europe whose people and cultures were still in flux well into the 5th century ad. Lithuanian, along with Latvian, is thus one of the oldest languages in Europe.
The first Lithuanian state was established by Grand Duke and later King Mindaugas in 1236. Grand Duke Gediminas, who ruled from 1316–41, is credited with founding the capital of Vilnius and the Jagiellionian dynasty, whose members would become figures of power in Lithuania, Poland, and Hungary for the next 200 years.
In the late 14th century Lithuania ruled a vast area covering much of modern day Belarus and Ukraine and stretching to the Black Sea. However, the country was constantly threatened by the German Teutonic Order, which occupied the southern Baltic coast. The power struggle had a religious element, since outside of a brief eight-year period, Lithuania remained devoutly pagan until 1386. That year Grand Duke Jogaila (Polish: Jagiello ) wed the Polish queen Jadwiga and thereby converted to Christianity the last remaining European pagans. The combined Polish-Lithuanian armies led by Jogaila and his cousin Vytautas (Polish: Witold ) decisively beat the Teutonic Knights at the battle of Grunwald in 1410.
The marriage of Jogaila to Jadwiga and his ascension to the Polish throne marked the beginning of a political union with Poland, intertwining the histories of the two nations for 400 years. The union was made formal in the 1569 Lublin Agreement, which created a Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with an elected monarch chosen by the gentry of both states. Although in principle it was a union of two equals, the Polish influence on the culture and politics of the Commonwealth was stronger, due among other things simply to the larger size and population of the Polish state. Lithuania prospered and developed during the Commonwealth's Golden Age in the 16th century with the founding of the region's first university in Vilnius in 1579 and the development of a distinct Lithuanian baroque artistic style.
The 18th century saw the decline of the Commonwealth and occupation by foreign powers. What is now Lithuania was annexed to the Russian Empire in the final partition in 1795. During the 19th century, a Lithuanian nationalist movement arose leading to uprisings against Russian rule and, in turn, to Russian persecutions including the outlawing of the Lithuanian language.
On 16 February 1918, Lithuania proclaimed its independence after the defeat of both Germany and Russia in World War I. The new Bolshevik government in Moscow attempted to establish Soviet power in Lithuania, but failed. After a series of armed border conflicts between Lithuania, Russia and Poland, in 1920 Moscow recognized Lithuanian independence, but Poland annexed Vilnius, and the Lithuanian capital had to be moved to Kaunas. A secret protocol to the 1939 Nazi-Soviet pact assigned Lithuania to the Soviet sphere of influence. Wishing to avoid conflict, the Lithuanian government allowed Soviet forces to be stationed on its territory. The local government was forced to resign in June 1940. Rigged elections created a parliament which proclaimed Lithuania to be a Soviet Socialist Republic in July 1940. Moscow lost control of Lithuania soon after Germany attacked the USSR in June 1941.
Lithuania suffered heavily at the hands of both powers. While the Nazis succeeded in exterminating most of Lithuania's 240,000 Jews, the Soviets deported tens of thousands of Lithuanians to Siberia. Soviet forces recaptured Lithuania in 1944, although armed resistance against Soviet rule continued for several years after World War II.
Forty-five years of Soviet occupation did not erase the Lithuanian national identity. The first open protests against Soviet rule occurred in 1987 and in 1988. Vytautas Landsbergis established the Sajudis anti-Communist political movement which strove to create an autonomous republic and later an independent state. With the crumbling of the Eastern Bloc and fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Soviet pressure eased, and opposition parties were allowed to participate in elections to the Lithuanian Supreme Soviet held on 24 February 1990. Sajudis won a clear majority and Lithuania became the first Soviet republic to proclaim independence on 11 March 1990.
Although Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev's policy of glasnost and perestroika had intended to allow a greater voice to Lithuanian self-determination, full Lithuanian independence from the Soviet Union was not what many in the Kremlin had in mind. The August 1991 coup by hardliners in Moscow was accompanied by a crackdown in Vilnius, with Soviet troops storming the TV tower killing 14 civilians and injuring 700. It was not until the failure of the coup and collapse of the Soviet Union that the government in Moscow fully recognized Lithuanian independence.
Since independence, Lithuania has been preoccupied with reforming its economic and political institutions. Privatization has transformed its economy to a market-oriented one. Politically, a thriving press and open democracy have been established. Former Communists won the first postindependence elections in 1992, but conservatives took back the parliament in 1996 elections, in response to growing allegations of government corruption. Presidential elections the following year were surrounded by controversy over the eligibility for office of candidate Valdas Adamkus, who had lived in the United States for over 30 years following World War II. Adamkus was elected in runoff elections in January 1998.
Parliamentary elections were held on 8 October 2000, resulting in a win for former president Algirdas Brazauskas' Social Democratic Coalition, which won 31.1% of the vote, taking 51 of 141 seats in the Seimas. However, a grouping of four smaller parties formed a new centrist government with Rolandas Paksas as prime minister. Presidential elections were held on 22 December 2002, and Adamkus took the lead in the first round of voting, with 35.3% of the vote, to 19.7% for Paksas. In what surprised many experts, Paksas campaigned vigorously for the run-off vote held on 5 January 2003, and won the second round with 54.9% to 45.1% for Adamkus.
Paksas did not serve out his entire term. When he was impeached in April 2004 for having ties with Russian organized crime and participating in influence peddling, the country was temporarily thrown into disarray. In the early election that followed, the Constitutional Court did not allow Paksas to run again despite his continued popularity, especially in rural regions. Adamkus seized the opportunity to return to office and beat Kazimira Prunskiene, the country's first post-Soviet prime minister, who was supported by those loyal to Paksas.
Given the history of Russian domination of Lithuania, it is understandable that Lithuania's primary foreign policy objective has been to improve relations with the West and especially to gain entrance into NATO and the EU. In November 2002, Lithuania was formally invited to join NATO, and became a member in 2004. In May 2004 Lithuania joined the European Union along with nine other ex-Communist states and Malta. Lithuania supported the 2003 US-led military campaign to disarm and remove Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq.
On 25 October 1992, Lithuanian voters approved a new constitution, which called for a 141-member unicameral legislature (Seimas) and a popularly elected president. The constitution requires whoever is elected as president to sever his or her formal party ties. All who were permanent residents of Lithuania in November 1989 have been granted the opportunity to become citizens, irrespective of their ethnic origins. Members of the Seimas are elected for four-year terms, and the president is directly elected for a five-year term. The prime minister is appointed by the president; all others ministers are nominated by the prime minister and appointed by the president. All ministerial appointments must be approved by the Seimas. Suffrage is universal at age 18.
The majority party in the Seimas since the 1996 parliamentary elections was the conservative Homeland Union Party, or TS, led by Vytautas Landsbergis, which won 70 out of 141 seats. Overall, 28 parties competed for the 141 parliamentary seats in elections held on 20 October 1996 (first round) and 10 November 1996 (second round). The other party of the right wing, the Christian Democrats, also did well, winning 16 seats, and entered into a coalition government with the TS and the Lithuanian Center Union, which won 13 seats. The Democratic Labor Party (composed mostly of ex-Communists), which had been the majority party in the previous parliament, won only 12 seats. Other parties with parliamentary representation included the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party and the Lithuanian Democratic Party.
The Homeland Union-Conservative coalition suffered in the October 2000 parliamentary elections, capturing only nine seats. Former president Algirdas Brazauskas led four leftist parties in a Social Democratic Coalition, winning 51 of the 141 seats in parliament. However, a coalition ("New Policy") composed of the ideologically diverse Liberal Union (33 seats), New Alliance (28), Center Union (2), Modern Christian Democratic Union (3), and two smaller parties formed a new government, bypassing the Social Democratic Coalition. Rolandas Paksas was named prime minister.
In the elections of October 2004, the Labor Party—a recent political formation led by Russian millionaire Voktor Uspaskich—won 39 seats, Homeland Union 25, the Social Democrats 20, Liberal and Center Union 18, Social Liberals 11, Union of Farmers and New Democracy 10, Liberal Democrats 10, Electoral Action 2, and independents claimed 6 seats.
In the presidential elections held in June 2004, Valdas Adamkus beat Kazimiera Prunskiene with 52.2% of the vote. Adamkus will be in office until the next election that was scheduled for June 2009.
For administrative purposes, Lithuania's 10 provinces are divided into 44 regions, there are also urban districts, towns, and rural administrative units called apylinkes. Each level of local government has its own elected officials.
After Lithuania broke away from the Soviet Union, its legal system was transformed from that of the old Soviet regime to a democratic model. The system now consists of a Constitutional Court and a Supreme Court, whose members are elected by the Seimas, as well as district and local courts, whose judges are appointed by the president. A Court of Appeals hears appellate cases from the district courts.
A new civil and criminal procedure code and a court reform law were enacted in 1995. The government has reviewed its laws to bring them into accord with the European Convention on Human Rights.
The judiciary is independent.
In 2005 the active armed forces of Lithuania totaled 13,510, supported by 8,200 reservists. The Army numbered 11,600 active personnel, followed by the Air Force with 1,200 members and the Navy with 710 active personnel. The country also had a paramilitary force of 14,600, that consisted of 5,000 border guards and a 9,600-member Riflemen Union. There was also a 540-person Coast Guard. Army equipment included three reconnaissance vehicles, 137 armored personnel carriers, and 133 artillery pieces. Naval forces operated 2 frigates, 3 patrol/coastal vessels, 2 mine warfare ships and, 1 logistics/support vessel. The Air Force operated 11 transport and 6 training fixed wing aircraft, in addition to 12 support helicopters. Lithuanian forces served in Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, and Serbia-Montenegro. The defense budget for 2005 was $333 million.
Lithuania was admitted to the United Nations on 17 September 1991; it is a member of several specialized agencies, such as the FAO, IAEA, World Bank, ILO, IMF, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, and the WHO. Lithuania is also a member of the WTO, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, and the Council of the Baltic Sea States. It is a member affiliate of the Western European Union. Lithuania joined the European Union and NATO in 2004.
Lithuania has foreign diplomatic missions in 94 countries. The country has offered support to UN missions and operations in Kosovo (est. 1999). It is part of the Australia Group, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (London Group), and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. In environmental cooperation, Lithuania is part of the Basel Convention, Conventions on Biological Diversity and Air Pollution, Ramsar, CITES, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea and Climate Change.
Until 1940, Lithuania's economy was primarily agricultural, mainly in the form of dairy farms and livestock raising. The main industries are machine building and metalworking, although light industry and food processing are also well developed. Like the other Baltic states, Lithuania has few natural resources, primarily peat and amber.
Due to modernization that occurred during Soviet dominance, Lithuania built up a large, if somewhat inefficient, industrial sector that in 2001 accounted for 32% of the country's economy. The service sector is 61% while agriculture accounts for about 13% of the economy.
In 1992, Lithuania's GDP fell 21.6%. In that year, the government adopted an IMF-directed program aimed at privatizing the economy, controlling inflation, eliminating price controls, and lowering the budget deficit. In June 1993 Lithuania's convertible currency, the litas, was introduced, setting off another round of inflation, while GDP continued to decline, by 16.2% in 1993 and 9.8% in 1994. In 1994, the government entered into a three-year arrangement with the IMF under its Extended Fund Facility (EFF) aimed primarily at bringing inflation under control. 1995 was the first year of positive growth (3.3%) since independence, although unemployment remained high, at 16.4% in 1995. Inflation, which was still in double digits in 1996 (23%), fell to single digits (5.1%) by 1998 and unemployment fell to 6.4%. The economy registered real growth until 1999—4.7% in 1996, 7.3% in 1997 and 5.1% in 1998—but then was overtaken by the effects of the August 1998 financial crisis in Russia, still one of Lithuania's largest trading partners. Real GDP declined 3.9% in 1999 as unemployment jumped to 8.4%. Inflation remained under control, however, at 0.3%.
Growth returned in 2000, with real GDP up 3.3%, but unemployment continued to soar, peaking at 13.2% in March 2001. Growth in 2001 was 5.9%, above expectations, and in the first half of 2002, growth averaged about 5.6%. In February 2002, the government repegged the litas from the US dollar to the euro, at a rate of 3.4528 litas per euro. Inflation was about 1% for the year and by December 2002, unemployment had moderated to 10.9%. About 80% of Lithuanian's enterprises have been privatized since independence, and by 2002 over 25% of its trade was with countries outside the old Soviet bloc. Lithuania acceded to the WTO 31 May 2001 and was admitted to the EU in 2004.
In 2003, the Lithuanian economy was one of the most dynamic in Europe with a GDP growth rate of 9.7%. Prime factors for this economic expansion have been domestic and foreign investments. Rising fuel costs, as well as a shortage of qualified labor, have slowed down this boom by 2004—the GDP growth rate returned to a more modest, but still respectable, 6.7%, and was expected to continue to decline to 5.7% in 2005. Unemployment went down, from 10.3% in 2003 to 6.8% in 2004, and was expected to continue the decrease in 2005, to 5.8%. Inflation has remained negligible over all this time period, hovering at around 1%.
Overall, the economy in Lithuania is on a healthy path, with the private sector contributing to more than 80% of the country's GDP, with significant inflows of foreign capital, and with a dynamic and increasingly efficient local market.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Lithuania's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $49.4 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $13,700. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 6.4%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 2.6%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 5.7% of GDP, industry 32.4%, and services 62%.
According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $115 million or about $33 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.6% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $372 million or about $108 per capita and accounted for approximately 2.1% of the gross national income (GNI).
The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Lithuania totaled $11.79 billion or about $3,414 per capita based on a GDP of $18.4 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 5.4%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 33% of household consumption was spent on food, 13% on fuel, 4% on health care, and 27% on education.
In 2005, Lithuania's labor force was estimated at 1.61 million. As of 2003, the services sector accounted for 54% of the workforce, with industry employing 28.1% and agriculture the remaining 17.9%. The unemployment rate was approximately 5.3% in 2005.
The constitution recognizes the right for workers to form and join trade unions. Approximately 13% of employees are union members. There are four major trade union organizations. The law also provides the right of workers to strike, except those in essential services in the public sector. Collective bargaining is permitted but only utilized on a limited basis.
The legal minimum wage is periodically adjusted by the government for inflation, but these adjustments lag behind the inflation rate. The minimum wage was $107.50 per month as of 2002, but it is not universally enforced. The legal minimum age for employment is 16 years without parental consent, and 14 years with written parental consent. The 40-hour workweek is standard for most workers. The law stipulates occupational health and safety standards, but these are not effectively enforced and many industrial plants are unsafe.
Out of Lithuania's 6,268,000 hectares (15,488,000 acres) of land area, 47.6% consisted of cropland and permanent pastures. Privatization in agriculture rapidly advanced after 1991; over 70,000 private farms had been established by 1996. In 2003, there were over 272,000 agricultural holdings. However, due to a lack of financial resources and inefficiency in the crediting system, many of these new farmers are only operating at subsistence levels. Agricultural output decreased by a yearly average of 1.1% during 1990–2000. However, during 2002–04, crop production was up 9.5% from 1999–2001. In 2003, the value of crop output was €669.7 million and agriculture accounted for 7% of GDP.
Crops of importance in 2004 included potatoes, 1,021,000 tons; barley, 970,000 tons; wheat, 1,315,000 tons; rye, 180,000 tons; dry beans, 5,200 tons, vegetables and melons, 379,000 tons; and rapeseed, 204,500 tons.
About 8% of the total land area consists of permanent pastureland. Livestock in 2005 included 792,000 head of cattle, 1,074,000 pigs, 8,210,000 chickens, 22,100 sheep, and 63,600 horses. Meat production in 2005 totaled 216,700 tons, of which 28% was beef, 51% was pork, and 21% was chicken. Milk production exceeded 1.7 million tons in 2005, while 50,000 tons of eggs were produced. In 2003, the value of animal and animal product output was €514.9 million.
Klaipeda's fishing port is the center of the fishing industry. In 2003, the total catch was 159,561 tons, down from 470,251 tons in 1991. Principal species in 2003 included mackerel, sardines, and hairtail. Fisheries exports were valued at $115.1 million in 2003. There are two aquacultural facilities operating in Lithuania, consisting primarily of carp.
Forests cover about 32% of Lithuania. The forestry, wood products, and paper industries are some of Lithuania's oldest—furniture, matches, and timber products were manufactured in Kaunas and Vilnius in the mid-1800s, and furniture-making prevailed from 1919–40. Currently, chemical timber processing, and the production of furniture, pulp, paper, wood fiber, wood chips, joinery articles, and cardboard, are the main activities of the forestry sector. Intensive timber processing, as well as the recycling of industrial waste are being expanded. The timber cut yielded over 6.1 million cu m (216 million cu ft) of roundwood in 2004. Sawn wood production that year was 1,450,000 cu m (51 million cu ft); paper and paperboard, 99,000 tons. Exports of forest products amounted to $335.7 million in 2004.
Lithuania's production of nonhydrocarbon minerals in 2003 included cement, limestone, nitrogen (from ammonia) and peat. Other industrial minerals produced included clays, and sand and gravel. Lithuania remained dependent on imports for its metals and fuel needs. Peat was extracted in the Siauliai, Ezherelis, Paraistis, and Baltoyi-Boke regions. Mineral production figures in 2003 included: limestone, 944,600 metric tons, down from 984,300 metric tons in 2002; cement, 596,900 metric tons, compared to 605,800 metric tons in 2002; and peat, 366,900 metric tons, down from 513,000 metric tons in 2002. Following complaints from Lithuania's sole producers of cement and quicklime, the government launched antidumping investigations directed against Belarussian products. If the government were to take steps to protect the domestic construction material market, Lithuania could lose its export market in Belarus.
Lithuania is alone among the three nations that comprise the Baltic States (the other two are Latvia and Estonia) to have any known petroleum reserves. Although it does not have any known reserves of natural gas, it does have a small amount of recoverable coal reserves.
Lithuania had 12 million barrels of proven oil reserves in 2004, but potential onshore and offshore reserves could be much greater. Oil production in 2004 averaged 14,000 barrels per day, with consumption averaging 107,000 barrels per day that same year. As a result, Lithuania imports the bulk of its oil, mostly from Russia. Lithuania is also a net natural gas importer, with consumption of 110 billion cu ft in 2004. Russia's Gazprom is a major source of the country's gas imports.
Lithuania also operates the only petroleum refinery among the Baltic States, the Mazheikiai oil refinery, which has a production capacity of 263,000 barrels per day.
Lithuania has recoverable coal reserves of 4 million short tons, as of 2004. However there is no recorded domestic production or consumption of coal for that year.
In 2004, net electricity generation was 19.8 billion kWh. Consumption in that same year came to 11.6 billion kWh. In 2002, most of Lithuania's electric power came from the Ignalina nuclear plant. Of the 17.121 billion kWh of power generated that year, the Ignalina facility generated 82.6% of the country's power, while only 15% came from conventional thermal plants and the rest from hydroelectric sources. However, as of March 2005, the Lithuanian government was reported to have plans to close down the Ignalina facility in two stages, starting in 2005 and ending in 2009. Total installed generating capacity in 2004 was placed at 5.8 GW.001 was 5.8 million kW.
Lithuania underwent rapid industrialization during the Soviet era and has significant capacity in machine building and metalworking, as well as the textile and leather industries, and agro-processing (including processed meat, dairy products, and fish). The country's diverse manufacturing base also includes an oil refinery and high-tech minicomputer production. Other industrial products include refrigerators and freezers, electric motors, television sets, metal-cutting machine tools, small ships, furniture, fertilizers, optical equipment, and electronic components. Due to a rapid program of privatization, more than 80% of Lithuania's enterprises are privately owned. Most capital investment has gone into the industrial sector. Major infrastructure projects were planned in 2002, including upgrading the oil refinery, the nuclear power plant, construction of a main highway, and the modernization of sea-port facilities. The industrial sector accounted for about 31% of GDP in 2001.
By 2004, the representation of the industrial sector in the GDP increased to 33.4%, while its representation in the labor force was 30%; agriculture composed 6.1% of the economy, and 20% of the labor force; services came in first with 60.5% and 50% respectively. Industry remained an important growth factor in 2004, registering a 12% increase and outweighing the overall growth rate of the economy.
The Lithuanian Academy of Science, founded in 1941, has departments of mathematical, physical, and chemical sciences; biological, medical, and agricultural sciences; and technical sciences. In 1987–97, science and engineering students accounted for 31% of university enrollment. Ten research institutes concerned with medicine, natural sciences, and technology, mostly in Vilnius, and a botanical garden in Kaunas are attached to the academy. Four other institutes conduct research in medicine and forestry. Seven universities and colleges offer degrees in basic and applied sciences.
In 2002, Lithuania had 1,824 scientists and engineers and 430 technicians per one million people engaged in research and development (R&D). In that same year, Lithuania spent $243.617 million, or 0.68% of GDP on R&D. The largest contributor was the government, accounting for 65.1% of expenditures, followed by business at 27.9% and by foreign investors at 7.1%. High technology exports in 2002 totaled $130 million, or 5% of the country's manufactured exports.
Vilnius, Klaipėda, and Kaunas each have shopping areas and several markets; many smaller towns have a central market. Several supermarkets have opened within the past few years. There are also a number of newer privately-owned import businesses taking root. As of 2002, manufacturing accounted for about 23% of the GDP and wholesale/retail sales were up to about 15% and 8.4% respectively. For a time, inflation (estimated at 23% in 1996) severely hindered domestic purchasing power. By 1998, however, inflation was down to 5.1% and the 2002 estimate was at 0.8%. A cash economy still prevails, though some major hotels and restaurants have accepted credit cards.
Lithuania depends heavily on trade, particularly with other republics of the former Soviet Union. In 2000, total imports were valued at $5.5 billion, and exports at $3.8 billion. In the mid-to-late 1990s, Lithuania was trading more with Western nations, and reducing its reliance on trade with former Soviet republics. Trade with the West increased from 15% to 60% between 1990 and 1995, while trade with former Soviet republics fell from 78% in 1990 to 40% in 1995. Since Lithuania's independence in 1990, growing disruptions in trade with Russia and the other former Soviet republics have resulted in a steep decline in import volumes and numerous domestic shortages.
In 2004, exports grew to $8.9 billion (FOB—Free on Board), while imports reached $11 billion. Mineral products make up Lithuania's most beneficial export commodity (23%), followed by textiles and clothing (16%), and machinery and equipment (11%). Other export commodities include chemicals (6%), wood and wood products (5%), and foodstuffs (5%). The most important export partners, in 2004, were Germany (receiving 10.2% of total exports), Latvia (10.2%), Russia (9.3%), France (6.3%), the United Kingdom (5.3%), Sweden (5.1%), Estonia (5%), Poland (4.8%), the Netherlands (4.8%), Denmark (4.8%), the United States (4.7%), and Switzerland (4.6%). The main import commodities were mineral products (21%), machinery and equipment (17%), transport equipment (11%), chemicals (9%), textiles and clothing (9%), and metals (5%); and most of these came from Russia (23.1%), Germany (16.7%), Poland (7.7%), the Netherlands (4.0%), and Latvia (3.8%).
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported that in 2002 the purchasing power parity of Lithuania's exports was $5.4 billion while imports totaled $6.8 billion resulting in a trade deficit of $1.4 billion.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 1998 Lithuania had exports of goods totaling $4.89 billion and imports totaling $6 billion. The services credit totaled $1.16 billion and debit $700 million.
The exports of goods and services continued to grow in the following years, reaching $9.5 billion in 2003, and $11 billion in 2004. Imports followed a similar path, totaling $10.5 billion in 2003, and $12.4 billion in 2004. The resource balance was consequently negative in both years, at -$1 billion and -$1.4 billion respectively. The current account balance was also negative, dropping to -$1.2 billion in 2003, and -$1.3 billion in 2004. Total reserves (including gold) decreased from $3.5 billion in 2003 to $3 billion in 2004, covering around three months of imports.
Since 1991, Lithuania has reorganized its banking sector numerous times. A myriad of banks emerged after independence, most of them weak. Consequently, consolidations, mergers, and collapses became a regular feature of the country's banking system.
On 3 July 1992 the government adopted a new currency unit, the lita, to replace the ruble. Between 1992 and 1995, six banks lost their licenses and two were merged; as of mid-1996, 16 were either suspended or facing bankruptcy procedures. The first serious crisis centered on Aurasbankas, the eighth-largest bank in the country, and the deposit bank for many ministries. The Bank of Lithuania suspended Aurasbankas's operations in mid-1995 because of liquidity problems caused by bad lending and deposittaking
|(…) data not available or not significant.|
|Balance on goods||1,704.2|
|Balance on services||614.4|
|Balance on income||-482.2|
|Direct investment abroad||-37.2|
|Direct investment in Lithuania||179.2|
|Portfolio investment assets||29.8|
|Portfolio investment liabilities||222.3|
|Other investment assets||-100.9|
|Other investment liabilities||1,377.2|
|Net Errors and Omissions||181.2|
|Reserves and Related Items||-612.7|
|(…) data not available or not significant.|
taking practices. In July 1995, the minimum capital requirement for existing banks was raised from LTL5 million to LTL10 million, the level already established for new banks. By May 1999, only five commercial banks remained. Moreover, foreign investment by Sweden's Swedbank and SE-Banken, helped keep Hansapank-Hoiupank and Uhispank-Tallinna, respectively.
Operations at Lithuania's largest bank, the Joint-Stock Innovation Bank, were suspended on 20 December 1995, and those of the Litimpeks bank, the country's second-largest, two days later. The two were in the process of merging to create the Lithuania United Bank and the fraud was uncovered during pre-merger audits. Due to rumors of a devaluation of the currency, a shortage of foreign exchange throughout the whole banking sector was created.
The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand deposits—an aggregate commonly known as M1—were equal to $1.7 billion. In that same year, M2—an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual funds—was $3.2 billion. The money market rate, the rate at which financial institutions lend to one another in the short term, was 3.37%.
The National Stock Exchange, which opened in September 1993, is the most active in the region, with 245 listed companies. Monthly turnover by the end of 1994 had reached LTL20.8 million. The market gains continued into 1999 as the index rose 15%. As of 2004, there were a total of 43 companies listed on the Vilnius Stock Exchange (VILSE), with a market capitalization of $6.463 billion. In 2004, the VILSE Index rose 68.2% from the previous year to 293.4.
In 1997, a key feature of the new economic framework in Lithuania was the pegging of the lita to a currency basket composed of the dollar and the deutschemark. In 1999, the Bank of Lithuania announced its intention to peg the lita to the euro in 2001.
Lithuania's health insurance system is reminiscent of the Soviet era through a state-run system of coverage for all residents. In 2003, the value of all direct insurance premiums written totaled $266 million, of which nonlife premiums accounted for $196 million. Lithuania's top nonlife insurer in 2003 was Lietuvos Draudimas, with gross written nonlife premiums of $64.7 million. As of 2004, Lithuania's leading life insurer was Hansa Gywybes Draudimus, which had gross written life insurance premiums of $32.5 million.
Lithuania had, of course, a planned economy under the Soviet regime, and the implementation of collective farming ravaged the agricultural sector for over a decade. It was not until the early 1960s and the introduction of chemicals that crop production recovered to pre-WWII levels. The crop boom that followed as a result of the chemical innovations left many ecological problems. Privatization following independence occurred slowly but steadily, and in 1998 it looked like the economy had survived the growing pains of dismantling the socialist system. However, the August 1998 collapse of the Russian ruble reverted Lithuania's economy back to negative growth and refocused the country's trade toward the West. In 1997, exports to former Soviet nations accounted for
|Revenue and Grants||16,091||100.0%|
|General public services||4,345||25.3%|
|Public order and safety||1,088||6.3%|
|Housing and community amenities||1||<1.0%|
|Recreational, culture, and religion||289||1.7%|
|(…) data not available or not significant.|
45% of total exports. By 2002, that number was only 19%, as 71% of exports went to EU member countries and candidates. Privatization was nearly complete as of 2002, except for the energy sector, where energy company privatization was completely on hold and gas company privatization delayed.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Lithuania's central government took in revenues of approximately $8.4 billion and had expenditures of $9.1 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$674 million. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 21.4% of GDP. Total external debt was $10.47 billion.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2003, the most recent year for which it had data, central government revenues were LTL16,091 million and expenditures were LTL17,192 million. The value of revenues was us$5,257 million and expenditures us$5,585 million, based on an exchange rate for 2003 of us$1 = LTL3.061 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 25.3%; defense, 5.2%; public order and safety, 6.3%; economic affairs, 12.7%; environmental protection, 0.6%; health, 12.1%; recreation, culture, and religion, 1.7%; education, 7.2%; and social protection, 28.9%.
Lithuania has one of the most liberal tax regimes in Europe. The corporate income rate as of 2005 was 15%. Small enterprises with gross income of less than €144,810 (LTL500,000) and which have no more than 10 employees are taxed at 13% of profits. Capital gains are considered part of corporate income and are taxed at the corporate rate. Dividends are generally taxed at 15% but if paid to a nonresident company that owns more than 10% of its voting shares (i.e., its parent company), there is no tax. This provision is not applicable to companies operating in Free Economic Zones (FEZs), which offer 80% reduction in the corporate income tax rate for the first five years, and a 50% reduction for an additional five years. The statutory withholding rates are 15% for dividend income and 10% for interest and royalties. Withholding rates on capital income are often reduced to 10% and 5% in bilateral double tax prevention treaties between Lithuania and other countries.
Personal income as of 2005 was taxed at a flat rate of 33%. However, plans by the government call for this rate to be reduced to 30% in 2006, 27% in 2007 and to 24% in 2008. In addition, certain other types of income are subject to a 15% rate. These include income from distributed profits, the sale or rental of property, creative activities and other types of individual activities. Individuals receiving capital gains from either the sale of property or shares are taxed at 15% on the gains. However, capital gains from shares held for more than a year may be exempt if certain conditions are met. If the gains are derived from the sale of immovable property in Lithuania, they are exempt if the property was held for more than three years. Deductions from income for the primary flat tax include a nontaxable minimum which is higher for disabled persons, single parents and other specified groups, plus all social security and social assistance payments, death benefits, court awards, gifts, allowances for insurance payments, charity donations, and most payments to pension accounts. In 2003 a 1.5% real estate tax was introduced. Gifts and inheritances are taxed at 0%, 5% and 10% depending on the amount involved.
The main indirect tax is Lithuania's value-added tax (VAT) enacted 22 December 1993 and most lately revised in 1 July 2002 for application in 2003. The VAT has a standard rate of 18%, applicable to most goods and services, and three reduced rates of 9%, 5% and 0%. The 9% rate is applied to the renovation and construction of buildings financed from certain sources. The 5% rate is applied to certain foodstuffs, newspapers, books, passenger and luggage transport, drugs and medicines, and hotel accommodations. Exports and some export related services, international transport, ships and aircraft, and European Union related trade or supplies are zero-rated. Exempted from the VAT are educational, healthcare, insurance and financial services, the leasing, sale or transfer of immovable property (including dwellings), and social, sports, cultural, radio and television services, if provided by nonprofit organizations. There are also excise duties on ethyl alcohol and alcoholic beverages, tobacco and fuels. However, by the new Law on Excise Duties of 1 July 2002, excise taxes on jewelry, electrical energy, coffee, chocolate, and other food products were abolished, while turnover taxes replaced excises on sugar, luxury cars, liquid cosmetics containing ethyl alcohol, and publications of an erotic and/or violent nature. In 1999, the government introduced a pollution tax on packets to encourage the recycling of packaging material.
Most foreign imports, including all raw materials, are duty-free. Exceptions include food products (5–10%), fabrics (10%), electronics (10%), cement (25%), and window glass (50%). The average tariff on consumer products is 15%. Alcoholic beverages are subject to duties ranging from 10% for beer to 100% for some liquor. An 18% VAT is also placed on imports. In 1993, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia formed a free trade area, which eliminated customs duties and quotas between the three Baltic States. In accordance with Lithuania's participation in the European Union, some duties on EU goods have been lowered.
In May 1991, a foreign investment law was passed permitting majority holdings by nonresidents and guaranteeing the full transfer of profits.
Various tax benefits may be granted to foreign investors depending on the type and size of the investment. When purchasing privatized Lithuanian companies or forming joint ventures, foreign investors are usually expected to provide employment guarantees.
Foreigners from European Union and NATO-member nations may own land, while foreigners from all other nations may not. The provision is aimed primarily at foreigners from former Soviet republics who are the main non-Western investors in Lithuania. Foreigners not eligible to own land may rent it for a period of up to 99 years.
In 1998, foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow into Lithuania reached $925.5 million, up from $354.5 million the year before, due largely to the privatization of Lithuania's telecommunications company. From 1999 to 2001, FDI inflow averaged $437 million a year. In 2002, contrary to worldwide trends of decreasing inward FDI flows, FDI in Lithuania rose 21.9% to $543 million.
On 1 July 2004 total foreign direct investment in Lithuania reached $5.7 billion, with most of it coming from the EU. The largest chunk of this capital inflow went to the following sectors: processing (31.1%), trade (17.9%), transportation and communication (17.1%), and financial mediation (15.7%).
Lithuania continues, despite its small size, to be an attractive location for FDI and a competitive center for product sourcing. It boasts a highly skilled labor force, competitive costs, a stable political and economic environment, a strong currency, and the region's most developed infrastructure.
In 1990, the Lithuanian government began a comprehensive economic reform program aimed at effecting the transformation to a market-driven economy. Reform measures include price reform, trade reform, and privatization. By mid-1993, 92% of housing and roughly 60% of businesses slated for privatization had been privatized. By 1996, about 36% of state enterprises and about 83% of all state property had been privatized. International aid agencies committed about $765 million of assistance in 1992–95. Most international aid went either to infrastructure construction or loan credits to business. Citing continued progress toward democratic development, in 1999 the United States announced that it was terminating economic assistance to Lithuania. Having established itself as a democratic society with a market economy, Lithuania was invited to join the EU in 2002, and it became a member in 2004.
In 2001, Lithuania negotiated a 19-month, $119-million standby arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In 2002, the country's GDP grew at a rapid pace (6–6.7%), unemployment was declining, the inflation rate fell to near zero, and there was a lower-than-expected general government deficit. In 2002, the tax system was aligned with EU requirements, the financial situation of municipalities and the Health Insurance Fund was improved, privatization moved forward and the financial sector was strengthened. The privatization program for 2003 included the sale of a second 34% stake in Lithuania Gas, one or two electricity distribution companies, and four alcohol producers.
In 2003, Lithuania was one of the most dynamic economies in Europe, with a 9.7% growth of the GDP, and it continued strongly through 2004 and 2005. Unemployment was on a downward spiral, and inflation was very stable, fluctuating around the 1% mark. However, income levels still lag behind the rest of the EU, and greenfield investments need to be attracted to counteract the effects of a more expensive future market. An inflow of structural funds from the EU is expected to trigger a short-term economic boom.
A national system of social insurance covers all of Lithuania's residents and was most recently updated in 2003. Old age, sickness, disability, and unemployment benefits are paid on an earningsrelated basis, from contributions by both employers and employees. Retirement is set at age 62.5 for men, and age 59 for women, gradually increasing to age 60 by 2006. Family allowance benefits are provided by states and municipalities to families with low incomes. There is a universal system of medical care, and a dual social insurance and social assistance program for maternity and health payments. Unemployment benefits are provided to applicants with at least 24 months of previous contributions and is paid for a period not exceeding six months in a 12-month period.
Legally, men and women have equal status, including equal pay for equal work, although in practice women are underrepresented in managerial and professional positions. Discrimination against women in the workplace persists. Violence against women, especially domestic abuse, is common. It is estimated that 80% of women experience psychological abuse, 35% experience physical abuse, and 17% are victims of sexual abuse. Child abuse is also a serious social problem. Authorities link the upsurge in abuse to alcoholism.
Human rights are generally respected in Lithuania, and human rights organizations are permitted to operate freely and openly. Prolonged detention still occurs in some cases, and poor prison conditions persist. Anti-Semitic incidents increased in 2004.
In 2004, Lithuania had approximately 403 physicians, 797 nurses, 71 dentists, and 65 pharmacists per 100,000 people. Most primary care providers are women. In 1994, the Public Health Surveillance Service was established to oversee control of communicable diseases, environmental and occupational health, and some other areas. Total health care expenditure was estimated at 6.3% of GDP.
One-year-old children were immunized as follows: tuberculosis, 97%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 96%; polio, 89%; and measles, 94%. The rates were 93% for DPT and 97% for measles. The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.10 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 1,300 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 200 deaths from AIDS in 2003.
Life expectancy was 73.97 years in 2005. The infant mortality rate for that year was 6.89 per 1,000 live births. The maternal mortality rate was 18 per 100,000 live births. As of 2002, the crude birth rate and overall mortality rate were estimated at, respectively, 8.3 and 14.7 per 1,000 people.
In 2001, national statistics indicated that there were about 1,293,029 dwelling units in the country, an average of 356 housing units per 1,000 people. About 32% of all housing units were individual houses; 61% were apartments. About 97% of these units are privately owned. The average living space is about 21.5 square meters per person. About 79% of all conventional dwellings are equipped with piped water, 72% had bath and shower facilities, and 52% had central heating. City governments are being encouraged to take more responsibility for social housing projects. Homeowners associations are being encouraged and new laws are being drafted for residential building associations. The Housing Loan Insurance Company was established in 2000 to provide insurance of loans and to promote housing loans with a low (5%) down payment.
Education is free and compulsory for all children between the ages of 7 and 15 years (for 9 years). While Lithuanian is the most common medium of instruction, children also study Polish, Russian, and Yiddish. Primary school covers four years of study, followed by six years of basic or lower secondary school. Students then move on to either two years of senior secondary school or vocational schools, which offer two- to three-year programs. The academic year runs from September to June.
In 2001, about 55% of children between the ages of three and six were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 91% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 94% of age-eligible students. Nearly all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 16:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 11:1.
The four main universities are: Kaunas University of Technology (founded in 1950); Vilnius Technical University (founded in 1961); Vilnius University (founded in 1579); and Vytautas Magnus University (founded in 1922). In 2003, about 72% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program; 56% for men and 88% for women. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 99.6%.
As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 5.9% of GDP.
The National Library at Vilnius has about 9.2 million volumes. Founded in 1570, the Vilnius University Library has over 5.3 million volumes. Vilnius also has the Central Library of the Academy of Sciences, with about 3.66 million volumes. There are dozens of other special collections in the country, including libraries maintained by the Union of Lithuanian Writers, the State Institute of Art, and the Institute of Urban Planning. The Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore in Vilnius contains over 240,000 printed items. The Lithuanian Librarians' Association was established in 1931, disbanded under German occupation in 1941, and reorganized in 1989.
The majority of Lithuania's museums are in Vilnius, and these include the Lithuanian Art Museum (1941), the National Museum (1856), the Museum of Lithuanian Religious History, and, founded in 1991 just after gaining independence from the Soviet Union, the Lithuanian State Museum, dedicated to the country's suffering under and resistance to Soviet occupation. The Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis National Art Museum, named for a famous native composer and painter, is located in Kaunas; special branches of this museum include the Devil's Museum, a collection of artwork depicting devils, and a Ceramics Museum. The Museum of the Center of Europe, an open-air museum displaying large-scale works by European artists, was opened in Vilnius in 1994. There is also a Park of Soviet Sculptures in Druskininkai. The Lithuanian Theater, Music and Film Museum in Vilnius was founded by the Ministry of Culture. There are several other specialized museums, including the Museum of Genocide Victims (Vilnius), Museum of the History of Lithuania Medicine and Pharmacy (Kaunas), Museum of Ancient Beekeeping (Ignalina), and the Museum of Vilnius Sport History. There are several regional museums associated with secondary schools; these contain materials on local arts and history, as well as the history of the school to which the museum is linked.
In 2003, there were an estimated 239 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people; about 1,300 people were on a waiting list for telephone service installation. The same year, there were approximately 630 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.
Broadcasting is controlled by Lithuanian Television and Radio Broadcasting. Radio Vilnius broadcasts in Lithuanian, Russian, Polish, and English. As of 2001 there were 29 AM and 142 FM radio stations. In 2003, there were an estimated 524 radios and 487 television sets for every 1,000 people. About 76.9 of every 1,000 people were cable subscribers. Also in 2003, there were 109.7 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 202 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were 47 secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.
The most popular daily newspapers are Lietuvos Rytas (Lithuania's Morning, in Russian), with a 2002 circulation of 85,000; Respubliká (55,000); Lietuvos Aidas (The Echo of Lithuania, 20,000); and Kauno Diena (Kaunas Daily, 57,000). There are also several periodicals available.
The constitution provides for free speech and a free press, and the government is said to uphold these provisions. Since independence, the independent print media have flourished, producing some 2,000 newspapers and periodicals, and plans for a number of private radio and television stations are underway.
Important economic organizations include the Association of Chamber of Commerce and Industry, an organization that coordinates the activities of all the chambers of commerce in Lithuania. There are three umbrella trade union organizations in the country: the Lithuania Confederation of Free Trade Unions, the Lithuania Union of Trade Unions, and the Lithuanian Workers' Union. Professional associations exist for a number of fields and occupations.
The Lithuanian Academy of Sciences promotes education and research in a wide variety of scientific fields. The Lithuanian Medical Association promotes research and education on health issues and works to establish common policies and standards in healthcare. There are several other associations dedicated to research and education for specific fields of medicine and particular diseases and conditions, such as the Lithuanian Heart Association.
There are a number of sports associations in the country, representing such pastimes as speed skating, squash, tae kwon do, tennis, badminton, weightlifting, and baseball. There are also branches of the Paralympic Committee. The Council of Lithuanian Youth Organizations helps organize and support a variety of youth groups. Scouting programs and chapters of the YMCA/YWCA are also active for youth. Volunteer service organizations, such as the Lions Clubs and Kiwanis International, are also present. The Red Cross is also active.
The capital city of Vilnius has one of the largest historic districts in Eastern Europe, distinguished primarily by its Baroque churches, many of which have been reclaimed since independence by money and missionaries from abroad. Kaunas, Lithuania's second-largest city, offers the tourist old merchants' buildings and museums. The seaside resort towns are active in the summer. The traveler can participate in tennis, fishing, sailing, rowing, and winter sports. Lithuanians have long distinguished themselves at basketball, and have contributed top players to the Soviet teams. Seven Lithuanians have Olympic gold medals, and the national basketball team won a bronze medal in Barcelona in 1992 and again in Sydney in 2000.
All visitors need a valid passport. Visas are not required for nationals of the European Union states, the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, and some South American countries. Travelers of non-European Union countries must carry proof of medical insurance to cover travel in Lithuania.
About 3.6 million tourists visited Lithuania in 2003. There were 7,694 hotel rooms with 15,142 beds and an occupancy rate of 32%. The average length of stay in Lithuania was two nights. Tourist expenditure receipts totaled $700 million that year.
In 2004, the US Department of State estimated the daily cost of traveling in Lithuania at $205.
President Valdas Adamkus (b.1926) was chief of state from 1998–2003, and then beginning again in 2004.
Lithuania has no territories or colonies.
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