Lithuania

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LITHUANIA

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT
TOPOGRAPHY
CLIMATE
FLORA AND FAUNA
ENVIRONMENT
POPULATION
MIGRATION
ETHNIC GROUPS
LANGUAGES
RELIGIONS
TRANSPORTATION
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL PARTIES
LOCAL GOVERNMENT
JUDICIAL SYSTEM
ARMED FORCES
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
ECONOMY
INCOME
LABOR
AGRICULTURE
ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
FISHING
FORESTRY
MINING
ENERGY AND POWER
INDUSTRY
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
DOMESTIC TRADE
FOREIGN TRADE
BALANCE OF PAYMENTS
BANKING AND SECURITIES
INSURANCE
PUBLIC FINANCE
TAXATION
CUSTOMS AND DUTIES
FOREIGN INVESTMENT
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HEALTH
HOUSING
EDUCATION
LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS
MEDIA
ORGANIZATIONS
TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION
FAMOUS LITHUANIANS
DEPENDENCIES
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Republic of Lithuania

Lietuvos Respublika

CAPITAL: Vilnius

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, 2526 December.

TIME: 2 pm = noon GMT.

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT

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.

TOPOGRAPHY

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).

CLIMATE

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.

FLORA AND FAUNA

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.

ENVIRONMENT

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.

POPULATION

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 200510 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.

MIGRATION

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.

ETHNIC GROUPS

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.

LANGUAGES

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.

RELIGIONS

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.

TRANSPORTATION

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.

HISTORY

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 131641, 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.

GOVERNMENT

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.

POLITICAL PARTIES

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 Partya recent political formation led by Russian millionaire Voktor Uspaskichwon 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.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

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.

JUDICIAL SYSTEM

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.

ARMED FORCES

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.

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

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.

ECONOMY

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 19994.7% in 1996, 7.3% in 1997 and 5.1% in 1998but 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 2004the 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.

INCOME

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.

LABOR

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.

AGRICULTURE

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 19902000. However, during 200204, crop production was up 9.5% from 19992001. 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.

ANIMAL HUSBANDRY

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.

FISHING

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.

FORESTRY

Forests cover about 32% of Lithuania. The forestry, wood products, and paper industries are some of Lithuania's oldestfurniture, matches, and timber products were manufactured in Kaunas and Vilnius in the mid-1800s, and furniture-making prevailed from 191940. 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.

MINING

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.

ENERGY AND POWER

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.

INDUSTRY

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.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

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 198797, 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.

DOMESTIC TRADE

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.

FOREIGN TRADE

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 (FOBFree 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%).

BALANCE OF PAYMENTS

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.

BANKING AND SECURITIES

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

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 7,162.2 9,803.0 -2,640.8
Switzerland-Liechtenstein 833.3 76.8 756.5
Russia 725.8 2,160.4 -1,434.6
Germany 709.5 1,583.3 -873.8
Latvia 692.1 155.5 536.6
United Kingdom 455.3 325.5 129.8
France-Monaco 363.2 407.3 -44.1
Denmark 338.7 278.6 60.1
Estonia 308.1 135.3 172.8
Sweden 286.9 342.6 -55.7
Netherlands 245.1 248.7 -3.6
() data not available or not significant.
Current Account -1,278.4
   Balance on goods 1,704.2
      Imports -9,362.0
      Exports 7,657.8
   Balance on services 614.4
   Balance on income -482.2
   Current transfers 293.7
Capital Account 67.5
Financial Account 1,642.3
   Direct investment abroad -37.2
   Direct investment in Lithuania 179.2
   Portfolio investment assets 29.8
   Portfolio investment liabilities 222.3
   Financial derivatives -28.0
   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 depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $1.7 billion. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $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.

INSURANCE

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.

PUBLIC FINANCE

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%
    Tax revenue 9,716 60.4%
    Social contributions 4,851 30.1%
    Grants 435 2.7%
    Other revenue 1,089 6.8%
Expenditures 17,192 100.0%
    General public services 4,345 25.3%
    Defense 891 5.2%
    Public order and safety 1,088 6.3%
    Economic affairs 2,183 12.7%
    Environmental protection 96 0.6%
    Housing and community amenities 1 <1.0%
    Health 2,084 12.1%
    Recreational, culture, and religion 289 1.7%
    Education 1,238 7.2%
    Social protection 4,976 28.9%
() 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%.

TAXATION

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.

CUSTOMS AND DUTIES

Most foreign imports, including all raw materials, are duty-free. Exceptions include food products (510%), 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.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT

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.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

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 199295. 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 (66.7%), 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.

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

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.

HEALTH

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.

HOUSING

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

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.

LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS

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.

MEDIA

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.

ORGANIZATIONS

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.

TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION

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.

FAMOUS LITHUANIANS

President Valdas Adamkus (b.1926) was chief of state from 19982003, and then beginning again in 2004.

DEPENDENCIES

Lithuania has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

The Baltic States: The National Self-Determination of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. New York: St. Martin's, 1994.

Donskis, Leonidas. Identity and Freedom: Mapping Nationalism and Social Criticism in Twentieth-Century Lithuania. New York: Routledge, 2002.

Frucht, Richard (ed.). Eastern Europe: An Introduction to the People, Lands, and Culture. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2005.

Hoshi, Iraj, Ewa Balcerowicz, and Leszek Balcerowicz (eds.). Barriers to Entry and Growth of New Firms in Early Transition: A Comparative Study of Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Albania, and Lithuania. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003.

Krickus, Richard J. Showdown: The Lithuanian Rebellion and the Breakup of the Soviet Empire. Washington, DC.: Brassey's, 1997.

Lieven, Anatol. The Baltic Revolution: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the Path to Independence. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993.

McElrath, Karen (ed.). HIV and AIDS: A Global View. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Otfinoski, Steven. The Baltic Republics. New York: Facts On File, 2004.

Petersen, Roger Dale. Resistance and Rebellion: Lessons from Eastern Europe. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Senn, Alfred Erich. Lithuania Awakening. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.

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LITHUANIA

LITHUANIA (Lithuanian Lietuva ; Pol. Litwa ; Rus. Litva ; Heb. Lita ליטא or ליטה; Yid. Lite ליטע), southernmost of Baltic states of N.E. Europe; from 1940 Lithuanian S.S.R. (for early period, see *Poland-Lithuania). (See Map: Lithuanian Communities). For the list of alternative names for Jewish communities in Lithuania see Table 1: List of Alternative Names for Jewish Communities in Lithuania. With the partition of Poland at the close of the 18th century the territories of Lithuania passed to Russia. Subsequently, for more than 120 years, Lithuania ceased to exist as a political or administrative unit. It was divided up into six or seven provinces in which the history of the Jews was similar to that of the Jews throughout *Russia. Lithuanian Jewry nevertheless retained its specific character, and its influence on Russian Jewry – and on world Jewry in general – extended beyond the boundaries of historic Lithuania. Lithuanian Jewry was particularly oppressed during World War i. The attitude of the Russian military authorities toward the Jews was one of suspicion and hostility; rumors were spread that they were traitors, and the army therefore perpetrated pogroms against them. In the spring of 1915 expulsions of Jews from the provinces of *Suwalki, Kovno (*Kaunas), *Courland, and *Grodno began. During the fall of the same year, northern and western Lithuania were occupied by the German army. The population suffered from lack of food and unemployment. Limited aid arrived from the Jews of Germany and the United States and a ramified Jewish assistance organization was set up. A network of Hebrew and Yiddish schools, including secondary schools, was established. After the end of World War i, a considerable number of refugees returned to their former places of residence. Lithuanian Jewry was henceforward divided among three states: independent Lithuania, Belorussian S.S.R. (see *Belorussia), and Poland.

Character and Influence on the Diaspora

The notion of "Lithuanian" ("Litvak" in Yiddish) to be found in speech, folklore, and Jewish literature in all its languages applies to the Jewish community which developed within the boundaries of historic Lithuania, the region which formed part of the greater Polish kingdom during the 16th to 18th centuries. From the close of the 18th century until World War i this area came under the rule of czarist Russia and included the provinces of Kovno, *Vilna, Grodno, and northern Suwalki, which were essentially of Lithuanian-Polish character, and of *Vitebsk, *Minsk, and *Mogilev, which were Belorussian-Russian in character. A distinction is sometimes made between Lithuanian Jews in a restricted sense (from the provinces of Vilna, Kovno, and the northern parts of the provinces of Suwalki and Grodno) and the Belorussian Jews ("province of Russia"). At the close of the 19th century, about 1,500,000 Jews lived in this region; they constituted more than one-eighth of the total population. The Jews were mainly concentrated in the towns and villages, where in the main they were in the majority. There were more than 300 communities in Lithuania with more than 1,000 persons, including 12 large communities each numbering more than 20,000 persons: Vilna, Minsk, *Bialystok, Vitebsk, Dvinsk (*Daugavpils), *Brest-Litovsk, Kovno, Grodno, Mogilev, *Pinsk, *Bobruisk, and *Gomel; but even the smaller settlements with only some dozens of Jewish families had a vibrant and full Jewish life.

Both economic and historical factors were responsible for the unique character of Lithuanian Jewry. Lithuania was a poor country, and the mass of its inhabitants, consisting of Lithuanian and Belorussian peasants, formed a low social stratum whose national culture was undeveloped. The Jews who had contacts with them as contractors, merchants, shopkeepers, innkeepers, craftsmen, etc., regarded themselves as their superiors in every respect. Lithuanian Jewry was relatively less affected by the *Chmielnicki massacres that devastated the Jews of the Ukraine in 1648–49, and those perpetrated by the *Haidamacks during the 18th century. Even when the wave of pogroms swept Russia during the last decades of czarist rule, there were only isolated manifestations of anti-Jewish violencein Lithuania (Gomel, Bialystok). These circumstances gave the Lithuanian Jews a feeling of stability and security, as a result of which they developed no desire to adopt the language and culture of the surrounding peoples.

The Jews of Lithuania maintained their own way of life. They spoke a special dialect of Yiddish – Lithuanian Yiddish – which differed from the Yiddish spoken in Poland and Volhynia mainly in the pronunciation of the vowels (and in certain districts in the pronunciation of the שׁ (shin) as שׂ (sin) or ס (samekh). The world outlook and way of life of Lithuanian Jewry were based on the Written Law and the Oral Law. The Shulhan Arukh and its commentaries guided them in their everyday life. Torah learning flourished among wide circles, and love of Torah and esteem for its study was widespread among the masses of Jews. The Jews who lived in the region bordering Lithuania, the "Poles" in the west and the "Volhynians"

Lithuanian Name Russian Name Yiddish Name
AlytusOlitaAlite
AnyksciaiOnikshtvAniksht
BalberiskisBalkerishkiBalbirishok
BirzaiBirzhiBirzh
ButrimonicaiButymantsvButrimants
DarbenaiDorbyanyDorbian
DusetoiDusjatyDusyat
GargzdaiGorzhdy
JonavaJanovoYanove
JoniskisYanishkiYanishok
JurbarkasJurbug
KaisiadorysKoisedaryKashedar
KalvarijaKalvariya
KaunasKovno
KedainiaiKeidanyKeidan
KelmeKelmyKelm
KlaipedaMemel
KrakiaiKrukiKrok
KrakinavaKrakinovo
KretingaKretingaKretingen
Kudaros-NaumiestisVladslavov
Lithuanian Name Russian Name Yiddish Name
Kudirkos-NaumiestisNovoe MestoNayshtat
KupiskisKupishkiKupishok
KursenaiKurshanyKurshan
KybartaiKibartyKibart
LazdijaiLozdzeeLazdey
LinkuveLinkovo
LuokeLavkovLuvkeve
MaletaiMaljatyMalat
MarijampoleMariampol
MazeikiaiMazheikiMazheik
MerkineMeretsch
NemaksciaiNemokshtyNemoksht
ObeliaiAbeliAbel
PandelisPonedeliPonedel
PanevezysPonevezh
PasvalysPosvol
PilviskiaiPilvishkiPilvishok
PlungePlungyanyPlungyan
PrienaiPrenyPren
RadviliskisRadzivilishki
RaguvaRogovRogove
RaseiniaiRossienyiRasseyn
RietavasRetovoRiteve
RokiskisTakishkiRakishok
SakiaiShaki
SalakasSolokiSalok
SalantaiSalantySalant
SedaSyadySyad
SeduvaShadovShadove
SeirijaiSereeSerey
SiauliaiShavliShavl
SilaleShileliShilel
SimnasSimno
SirvintosShervintyShirvint
SkaudvileSkadvileShkudvil
SkuodasShkudyShkud
SveksnaShvekshni
TaurageTaurogenTavrig
TelsiaiTelschiTelz
TrakaiTroki
UkmergeVilkomir
UtenaUtsjanyUtyah
UzpaliaiUschpol
VarniaiVorniVorne
VeisijaiVeisee
VieksniaiWekschniVekshne
VilkaviskisVolkovyshkiVilkovishk
VilkijaViliki
VirbalisVerzhbolovVirbaln
ZagareZhagoryZhager
ZarasaiNovo AleksandrovskEzherene
ZasliaiShosliZasle
ZiezmariaiZhizhmoryZemar
ZydikiaiZhidikiZidik

in the south, associated specific characteristics with the Lithuanian Jews: a certain emotional dryness, the superiority of the intellect over emotion, mental alertness, sharp-wittedness, and pungency. Their piety was also questioned (hence the popular derogatory appellation for the Lithuanian Jews, "tseylem-kop"). It was also a feature of Lithuanian Jewry that *Ḥasidism did not strike roots in northern Lithuania, while in the provinces of Belorussia it assumed a different nature and content – the Chabad trend – from the original Hasidism of Ukraine and Poland (see below). Lithuanian Jews were considered the "prototype" of the *Mitnaggedim.

Spiritual Trends and Leaders

Until the 16th century the Jews of Lithuania were on the outer fringe of European Jewry. During the 16th and 17th centuries, they were influenced by Polish Jewry, and adopted its organizational methods (Lithuanian Council; see *Councils of the Lands), its educational system, and its mode of learning. The first prominent rabbis who were called upon to officiate in the large Lithuanian communities, such as Mordecai b. Abraham *Jaffe, author of the Levushim, and Joel *Sirkes, author of Bayit Ḥadash (the "Baḥ"), came from outside Lithuania. Solomon b. Jehiel *Luria (the Maharshal), who was of Lithuanian origin and promoted Torah learning there for a number of years, acquired most of his education and was mainly active beyond the borders of that country. It was only during the 17th century that leading Torah scholars emerged from the yeshivot of Lithuania. Among them were the commentators on the Shulhan Arukh, *Shabbetai b. Meir ha-Kohen (the Shakh), and Moses b. Naphtali Hirsch *Rivkes, author of Be'er ha-Golah.However, the personality which symbolized the supremacy of Torah learning within Lithuanian Jewry and determined its character for several generations was that of the Gaon of Vilna, *Elijah b. Solomon Zalman, who lived during the second half of the 18th century. He established his own method of study. Its main features were abstention from casuistic methods, close examination of the talmudic text and accuracy in its interpretation, a comprehensive knowledge of all the sources, and the study of grammar and the sciences which were essential for profound understanding of the teachings of the Torah.

R. Elijah appeared on the Lithuanian scene when winds of change were beginning to blow across that country. In the south, Ḥasidism blazed a trail, and the disciples of *Dov Baer the Maggid of Mezhirech arrived in *Shklov, Vitebsk, Vilna, and other communities, winning over a large following. From the West came the ideas of the *Haskalah; these at first were moderate in character and sought to adapt themselves to the old school (like the scholars of Shklov, R. Baruch b. Jacob *Schick, or Phinehas Elijah *Hurwitz, author of Sefer ha-Berit), but their revolutionary nature was rapidly revealed. R. Elijah's circle of disciples consolidated against these new forces; they regarded Torah study as a guarantee for the continued existence of the nation in its traditional form and converted religious learning into a popular movement, in which the great central yeshivot played a leading role. The first of these was the yeshivah established by Ḥayyim *Volozhiner in 1803 in the townlet of Volozhin. In its wake, both large and small yeshivot were founded in many towns and villages, as well as kolelim and kibbuẓim ("groups") for young men and perushim ("abstinents"), whose students prepared themselves for the rabbinate through self-instruction (the kibbuẓ of Eisiskes (Eishishok), near Vilna, was well known). During the 19th century, large yeshivot were established in *Mir, Telz (*Telsiai), *Slobodka (near Kovno), and other townlets. The personality of *Israel Meir ha-Kohen (the Ḥafeẓ Ḥayyim) left its imprint on his yeshivah in the little town of Radun, where Torah learning was combined with the study of musar (ethical literature). An attempt to adapt these studies to the spirit of the modern era was made by Isaac Jacob *Reines, a founder of the *Mizrachi organization, who in 1904 established a yeshivah in *Lida where secular studies were taught and modern Hebrew literature was studied.

During the middle of the 19th century, the *Musar movement emerged from within the ranks of Orthodox Jewry. Initiated by R. Israel (Salanter) *Lipkin, it endeavored to strengthen traditional Judaism against the dangers of the modern era by fostering the study of ethics. The "Musarniks" established several yeshivot (Keneset Yisrael in Slobodka; the yeshivah of *Novogrudok where an extremist, fanatical, and ascetic wing of the movement emerged). Their attempt to introduce this trend into other yeshivot gave rise to sharp polemics from their opponents, who feared that the study of musar would result in a neglect of Torah study.

The yeshivot of Lithuania attracted young men throughout Russia. They trained rabbis and religious communal workers for Jewish communities all over the world. Many who later abandoned traditional Judaism, including Ḥ.N. *Bialik and M.J. *Berdyczewski, were also educated in them. Over the last century, the rabbis of Lithuania became known throughout the Jewish world. They included Isaac Elhanan *Spektor of Kovno, Joseph Baer *Soloveichik of Brest, Joseph *Rozin and *Meir Simḥah ha-Kohen of Dvinsk, Ḥayyim Ozer *Grodzinski of Vilna, Jerohman Judah Leib *Perelmann ("Ha-Gadol mi-Minsk"), Isser Zalman *Meltzer of Slutsk, Abraham Isaiah *Karelitz (the Ḥazon Ish), and many others.

Ḥasidism did not spread through Lithuania to the same extent as in the other parts of Eastern Europe. Only one branch, Chabad Ḥasidism, struck roots in Belorussia. The descendants and disciples of its leader, *Shneur Zalman of Lyady, scattered in many towns and townlets and formed an energetic organization of Ḥasidism whose influence spread beyond the borders of Lithuania. Their headquarters were in the townlet of *Lubavich. This trend in Ḥasidism was of a scholarly, philosophical nature. It considered Torah study to be one of the fundamentals of Ḥasidism, to be combined with the study of ethical and ḥasidic works. At the close of the 19th century, the Chabad movement established its own network of yeshivot (Tomekhei Temimim). A more popular branch of Ḥasidism which developed in the region situated between Lithuania and Volhynia was centered around the ẓaddikim of the *Karlin-*Stolin dynasty.

An important cultural factor in Lithuania from the close of the 18th century was the Hebrew press. The first printing presses were founded in Shklov (1783) and Grodno (1788). During the 19th century Vilna became one of the world's leading centers for the printing of Hebrew books (of the *Romm family and other presses). It was here that the famous Vilna Talmud was printed, as well as a multitude of religious and ethical works, and Haskalah and popular literature in Hebrew and Yiddish.

Although Lithuania played an important role in the preservation of traditional Judaism, it also contributed largely to the movements which shook the Jewish world in recent generations and brought many changes in it. These were Haskalah, the Zionist movement, and the Jewish Socialist movement.

Haskalah

From neighboring Prussia Haskalah penetrated Lithuania, first to the small border towns and the cities of Vilna and Minsk, and from there to other localities. In Lithuania Haskalah assumed a particular character. The manifestations of national disavowal and *assimilation to other cultures which left their imprint on Haskalah in Western Europe, as well as in Poland and southern Russia, were absent in Lithuania. Circles of maskilim who adhered to their people and its language were formed. A Hebrew literature which spread Haskalah and its ideas developed. This literature was not confined to Jewish studies (Wissenschaft) but encompassed every aspect of life. Its exponents were poets such as Abraham Dov (Adam ha-Kohen) *Lebensohn, and J.L. *Gordon, novelists such as Abraham *Mapu and Perez *Smolenskin, publicists and critics such as A.U. *Kovner, A.J. *Paperna, M.L. *Lilienblum, and J.M. *Pines, scholars in Jewish studies (Joshua *Steinberg, E. *Zweifel), authors of popular works on general history and geography (M.A. *Guenzburg; K. *Schulman), and natural sciences (H.S. *Slonimski, Zevi *Rabinowitz, and S.J. *Abramovitsh, known as Mendele Mokher Seforim). The maskilim assisted the Russian government in its efforts to spread Russian culture among the Jews and cooperated with it in the establishment of a network of Jewish state schools, at the center of which stood the government rabbinical seminary of Vilna. They laid the foundations of both the Russian-Jewish literature (L. *Levanda) and modern Yiddish literature (I.M. *Dick, *Shomer (N.M. Shaikevich), J. *Dineson, and Mendele Mokher Seforim). They also paved the way for the *Ḥibbat Zion and Zionism on the hand and the Jewish Socialist movement on the other.

Hibbat Zion and Zionism

Lithuania was a fertile ground for the development of Ḥibbat Zion and Zionism. The Jews of Lithuania had been attached to Ereẓ Israel by powerful ties since the immigration there of the Ḥasidim and the disciples of the Gaon of Vilna from the end of the 18th century. Natives of Lithuania such as D. *Gordon, in the periodical Ha-Maggid, P. Smolenskin, in Ha-Shaḥar, J.M. Pines, and E. *Ben-Yehuda had already discussed Jewish nationalism and settlement in Ereẓ Israel in the 1870s. With the inception of Ḥibbat Zion, the movement spread to many towns and townlets, one of its centers being Bialystok, the residence of Samuel *Mohilewer, one of the leaders of the movement. Natives of Lithuania were among the most prominent propagators of the Ḥibbat Zion ideology throughout Russia and beyond (S.P. *Rabbinowitz, Hermann *Schapira, etc.). In 1902 the second convention of Russian Zionists was held in Minsk. This was the only Zionist convention to be held openly and attended by the public in the czarist period. From 1905 to 1912 the center of Russian Zionism was Vilna. The Zionists headed the movement for the revival of the Hebrew language and the establishment of modern Hebrew schools (ḥeder metukkan, "reformed ḥeder"). The first Diaspora institution for the training of Hebrew teachers was opened in 1908 in Grodno ("the Grodno courses"). The development of Hebrew literature in Lithuania and the activities of Hebrew authors and poets such as Z. *Shneour, Yaakov *Cahan, and I.D. *Berkowitz were closely connected with Zionism.

Jewish Socialist Movement

Lithuania was the cradle of the Jewish Socialist movement. It was characteristic that the Jews of Lithuania found it necessary to publish a Socialist literature, at first in Hebrew (A.S. *Liebermann and his colleagues) and later in Yiddish. The background to this was the existence of the many thousands of poor and oppressed Jewish workers and craftsmen who did not know Russian or Polish; the maskilim and Socialists were therefore compelled to address them in their own language. From the close of the 19th century, there rapidly developed an ideology in which revolutionary Socialism was allied to fragmentary and propitiatory nationalist formulae which in practice called for the fostering of a secular literature in Yiddish (Yiddishism) and Jewish cultural autonomy, centered on a secular community organization and Jewish schools giving instruction in the language of the masses (Ch. *Zhitlowsky). In order to mobilize the Jewish workers for revolutionary activities the *Bund was organized. The Bund rapidly extended its activities into Poland and Ukraine but its influence was essentially felt in Lithuania. Its emissaries gained adherents among the poverty-stricken Jews of the towns and townlets, and created a sense of self-confidence in the Jewish apprentices and workers and mobilized them into the service of the revolution. The Bund played a major role in the destruction of traditional Judaism and in opposition to Hebrew culture and Zionism.

The influence of Lithuanian Jewry on Russian and world Jewry gained in impetus from the middle of the 19th century. The Lithuanian yeshivot attracted students from every part of Russia, as well as from abroad. Religious and secular books from Vilna were sold throughout the Diaspora. Rabbis of Lithuanian origin served many of the world's communities and Lithuanian melammedim (teachers of elementary religious studies) were recognized as capable teachers in Poland and southern Russia.

One of the causes of the spread of Lithuanian influence was the dire poverty in the country, which led to a constant stream of emigration toward southern Russia and Poland and later to the countries of Western Europe and America. Wherever the Lithuanian Jews arrived, they brought with them their spiritual heritage and learning and thus contributed toward strengthening traditional Judaism and the forging of closer links among the Jewish people and its culture. They were also prominent among the Jewish populations of St. Petersburg and Moscow. Large numbers settled in Warsaw and Lodz. They streamed to America and formed a special concentration in South Africa. They also made an extensive contribution to the modern development of Ereẓ Israel.

Lithuanian Jewry was severely affected by World War i and the revolutions and border changes which ensued, bringing dissolution and economic and spiritual chaos. When the Jews were expelled from Kovno province, many communal leaders and activists there left for the interior of Russia, where they continued their activities. Once the regimes and their borders had consolidated, Lithuanian Jewry found itself divided among states: independent Lithuania, Belorussian S.S.R., and Poland.

In Belorussian S.S.R.

There were some 400,000 Jews living in Belorussian S.S.R. between the two world wars. The authorities adopted a policy of systematic repression of traditional Judaism, the Hebrew language and culture, and the Zionist movement, assisted in this by the *Yevsektsiya. During the 1920s, the elements remaining faithful to Judaism still carried on a difficult struggle and maintained clandestine yeshivot and ḥadarim, Zionist youth movements and *Heḥalutz organizations. The Jewish Communists endeavored to provide a substitute for Jewish culture. In Belorussia there even existed a trend among the Yevsektsiya which attempted to consolidate the national position of the Jews in this region by promoting Yiddish schools, Jewish publishing houses and newspapers, and the establishment of a higher institute for Jewish studies in Minsk which engaged in research on the history of the Jews in Lithuania, their dialect, and their popular culture. These experiments flickered out and were liquidated during the 1930s because the authorities did not support them and the Jewish masses were indifferent to them.

In Poland

After World War i the majority of the former Lithuanian Jews came within the boundaries of newly independent *Poland on the border strip extending from the north of Vilna to the Polesye marshes. They continued to develop independent cultural activities in every sphere. Yeshivot flourished in this region (among them, the great yeshivah of Mir with its hundreds of students, and those of Radun, *Slonim, *Lomza, *Kletsk, etc.). Hebrew schools, including secondary schools and excellent training colleges for teachers, founded by the *Tarbut organization were concentrated there. The network of Yiddish schools of the Central Yiddish School Organization (cysho) was also developed in this area, and in 1925 the Institute for Jewish Research (Yiddisher Visenshaftlicher Institut, *yivo) was founded in Vilna. It became a world center for research into the Yiddish language and the history of the Jews and their culture in Eastern Europe. The Vilna theatrical company (Di Vilner Trupe) was established and a Yiddish press and literature flourished (the Yung Vilner group of poets included Chaim *Grade and A. *Suzkever). The Zionist and pioneer youth movements expanded in this region. When both independent and Polish Lithuania were annexed by Russia in 1939–40, the Jewish institutions were rapidly liquidated. The German invasion of June 1941 brought the physical annihilation of Lithuanian Jewry.

[Yehuda Slutsky]

In Independent Lithuania

About a year before the end of World War i, on Sept. 18–23, 1917, precisely two years after the capture of Vilna by the Germans, the Lithuanians were given permission by the German occupation force to hold a congress in Vilna to consider the future political fate of Lithuania. The congress put forward the demand for an independent Lithuanian state within its ethnographic boundaries with Vilna as the capital. The Vilna congress also elected a national council, Lietuvos Taryba, which on Feb. 16, 1918, proclaimed Lithuania an independent state. The Germans maintained their occupation of Lithuania until the end of 1918.

population

According to the census held on Sept. 17, 1923, the Jewish population numbered 153,743 (7.5% of the total), and was the largest national minority (see Table 2: Jewish Population of Lithuania – Sept. 17, 1923 Census). They formed just under one-third of the total population of the larger towns, 28.7% of the small-town population, and only 0.5% of the village inhabitants. In the following five towns the census showed the Jewish population to be: In *Memel (Klaipeda), which with its district belonged to Lithuania from 1923 to 1939 as an autonomous region, there were 2,470 Jews in 1929. Their number in the Memel region rose as a result of migration from other parts of Lithuania. At the beginning of 1939, shortly before the seizure of Memel by Germany, the territory had about 9,000 Jewish inhabitants. Statistics of 1937 show 157,527 Jews (75,538 males, 81,989 females; or 98% of the total) as having declared their nationality as Jewish, an indicator of the strength of Jewish consciousness among the Jews of Lithuania and the slight influence of assimilation.

Jews mainly spoke Yiddish among themselves, but a number of the professional intelligentsia used Russian. Although in time practically all Jews were able to speak Lithuanian, this did not become their regular spoken language.

economic position

The agrarian reforms which the Lithuanian constituent assembly adopted in 1922 also affected the few Jewish owners of farms of over 80 hectares in extent. The Lithuanian government, however, did little to satisfy the claims of Jews who had any rights to the ownership of land. The agrarian reforms only partly satisfied the land hunger of the poor peasants, and in addition to emigration abroad there was also a considerable migration from the rural districts to the towns. This general process of urbanization came into conflict with the long-established economy of the Jewish inhabitants of the town and shtetl. In this growing economic competition, the administration of the young Lithuanian republic actively took the part of the Lithuanians. To develop agrarian economy, the government assisted in the formation of cooperatives, which accumulated control of the entire export trade, including the trade in agricultural products. Thus many Jews were deprived of their livelihood.

Jewish population % total population
Kaunas (Kovno)25,04427.1%
Panevezys (Ponevezh)6,84535.6%
Siauliai (Shavli)5,33824.9%
Ukmerge (Vilkomir)3,88537.5%
Vilkaviskis (Volkovyshki)3,20644.1%

In 1923 there were 25,132 Jews engaged in trade and credit banking, 18,107 in industry and crafts, 4,996 in agriculture, 4,180 in the liberal professions, and 2,348 in transport. Jewish commerce was largely concentrated in small trade, while industry and crafts were mainly carried on in small factories or workshops.

During the early years of Lithuanian national independence the Jews had a predominant part in the export-import trade. However, shortly before World War ii Jewish participation in the export trade amounted to only 20%, and in the import trade to 40%. In 1923 there were nearly 14,000 Jewish shops and 2,160 non-Jewish shops; in 1936 the respective numbers were approximately 12,000 and 10,200. The majority of Jewish shops were small-scale establishments. Jewish traders were unable to compete with the Lithuanian cooperatives, which enjoyed great privileges especially in the respect of taxation. They increased rapidly and, between 1919 and 1925, the number of such competitive enterprises ranged against Jewish trade doubled in number.

About one-third of the Jews earned their livelihood in crafts. There were Jews also in the professions, but their numbers continually decreased, and their places were taken by Lithuanians. At the beginning of 1931 there were 88 Jewish cooperative people's banks having more than 20,000 members and functioning in conjunction with an association of Jewish people's banks. The Jewish people's banks owned a portion of the working capital of the central bank for the support of Jewish cooperatives.

emigration

Both open and unofficial measures aiming at ousting Jews from their economic positions led many Jews to emigrate. Between 1928 and 1939, 13,898 Jews emigrated from Lithuania, of whom 4,860 (35%) went to South Africa; 3,541 (25.5%) to Palestine; 2,548 (18.3%) to Latin America; 1,499 (10.8%) to the United States; 648 (4.6%) to Canada; and 602 (5.8%) elsewhere. It is estimated that between 1923 and 1927 at least 6,000 to 7,000 Jews emigrated from Lithuania, and between 1919 and 1941, 9,241 Lithuanian Jews immigrated to Palestine (3.07% of all those who settled there in that period).

jewish autonomy

In the early period of the republic, Lithuanian policy was concerned that Jewish influence in Lithuania and abroad, especially in the United States, should be exercised for the benefit of their country. In the first Lithuanian cabinet formed in Vilna, there were three Jews, J. Wygodsky (minister for Jewish affairs), Shimshon Rosenbaum (deputy foreign minister), and N. Rachmilewitz (deputy minister of commerce). At the end of 1918 the Germans evacuated Lithuania, and in January it was occupied by the Bolsheviks. The Lithuanian government then moved from Vilna to Kaunas (Kovno). Wygodsky remained in Vilna, which in 1920 was captured by the Poles under General L. Zeligowski, and the city and district of Vilna became a part of Poland. The other two members of the cabinet accompanied the government to Kaunas, and in 1919 Wygodsky was replaced as minister of Jewish affairs by the Kaunas communal leader and Zionist Max *Soloveichik (Solieli).

On Aug. 5, 1919, the Lithuanian delegation to the Peace Conference at Versailles sent to the *Comité des Délégations Juives in Paris a letter in which the Lithuanian government guaranteed to the Jews of Lithuania the "right of national-cultural autonomy." This official declaration made possible the rise and development in Lithuania of institutions of Jewish national autonomy. As a result there arose a widespread system of legally recognized *communities (kehillot). On Jan. 5, 1920, the first communal conference was held in Kaunas with the participation of 141 delegates. A Jewish National Council was appointed and given the task, in conjunction with the Ministry of Jewish Affairs, of administering the Jewish autonomous institutions. Shimshon Rosenbaum was elected head of the Jewish National Council. The minister for Jewish affairs received directives from the National Council and was responsible to it. The National Council conducted widely ramified activity in all areas of Jewish life. During the early years of its existence it was much occupied with assistance to the Jewish war refugees who had returned from Russia, and also with helping immigrants. It obtained financial means from the American Jewish *Joint Distribution Committee and other Jewish aid organizations.

A statute concerning the communities was promulgated in March 1920 and recognized the community (kehillah) as a regular, obligatory, public, authorized institution, competent to impose taxes and issue regulations in order to meet the budgets for religious affairs, charity, social aid, educational institutions, and the like. The community was also responsible for the registration of Jewish births. The community administration, the community council, was elected on democratic principles. Every citizen whose documents showed him to be a Jew was automatically a member of the community. Only by conversion to another religion or on proof that his document was invalid, could anyone cease to be a member of the kehillah. The second communal congress, which opened in Kaunas on Feb. 14, 1922, was attended by 130 delegates representing all the Jewish communities in the towns and small towns in Lithuania. One of the focal problems of the congress was the question of the Jewish educational system, especially in respect of the school curriculum and the right of the pupils' parents to determine the ideological spirit of the school.

On the admission of Lithuania into the League of Nations, the Lithuanian government, in May 1922, signed a declaration that Lithuania would fulfill all obligations regarding her national minorities as formulated in the agreement concerning *minority rights in the newly established states. On Aug. 1, 1922, the Lithuanian Constituent Assembly accepted the constitution which assured national rights to the larger national minorities in the country. The years 1919 to 1922 were the golden age of Jewish national autonomy in Lithuania, when the political and citizenship rights of the Jews were recognized and confirmed. The end of 1922 and the start of 1923 saw the beginning of the erosion of Jewish autonomy.

The reactionary clerical groups then standing at the helm of state launched a campaign, at first covertly and later openly, against Jewish autonomy and Jewish interests in general. There were many reasons for this new course taken by the Lithuanians with respect to their Jewish fellow citizens. Once the Lithuanian republic had found its feet, the Lithuanians no longer felt that they needed the help of Jews either at home or abroad. When the Constituent Assembly, in dealing with the draft constitution, removed the clauses relating to ministries for the affairs of the national minorities and the right of the minorities to use their mother tongue for public matters, the minister for Jewish affairs, M. Soloveichik, resigned from the cabinet. His portfolio was then held for a short time by Julius (Judah) *Brutzkus.

On Nov. 20, 1923, the Jewish National Assembly opened in Kaunas, consisting of delegates elected by the Jewish population by democratic proportional voting. The composition of the newly elected National Council was: General Zionists 11; *Mizrachi 10; *Ẓe'irei Zion (Hitaḥadut) 6; Zionist-Socialist 5; Craftsmen 4; *Po'alei Zion Left 2; *Folkspartei 2. The *Agudat Israel groups in general boycotted the elections. In dealing with the national budget for the year 1924, the Lithuanian parliament struck out the provisions for the Ministry of Jewish Affairs. In protest, Rosenbaum resigned from his portfolio in February 1924. The new cabinet, formed in April 1924, included no minister for Jewish affairs. The National Council continued in existence for a short time but when it met for a special session on Sept. 17, 1924, it was dispersed by the police, and subsequently ceased to exist. The democratically organized kehillot were also later dissolved. The government passed a new law for the kehillot, depriving them of their Jewish-national content. The Jews then boycotted the elections to these kehillot and they were not constituted. Later, as a result of the efforts of the Jewish parliamentary faction, two bodies were formed with limited functions: Ezra (for social aid) and Adass Yisroel (for religious needs). All that remained as remnants of autonomy were the Jewish people's banks and the Hebrew-Yiddish school system.

education

The educational system set up in independent Lithuania was one of the most important achievements of the Jewish national autonomy. Teachers in the Jewish elementary schools who had teaching certificates approved by the ministry of education received their salaries from state funds in common with non-Jewish teachers in the general state schools. The running expenses of the schools were met by city government institutions. The three school systems comprised *Tarbut which was Zionist-orientated; "Yiddishist" schools for the Socialist trend; and Yavneh, the religious traditional schools. The language of instruction was Hebrew in the Tarbut schools, Yiddish in the Yiddishist schools, and Hebrew, and to some extent also Yiddish in the Yavneh schools. Each school system was supported by its own political-ideological groups. The Tarbut schools were in the front rank of Jewish schools in Lithuania. Because of the large number of its Hebrew schools of all grades, Lithuania acquired its reputation among Jews as the "second Ereẓ Israel." There were 46 Tarbut elementary schools in 1922, 72 in 1924, and 84 in 1932. The Agudat Israel and Mizrachi groups confined their interest to the Yavneh schools. There were also ḥadarim, talmud torah institutions, and *yeshivot. Apart from the celebrated yeshivot in Slobodka and in Telz there were large yeshivot also in *Panevezys (Ponovezh), *Kelme (Kelmy), and other communities. The Culture League (Kultur-Lige), founded in 1919, also had its schools, where at first the moderate Yiddishist elements were represented but later the Communists set the tone. These schools ignored Hebrew and introduced the phonetic spelling of Yiddish. The Culture League was closed down by the government in 1924, and some of its institutions (elementary schools, evening schools, and libraries) were abolished. Those that survived had no formal central management. However, an illegal organization of Yiddishist schools was maintained in Kaunas. In 1926 the Folkspartei created a Jewish educational association, and some of the Yiddishist schools were under its supervision.

The number of Hebrew and Yiddish elementary schools in Lithuania reached 108 in 1936, having 13,607 pupils and 329 teachers. There were in addition Hebrew and Yiddish kindergartens. In the school year 1935/36, there were 60 secondary schools, of which 28 were state schools and 32 private. Among the latter there were 14 Jewish secondary schools. Jewish pupils in the Jewish and non-Jewish secondary schools amounted to 18.9% of the total school attendance. There were also Hebrew and Yiddish presecondary schools which provided the first four grades of the secondary school course. The Jewish secondary and pre-secondary schools had to be largely maintained by the parents; the Ministry of Education reduced its subsidy to the Jewish educational institutions year by year. The medium of instruction in the Hebrew secondary schools was Hebrew in all eight grades. There were two secondary schools giving instruction in Yiddish, the Vilkomir (*Ukmerge) Reali school, and the Kaunas Commercial School.

Kaunas University in 1922 had a student body of 1,168, including "free auditors" or occasional students, among them 368 Jews (31.5%). In 1935 the student body (including occasionals) numbered 3,334, among them 591 Jews (16.4%). A *numerus clausus was unofficially introduced in the medical faculty in the course of time, and in 1936 not a single Jewish medical student gained admittance. Because of the difficulties facing Jews trying to qualify in law, and the deterioration of prospects in the liberal professions generally, the proportion of Jewish students in the other faculties also fell sharply. Among the 411 professors, lecturers, and other members of the teaching staff of Kaunas University, there were no more than six Jews. The chair of Semitic studies was held by Ḥayyim Nachman *Shapira.

political position

During the democratic period of the independent Lithuanian republic (1919–26) there were four parliamentary elections. The constituent assembly (May 1920–November 1922) included six Jewish deputies, S. Rosenbaum, M. Soloveichik (both Zionists), N. Rachmilewitz, Rabbi A. Poppel (Aḥdut, i.e., *Agudat Israel), and N. Friedman and E. Finkelstein (both advocates and non-party democrats). N. Friedman was succeeded on his death by S. Landau. There was Jewish representation in parliamentary committees, and in the praesidium, and the Jews played their part in drawing up the basic citizenship laws of the young Lithuanian state. Their main task, however, was to safeguard the interests of the Jewish national minority. The Jewish parliamentary faction maintained close contact with the Jewish National Council.

On the basis of the election results for the first parliament (which sat from November 1922 to March 1923) the Jews were entitled to six seats, but because of a deliberately false interpretation of the election law, only three Jewish seats were recognized. The same happened with the Polish representation. The Jewish and Polish deputies, together with the other opposition members, thereupon expressed "no confidence" in the newly established government. The first parliament was accordingly dissolved. In the elections for the second parliament (which sat from May 1923 to May 1926), the Jews and other national minorities formed a nationalities bloc, and seven Jewish deputies were elected: M. Wolf, J. *Robinson, S. Rosenbaum, all Zionists; I. Brudny (Ẓe'irei-Zion, World Union), L. Garfunkel (d. 1976) (Ẓe'irei-Zion, Hitahadut), E. Finkelstein (Folkspartei), and Rabbi Joseph *Kahaneman. For various reasons there were subsequent changes in the Jewish representation. The last democratically elected parliament lasted in all just over half a year, and the coup d'etat of Dec. 17, 1926 put an end to democracy in Lithuania. Power then fell into the hands of the extremist nationalists (Tautininkai) who introduced an authoritarian regime. The parliament was dissolved in April 1927, and a temporary constitution was promulgated in May 1928, abolishing the most important democratic principles of the previous constitution.

The social and economic contrasts existing between the Lithuanians and Jews influenced their relationship and aggravated antisemitism. Economic antisemitism found its most conspicuous expression in the organization of Lithuanian traders and workers known as the Verslininkai ("skilled workers"). The organization was formed in 1930 and its slogan was "Lithuania for Lithuanians." Its attitude toward the Jews became increasingly aggressive, and although there were no pogroms in Lithuania as in Poland and Romania, antisemitic demonstrations occurred from time to time. The Jewish press played a great part in the struggle of the Jewish population for national political rights. Lithuanian Jewry, though small in number, published a number of newspapers and periodicals which helped to form Jewish public opinion both at home and abroad.

Soviet Rule in Lithuania, 1940–41

The U.S.S.R.-German Pact of Aug. 23, 1939, brought Soviet dominance to the Baltic area. On Oct. 10, 1939, the U.S.S.R. and Lithuania concluded an agreement in Moscow for "the transfer of Vilna and the Vilna province to the Lithuanian Republic and mutual assistance between the Soviet Union and Lithuania," which came into effect on the following day. With the incorporation of Vilna, the Jewish community of Lithuania grew by about 100,000. Previously the 160,000 Lithuanian Jews constituted 7% of the population, but with the annexed portions they totaled more than a quarter of a million, about 10% of the total population of the enlarged country. The number of Jewish refugees from Poland grew considerably (to 14,000–15,000) in the following months. About 10,000 stayed in Vilna and the rest in Kovno (Kaunas) and other places. About 5,000 refugees managed to emigrate from Lithuania. The Lithuanian Jews made every effort to assist refugees. On June 15, 1940, Soviet troops crossed the Lithuanian border and a "people's government" was established on June 17, which included two Jews, L. Kogan, minister of health, and H. Alperovitch, minister of commerce. On July 14, "elections" to the People's Sejm ("parliament") took place. Five Jews were among the deputies elected. On August 3 the Supreme Soviet acceded to the Sejm's "request" to become the 16th Soviet Republic. Shortly afterward, the provisional Lithuanian government was replaced by a soviet of people's commissars. All industrial and commercial enterprises, private capital, and larger dwelling houses were nationalized, and a new agrarian reform carried out. All social groups and organizations, general as well as Jewish, had to cease their activities, with the exception of those belonging to the Communists (who had been illegal until the Russian invasion), and the press (again excepting the Communist newspapers) was closed down. A wave of arrests swept over the country. At the same time a considerable number of Soviet officials entered Lithuania. Many of the former owners of the nationalized houses, firms, and factories were forced to settle in the provinces. The effect of the introduction of Soviet rule upon the Jewish population was particularly strong. The new Communist regime was in urgent need of experience and abilities possessed by the Jewish intelligentsia, so that Jews were given prominent positions in the economic, legal, and administrative apparatus. At the same time, although nationalization of all important branches of the economy applied equally to all citizens, irrespective of their ethnic origin, large segments of the Jewish population were affected with special harshness. A total of 986 industrial enterprises were nationalized, of which about 560 (57%) belonged to Jews; of 1,593 commercial firms nationalized, no less than 1,320 (83%) were owned by Jews. Jews were also strongly hit by the nationalization of houses and bank accounts.

The phase before the German attack on Lithuania was marked by deportations to Siberia. In the spring of 1941 the Soviet security services compiled lists of "counter-revolutionary elements" and submitted secret reports on those listed, which also included Jews in the following categories: leaders and journalists of various Zionist political groups; leaders of the Bund and Bundist journalists; leaders of Jewish military and "fascist" formations – e.g., of the Jewish veterans of Lithuania's war of independence, of the Jewish war veterans, of *Betar, the *Revisionists, and their affiliated bodies.

In mid-June 1941, one week before the German-Soviet war, many people, including Jews, were hastily deported as politically unreliable to Siberia and other parts of Soviet Asia. They were interned in forced labor camps and set to work in coal mines, wood cutting, and other heavy labor. Some of those deported were tried for "crimes" committed prior to the Soviet occupation. Although large numbers of Jews were also among the deportees, Lithuanian antisemites alleged that the deportations were the result of Jewish revenge on the local non-Jewish majority, carried out by "Jewish" security officers in charge of the deportations.

German Occupation, 1941–44

The entire country was occupied by the Germans within one week, so that only a handful of Jews managed to escape into the Soviet interior. Lithuania, called Generalbezirk Litauen, was included in the administrative province of the Reichs Kommissariat Ostland which also included the other Baltic republics, Estonia, Latvia, and also Belorussia. Hinrich Lohse was appointed Reich Commissar of Ostland, with headquarters in Riga. The Generalbezirk consisted of three districts: the Šiauliai (Shavli) district, the Kaunas (Kovno) district, and the Vilna district. Adrian von Renteln, the commissioner general for Lithuania, had his seat in Kaunas (called Kauen by the Nazis). The Germans also established a local administration, composed of pro-Hitler elements. Lithuanian "councilors general" (a sort of minister) were appointed, headed by Petras Kubiliūnas, a former general in the Lithuanian army.

On Aug. 13, 1941, Lohse issued secret "provisional regulations" to the general commissioners of Ostland specifying how to deal with Jews pending the application of the "final solution" of the "Jewish question" in Ostland. These orders applied to all the Jews in Ostland – former citizens of Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, the Baltic states, and other parts of the Soviet Union. There were special instructions for the treatment of foreign Jews and persons of mixed parentage. The commissioners general were required to register all the Jews under their regional jurisdiction and to issue compulsory orders to them to wear two yellow badges (one on the chest and one on the back). Jews were prohibited from moving from their house or place of residence without permission from the district or city commissioner; using the sidewalks; using public transportation; residing in spas; visiting parks and playgrounds, theaters, cinemas, libraries, museums, or schools; owning cars or radios. Ritual slaughter was also prohibited. Jewish doctors were permitted to treat only Jewish patients; pharmacies owned by Jews were turned over to Aryan pharmacists; Jews were not permitted to function as veterinarians, lawyers, notaries, bank officials, or commercial agents, nor could they deal in real estate or freight forwarding. All Jewish property was confiscated. Persons holding Jewish property had to report to the German administration which dealt with its confiscation. Only the bare necessities of furniture, clothing, and linen were left in Jewish possession, and an allowance of no more than 20 pfennig (about $0.05) per day per person was permitted to the Jews. Finally, the regulations provided for the concentration of the Jews in ghettos, where food and other necessities were supplied to them only insofar as no shortage resulted for supplying the general population. Inside the ghettos, the Jews were permitted "autonomy" in their affairs, subject to the supervision of the regional commissioner, and had their own Ordnungsdienst ("police force"). The ghettos were sealed off from the outside world and put under the guard of auxiliary police recruited from among the local population. Able-bodied Jews were put on forced labor, inside or outside the ghetto. Private persons or enterprises utilizing Jews in forced labor paid the regional commissioner directly. The commissars general were authorized to issue orders based on these regulations.

einsatzgruppen

The Einsatzgruppen (Action Units) played a major role in the destruction of the Jews in the occupied eastern territories, including Lithuania. Einsatzgruppe A was attached to the Northern German army and operated in the Baltic states and Leningrad area. Details of the murder of the Jews in Lithuania are contained in some of the 195 Einsatzgruppen reports regularly submitted to the *rsha (Reichssicherheitshauptamt) in Berlin from the end of June 1941 to April 24, 1942. The following is an extract of these reports:

…a detachment of Einsatzkommando 3, assisted by a Lithuanian Kommando, has carried out actions in the following towns: Raseiniai, Rokiskis, Zarasai, Birzai, and Prienai. These executions bring the total number to date of persons liquidated by Einsatzkommando 3 (with the assistance of Lithuanian partisans), to 46,692… (Report No. 88, Sept. 19, 1941).

Important data on the extermination of Lithuanian Jewry is contained in a report by ss-Brigadefuehrer Stahlecker, commander of Einsatzgruppe A. The report, covering the activities of his group on the northern Russian front and in the occupied Baltic states, dates from the beginning of the war against Russia until Oct. 15, 1941. On June 23, 1941, Einsatzgruppe A joined the German forces on the northern Russian front. By June 25 Stahlecker, with a detachment of the Einsatzgruppe, reached Kovno, which was taken by the Germans the previous day. The following is an extract from his report:

…In the very first hours after the entry of German troops, local antisemitic forces were organized, despite the considerable difficulties involved, to carry out pogroms against the Jews. The security police received appropriate orders and were in fact prepared to solve the Jewish problem by all available means and with utmost severity. It seemed desirable, however, that at leastin the beginning, the extraordinarily harsh means [to be employed] should not be recognized for what they were, for that would have caused concern even in German circles. On the surface the impression had to be created that it was the local population which had initiated the anti-Jewish measures as a spontaneous reaction to their oppression by the Jews for many years and to the Communist terror to which they had been exposed in the recent past.

…Partisan groups formed in Lithuania and established immediate contact with the German troops taking over the city. Unreliable elements among the partisans were weeded out, and an auxiliary unit of 300 men was formed under the command of Klimaitis, a Lithuanian journalist. As the pacification program progressed, this partisan group extended its activities from Kovno to other parts of Lithuania. The group very meticulously fulfilled its tasks, especially in the preparation and carrying out of large-scale liquidations.

…As the Baltic population had suffered from the Jews and the Communists during the Bolshevik occupation, it was to be expected that they would take their own measures against those of their [Jewish and Communist] enemies remaining in their midst. It was the task of the German security police to ensure the speedy completion of this goal. Furthermore, evidence had to be created in order to prove, at a later stage, that it was the local population which had squared their own accounts with the Jews and the Communists. The orders given by the German sources had to be concealed…

In Lithuania the initiative was taken by the Lithuanian partisans. On the night of June 25–26, the partisans in Kovno, under the command of Klimaitis, staged a pogrom in which 1,500 Jews were killed. Several synagogues were burned down or otherwise destroyed and a Jewish neighborhood of 60 houses went up in flames. The next night, an additional 2,300 Jews were rendered harmless in the same manner. Kovno has served as a model for similar actions in other parts of Lithuania…

…Pogroms, however, could not provide a complete solution to the Jewish problem in Ostland. Large-scale executions have therefore been carried out all over the country, in which the local auxiliary police was also used; they cooperated without a hitch….

…Simultaneously with the executions ghettos had to be established. There were 30,000 Jews in Kovno. After the first pogroms and killings, a Jewish committee was formed, mainly to organize the transfer to the ghetto… In the establishment of the ghettos the security police were in charge of police matters, while the newly established ghetto administration [the Judenrat] was responsible for the provision of forced labor, food supplies, etc.

Appendix No. 8 of Stahlecker's report is contained in Table 3: Jews Killed in Lithuania, giving the number killed by Einsatz gruppe A in Lithuania (up to the end of October 1941).

Place Jews Communists Total
Kaunas (Kovno) (and vicinity)31,9148031,994
Siauliai (and vicinity)41,38276342,145
Vilna (and vicinity)7,015177,032
Grand Total80,31186081,171

A map drawn up by Einsatzgruppe A to show the numberof Jews killed in the Baltic states up to the end of December 1941, indicates that 136,421 Jews were murdered by that date in Lithuania (excluding Vilna), with 16,000 Jews remaining in the Kovno ghetto and 4,500 in the Šiauliai ghetto. A comparison of these figures with the Stahlecker report reveals that in this area alone, 56,110 Jews were killed in the last two months of 1941.

destruction of jewish communities in the provinces

Most of the Jewish communities in the provinces were totally destroyed in the period from August to September 1941. Many communities were wiped out by sudden attack, not a single person surviving to tell the story of their martyrdom. The sparse material available conspicuously points to the active participation of Lithuanians from all walks of life, side by side with the Germans in the slaughter. Most of the Lithuanians who took part in the murder of Jews fled to Germany in the summer of 1944, when the Soviet army liberated Lithuania. After the war they were classified as Displaced Persons and were aided as Nazi victims.

At the first conference of liberated Lithuanian Jews in Germany, held in Munich in April 1947, a resolution was adopted on the "Guilt of the Lithuanian People in the Extermination of Lithuanian Jewry."

help from non-jews

There were among the Lithuanians a few individuals who in the face of the Nazis extended a helping hand to the Jews, despite the mortal danger to which they thus exposed themselves. In Kovno, those who helped the Jews included E. Kutorgienė, P. Mažylis, the writer Sofija Čiurlionienė, the priest Paukštys, the nun Ona Brokaitytė, and the opera singer Kipras Petrauskas. In Vilna, Ona Simaitė was of the greatest help, while in Siauliai the daughter of the lawyer Venclauskas, the poet Jankus, the priest Lapis, and former mayor Saneckis were among those who distinguished themselves in aiding the Jews.

War Crimes Trials

On Dec. 20, 1944, the Soviet press published the "Declaration of the Special Government Commission Charged with the Inquiry into Crimes Committed by the German-Fascist Aggressors in the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic." This lengthy document also includes a report on the mass murders committed at Ponary, near Vilna, and at the Ninth Fort near Kovno. In its final chapter the declaration lists a substantial number of Nazi war criminals responsible for the murders carried out in Lithuania during the German occupation. The list includes Von Renteln, commissioner general for Lithuania; Wysocki, chief of police in Lithuania; Fuchs, chief of the security police and the sd; Ditfurt, commandant of Vilna; Weiss, chief of the Vilna prisons; Kramer, city commissioner for Kovno; Lentzen, Kovno regional commissioner; Gewecke, Šiauliai regional commissioner; Buenger, Gestapo chief in Kovno; Goecke, commandant of the Kovno concentration camp (formed of remnants of the ghetto; in the fall of 1943 the Kovno ghetto was turned into a concentration camp). Lithuanians who collaborated with the occupying power are not listed at all.

In addition to the major Nazi war criminals who were tried by the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg and the Einsatzgruppen commanders tried by the U.S. Military Court at Nuremberg (case no. 9), a number of Nazi criminals who had had a hand in the destruction of Lithuanian Jewry were tried by the U.S. Military Courts at Dachau and elsewhere. After the war, some trials also took place in Soviet Lithuania. On the whole, however, only a small number of the criminals were brought to account, as most of them succeeded in evading trial. Notable among the trials was the trial at Ulm, Germany (April 28–September 1958) against a group of Einsatzgruppen who in 1941 murdered 5,500 Jews in various places near the German border. The accused were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment.

Liberation

Lithuania was liberated by the Soviet army in the summer of 1944 (Vilna on July 13, Šiauliai on July 27, Kovno on August 1). The Jewish survivors consisted of several hundred Jewish partisan fighters, and a few families and children who had been hidden by gentiles. Jewish refugees who at the beginning of the war escaped to Soviet Asia also began to make their way back.

At the beginning of 1945, when Soviet troops liberated the Stutthof concentration camp, several hundred Jewish women from Lithuania were listed among the survivors, and when Dachau was liberated by the Americans, some Lithuanian Jewish men were found alive there. Both the women and the men had been deported from Lithuania in the summer of 1944, 80 of whom found their death in German concentration camps.

Some of the survivors returned to Lithuania, but the majority stayed in the *Displaced Persons (dp) camps established after the war in Germany, Austria, and Italy. Later, they were joined by other Lithuanian Jews who had escaped from Soviet Lithuania via the Jewish underground escape route (see *Beriḥah). When the DP camps were dissolved, the Lithuanian Jews settled in Israel, the United States, and other countries overseas together with other Jewish dps.

After the War

The 1959 Soviet census report indicated the Jewish population of Lithuania at 24,672 (11,478 men and 13,194 women), constituting less than 1% of the total population (2,880,000). Of these, 16,354 Jews lived in Vilna, 4,792 in Kovno, and the rest in other urban areas. At the time the census was taken, 17,025 declared Yiddish as their native tongue (the highest percentage in all the areas where the census was taken), 6,912 Russian, 640 Lithuanian, and 95 specified other languages. In the academic year 1960/61 there were 413 Jewish students at institutions of higher learning (1.67% of the total Jewish population of Lithuania). Lithuania was one of the centers from which pressure came to establish a revival of Jewish cultural life after the war. The Soviet authorities eventually agreed to establish an amateur Yiddish theater group there.

For details on Jewish life in the postwar period see *Vilna, *Kaunas.

[Joseph Gar]

Later Developments

Lithuania seceded from the U.S.S.R. in August 1991. In 1979 the republic's Jewish population was recorded at 14,700 and in 1989 as 12,400. In 1988–89 the Jewish birthrate was 7.5 per 1,000 and mortality rate was 17.8 per 1,000.

In 1989, 780 Jews (743 of them from the capital Vilnius (Vilna)) emigrated. Immigration to Israel amounted to 2,962 (2,355 from Vilnius) in 1990 and to 1,103 in 1991.

There was no state antisemitism in Lithuania. In 1990 Emanuel Zingeris, an activist of the Lithuanian national front Sajudis and now co-chairman of the Jewish Culture Association of Lithuania, was elected as a deputy to the Supreme Soviet of Lithuania. The other co-chairman was Lithuanian-Jewish writer Grigorii Kanovich (who writes in Russian, but whose basic theme is Jewish life, particularly of the past, in his region). A Jewish museum has been opened in Vilnius and a monthly newspaper, Litovskii Ierusalim ("Jerusalem of Lithuania"), appears in Yiddish, Russian, Lithuanian, and English. September 23, the day the Vilna ghetto was destroyed, has been set aside to commemorate the mass murder of the Jews of Lithuania. A memorial complex, where annual public meetings are held, has been built at the site of mass executions at Ponary. A Jewish guide to Vilnius has been published. In November 1991 a Council of Jewish Communities of Lithuania was established. Due to the small number of Jews remaining in the country the majority of the numerous Jewish organizations registered in Lithuania have no more than a few members and scarcely function, and according to one local activist, "There are no Jews, there are just Jewish representatives."

On June 1, 1992, an air route was opened between Vilnius and Israel.

[Michael Beizer]

In March 1993, a presentation of the Judaica Center of the Vilnius University took place. The event was attended by Prof. Israel Gutman from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Prof. Yitzhak Warszawski from the Sorbonne, and Rabbi Rene Sirat from Paris.

There were three Jewish periodicals in Lithuania in 1993, all published in Vilnius, including "Jerusalem of Lithuania" which continued to appear; its editor was Grigorijus Smoliakovas.

The Holocaust memorial in Paneriai (Ponary) near Vilnius was vandalized in 1993. Jewish cemeteries were desecrated in Vilnius and Kaunas. A number of antisemitic articles appeared in the Lithuanian press. A common topic in such publications has been the theory of "dual Holocaust"; according to it, Jews are as equally responsible for the deportation of Lithuanians to Siberia in 1940–early 1941, as are Lithuanians for the massacre of Jews in 1941–43. Antisemitism, with accompanying vandalism, remained a constant factor in Lithuania into the 21st century.

By 1993 there were an estimated 6,000 Jews in Lithuania, with some 900 leaving for Israel in 1992–93. (See also *Latvia.) By the early 21st century just 3,500 remained. Efforts were being made to strengthen the Jewish community structure, with Chabad and other parties active.

[Daniel Romanowski (2nd ed.)]

bibliography:

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LITHUANIA

Republic of Lithuania

Lietuvos Respublika

COUNTRY OVERVIEW

LOCATION AND SIZE.

An East European country bordering on the Baltic Sea, Lithuania has an area of 65,200 square kilometers (25,174 square miles) and a total coastline of 99 kilometers (62 miles). Lithuania is a mid-size country by European standards and is about the size of West Virginia. Lithuania's border countries are: Belarus, 502 kilometers (312 miles); Latvia, 453 kilometers (282 miles); Poland, 91 kilometers (57 miles); and Russia (Kaliningrad), 227 kilometers (141 miles). Vilnius, Lithuania's capital, is located in the country's southeastern part. Vilnius is also the nation's largest city with a population of about 600,000.

POPULATION.

The population of Lithuania was estimated at 3,620,800 in July of 2000 but the population is decreasing, that is the growth rate is negative (-0.29 percent). In 2000, the birth rate stood at 9.77 births per 1,000 while the death rate stood at 12.87 per 1,000, with suicide rates among the highest in the world. The nation's fertility rate is below replacement level with only 1.34 children born to each woman. In addition, Lithuania has an infant mortality rate with 14.67 deaths per 1,000 live births. The nation also loses population to immigration , a loss of 0.16 people per 1,000 members of the population. Life expectancy for males is 63.07 years and 75.41 years for females.

The Lithuanian population is close to 100 percent literate. The official language (Lithuanian) is related to the pre-Indo-European language Sanskrit, very archaic in its structure, and therefore studied around the world for comparative linguistic purposes. Polish and Russian are also widely spoken. Ethnic Lithuanians constitute some 80 percent of the population. The largest national minorities include Russians (9 percent), Poles (7 percent), and Belorussians (1.6 percent). Despite decades of the communist propaganda and persecutions, many religions survived in Lithuania, including Roman Catholicism (dominant), Lutheranism, Russian Orthodoxy, Judaism, and Islam. Reflecting average European levels of urbanization, most Lithuanians (68 percent) live in urban areas. By international standards, Lithuania's population is distributed rather evenly across the country with a population density of 56 per square kilometer (146 per square mile).

OVERVIEW OF ECONOMY

Lithuania is an economy in transition from the communist economic system to a Western-style market economy. During the years of communist control (1944-91), the economy was controlled by the government, and there were restrictions against the private ownership of property and businesses. Since the end of the communist era, Lithuania has become a regional trend-setter by aggressively pursuing economic liberalization programs.

Europe's largest country in the 16th century, Lithuania has a statehood tradition going as far back as the 11th century. However, Lithuania became part of Russia in 1795 and did not regain independence until after World War I (1918). Between World War I and the onset of World War II in 1939, Lithuania made substantial economic progress despite a lack of natural resources except for land. Predominantly based on agriculture, the economy developed rather close trade relationships with the Western world, especially Germany, United Kingdom, and Scandinavia. Lithuania exported agricultural products (mainly hog and poultry products) to these countries and imported advanced machinery and other industrial products from them. Lithuania's economic development level was well below that of the United Kingdom or Germany but was considered at par with some Central European and Scandinavian countries. Even during the Depression of the 1930s, the Lithuanian currency (litas) was strongest or second strongest in Europe. World War II and the Soviet occupation which began in 1940 interrupted Lithuania's independence until it was formally restored in 1990. The Soviets forced industrialization in a heavy, distorted way to the detriment of other economic sectors, especially production of consumer products and services. In 1990, the industry was dominated by 3 major branches: first, machinery and equipment including electronics; second, light industries; and third, food industries. Combined, these produced some 70 percent of the total industry output. Even if it brought some peculiar economic growth, the communist system imposed by the USSR slowed Lithuania's comparative economic development by at least 2 decades.

Postcommunist economies like Lithuania underwent a significant transformation recession coupled with the outburst of corrective inflation . On top of these systemic changes, Lithuania suffered trade disruption caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union which was and remains its main trade partner. In combination with the usual disruption stemming from the radical privatization and other transformation measures, this resulted in a drop in measured output. In all, there was a 40 percent drop in the officially measured GDP that Lithuania suffered in the first half of the 1990s. That loss of GDP was recovered in part by a subsequent growth as a result of radical economic reforms. However, Lithuania suffered again as a result of the Russian financial crisis of 1998. In 2000, economic growth exceeded 3 percent and will probably accelerate to about 5 percent in the near future.

Since independence from the Soviet Union, Lithuania has been attempting to radically transform the economy. This is being done by political and economic liberalization, macroeconomic stabilization, and privatization as the main elements of the transition strategy. In 1997 alone, some 200 state-owned companies were sold to private industry. By 2000, an additional US$725 million in government-owned companies were sold-off. By that same year, some two-thirds of the economy was in private hands and largely working according to the rules of a competitive market economy.

By 1998, Lithuania's economy closely resembled that of most other Western European countries. Agriculture accounted for 10 percent of the GDP, industry for 32 percent, and services for 58 percent. The country's main industries are metal-cutting machine tools, electric motors, television sets, refrigerators and freezers, petroleum refining, shipbuilding, furniture making, textiles, food processing, fertilizers, agricultural machinery, optical equipment, electronic components, and computers.

Over two-thirds of its economy is dependent on foreign markets, and Lithuania has sought to increase its attractiveness to foreign investors. By 1997, foreign capitalists had invested over US$1 billion in the Lithuanian economy, and in 1998, there was an additional US$510 million in new investments. The largest single foreign investor in Lithuania is the United States which accounts for about 18 percent of all foreign investment. The low labor costs and high level of education of the workforce, when combined with the country's geographic location at the crossroads of Northern Europe, account for the attraction that foreign investors have in Lithuania. Among the major foreign companies with operations in Lithuania are Amber Consortium (Sweden-Finland), Motorola (USA), Philip Morris (USA), SEB (Sweden), Williams, Inc.(USA), Royal Dutch-Shell (the Netherlands), and Coca Cola (USA).

Following independence in 1990, the Lithuanian economy grew rapidly during the first part of the decade (with average annual growth rates which exceeded 5.0 percent). However, following an economic crisis in Russia which began in 1998, Lithuania's GDP declined by 3 percent in 1999. Unemployment rose to 10 percent in 1999. In 2000, growth in the GDP returned with a rate of 3.3 percent. Inflation remains low at 3 percent, after reaching a high of 35.6 percent in 1995.

In 1999, the European Union (EU) agreed to initiate the process to allow Lithuania to join the regional trade and political organization, beginning in 2000. By joining the EU, Lithuania will be able to trade freely with the 15 members of the organization (a market of 350 million consumers). This should increase Lithuanian exports and make imports from the EU less expensive since tariffs and duties on imports and exports would be eliminated.

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT, AND TAXATION

After regaining independence and shedding the imposed communist system (1990), Lithuania is a fully functional parliamentary democracy. The chief of state is the president, and the head of the government is the premier (who is formally appointed by the president, subject to approval by the parliament). The president is directly elected by the people and serves a 5-year term. The parliament, known as the Seimas, has 141 members who are elected for 4-year terms. Of these, 71 are directly elected by the people while 70 are elected by proportional vote.

The current president, Valdas Adamkus, had lived in the United States for 30 years after World War II. The Lithuanian political scene is dominated by 3 groups or forces: right, left, and center. Widely credited with dealing a mortal blow to the Soviet Union and restoring Lithuanian independence in 1990, the Lithuanian Independence Movement (Sajudis) was led by the Lithuanian Conservatives with Vytautas Landsbergis at its helm. Landsbergis became the nation's head of state after independence.

In the fall of 1992, Lithuania set a new trend in the post-communist world as the right-wing forces (Conservatives) lost power to the ex-communist left (Lithuanian Democratic Party of Labor, LDLP). The people's hopes for improvements in living standards were dashed by the hard reality of disastrous and development-retarding communist legacies. In another trend set for the region, the Conservatives returned to power in 1996 but were replaced by the centrist New Policy bloc by 2000; in 2001, the left-leaning government was formed with the ex-communist Algirdas Brazauskas as its leader.

Since independence, all of the Lithuanian governments and political parties have supported the transition processes to markets and democracy. The right or conservative political parties are the Homeland Union and the Conservatives who have joined together in a coalition. These parties are more pro-business and pro-Western. The main centrist group is also a coalition of parties known as the New Policy bloc which includes the Center Union and the Democratic Party. The New Policy bloc supports policies that seek to balance business growth and social welfare programs. The left is made up of the former communist party, the LDLP, and genuine social democrats.

The LDLP is most resistant to transparent and rule-based privatization efforts, preferring the nomenklatura privatization instead. It has also supported increased taxation in order to expand government programs. Overall, due to privatization and other reforming efforts, the government plays a smaller and smaller role in the lives of Lithuanians. In 1997, the main privatization efforts began when the government sold the state-owned telephone company, Lithuanian Telecom. Additional privatization efforts have included the government-owned electric and utility companies. Overall, some 5,714 government-owned companies have been privatized. Still the government continues to own US$2.5 billion in property and businesses.

The government's budget in 1997 was US$1.7 billion, but it only had revenues of US$1.5 billion. The government deficit amounted to US$200 million or about 2.8 percent of the GDP. This situation marks a dramatic decline from the budget deficit of 9 percent of GDP in 1991. In 1999, the government spent US$181 million on defense or about 1.5 percent of the GDP. Lithuania seeks to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and has worked to participate in NATO-led operations, including the peace-keeping mission in Bosnia. Lithuania receives foreign aid from a number of sources such as the EU and the United States. In 1995, foreign aid amounted to US$228.5 million.

The tax burden (mainly income and value-added taxes ) at some one-third of the GDP is moderate by international standards and will further be reduced as the liberalization progresses. Progress has been made in strengthening and improving the tax administration. This shift will result in the removal of tax arrears and an increase in tax revenue. Further training of staff and improved exchange and processing of information are also needed. While the accession process to the European Union does not involve full harmonization of taxes, still the EU is assisting Lithuania in this process. Tax revenues come from a variety of sources. Goods that are imported into Lithuania face import duties that range from 10 to 100 percent (but average 15 percent on most goods). The highest tariffs are on tobacco, automobiles, jewelry, and gasoline. Corporate tax rates are officially at 24 percent, but incentives designed to draw new companies to Lithuania allow these new firms to reduce their taxes by 70 percent for a period of up to 3 years. The personal income tax level is 33 percent with rates of between 10 to 35 percent on supplemental income from investments or interest dividends.

In an effort to anchor itself in the West and, therefore, ensure its autonomy from Russia, Lithuania has sought to join a number of West European organizations, including NATO and the EU. It is also a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) which has reduced trade barriers and tariffs among member states. As a small country, Lithuania sees membership in these institutions as a way to protect itself from foreign influences and enhance its economy.

INFRASTRUCTURE, POWER, AND COMMUNICATIONS

Lithuania inherited a balanced transportation system (e.g. roads, aviation, merchant marine) from the Soviet period. However, the (broad gauge) railway system was

Communications
Country Telephones a Telephones, Mobile/Cellular a Radio Stations b Radios a TV Stations a Televisions a Internet Service Providers c Internet Users c
Lithuania 1.048 M 1997) 297,500 (1998) AM 3; FM 112; shortwave 1 1.9 M 20 (1995) 1.7 M 14 225,000
United States 194 M 69.209 M (1998) AM 4,762; FM 5,542; shortwave 18 575 M 1,500 219 M 7,800 148 M
Russia 30 M (1998) 2.5 M (2000) AM 420; FM 447; shortwave 56 61.5 M 7,306 (1998) 60.5 M 35 9.2 M
Latvia 748,000 77,100 AM 8; FM 56; shortwave 1 1.76 M 44 (1995) 1.22 M 42 234,000
aData is for 1997 unless otherwise noted.
bData is for 1998 unless otherwise noted.
cData is for 2000 unless otherwise noted.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [Online].

built to keep Lithuania integrated in the USSR and separated from the West. Privatization, modernization, and development of the priority transportation infrastructure is of particular importance for an east-west and north-south transit country like Lithuania, especially in view of the European Union accession process.

Lithuania has 71,375 kilometers (44,352 miles) of roads of which 64,951 kilometers (40,360 miles) are paved. There are 417 kilometers (259 miles) of expressways. All of the 2,002 kilometers (1,244 miles) of railways are broad gauge. Although Lithuania is a small nation, it has a substantial merchant marine fleet with 52 ships, including 23 cargo ships, 2 petroleum tankers, 3 passenger cruise ships, and 11 refrigerated cargo vessels. Lithuania has 600 kilometers (373 miles) of waterways that are navigable year-round. The nation's main ports are Kaunas and Klaipeda. Klaipeda is the largest port in the Baltics and handles 20 percent of all cargo imported to or exported from the region. In 1998, the port handled 16.1 million tons of cargo, and expansions will allow the facility to handle 30 million tons by 2004. There are 96 airports in Lithuania, but only 25 of them have paved runways. Vilnius, Kaunas, and Palanga have international airports. All told, Lithuanian Airlines carried 230,000 passengers in 1997. The United States supplied Lithuania with US$30 million to upgrade the airport at Siauliai which is now one of the largest cargo airports in Europe. Moreover, there are 105 kilometers (65 miles) of crude oil pipelines and 760 kilometers (472 miles) of natural gas pipelines.

The government is engaged in a variety of infrastructure improvement projects. By 2005, some 55 individual projects are scheduled for completion. These projects are in response to dramatic increases in land, sea, and air transport. For instance, since 1994, automobile traffic has increased by an annual rate of 15 to 20 percent per year. The nation's largest airport at Vilnius and the seaport of Klaipeda are both undergoing expansion and renovation projects. The other major project is the construction of the Via Baltica highway which will connect all the Baltic republics (Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia). The EU would like to construct 2 major highways through Lithuania to allow the organization access to Russia and the other countries of the former Soviet Union. Although work has not begun on the road systems, the EU has already pledged aid for the projects.

Lithuania is also in the midst of constructing a power line to supply electrical exports to the West. Lithuania produced 15.58 billion kWh of electricity in 1998. Some 13 percent of this came from fossil fuels and 4.3 percent came from hydroelectric sources, but the overwhelming majority, 82.61 percent, came from nuclear power plants. The nation consumed 7.829 billion kWh of electricity in 1998 and exported 7 billion kWh while it imported 340 million kWh.

Lithuania's energy sector needs modernization as well. Post-Soviet Russia's supply network is unreliable and subject to political manipulations resulting in cuts of oil to Lithuania. The opening of the Butinge oil terminal on the Baltic Sea in 1999 allows Lithuania to diversify its supply of crude oil by sea. Currently, the nation has about 10 million barrels of proven oil reserves. Other sources of power, such as Ignalina nuclear power plant (of the Chernobyl type), are controversial for safety reasons. Electric power generation needs to be modernized and privatized, while new and profitable supply networks to Western Europe via Poland need to be established. Lithuania's power complex experiences substantial problems with generation, distribution, and sales. The capacity in the system is about 2 to 3 times higher than the national demand for power generation and gas distribution. As a result of inherited Soviet-style inefficiencies, losses amounted to about one-third of supply and were made worse by non-payment of debts by some clients, for example, in Belarus.

The telecommunications market in Lithuania is liberalized except for fixed-line telephony where Lietuvos Telekomas enjoys a monopoly until the end of 2002. A national fiber-optic cable system is nearing completion, and rural exchanges are being improved and expanded. By 1997, there were 1.1 million main telephone landlines in use. Mobile cellular systems are functioning and rather widely accessible. In 1997, about 297,500 mobile phones were in use. Access to the Internet is growing, and by 1999, there were 10 Internet service providers.

ECONOMIC SECTORS

After regaining independence in 1990, Lithuania underwent tremendous, regionally trend-setting changes in the sectoral structure of its economy as measured by the percentage of the individual sectors' contribution to the GDP and/or employment. As a result of the Soviet occupation and the imposition of the communist central planning, Lithuania's economy was distorted compared to Denmark, Finland, or other comparable, free Western countries. In 1990, agriculture still occupied a special place in the Lithuanian economy, providing about a quarter of jobs and about half of the GDP. Above all, however, Lithuania was industrialized in a heavy, distorted way reflecting the communist orthodoxy and Soviet imperialistic priorities which was to the detriment of services (especially modern services) and the modern welfare-increasing economic development in general. During the independence decade (1990-2000), the normal structure of a modern economy was largely restored in Lithuania, with the services dominating (58 percent) GDP, followed by industry (32 percent) and agriculture (10 percent). About 30 percent of Lithuanian workers are employed by industry, while 20 percent work in agriculture, and 50 percent work in services.

AGRICULTURE

With three-quarters of its labor force employed in agriculture, Lithuania was a predominantly agricultural economy in 1940. Half a century later, agriculture still occupied a special role in the Lithuanian economy, providing about a quarter of jobs and about half the national product. By 1990, Lithuania reached roughly one-fourth of the U.S. labor productivity in agriculture. Generally, Lithuanian agricultural production costs were 2 to 3 times higher than in Western countries at the end of the communist era.

Lithuanian agriculture remains inefficient by Western standards. Most small farmers do not have the capital or resources to acquire new equipment, and few utilize new forms of fertilizer and soil-management techniques. In 1998, agricultural production decreased by 4.3 percent, and in 1999, it decreased by 13.6 percent. However, increasing competition and access to new technology have slowly increased the efficiency of some farms (mainly the larger operations). In 2000, Lithuania had 67,800 family farms and 1,244 corporate-owned farms. Since 1990, about 2,000 family farms have gone out-of-business as unprofitable operations have been unable to survive the free market economy. Currently, the nation loses about 0.03-0.04 percent of its agricultural land each year. Agricultural workers are among the lowest paid laborers in Lithuania. In 2000, on average they only earned US$177 per month while the national average monthly wage was US$267.

About 3.37 million hectares are used for agriculture, and the average farm size is 12.6 hectares. In 1998, agricultural exports had a total value of US$564.1 million while imports totaled US$697.6 million. The main exports were butter, cheese, fish, milk, and pet food. Almost 80 percent of agricultural exports go to Russia. The main imports include processed foods and fruits. The main supplier of agricultural imports is the EU with some 52 percent of imports. The largest crops were potatoes at 1.7 million metric tons, sugar beets at 890,000 metric tons, and wheat at 837,000 metric tons. The main livestock products are beef and veal, chicken, lamb, pork, and horse.

INDUSTRY

During the period of Soviet control of Lithuania, the government tried to change the economy from one based on agriculture to one based on industry. However, in the post-Soviet era, industry has declined significantly in relation to the other segments of the economy. In 1999 alone, industrial production declined by 14 percent. There have also been deep cuts in employment in industry. For instance, in 1990 there were 25,000 workers in the electronics industry, but by 1997, that number had declined to 10,000. Lithuanian industry suffers from outdated equipment and a reliance on unstable markets in the nations of the former Soviet Union.

Industrial workers on average earn less than the national average of US$267 per month. Workers in manufacturing earn an average of US$260 per month, while construction workers earn about US$242 per month. Ironically, the low wages have been somewhat helpful for Lithuanian industry. Foreign companies have relocated manufacturing plants in the country precisely because labor costs are so inexpensive. Examples of such foreign industrial companies include Siemens of Germany, Sam-sung of Korea, Farimex of Switzerland, Shell Chemical of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, and Wilhelm Becker of Germany. Hence while most areas of industry are in decline, there are several segments that have grown.

The chemical industry remains one of Lithuania's most profitable sectors. In 1997 it accounted for almost 10 percent of all Lithuanian exports. The main elements of the chemical sector include nitrogen and phosphate fertilizers which in 1997 made-up 41 percent of chemical exports. Other segments of the industry are pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and soap, and glues, oils and resinoids. Most chemical exports (about 50 percent) go to Russia and the former communist bloc nations of Europe. The textile industry also remains profitable. The segment has attracted US$40 million in foreign investment since 1990. In 1997, textiles accounted for 3.3 percent of the GDP and employed some 60,000 people in 100 large companies and 300 medium and small companies. About 75 percent of all textiles are exported. By 2000, almost 90 percent of textile production was done by either international firms or joint ventures between foreign companies and Lithuanian companies. Of the exports, 65 percent go to the EU and 20 percent go to the countries of the former Soviet Union. Although the electronics sector has declined, in 1997 it was responsible for US$120 million in revenue. Among the main electronic products are televisions, electronic measurement equipment, semiconductors, and other computer equipment.

Lithuania also has a significant wood and paper processing industry. In total, Lithuanian plants processed some 3 million cubic meters of timber. These products account for about 5.4 percent of exports. Some of the main wood-based products include furniture, cardboard, and printed boxes. The main export markets are France, Germany, and Denmark. Two international companies, Ochocco Lumber of the United States and Terminal Forest Products of Canada, have established several plants in Lithuania.

The rest of the industry produces diverse goods including consumer durables, e.g. refrigerators, consumer electronics, etc. There are small but growing and technologically advanced biotechnology, computer and Internet industries. Most of the industrial production is exported to the European countries.

SERVICES

Services now account for the bulk of the Lithuanian economy. Workers in this sector are among the highest paid in the country. For instance, workers in the financial service sector earn an average of US$517 per month while workers in general business and real estate earn US$375 per month. The low pay of Lithuanian workers has constrained the retail sector of the economy, since most workers have little excess money to spend on consumer items. However, the renewed economic growth which began in 2000 has already caused an increase of 5 percent in the retail sector.

FINANCIAL SERVICES.

The first private commercial banks in Lithuania since the period between World War I and II were established in 1989. The nation's banks underwent a period of consolidation in the mid-1990s during which several banks went out of business while others were acquired by larger banks through mergers and acquisitions. In response, the government passed a series of laws which placed additional regulations on banks in an effort to ensure their solvency . A number of international banks have a presence in Lithuania. These include Société Générale of France, Svedfund Financial Markets of Sweden, and DE GmbH of Germany. However, these banks only account for 3.1 percent of the banking market. About 42 percent of total banking assets were controlled by just 2 banksboth of them state-owned (al-though both are scheduled to be privatized by 2002). The nation's largest private bank, Vilniaus Bankas, is the largest bank among the Baltic nations. The insurance sector of Lithuania is vibrant with 31 different firms, including major multinational firms such as Lloyd's of the United Kingdom and Coris of France. From 1997 to 1998, insurance revenues increased by 40 percent.

TRAVEL AND TOURISM.

Since the end of Soviet control in 1990, tourism has increased significantly in Lithuania. Since 1996, tourist revenues have increased by 50 percent to over US$420 million in 1999. That same year, Lithuania received 3.7 million visitors or more tourists than there were people in the population. In 1997, tourism accounted for 4.2 percent of the GDP. The main tourist destination was the nation's capital, Vilnius, which received 58 percent of all visitors. This has led to the construction of 15 new hotels in the capital since 1996, including ones owned by Sheraton and Radisson. The increased number of tourists has led to a doubling of restaurants, clubs, and tourist shops since 1996.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

For smaller countries like Lithuania, international trade and economic cooperation in general is of predominant importance for economic development. The forced reorientation of Lithuania's trade after its incorporation into the USSR resulted in a complete destruction of Lithuania's economic ties with the West (mainly United Kingdom and Germany). As a result of occupation, Lithuania was forced to forego multiple benefits flowing from foreign trade in general and the cooperation with the advanced market economies in particular. Only about 2 percent of its trade was with the West at the start of the post-Soviet independence in 1990.

With the international trade-to-GDP ratio at the level of some 90 percent, Lithuania is a strongly outward-oriented economy as of 2000. Its foreign trade is liberalized and regulated largely via market economy instruments known in the West and approved by the World Trade Organization (WTO) of which Lithuania is a member. The earlier licensing and foreign exchange surrender requirements have been repealed. Over two-thirds of the Lithuanian imports enter duty free; the rest face 5 to 15 percent duties, becoming more and more uniform as required by the WTO. By 2000, Lithuania maintained economic relations with over 160 countries. The country has bilateral trade treaties with 22 nations. However, accounting for almost one-quarter of Lithuania's trade turnover , Russia remains a major trade partner. Part of the Lithuanian output decline during transition was due to too slow a reorientation of trade away from the former Soviet Union (FSU) and towards the West. Foreign direct investment into Lithuania is still rather modest due to this and related factors having to do with instability in Russia and elsewhere in the FSU but also shortcomings of the Lithuanian reforms and some communist legacies.

From 1997 to 1999, the nation's imports increased by 27 percent, and its exports increased by 10.6 percent. Lithuania's main exports in 1998 included machinery and equipment (19 percent of exports), mineral products (19 percent), textiles and clothing (19 percent), and chemicals (10 percent). The nation's main export markets were Russia at 17.4 percent, Germany at 15.8 percent, Latvia at 12.7 percent, Denmark at 5.9 percent, and Belarus at 5.2 percent. In 1998, Lithuania's main imports were machinery and equipment at 30 percent, mineral products at 16 percent, chemicals at 9 percent, and textiles and clothing at 9 percent. In 1999, the country's major import partners were Russia with 20.4 percent of imports, Germany with 16.5 percent, Denmark with 3.8 percent, Belarus with 2.2 percent, and Latvia with 2 percent. Lithuania has consistently had a trade deficit . In 1996, the nation imported US$1.2 billion more than it exported, and by 1998 that deficit had increased to US$2.1 billion.

There seems to be a trend to go deeper into external debt . The external debt amounted to over US$2 billion at the end of 2000, balancing around the level of Lithuania's hard currency reserves. However, the increasing levels of foreign investment have helped offset the debt by providing inflows of capital for new investment. The Swedish-Finnish company, Amber Consortium, is the largest single investor in Lithuania with US$510 million in investments, followed by Williams International of the United States with US$150 million and Telia-Sonera, also a joint Swedish-Finnish firm, with US$66 million. By 2000, total foreign investment in Lithuania was US$2.66 billion. Investments in telecommunications accounted for 28.8 percent of total foreign investment while manufacturing accounted for 25 percent, and wholesale and retail trade accounted for 19.5 percent.

In an additional effort to attract foreign trade, in 1995, the Lithuania government established 3 free trade zones , located in Siauliai, Klaipeda, and Kaunas. Companies that locate themselves in these zones receive incentives of up to 30 percent of the cost of building or relocating to the areas.

The entry of Lithuania into the EU will greatly expand the nation's international trade. It will give Lithuania access to the markets of 15 countries which will also be able to use Lithuania as a gateway for entry into the markets of the former Soviet Union. Already, trade between Lithuania and the EU members has dramatically increased. Since 1997, exports to the EU have increased by 21.8 percent. Meanwhile imports from the EU increased by 13.3 percent. Lithuania is also a member of the Baltic free trade zone, a 1994 agreement between the 3 Baltic countries which abolished tariffs on all industrial goods traded among Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

MONEY

As a result of Soviet legacies, Lithuania suffered rather severe price and monetary instabilities following independence in 1990. By 1995, inflation had reached 35.6 percent. In response, the Lithuanian government undertook a series of reforms that were assisted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), an organization that lends money to governments to help them protect their national currency. By 1999, inflation had been reduced to 3 percent.

As part of the post-Soviet macroeconomic transformation, the Bank of Lithuania (B of L) was established as the main financial institution with both the currency exchange rate management and bank supervision functions. In 1994, Lithuania adopted a currency board

Exchange rates: Lithuania
litai per US$1
2001 4.000
2000 4.000
1999 4.000
1998 4.000
1997 4.000
1996 4.000
Note: Currency has been at a fixed rate since May 1, 1994; litai is the pluralof litas.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

which means the value of the Lithuanian litas is fixed at the level of US$0.25 or 4 litai per U.S. dollar and guarantied by Lithuania's foreign exchange reserves . So the value of litas travels with the value of the U.S. dollar and no exchange rate policy is currently being conducted.

The Bank of Lithuania's main function is to protect the nation's currency. However, it also regulates the private commercial banks in Lithuania and sets interest rates. It also sells government bonds and treasury bills which help finance the debt. Interest rates vary between 6 to 10 percent per year. High interest rate levels largely reflect higher risk and volatility in the domestic capital markets. Foreign banks must receive approval before they are allowed to purchase more than 10 percent of the shares of a local bank.

Overall, the Lithuanian banking sector is rather small but operating smoothly as of 2000. It consists of 10 commercial banks, 1 special purpose bank, and 3 foreign bank branches. The share of the public sector in the capital of commercial banks continues to decline, to some one-third by 2000. At the same time, the share of domestic privately owned assets rose; the role of foreign private owners increased only slightly. The stability of the nation's banking sector was such that in 1996, Lithuania became the first country of the former Soviet Union to be granted a credit rating by such international firms as Standard & Poor's and Moody's. Because the government's bonds are rated as trustworthy by these firms, these bonds are more attractive to foreign investors.

The role of non-bank financial markets is still rather weak. While a relatively large number of firms are listed on the well-organized National Stock Exchange of Lithuania (NSEL) modelled after the Paris Bourse, trading is rather low and suffers from the shortages of liquidity , a condition affecting most stock exchanges in the post-communist economies.

POVERTY AND WEALTH

The legacy of Soviet control in Lithuania is one of poverty and deep disparities in income. Many Lithuanians have not adjusted well to the market economy. These

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Lithuania N/A N/A N/A 3,191 2,197
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Russia 2,555 3,654 3,463 3,668 2,138
Latvia 2,382 2,797 3,210 3,703 2,328
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.
Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Lithuania
Lowest 10% 3.1
Lowest 20% 7.8
Second 20% 12.6
Third 20% 16.8
Fourth 20% 22.4
Highest 20% 40.3
Highest 10% 25.6
Survey year: 1996
Note: This information refers to expenditure shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita expenditure.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].

phenomena left most people of Lithuania quite poor at the beginning of the independence in 1990. True, nomenklatura lived well under the Soviets in the narrow material sense and the social security sense. But even nomenklatura were separated from the world and for that and other reasons were unable to make their lives richer in many respects.

In 1993, the wealthiest 10 percent of the population controlled 28 percent of the country's wealth, while the poorest 10 percent only controlled about 3 percent of the nation's wealth. Increases in Lithuania's unemployment rate have added to the nation's poverty. In 1996, unemployment was 6.2 percent, but by 2000, the rate had increased to 15 percent.

Those in Lithuania who earn or survive on US$28 per week or less are considered to be below the poverty line. In 1999, the poverty rate in Lithuania was 16 percent, but that wealth varies considerably. For instance, the rural poverty rate is 28 percent because of lower pay rates and higher unemployment rates among agricultural workers. Overall, some 55.1 percent of those living in poverty were aged 15 or younger.

The transition period is bringing its own opportunities and problems. An undisputed achievement of the transition period is the equilibrium on the consumer goods markets and the resultant wide choice of imported and domestic consumer goods available to those who can afford them. And the possession of some goods (e.g. cars, phones) increased tremendously compared to the Soviet period. As usual in a market economy, some people (younger, better educated) are able to live financially very well. Newly rich Lithuanians are not numerous but they are able to live lifestyles comparable to those of the average middle class members in the West or even better. However, some of Western ills (e.g. drugs) are making their way to Lithuania as well. Part of new wealth came from shadowy international dealings organized by the KGB (the notorious Soviet political police) and other

Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All Food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Lithuania 33 5 13 4 27 9 8
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Russia 28 11 16 7 15 8 16
Latvia 30 5 16 6 23 11 10
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
aExcludes energy used for transport.
bIncludes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

post-Soviet mafia. Other people (older, less educated or educated but more influenced by the communist system) suffer from higher levels of unemployment and the shortages of the social safety net. While they are able to subsist on usually rather small plots of land, most people living in rural areas are poor, old, and plagued by social ills (e.g. alcoholism) inherited from the Soviet period. They present one of the gravest problems. The Lithuanian government is trying to help people who find themselves below the poverty line, but the budgetary resources are very limited. The state provides unemployment insurance and both old age and disability pensions. It also provides limited assistance for housing. In addition, the efficiency of social assistance is low by international standards. It will take years of economic growth before the majority of the Lithuanian people are able to feel appreciable and broader-based improvements in their living standards.

WORKING CONDITIONS

There was nominally full employment in Soviet-occupied Lithuania except that there was some hidden unemployment and some forced "employment" characteristic of totalitarian regimes.

The Lithuanian constitution gives workers the right to establish and join unions, although there are limitations on the ability of security and law-enforcement personnel to strike. About 10 percent of businesses are unionized, and about 15 percent of workers belong to unions. Children may work at age 14 with parental consent or at age 16 with or without consent. The nation's minimum wage is US$107.50 per month. However, most workers earn more than the minimum wage, and wages vary considerably. Workers in the financial services sector earn an average monthly wage of US$517, while construction workers earn an average of US$242 per month and retail workers US$181. The standard work week is 40 hours, and there is overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40. National laws mandate a minimum 28 days of vacation per year.

By 2000, unemployment reached 13 percent and is still growing. In 1999, the Lithuanian workforce numbered 1.8 million. About 18 percent of the workforce has a college degree, while an additional 44 percent have some specialized or technical degrees.

COUNTRY HISTORY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

200 B.C. Baltic people settle in the area that is now Lithuania.

1200s A.D. The Lithuanian tribes become united in a loose political confederation.

1236. The Lithuanian state is founded by Duke (later king) Mindaugas.

1386-1795. Lithuania and Poland are united as a single country.

1387. Christianity is established in Lithuania.

1410. Teutonic knights are defeated by joint Lithuanian-Polish forces.

1569-1795. The Lithuanian-Polish Commonwealth (Lublin Union) occurs.

1579. The University of Vilnius (the oldest university in the Baltics) is founded.

1795-1915. Lithuania is under tsarist Russian rule.

1915-18. Lithuania is occupied by Germans during World War I.

1918. Modern Lithuania's independence is declared.

1921. Lithuania is admitted to the League of Nations.

1939. The Nazi-Soviet Pact divides Eastern Europe between Germany and the USSR.

1940. Lithuania is occupied by the USSR.

1941-44. Lithuania is occupied by Nazi Germany.

1944. Soviet occupation and re-imposition of the Soviet rule on Lithuania occurs.

1944-56. Armed resistance occurs against the Soviet occupation of Lithuania.

1957-87. Covert resistance occurs against communism with religious and secular dissent.

1990. Lithuania declares re-establishment of independence, a mortal blow to the USSR.

1991. Lithuania is admitted to the United Nations.

1993. Last Soviet troops withdraw from Lithuania.

1994. Lithuania becomes a member of NATO's Partnership-for-Peace Program; the nation becomes an associate member of the EU.

1997. The government undertakes a wide-scale privatization program.

1999. The EU agrees to initiate discussions to allow Lithuania to enter the organization.

FUTURE TRENDS

Despite a decade of determined and radical efforts at transforming the economy and society away from communism and other USSR-imposed distortions, Lithuania still faces challenges of further transformation to bring it into the European Union and NATO.

The so-called second generation reforms to be undertaken center on the modern role of the state in the European country and especially the interaction of public and private sectors in the process of economic development, given Lithuania's strategic economic interests and the nature of modern global economy.

Thus, further privatization of strategically important enterprises in the energy, transportation, and other infrastructure branches is required. Very important are the processes of enterprise exit of unviable enterprises from the Lithuanian economic system so they do not act as a burden to the state budget and release precious human and other resources for more productive uses, e.g. in the new economy. As of 2000, enterprise exit processes have been rather inefficient as about half of unviable firms in the bankruptcy stage stayed in that stage for 2 to 3 years, prolonging the negative consequences of the Soviet legacies. In the coming years, some 16,000 unviable enterprises will have to go bankrupt, hopefully using much more efficient processes. This will still be painful as some 180,000 employees need to be laid off in the process, temporarily pushing the unemployment rate even higher from its 13 percent level. These people will have to be either retired or trained for new jobs in the emerging modern economy.

The emergence of a modern economy will require liberalization of labor laws and other elements of the business environment so the new investments are attracted, especially from Western countries, and the enterprise entry is facilitated. In the digital age, new business models are emerging, and Lithuania badly needs to re-integrate the global economy using such modern approaches and Western investments. Further development of the Lithuanian market economy institutions (e.g. financial) is needed, especially in light of the transparency (e.g. in public procurement ) and other requirements of the European Union. Development steps should include the improvement of the social security finances and putting them on a more sustainable basis. This and other steps will help improve the efficiency of the social safety net and help fight poverty, a big problem especially in the rural areas. Above all, Lithuania needs to put a major effort into preserving and upgrading its very considerable human resources through appropriate reforms of health care and education. Last but not least, Lithuania needs to develop a strategy for long-term development of its competitive advantages within the European and global (digital) economies.

While during 1990-2000 Lithuania made valiant trend-setting efforts to shed the legacies of communism and the Soviet occupation, the next decade will be marked by no less determined efforts to join and work within the European Union, a totally different kind of union than the USSR.

DEPENDENCIES

Lithuania has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Samonis, V. The Blueprint for Lithuania's Future: Main Premises. Toronto: University of Toronto, 1997.

. From Dependence to Interdependence: Transforming Baltic Foreign Economic Relations. Indianapolis: The Hudson Institute, 1991.

. Lietuvos Reformu Desimtmetis: Keliai, Klystkeliai, Problemos, Perspektyvos (Analize is Strategines Lyginamosios Perspektyvos). A Study for the Parliament of Lithuania, Vilnius, 1999.

. "Lithuania's Economic Transformation." Osteuropa-Wirtschaft (Munich: Suedost-Institut), No. 2, 1996.

. "Road Maps to Markets: Issues in the Theory of the Post-Communist Transformation," in Systemic Change in Post-Communist Economies, edited by Paul G. Hare. Houndmills: Macmillan Press Ltd, 1999.

. State, Market and the Post-Communist Economic Transformation: A Macroanalytical Framework. Brussels: International Institute of Administrative Sciences, 1992.

. Transforming Business Models in the Global Digital Economy: The Impact of the Internet. Bonn and Toronto: The Center for European Integration Studies and SEMI Online, 2000.

, editor. Enterprise Restructuring and Foreign Investment in the Transforming East: The Impact of Privatization. New York: The Haworth Press Inc., 1998.

, editor. Exit for Entry: Microrestructuring in Transition Economies. Amsterdam: Kluwer Academic Publishers, forthcoming.

Shen, Raphael. Restructuring the Baltic Economies: Disengaging Fifty Years of Integration With the USSR. Westport: Praeger, 1994.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2001. <http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html>. Accessed September 2001.

U.S. Department of State. Background Notes: Lithuania. <http://www.state.gov/www/background_notes/lithuania_9801_bgn.html>. Accessed September 2001.

. FY 2000 Country Commercial Guide: Lithuania. <http://www.state.gov/www/about_state/business/com_guides/2000/europe/lithuania_CCG2000.pdf>. Accessed September 2001.

. 2000 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Lithuania. <http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2000/eur/index.cfm?docid=691>. September 2001.

Val Samonis

CAPITAL:

Vilnius.

MONETARY UNIT:

Litas (Lt). One litas equals 100 centas. There are notes in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 litas. There are 1, 2, and 5 litas coins, as well as 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 centas.

CHIEF EXPORTS:

Food products, textiles, consumer electronics, other manufactured goods.

CHIEF IMPORTS:

Oil, gas, machinery, equipment.

GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT:

US$15.5 billion (purchasing power parity, 2000 est.). [CIA World Factbook estimated GDP at purchasing power parity at US$17.3 billion for 1999.]

BALANCE OF TRADE:

Exports: US$4.033 billion (2000). Imports: US$5.043 billion (2000). [CIA World Factbook indicates exports were US$3.3 billion (f.o.b., 1999) and imports were US$4.5 billion (f.o.b., 1999).]

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Lithuania

PROFILE
GEOGRAPHY
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
DEFENSE
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-LITHUANIAN RELATIONS
TRAVEL

Compiled from the August 2007 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:

Republic of Lithuania

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 65,200 sq. km. (26,080 sq. mi.); slightly larger than West Virginia.

Cities: (2007) Capital—Vilnius (pop. 542,809); other cities—Kaunas (358,107); Klaipeda (185,899); Siauliai (128,396).

Terrain: Lithuania's fertile, central lowland plains are separated by hilly uplands. A total of 758 rivers, many navigable, and 2,833 lakes cover the landscape. The coastline is 90 km. (56 mi.) long. Land use—44.2% arable land, 0.91% cultivated, 53.87% other.

Climate: With four distinct seasons, the climate is humid continental, with a moderating maritime influence from the Baltic Sea. January temperatures average -5°C (23°F); July, 17°C (63°F). The level of precipitation varies considerably from region to region: in the far west, average annual precipitation is 28-33 in., while in the central plain it is about 24 in.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Lithuanian(s).

Population: (2007) 3,374,000.

Annual growth rate: (2006) -0.8%. Birth rate—9.2/1,000. Death rate—13.2/1,000.

Population density: (2007) 51.6 per sq. km.

Ethnic groups: (2007) Lithuanians 84.6%, Poles 6.3%, Russians 5.1%.

Religions: (2001 census) Roman Catholic (79%), Russian Orthodox (4.1%), Protestant (including Lutheran and Evangelical Christian Baptist) (1.9%).

Languages: (2006) Lithuanian (official language) (84.6%), Russian, and Polish

Education: Years compulsory—10 (until the age of 16). Literacy—99.6%.

Health: (2006) Infant mortality rate—6.78/1,000. Life expectancy—65.3 yrs. male, 77.06 yrs. female.

Work force: (2007) 1.59 million: services 59.5%; industry 29%; agriculture 10.9%.

Government

Type: Parliamentary democracy.

Constitution: On October 25, 1992, Lithuanians ratified a new constitution, which was officially signed on November 6 that year.

Government branches: Executive—President (chief of state), popularly elected every 5 years; Prime Minister (head of government); Legislative—Seimas (141-member Parliament). Judicial—Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, and Highest Administrative Court.

Political subdivisions: 10 counties and 60 municipalities.

Political parties: (June 2006) Social democrats—29 seats; Labor Party—26 seats, Conservative Party—24 seats, Civil Democracy Group—7 seats and the speaker, Liberal Movement Group—9 seats, Peasant nationalists—13 seats, Liberal Democratic Party—8 seats, New Union—10 seats, Liberal and Center Union—10 seats, Independent—3 seats.

Suffrage: universal adult (18 years of age).

Budget: (2007) $8.2 billion.

Economy

GDP: (2006) $32.8 billion.

Annual growth rate: (2006) 7.5%.

Annual inflation rate: (2006) 3.7%.

Unemployment rate: (2006) 5.6%.

Per capita income: (2006) $9.58.

Natural resources: Limestone, clay, sand, gravel, iron ore, and granite. Major sectors of the economy (2006) wholesale and retail trade, transport 31%, manufacturing, mining 26%.

Trade: Exports—$15.55 billion (2006) mineral products 23.9%, machinery and mechanical appliances 12.4%, textiles and textile articles 9.2%, wood and paper products 4.6%. Major export partners—EU 63%, CIS 21%. Imports—$21.14 billion (2006) mineral products 23.4%, machinery and equipment 17.6%, transportation equipment 13.9%, chemicals 8.4%, base metals 7%, textiles and clothing 5.6%. Major import partners—EU 62%, CIS 28%.

GEOGRAPHY

The largest and most populous of the Baltic states, Lithuania is situated on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, in northeastern Europe. It is bordered by Latvia to the north, Belarus to the southeast, Poland to the southwest, and Kaliningrad, a territory of Russia, to the west. It has 60 miles of sandy coastline, of which only 24 miles face the open Baltic Sea. Lithuania's major warm-water port of Klaipeda lies at the narrow mouth of Kursiu Gulf, a shallow lagoon extending south to Kaliningrad. The Nemu-nas River and some of its tributaries are used for internal shipping. Situated between the 54th and 56th latitudes and the 20th and 27th longitudes, Lithuania is glacially flat, except for the hills (of no more than 300 meters) in the western and eastern highlands. The terrain is marked by numerous small lakes and swamps, and a mixed forest zone covers 30% of the country. According to some geographers, Lithuania's capital, Vilnius, lies at the geographical center of Europe.

PEOPLE

Lithuanians are neither Slavic nor Germanic, although the union with Poland and the colonization by Germans and Russians have influenced the culture and religious beliefs of Lithuania. This highly literate society places strong emphasis upon education, which is free and compulsory until age 16. Most Lithuanians and ethnic Poles belong to the Roman Catholic Church; the Russian Orthodox Church is the largest non-Catholic denomination.

In spite of several border changes, Soviet deportations, a massacre of its Jewish population, and German and Polish repatriations, the population of Lithuania has maintained a fairly stable percentage of ethnic Lithuanians (from 79.3% in 1959 to 84.6% in 2006). Lithuania's citizenship law and constitution meet international and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) standards, guaranteeing universal human and civil rights. The Lithuanian language still retains the original sound system and morphological peculiarities of the prototypal Indo-European tongue and, therefore, is fascinating for linguistic study. Between 400 and 600 AD, the Lithuanian and Latvian languages split from the Eastern Baltic (Prussian) language group, which subsequently became extinct. The first known written Lithuanian text dates from a hymnal translation in 1545. Written with the Latin alphabet, Lithuanian has been the official language of Lithuania since 1989. While Lithuania was a member of the U.S.S.R., Russian was the official language, so many Lithuanians speak Russian as a second language. The resident Slavic populace generally speaks Russian or Polish as a first language.

HISTORY

Between the 7th and 2nd centuries BC, Baltic tribes established themselves on what is presently known as Lithuanian territory. These tribes were made up of a distinct Indo-European ethnic group whose descendents are the present-day Lithuanian and Latvian nations. The name of Lithuania, however, did not appear in European records until 1009 AD, when it was mentioned in the German manuscript Annals of Quedlinburg. During the period of 1236-1263, Duke Mind-augas united the various Baltic tribes and established the state of Lithuania, which was better able to resist the eastward expansion of the Teutonic Knights. In 1253, Mindaugas embraced Christianity for political reasons and accepted the crown from the Pope of Rome, becoming the first and only king in Lithuanian history.

After the assassination of Mindaugas and the ensuing civil war, Grand Duke Gediminas took control of Lithuania. He reigned from 1316 to 1341, during which the long-term expansion of Lithuania into the lands of the eastern Slavs began. He founded the modern capital city of Vilnius and started the Gediminas dynasty, which ruled Lithuania until 1572.

By the end of the 14th century, Lithuania was the largest country in Europe, stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. In 1386, Grand Duke Jogaila of Lithuania was crowned the King of Poland, which intensified Lithuania's economic and cultural development and oriented it toward the West. It was at this time that the people of Lithuania embraced Christianity.

In 1401, the formal union between Poland and Lithuania was dissolved. While Jogaila remained the King of Poland, his cousin Grand Duke Vytautas became the ruler of Lithuania. In 1410, the armies of Poland and Lithuania together defeated the Teutonic Order in the Battle of Grunewald, the biggest battle of medieval Europe.

The 16th century witnessed a number of wars against the growing Russian state over the Slavic lands ruled by Lithuania. Needing an ally in those wars, Lithuania again united with Poland through The Union of Lublin in 1569. As a member of this Commonwealth, Lithuania retained its sovereignty and its institutions, including a separate army and currency. In 1795, the joint sate was dissolved by the third Partition of the Commonwealth, which forfeited its lands to Russia, Prussia, and Austria. Over 90% of Lithuania was incorporated into the Russian Empire and the remainder into Prussia. Attempts to restore independence in the uprisings of 1794, 1830-31, and 1863 were suppressed and followed by a tightened police regime and increasing Russification, including the 1864 ban on printing Lithuanian books in traditional Latin characters.

A market economy slowly developed with the abolition of serfdom in 1861. Lithuanian farmers grew stronger, and an increase in the number of intellectuals of peasant origin led to the growth of a Lithuanian national movement. In German-ruled East Prussia, also called Lithuania Minor, or Kaliningrad, Lithuanian publications were printed in large numbers and then smuggled into Russian-ruled Lithuania. The ban on the Lithuanian press was lifted in 1904.

During World War I, the German Army occupied Lithuania, and the occupation administration allowed a Lithuanian conference to convene in Vilnius in September 1917. The conference adopted a resolution demanding the restoration of an independent Lithuanian state and elected the Lithuanian Council. On February 16, 1918, the council declared Lithuania's independence. The Seimas (Parliament) of Lithuania adopted a constitution on August 1, 1922 and declared Lithuania a parliamentary republic.

The interwar period of independence gave birth to the development of Lithuanian press, literature, music, arts, and theater as well as a comprehensive system of education with Lithuanian as the language of instruction. However, territorial disputes with Poland (over the Vilnius region and the Suvalkai region) and with Germany (over the Klaipëda region) preoccupied the foreign policy of the new state. During the interwar period, the constitutional capital was Vilnius, although the city itself was annexed by Poland from 1920 to 1939. During this period the Lithuanian Government was relocated to Kaunas, which officially held the status of temporary capital. The German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact of 1939 first pulled Lithuania into the German sphere of influence and then brought it under Soviet domination. Soviet pressure and a complicated international situation forced Lithuania to sign an agreement with the U.S.S.R. on October 10, 1939. By means of this agreement, Lithuania was given back the city of Vilnius and the part of the Vilnius region seized by the Red Army during the Soviet-Polish war; in return, some 20,000 Soviet soldiers were deployed in Lithuania. On August 3, 1940, Lithuania was proclaimed a Soviet Socialist Republic. Totalitarian rule was established, Sovietization of the economy and culture began, and Lithuanian state employees and public figures were arrested and exiled to Russia. During the mass deportation campaign of June 14-18, 1941, about 12,600 people were deported to Siberia without investigation or trial, 3,600 people were imprisoned, and more than 1,000 were killed.

Between 1940 and 1954, under the Nazi and then Soviet occupations, Lithuania lost over 780,000 residents. In World War II, German occupiers sent Lithuanians to forced labor camps in Germany. Almost 200,000, or 91%, of Lithuanian Jews were killed, one of the worst death rates of the Holocaust. After the retreat of the Wehrmacht in 1944, Lithuania was re-occupied by the Soviet Union, and an estimated 120,000 to 300,000 Lithuanians were either killed or deported to Siberia and other remote parts of the Soviet Union. Conversely, Soviet authorities encouraged the immigration to Lithuania of other Soviet workers, especially Russians, as a way of integrating Lithuania into the Soviet Union.

With the advent of perestroika and glasnost, Gorbachev's programs of social and political reforms in the late 1980s, communist rule eroded. Lithuania, led by Sajudis, an anticommunist and anti-Soviet independence movement, proclaimed its renewed independence on March 11, 1990 the first Soviet republic to do so. The Lithuanian Supreme Soviet formed a new Cabinet of Ministers and adopted the Provisional Fundamental Law of the State with a number of by-laws. In response, on the night of January 13, 1991, the Red Army attacked the Vilnius TV Tower, killing 14 civilians and injuring 700. Soviet forces, however, were unsuccessful in suppressing Lithuania's secession.

On February 4, 1991, Iceland became the first country to recognize Lithuanian independence. Sweden was the first to open an embassy in the country. The United States never recognized the Soviet claim to Lithuania and views the present Lithuanian Government as the legal continuation of the interwar republic. In July 2007, Lithuania celebrated the 85th anniversary of continuous diplomatic relations with the United States. Lithuania joined the United Nations on September 17, 1991.

Despite Lithuania's achievement of complete independence, sizable numbers of Russian forces remained on its territory. Withdrawal of those forces was one of Lithuania's top foreign policy priorities. On August 31, 1993, Lithuania and Russia signed an agreement whereby the last Red Army troops left the country. On May 31, 2001, Lithuania became the 141st member of the World Trade Organization. Desiring closer ties with the West, Lithuania became the first of the Baltic states to apply for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and on March 29, 2004, it joined the Alliance. On May 1 of the same year, Lithuania also joined the European Union.

Lithuania has been a staunch U.S. ally in the Global War on Terror, contributing to military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2005, Lithuania assumed the challenge of leading a Provincial Reconstruction Team as part of NATO's mission in Afghanistan. It has also deployed troops to Iraq under Polish, then British, and Danish command. In addition, Lithuania has participated in the peacekeeping operations in Bosnia and Kosovo. Similarly, Lithuania is a strong supporter of U.S. objectives in the area of democracy promotion. Making this a high priority for its foreign policy, Lithuania has provided development assistance and advice to Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, and the Caucasus. Lithuania also actively supports democratization efforts in Belarus.

The Lithuanian economy has shown strong growth in recent years, as Lithuania has actively pursued economic reforms. In 2006, Lithuania's GDP increased by 7.5%, and by 8% in the second quarter of 2007. Large growth rates driven by domestic consumption have made analysts talk about the potential for overheating of the economy.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Lithuania is a multi-party, parliamentary democracy. The president, who is elected directly for 5 years, is head of state and commander in chief overseeing foreign and security policy. The president nominates the prime minister and his cabinet and a number of other top civil servants. The Seimas, a unicameral parliament, has 141 members that are elected for a 4-year term. About half of the members are elected in single constituencies (71), and the other half (70) are elected in a nationwide vote by party lists. A party must receive at least 5% of the national vote to be represented in the Seimas.

For the first nine years of its post-Soviet independence, voters in Lithuania shifted from right to left and back again, swinging between the Conservatives, led by Vytautas Landsbergis (now headed by Andrius Kubilius), and the Labor (former Communist) Party, led by former President Algirdas Brazauskas. This pattern was broken in the October 2000 elections, when the Liberal Union and New Union parties won the most votes and were able to form a centrist ruling coalition with minor partners. President Valdas Adamkus played a key role in bringing the new centrist parties together. The leader of the center-left New Union Party (also known as the Social Liberal Party), Arturas Paulauskas, became the Chairman of the Seimas, and the leader of the Liberal Union Party, Rolandas Paksas, became Prime Minister. The new coalition was fragile from the outset, as the Liberal Union was pro-business and right of center, while the New Union had a populist and leftist orientation. The government collapsed within 7 months and, in July 2001, the center-left New Union Party forged an alliance with the left-wing Social Democratic Party and formed a new cabinet under former President Algirdas Brazaus-kas.

The new government tightened budgetary discipline, supported market reforms, and passed the legislation required to ensure entry into the European Union. Several years of solid economic growth helped to consolidate the government's popularity, despite discontent within two of its core constituencies—unskilled urban workers and farmers—who had expected more generous funding of social and agricultural programs. The government remained firmly in control, and by mid-2004 it was the longest serving administration since the recovery of independence.

In an unexpected political development in January 2003, Rolandas Paksas defeated the incumbent Valdas Adamkus in the second round of the presidential election to become Lithuania's third President since 1992. Paksas’ tenure as president was short-lived. In December 2003, an ad hoc parliamentary commission found that President Paksas’ vulnerability to influence constituted a threat to national security. On April 7, 2004, the Seimas removed President Paksas from office. Valdas Adamkus won the second round of presidential elections in June 2004 and was sworn in as president on July 12. Following parliamentary elections in October 2004, a new government led by Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas took office on December 14. On April 11, 2006, Parliamentary Speaker Paulauskas was removed from his position following a vote of no-confidence. That same day, Paulauskas announced the with-drawal of his New Union party from the ruling coalition. On May 31, 2006 the government collapsed, following the withdrawal of the Labor Party. A new minority coalition government headed by Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas took office on July 18, 2006 and has retained the support of the opposition Conservative party on the major issues.

The frequent formation of new political parties and their strong performance in general elections may convey the impression of great volatility, if not instability, in Lithuanian politics. However, this impression is misleading. About 20%-25% of the electorate, mostly the elderly, who have felt marginalized by the transition process, regularly vote against the party in power for its failure to ease their burdens. In the elections of 1992 and 1996, the two major parties were voted in and out, consecutively. In 2000 and 2004, newly created populist parties won the most votes. However, these parties had no clear program, were undisciplined, and splintered into small factions or aligned themselves with the Social Democratic Party. Despite its leftist ideology, by the mid-2000s the Social Democratic Party had become a centrist party and a bulwark of continuity. The frequent changes in government, however, did not lead to major shifts in policy. Economic policy, for example, has been based on fulfilling Lithuania's agreements with the International Monetary Fund and satisfying the criteria for entry into the European Union so as to ensure that Lithuania's basic taxation structure, welfare and labor policies, and government regulation were aligned with the requirements for creating a market economy. When major change has occurred, for example in the social security system, it has had the support of all the major political parties.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/1/2008

Pres.: Valdas ADAMKUS

Prime Min.: Gediminas KIRKILAS

Min. of Agriculture & Forestry: Kazimira PRUNSKIENE

Min. of Culture: Jonas JUCAS

Min. of Defense: Juozas OLEKAS

Min. of Economy: Vytas NAVICKAS

Min. of Education & Science: Roma ZAKAITIENE

Min. of Environment: Arunas KUNDROTAS

Min. of Finance: Rimantas SADZIUS

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Petras VAITIEKUNAS

Min. of Health: Rimvydas TURCINSKAS

Min. of the Interior: Regimantas CIUPAILA

Min. of Justice: Petras BAGUSKA

Min. of Social Security & Labor: Vilija BLINKEVICIUTE

Min. of Transport & Communications: Algirdas BUTKEVICIUS

Governor, Bank of Lithuania: Reinoldijus SARKINAS

Ambassador to the US: Audrius BRUZGA

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Dalius CEKUOLIS

Lithuania maintains an embassy in the United States, temporarily located at 4590 MacArthur Blvd, Suite 200, Washington, DC, 20007, tel: (202) 234-5860.

ECONOMY

In the second half of the 20th century, the Lithuanian economy underwent fundamental transformations. The Soviet occupation of 1940 brought Lithuania intensive industrialization and economic integration into the U.S.S.R., although the level of technology and state concern for environmental, health, and labor issues lagged far behind Western standards. Urbanization increased from 39% in 1959 to 68% in 1989. From 1949 to 1952 the Soviets abolished private ownership in agriculture, establishing collective and state farms. Production declined and did not reach pre-war levels until the early 1960s. The intensification of agricultural production through intense chemical use and mechanization eventually doubled production but created additional ecological problems.

The disadvantages of a centrally planned economy became evident after the collapse of the USSR in 1991, when Lithuania began its transition to a market economy. Owing to the availability of inexpensive natural resources, the industrial sector had become excessively energy intensive, inefficient in its utilization of resources, and incapable of manufacturing internationally competitive products. More than 90% of Lithuania's trade was with the rest of the USSR, which supplied Lithuanian industry with raw materials for production and a market for its outputs. The need to sever these trading links and to reduce the inefficient industrial sector led to serious economic difficulties.

The process of privatization and the development of new companies slowly moved Lithuania from a command economy toward a free market. By 1998, the economy had survived the early years of uncertainty and several setbacks, including a banking crisis, and seemed poised for solid growth. However, the collapse of the Russian ruble in August 1998 shocked the economy into negative growth and forced the reorientation of trade from Russia toward the West. In 1997, exports to former Soviet states were 45% of total Lithuanian exports. In 2006, exports to the East (the Commonwealth of Independent States—CIS) were only 21% of the total, while exports to the EU-25 were 63%, and to the United States, 4.3%. At the end of the first quarter of 2007, Lithuania accumulated foreign direct investments (FDI) of $12.7 billion, with U.S. investments amounting to $277 million, or 2.4% of FDI. The current account deficit in the first quarter of 2007 stood at 11.6% of the GDP.

Lithuania has privatized nearly all formerly state-owned enterprises. More than 79% of the economy's output is generated by the private sector. The share of employees in the private sector exceeds 72%. The Government of Lithuania completed banking sector privatization in 2001, with 89% of this sector controlled by foreign—mainly Scandinavian—capital. The government has also completed privatization of the national gas and power companies “Lietuvos Dujos” (Lithuanian Gas) and “Vakaru skir-stomieji tinklai” (Western electricity distributor). The national telecommunications company had a monopoly on the market until the end of 2002, but now several cell phone companies provide competition. “Rytu skirtomieji tinklai” (Eastern electricity distributor), “Lietuvos Energija” (Lithuanian Energy), and “Lithuanian Railways” remain state-owned.

The transportation infrastructure inherited from the Soviet period is adequate and has been generally well maintained since independence. Lithuania has one ice-free seaport with ferry services to German, Swedish, and Danish ports. There are operating commercial airports with scheduled international services at Vilnius, Kaunas, and Klaipeda. The road system is good. Border facilities at checkpoints with Poland have been significantly improved, using EU funds. Telecommunications have improved greatly since independence as a result of heavy investment.

The last couple of years have been good for the Lithuanian economy. In 2006, Lithuania's GDP increased 7.5%, above expectations, and in the second quarter of 2007 Lithuania's GDP grew by 8%. This economic growth has been largely driven by private consumption. The contribution of domestic market-oriented sectors has also increased. Growth in 2006 was strongest in construction, retail and wholesale trade, and processing and light industries. In 2006, inflation reached 3.7%, and the government's budget deficit stood at approximately 0.3 % of GDP. Greater development is needed in public policy and further progress in structural and agricultural reforms. Lithuania pegged its national currency—the litas—to the euro on February 2, 2002 at the rate of LTL 3.4528 to EUR 1.

Lithuanian income levels lag behind those of older EU members. Lower wages and high income taxes may have been factors that contributed to the trend of emigration to the wealthiest EU countries after Lithuania joined the European Union in 2004. In 2006, the flat income tax rate was reduced to 27%, and a further reduction to 24% is expected in 2008. Moreover, in 2007, the minimum wage increased to $277 per month; the average wage now stands at $724 per month, a 20% increase from the previous year. Income tax reduction and wage growth are starting to result in the return of some emigrants; in early 2006 emigration was 30% lower than in 2005.

The initial euro adoption target date of January 1, 2007 was postponed due to the high inflation rate of 2006. Achieving the Maastricht inflation criterion necessary to adopt the euro in 2010 will require significant fiscal tightening in Lithuania. In the short-term, increasing energy prices are likely to raise the headline inflation rate above 4% in 2007. While this influence could moderate in 2008, temporary spikes from the necessary excise tax increases and longer-term convergence forces will probably keep inflation above the Maastricht reference value. Rapid credit growth will call for continued proactive supervision and implementation of prudential measures to ensure financial stability.

DEFENSE

Lithuania, a relatively new member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), fully endorses the concept of “collective defense.” National policy recognizes the primacy of NATO as the guarantor of security in Europe. The goal of Lithuania's defense policy is to create a military that can contribute to international missions through the NATO alliance, the UN, and other groups, and to continue to integrate Lithuania into Western defense structures. The Defense Ministry is responsible for combat forces, search and rescue operations, and intelligence. The government has committed to but not yet reached the goal of dedicating 2% of GDP to defense spending.

Lithuania maintains approximately 10,000, active duty troops and 8,000 reserve troops. The core of the Lithuanian force structure is the Iron Wolf Motorized Infantry Brigade, which consists of five battalions and appropriate support elements. The Lithuanian Air Force operates 17 fixed wing aircraft and nine helicopters. The Home Guard is organized into five districts.

The Border Police, with 5,400 guards, fall under the jurisdiction of the Interior Ministry; they are responsible for border protection, passport and customs duties, and the interdiction of smuggling and trafficking activities.

Lithuania cooperates with Estonia and Latvia in the joint naval squadron BALTRON, and plans to contribute to a trilateral Baltic land forces element for future NATO Response Force rotations. Lithuania has deployed troops to Iraq since 2003 and has soldiers serving with Polish and Ukrainian counterparts in Kosovo. Since the summer of 2005, Lithuania has also been part of the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, leading a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Ghor province. A small special forces element also serves in Afghanistan under NATO command.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Lithuania became a member of the United Nations (UN) on September 18, 1991 and is a signatory to a number of UN organizations and other international agreements. It is also a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the North Atlantic Coordinating Council, and the Council of Europe. Lithuania gained membership in the World Trade Organization on May 31, 2001. In November 2002, Lithuania was invited to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and officially became a member on March 29, 2004. On May 1 of that same year, Lithuania joined the European Union.

Lithuania maintains foreign diplomatic missions in 60 countries on six continents, a consular post in one country that is not represented by an embassy, consular posts led by Honorary Consuls in 32 countries that are not represented by an embassy, and a special mission in one country without other diplomatic representation.

Lithuania's liberal “zero-option” citizenship law has substantially erased tensions with its neighbors. Its suspension of two strongly ethnic Polish district councils on charges of blocking reform or disloyalty during the August 1991 coup cooled relations with Poland, but bilateral cooperation markedly increased with the holding of elections in those districts and the signing of a bilateral friendship treaty in 1994. Relations with Poland are now among the closest enjoyed by Lithuania. Although a similar bilateral friendship agreement was signed with Belarus in 1995, Lithuania has joined the United States and other European nations in strongly urging the Government of Belarus to adopt much-needed democratic and economic reforms. President Adamkus was instrumental in brokering a peaceful resolution to the electoral challenges in Ukraine in 2004, and Lithuania plays an important leadership role in promoting democracy throughout the region.

U.S.-LITHUANIAN RELATIONS

The United States established diplomatic relations with Lithuania on July 28, 1922. The Soviet invasion forced the closure of the Legation to Lithuania on September 5, 1940, but Lithuanian representation in the United States continued uninterrupted. The United States never recognized the forcible incorporation of Lithuania into the U.S.S.R. and views the present Government of Lithuania as a legal continuation of the interwar republic. In 2007, the United States and Lithuania celebrated 85 years of continuous diplomatic relations.

Lithuania has enjoyed most-favored-nation treatment with the United States since December 1991. Since 1992, the United States has committed more than $100 million in Lithuania to economic and political transformation and to humanitarian needs. The United States and Lithuania signed an agreement on bilateral trade and intellectual property protection in 1994 and a bilateral investment treaty in 1997. In 1998, the United States signed a “Charter of Partnership” with Lithuania and the other Baltic countries establishing bilateral working groups focusing on improving regional security, defense, and economic issues.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Last Updated: 2/19/2008

VILNIUS (E) Akmenu 6, LT-03106 Vilnius, APO/FPO PSC 78 BOX V, APO/AE 09723, 370 5 266 5500, Fax 370 5 266 5510, Workweek: M-F/8-5, Website: http://vilnius.usembassy.gov.

DCM OMS:Allie L. Almero
AMB OMS:Laurie L. Bateman
DHS/CIS:Gilbert L. Jacobs (Copenhagen)
DHS/ICE:Michael Shevock (Frankfurt)
ECO:Daniel Gage
FCS:David McNeill (Warsaw)
FM:John F. Rexford
MGT:Andrea S. Baker
POL ECO:Rebecca J. Dunham
AMB:John A. Cloud
CON:James D. Fellows
DCM:Damian R. Leader
PAO:Ilya D. Levin
GSO:Joseph A. Strzalka
RSO:Daniel M. Childs
AGR:Eric A. Wenberg (Warsaw)
CLO:Vacant
DAO:Ltc. Joseph B. King
DEA:Timothy Moran (Copenhagen)
EST:Erik Hall (Copenhagen)
FAA:Paul H. Feldman (Brussels)
ICASS:Chair James D. Fellows
IMO:Roy D. Wright
IRS:Susan Stanley (Frankfurt)
ISO:Neil A. Brans
ISSO:Roy D. Wright
LEGATT:John T. Sylvester (Tallinn)
State ICASS: JJames D. Fellow

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

November 5, 2007

Country Description: Lithuania is a stable democracy undergoing rapid economic growth. Tourist facilities in Vilnius, the capital, and to a lesser extent in Kaunas and Klaipeda, are similar to those available in other European cities. In other parts of the country, however, some of the goods and services taken for granted in other countries may not be available.

Entry Requirements: A valid passport is required to enter Lithuania. As there are no direct flights from the U.S. to Lithuania, U.S. citizens should be aware of passport validity requirements in transit countries. American citizens do not need a visa to travel to Lithuania for business or pleasure for up to 90 days. That 90-day period begins with entry to any of the “Schengen group” countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, and Sweden. Multiple visits to Schengen countries may not exceed 90 days in any 6 month period. Travelers remaining in Lithuania for more than 90 days within any six-month period must apply for temporary residency. Lithuanian authorities recommend applying for a residency permit through a Lithuanian embassy or consulate before initial entry into Lithuania, as processing times can run beyond 90 days. All foreigners of non-European Union countries seeking entry into Lithuania must carry proof of a medical insurance policy contracted for payment of all costs of hospitalization and medical treatment in Lithuania. Visitors unable to demonstrate sufficient proof of medical insurance must purchase short-term insurance at the border from a Lithuanian provider for roughly $1.00 per day. The number of days will be calculated from the day of entry until the date on the return ticket. Children residing in Lithuania must have written permission to travel outside the country from at least one parent if their parents are not accompanying them on their trip. This policy is not applicable to temporary visitors. Visit the Embassy of Lithuania web site at www.ltembas-syus.org for the most current visa information.

Note: Although European Union regulations require that non-EU visitors obtain a stamp in their passport upon initial entry to a Schengen country, many borders are not staffed with officers carrying out this function. If an American citizen wishes to ensure that his or her entry is properly documented, it may be necessary to request a stamp at an official point of entry. Under local law, travelers without a stamp in their passport may be questioned and asked to document the length of their stay in Schengen countries at the time of departure or at any other point during their visit, and could face possible fines or other repercussions if unable to do so.

Safety and Security: Civil unrest is not a problem in Lithuania, and there have been no incidents of terrorism directed toward American interests. Incidents of anti-Americanism are rare.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs’ web site, where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts including the Worldwide Caution Travel Alert, can be found.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.

Crime: Lithuania is a relatively safe country. Visitors should maintain the same personal security awareness that they would in any metropolitan U.S. city. Large amounts of cash and expensive jewelry should be secured in a hotel safe or left at home. Crimes against foreigners, while usually nonviolent, do occur. Pick pocketing and thefts are problems, so personal belongings should be well protected at all times. Theft from cars and car thefts occur regularly.

Drivers should be wary of persons indicating they should pull over or that something is wrong with their car. Often, a second car or person is following, and when the driver of the targeted car gets out to see if there is a problem the person who has been following will either steal the driver's belongings from the vehicle or get in and drive off with the car. Drivers should never get out of the car to check for damage without first turning off the ignition and taking the keys. Valuables should not be left in plain sight in parked vehicles, as there have been increasing reports of car windows smashed and items stolen. If possible, American citizens should avoid walking alone at night. ATMs should be avoided after dark. There have been cases of American citizens being drugged in bars and then taken elsewhere to be robbed. In any public area, one should always be alert to being surrounded by two or more people at once. Additionally, Americans have reported being robbed and/or scammed while intoxicated.

Following a trend that has spread across Eastern and Central Europe, racially motivated verbal, and sometimes physical, harassment of foreigners of non-Caucasian ethnicity has been reported in major cities. Incidents of racially motivated attacks against American citizens have been reported in Klaipeda and Vilnius.

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law. In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/ or fines. More information on these serious problems is available at http://www.cybercrime.gov/18usc2320.htm.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance.

The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. For more information about assistance for victims of crime in Lithuania, please visit the Embassy's web site online at http://vilnius.usembassy.gov/service/crime-victim-assistance.html.

Medical Facilities And Health Information: Medical care in Lithuania has improved in the last 15 years, but medical facilities do not always meet Western standards. There are a few private clinics with medical supplies and services that nearly equal Western European or U.S. standards. Most medical supplies are now widely available, including disposable needles, anesthetics, antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals. However, hospitals and clinics still suffer from a lack of equipment and resources. Lithuania has highly trained medical professionals, but their availability is decreasing as they leave for employment opportunities abroad. Western-quality dental care can be obtained in major cities. Elderly travelers who require medical care may face difficulties. Most pharmaceuticals sold in Lithuania are from Europe; travelers will not necessarily find the same brands that they use in the United States. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation can cost thousands of dollars or more. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services, particularly if immigration status in Lithuania is unclear.

Tick-borne encephalitis and lyme disease are widespread throughout the country. Those intending to visit parks or forested areas in Lithuania are urged to speak with their health care practitioners about immunization. Rabies is also increasingly prevalent in rural areas.

The Lithuanian Government does not require HIV testing for U.S. citizens. However, sexually transmitted diseases are a growing public health problem.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); or via the CDC's Internet site at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web site at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http//:www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. All foreigners of non-European Union countries seeking entry into Lithuania must carry proof of a medical insurance policy contracted for payment of all costs of hospitalization and medical treatment in Lithuania (please see entry/exit requirements above).

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Lithuania is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

The Police allow Americans to drive in Lithuania with an American driver's license for up to 90 days. Americans who reside in Lithuania for 185 days or more in one calendar year and who wish to continue driving in Lithuania must acquire a Lithuanian driver’ license. The foreign license must be given to the Lithuanian Road Police to be processed by the Consular Department of the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which in turn sends it to the U.S. Embassy's Consular Section, where the owner is expected to claim it.

Roads in Lithuania range from well-maintained two-to four-lane high-ways connecting major cities to small dirt roads traversing the countryside. Violation of traffic rules is common. It is not unusual to be overtaken by other automobiles, traveling at high speed, even in crowded urban areas. Driving at night, especially in the countryside, can be particularly hazardous. In summer, older seasonal vehicles and inexperienced drivers are extra hazards. Driving with caution is urged at all times. Driving while intoxicated is a very serious offense and carries heavy penalties. The speed limit is 50 km/hr in town and 90 km/hr out of town unless otherwise indicated. The phone number for roadside assistance is 8-800-01414 from a regular phone and 1414 from a GSM mobile phone. Seatbelts are mandatory for the driver and all passengers except children under the age of 12. During the winter, most major roads are cleared of snow. Winter or all-season tires are required from November 10th through April 1st. Studded tires are not allowed from April 10th through October 31st. Drivers must have at least their low beam lights on at all times while driving. Public transportation is generally safe. Visit the website of the country's national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety at www.tourism.lt and at www.lra.lt/index_en.html

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Lithuania, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Lithuania's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's web site at www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: Lithuanian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning the temporary importation into or export from Lithuania of items such as fire-arms and antiquities.

Telephone connections are generally good. American 1-800 numbers can be accessed from Lithuania but not on a toll-free basis; the international long distance rate per minute will be charged. Local Internet cafes offer computer access. ATMs are widely available. Most hotels and other businesses accept major credit cards.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Lithuanian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Lithuania are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. For more information about arrest procedures in Lithuania, please visit the Embassy's web site at http://vilnius.usembassy.gov/arrests.html.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Registration and Embassy Locations: Americans living or traveling in Lithuania are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration web site, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Lithuania. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at Akmenu Gatve 6, tel. (370) (5) 266-5500 or 266-5600, fax (370) (5) 266-5590. Consular information can also be found at the Embassy Vilnius web site at http://vilnius.usembassy.gov.

International Adoption

November 2006

The information in this section has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Please Note: Two U.S. embassies play complementary roles in the immigrant visa process for Lithuanian citizens, including adopted orphans. The U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, Poland ultimately issues all immigrant visas for citizens and residents of Lithuania. The U.S. Embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania conducts the mandatory 1-604 Orphan Investigation interview for all orphan cases.

Patterns of Immigration: Please review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Adoption Authority:
The State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service
Ministry of Social Security and Labor:
Sodu g. 15
LT-03211 Vilnius, Lithuania
Tel: 370-5-231-0928
Fax: 370-5-231-0927
Web Site: www.ivaikinimas.lt
E-mail: [email protected]

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: There must be a minimum of 18 years’ difference between adoptive parents and child. Adoptive parents generally cannot be over the age of 50. In rare instances, the courts may allow a family with one parent over the age of 50 to adopt a child over the age of eight. In addition, intercountry adoption of Lithuanian children is generally restricted to married couples. A single parent may be considered in exceptional cases when 1) the individual has been the foster parent of the particular child to be adopted, 2) the child has extremely serious health problems and no married couple wishes to adopt the child, or 3) the child is eight years of age or older and unable to be placed with another family.

The Government of Lithuania publishes a list of medical conditions that would disqualify a prospective adoptive parent from adopting in Lithuania. The list is maintained on the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service website and includes: dipsomania (alcoholism), drug addiction “absent steady remission,” mental diseases (not specified), AIDS, HIV positive status, infectious tuberculosis, chronic kidney insufficiency when dialysis is obligatory, Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's chorea, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease), epilepsy with mental and personality changes, multi-system degeneration and third or fourth stage cancers.

Residency Requirements: There are no residency requirements for prospective adoptive parents in Lithuania.

Time Frame: Once a family is approved to adopt, it can take several years for a child eligible for inter-country adoption to be matched with prospective adoptive parents’ preferences. After a referral has been made and accepted, an adoption petition can be filed with the court. There is a 40-day waiting period from the time when the court issues the final approval of adoption until it comes into force.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: The U.S. Embassy in Lithuania maintains a list of local attorneys at http://www.usembassy.lt. Neither the U.S. Department of State nor the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius can make any claims as to the efficacy or professionalism of these attorneys. The Lithuanian government requires that all foreign adoption agencies seeking Lithuanian children be officially registered with the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service of Lithuania. The Lithuanian State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service has a cooperative agreement with several overseas adoption agencies. The current list is available at the Lithuanian State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service's web site at http://www.ivaikini-mas.lt./Under current regulations, authorized foreign adoption organizations are able to present adoption applications for a child or children under six years old from not more than two foreign families or persons in one calendar year.

The only category from which foreign nationals may adopt an unlimited number of children is those with special needs. Sixteen foreign adoption organizations currently have authorization to operate in Lithuania, and as of August 1, 2006, no more foreign agencies’ applications are being accepted.

Adoption Fees: There is a 100 Litas (roughly $35) filing fee with the court for the adoption hearing. Prospective adoptive parents can expect to pay adoption agencies for services rendered. Reliable information on the total average cost of an adoption from Lithuania is not available at this time.

Adoption Procedures: According to Lithuanian law, only those children whose parents are deceased or whose parents have had their parental rights taken away may be adopted. Prospective adoptive parents should complete the initial stages of the international adoption process in the United States. Prospective adoptive parents should then send a letter to the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service at the address listed above describing the sex and age of the child(ren) they are interested in adopting. Since foreign parents of Lithuanian heritage are given preference over foreigners with no Lithuanian heritage, prospective adoptive parents should describe any family ties to Lithuania.

The State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service places foreign families approved to adopt in Lithuania on a waiting list according to the date of submission of the complete set of documents. The agency then attempts to locate a child who seems to meet the prospective adoptive parents’ stated preferences. The State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service provides the U.S. prospective adoptive parents a report about the child being referred for adoption, including information about the child's background, health condition, biological parents, etc. The State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service issues special permission to citizens of foreign countries to meet with the child proposed for adoption. If the prospective adoptive parents accept the referral, i.e. agree to adopt the proposed child, they inform the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service, which then has the final decision about any particular adoption. Once the prospective adoptive parents have decided to proceed with the adoption, they or their representative must submit a request for an adoption hearing to the Vilnius District Court. After the Chairman of the Vilnius District Court verifies that all the documents are in order, he assigns the case to one of the Vilnius District Court judges for final review. The assigned judge will set a court date. Lithuanian law requires that both prospective adoptive parents appear in person at a court hearing to approve an intercountry adoption.

After the judge approves the adoption there is a 40-day waiting period before the adoption is final. Until the adoption is final, the adopted child remains in the custody of the institution where he/she resided prior to the hearing—although special permission may be granted in some cases for the child(ren) to reside with the adoptive parents in Lithuania. Upon completion of the 40-day waiting period, the adoptive parents must then present the Adoption Decree to the Vilnius Civil Registry Office, together with their passports and marriage certificate, in order to obtain a new birth certificate and adoption certificate. After the adoption is final, the parents must obtain a Lithuanian passport for their child.

Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Required Documents:

  • Prospective adoptive parents must a send a letter of interest to the Lithuanian State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service, through their adoption agency, asking to be placed on the waiting list to adopt a child;
  • Any other information the parents feel would be useful for the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service to know, including family heritage, ties to Lithuania, letters of reference, etc;
  • Home study, reflecting the financial ability of the prospective adoptive parents to raise a child, their suitability as adoptive parents, and a recommendation that they be permitted to adopt;
  • Medical examination certifying the prospective adoptive parents’ state of health;
  • Copy of marriage certificate;
  • Prospective adoptive parents’ birth certificates;
  • Certificate of Eligibility to Adopt issued by the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service;
  • Photocopies of the biographic pages of the prospective parents’ passports;
  • Financial statements showing income of prospective adoptive parents;
  • Police certificates from local police where the prospective adoptive parents reside for both prospective adoptive parents;
  • Copies of birth certificates of both prospective adoptive parents;
  • Copy of approved I-600A, issued by DHS.

Each original document has to be translated and carry an apostille. Translations of original documents must be notarized.

Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania
4590 MacArthur Blvd., N.W.
Tel: (202) 234-5860
Fax: (202) 328-0466
Web Site: www.ltembassyus.org
E-mail: [email protected]
Lithuania also has consulates in Chicago and New York.

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions.

Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

U.S. Embassy
Akmenu 6
Vilnius, Lithuania
Tel: 011-370-5-266-5500
Fax: 011-370-5-266-5590
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: http://vilnius.usembassy.gov

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Lithuania may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius.

General questions regarding inter-country adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

views updated

LITHUANIA

Compiled from the December 2004 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Lithuania


PROFILE

Geography

Area: 65,200 sq. km. (26,080 sq. mi.); about the size of West Virginia.

Cities: Capital—Vilnius (pop. 553,373); Kaunas (376,575); Klaipeda (192,498); Siauliai (133,528); Panevezys (119,417).

Terrain: Lithuania's fertile, central lowland plains are separated by hilly uplands created by glacial drift. A total of 758 rivers, many are navigable, and 2,833 lakes cover the landscape. The coastline is 90 km. (56 mi.) long. Land use—53% arable land, 30% forest and woodland, 4% water, 13% other.

Climate: With four distinct seasons, the climate is humid continental, with a moderating maritime influence from the Baltic Sea. January temperatures average −5ºC (23ºF); July, 17ºC (63ºF). Annual precipitation averages 62 centimeters (24.4 in.).

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Lithuanian(s).

Population: 3.476 million.

Growth rate: −2.5%. Birth rate—9.1/1,000. Death rate—11.6/1,000.

Ethnic groups: Lithuanian 83.5%, Poles 6.7%, Russians 6.3%, Belarusians 1.2%, Ukrainians 0.7% Jews 0.1% others 1.5%.

Religions: Catholic (70%), Orthodox (3%), Protestant (1%), Old Believers (0.8%), Jewish (0.1%).

Language: Lithuanian. A minority speaks Russian and Polish.

Education: Years compulsory—9. Literacy—99%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—7.8/1,000. Life expectancy—66 yrs. male, 77 yrs. female.

Work force: (2002, second quarter) 1.73 million: Manufacturing industry 18.3%; agriculture 17.1%; wholesale and retail trade 15.5%; construction 6.3%; transport 6.3%; public administration and defense 5.1%.

Government

Type: Parliamentary democracy.

Constitution: On October 25, 1992 Lithuanians ratified a new constitution, which officially was signed on November 6 that year.

Branches: Executive—popularly elected president (chief of state); prime minister (head of government). Legislative—Seimas (parliament—141 members, 4-year term). Judicial—Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, and Highest Administrative Court.

Administrative subdivisions: 10 counties and 60 municipalities.

Political parties: Labor Party—39 seats, Conservative Party—25 seats, Social Democratic Party—20 seats, Liberal and Center Union—18 seats, New Union—11 seats, Liberal Democratic Party—10 seats, Union of Peasant and New Democracy Parties—10 seats, Independent—6 seats, Polish Electoral Action—2 seats.

Suffrage: 18 years, universal.

General government budget: (2002) $4.8 billion (exchange rate at the end of 2002—3.4 Lt=$1).

Economy

GDP: (2002) $14.9 billion.

Annual 2002 GDP growth: 6.7%.

GDP per capita: $4,296. Deflation: (2002) 1%.

Unemployment: (2002) 10.9%.

Major sectors of the economy: Manufacturing 19.4%, wholesale and retail trade 18%, transport and storage 9.2%.

Trade: Exports—$5.9 billion: mineral products 19.0%, textiles and textile articles 15.0%; agricultural and food products 10.8%; transport equipment 15.9%; machinery and mechanical appliances 9.9%; wood and paper products 6.7%. Major export partners—Great Britain 13.5%, Russia 12.1%, Germany 12.1%, Latvia 9.6%, Poland 3.6%. Imports—$8.3 billion: intermediate goods 55.9%, investment goods 18.6%, final consumption goods 17.5%, passenger cars 7.2%. Major partners—Russia 20.2%, Germany 19%, Poland 6.4%, Denmark 4%.


GEOGRAPHY

The largest and most populous of the Baltic states, Lithuania is a generally maritime country with 60 miles of sandy coastline, of which only 24 miles face the open Baltic Sea. Lithuania's major warm-water port of Klaipeda lies at the narrow mouth of Kursiu Gulf, a shallow lagoon extending south to Kaliningrad. The Nemunas River and some of its tributaries are used for internal shipping (In 2000, 89 inland ships carried 900,000 tons of cargo, which is less than 1% of the total goods traffic). Between 56.27 and 53.53 latitude and 20.56 and 26.50 longitude, Lithuania is glacially flat, except for morainic hills in the western uplands and eastern highlands no higher than 300 meters. The terrain is marked by numerous small lakes and swamps, and a mixed forest zone covers 30% of the country.

The growing season lasts 169 days in the east and 202 days in the west, with most farmland consisting of sandy- or clay-loam soils. Limestone, clay, sand, and gravel are Lithuania's primary natural resources, but the coastal shelf offers perhaps 10 million barrels' worth of oil deposits, and the southeast could provide high yields of iron ore and granite. According to some geographers, Lithuania's capital, Vilnius, lies at the geographical center of Europe.


PEOPLE

The earliest evidence of inhabitants in present-day Lithuania dates back to 10,000 BC. Between 3,000-2,000 BC, the cord-ware culture people spread over a vast region of eastern Europe, between the Baltic Sea and the Vistula River in the west and the Moscow-Kursk line in the east. Merging with the indigenous population, they gave rise to the Balts, a distinct Indo-European ethnic group whose descendants are the present-day Lithuanian and Latvian nations and the now extinct Prussians. The name "Lietuva", or Lithuania, might be derived from the word "lietava," for a small river, or "lietus," meaning rain (or land of rain).

Lithuanians are neither Slavic nor Germanic, although the union with Poland and Germanic and Russian colonization and settlement left cultural and religious influences. This highly literate society places strong emphasis upon education, which is free and compulsory until age 16. Most Lithuanians and ethnic Poles belong to the Roman Catholic Church; Orthodoxy is the largest non-Catholic denomination.

Enduring several border changes, Soviet deportations, a massacre of its Jewish population, and German and Polish repatriations during and after WWII, Lithuania has maintained a fairly stable percentage of ethnic Lithuanians (from 79.3% in 1959 to 83.5% in 2002). Lithuania's citizenship law and constitution meet international and OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] standards, guaranteeing universal human and civil rights.

The Lithuanian language still retains the original sound system and morphological peculiarities of the prototypal Indo-European tongue and therefore is fascinating for linguistic study. Between 400-600 AD, the Lithuanian and Latvian languages split from the Eastern Baltic (Prussian) language group, which subsequently became extinct. The first known written Lithuanian text dates from a hymnal translation in 1545. Written with the Latin alphabet, Lithuanian has been the official language of Lithuania again since 1989. The Soviet era had imposed the official use of Russian, so most Lithuanians speak Russian as a second language while the resident Slavic populace generally speaks Russian or Polish as a first language.


HISTORY

The first written mention of Lithuania occurs in 1009 AD, although many centuries earlier the Roman historian Tacitus referred to the Lithuanians as excellent farmers. Spurred by the expansion into the Baltic lands of the Germanic monastic military orders (the Order of the Knights of the Sword and the Teutonic Order) Duke Mindaugas united the lands inhabited by the Lithuanians, the Samogitians, Yotvingians, and Couranians into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (GDL) in the 1230s-40s. In 1251 Mindaugas adopted Catholicism and was crowned King of Lithuania on July 6, 1253; a decade later, civil war erupted upon his assassination until a ruler named Vytenis defeated the Teutonic Knights and restored order.

From 1316 to 1341 Vytenis' brother and successor, Grand Duke Gediminas, expanded the empire as far as Kiev against the Tatars and Russians. He twice attempted to adopt Christianity in order to end the GDL's political and cultural isolation from western Europe. To that purpose, he invited knights, merchants, and artisans to settle in Lithuania and wrote letters to Pope John XXII and European cities maintaining that the Teutonic Order's purpose was to conquer lands rather than spread Christianity. Gediminas' dynasty ruled the GDL until 1572. In the 1300s through the early 1400s, the Lithuanian state expanded eastward. During the rule of Grand Duke Algirdas (1345-77), Lithuania almost doubled in size. The 1385 Kreva Union signed by the Grand Duke of Lithuania Jogaila (ruled in 1377-81 and 1382-92) and the Queen of Poland Jadwyga intensified Lithuania's economic and cultural development, orienting it toward the West.

Lithuania's independence under the union with Poland was restored by Grand Duke Vytautas. During his rule (1392-1430) the GDL turned into one of the largest states in Europe, encompassing present-day Belarus, most of Ukraine, and the Smolensk region of western Russia. Led by Jogaila and Vytautas, the united Polish-Lithuanian army defeated the Teutonic Order in the Battle of Tannenberg (Grunewald or Zalgiris) in 1410, terminating the medieval Germanic drive eastward.

The 16th century witnessed a number of wars against the growing Russian state over the Slavic lands ruled by the GDL. Coupled with the need

for an ally in those wars, the wish of the middle and petty gentry to obtain more rights already granted to the Polish feudal lords drew Lithuania closer to Poland. The Union of Lublin in 1569 united Poland and Lithuania into a commonwealth in which the highest power belonged to the Sejm of the nobility and its elected King who also was the Grand Duke of Lithuania. Mid-16th century land reform strengthened serfdom and yet promoted the development of agriculture owing to the introduction of a regular three-field rotation system.

The 16th century saw a more rapid development of agriculture, growth of towns, spread of ideas of humanism and the Reformation, and book printing. The emergence of Vilnius University in 1579 and the Lithuanian Codes of Law (the Statutes of Lithuania) stimulated the development of culture both in Lithuania and in neighboring countries.

The Polish-Lithuanian Republic was weakened by the rising domination of the big magnates, and the 16th-18th-century wars against Russia and Sweden over Livonia, Ukraine, and Byelorussia. The end of the 18th century witnessed three divisions of the Commonwealth by Russia, Prussia, and Austria; in 1795 most of Lithuania became part of the Russian empire. Attempts to restore independence in the uprisings of 1794, 1830-31, and 1863 were suppressed and followed by a tightened police regime, increasing Russification, the closure of Vilnius University in 1832, and the 1864 ban on the printing of Lithuanian books in traditional Latin characters.

Because of his proclamation of liberation and self-rule, many Lithuanians gratefully volunteered for the French Army when Napoleon occupied Kaunas in 1812 during the fateful invasion of Russia. After the war, Russia imposed extra taxes on Catholic landowners and enserfed an increasing number of peasants. A market economy slowly developed with the abolition of serfdom in 1861. Lithuanian farmers grew stronger, and an increase in the number of intellectuals of peasant origin led to the growth of a Lithuanian national movement. In German-ruled East Prussia, also called Lithuania Minor, Königsberg or Kaliningrad, Lithuanian publications were printed in large numbers and then smuggled into Russianruled Lithuania. The most outstanding leaders of the national liberation movement were J. Basanavicius and V. Kudirka. The ban on the Lithuanian press finally was lifted in 1904.

During WW I, the German Army occupied Lithuania in 1915, and the occupation administration allowed a Lithuanian conference to convene in Vilnius in September 1917. The conference adopted a resolution demanding the restoration of an independent Lithuanian state and elected the Lithuanian Council, a standing body chaired by Antanas Smetona. On February 16, 1918, the council declared Lithuania's independence. The years 1919-20 witnessed Lithuania's War for Independence against three factions—the Red Army, which in 1919 controlled territory ruled by a Bolshevist government headed by V. Kapsukas; the Polish Army; and the Bermondt Army, composed of Russian and German troops under the command of the Germans. Lithuania failed to regain the Polish-occupied Vilnius region.

In the Moscow Treaty of July 12, 1920, Russia recognized Lithuanian independence and renounced all previous claims to it. The Seimas (parliament) of Lithuania adopted a constitution on August 1, 1922, declaring Lithuania a parliamentary republic, and in 1923 Lithuania annexed the Klaipeda region, the northern part of Lithuania Minor. By then, most countries had recognized Lithuanian independence. After a military coup on December 17, 1926, Nationalist Party leader Antanas Smetona became president and gradually introduced an authoritarian regime.

Lithuania's borders posed its major foreign policy problem. Poland's occupation (1920) and annexation (1922) of the Vilnius region strained bilateral relations, and in March 1939 Germany forced Lithuania to surrender the Klaipeda region. Radical land reform in 1922 considerably reduced the number of estates, promoted the growth of small and middle farms, and boosted agricultural production and exports, especially livestock. In particular, light industry and agriculture successfully adjusted to the new market situation and developed new structures.

The inter-war period gave birth to a comprehensive system of education with Lithuanian as the language of instruction and the development of the press, literature, music, arts, and theater. On August 23, 1939, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact pulled Lithuania first into the German sphere of influence and then brought Lithuania under Soviet domination following the Soviet-German agreement of September 28, 1939. Soviet pressure and a complicated international situation forced Lithuania to sign an agreement with the U.S.S.R. on October 10, 1939, by which Lithuania was given back the city of Vilnius and the part of Vilnius region seized by the Red Army during the Soviet-Polish war. In return, some 20,000 Soviet soldiers were deployed in Lithuania.

On June 14, 1940, the Soviet Government issued an ultimatum to Lithuania, demanding the formation of a new Lithuanian government and permission to station additional Red Army troops. Lithuania succumbed to the Soviet demand, and 100,000 Soviet troops moved into the country the next day. Arriving in Kaunas, the Soviet Government's special envoy began implementing the plan for Lithuania's incorporation into the U.S.S.R. On June 17 the alleged people's government, headed by J. Paleckis, was formed. Rump parliamentary elections were held a month later, and Lithuania was proclaimed a Soviet Socialist Republic on August 3. Totalitarian rule was established, Sovietization of the economy and culture began, and Lithuanian state employees and public figures were arrested and exiled to Russia. During the mass deportation campaign of June 14-18, 1941, about 7,439 families (12,600 people) were deported to Siberia without investigation or trial; 3,600 people were imprisoned, and more than 1,000 massacred.

A Lithuanian revolt against the U.S.S.R. quickly followed the outbreak of the war against Germany in 1941. The rebels declared the restoration of Lithuania's independence and actively operated a provisional government, without German recognition, from June 24 to August 5. Lithuania became part of the German occupational administrative unit of Ostland. People were repressed and taken to forced labor camps in Germany. The Nazis and local collaborators deprived Lithuanian Jews of their civil rights and massacred about 200,000 of them. Together with Soviet partisans, supporters of independence put up a resistance movement to deflect Nazi recruitment of Lithuanians to the German Army.

The Red Army forced the Germans out of Lithuania in 1944 and reestablished control. Sovietization continued with the arrival of communist party leaders to create a local party administration. The mass deportation campaigns of 1941-52 exiled 29,923 families to Siberia and other remote parts of the Soviet Union. Official statistics state that more than 120,000 people were deported from Lithuania during this period, while some sources estimate the number of political prisoners and deportees at 300,000. In response to these events, an estimated several tens of thousands of resistance fighters participated in unsuccessful guerilla warfare against the Soviet regime from 1944-53. Soviet authorities encouraged immigration of other Soviet workers, especially Russians, as a way of integrating Lithuania into the Soviet Union and of fomenting industrial development.

Until mid-1988, all political, economic, and cultural life was controlled by the Lithuanian Communist Party (LCP). The political and economic crisis that began in the U.S.S.R. in the mid-1980s also affected Lithuania, and Lithuanians as well as other Balts offered active support to Gorbachev's program of social and political reforms. Under the leadership of intellectuals, the Lithuanian reform movement "Sajudis" was formed in mid-1988 and declared a program of democratic and national rights, winning nationwide popularity. Inspired by Sajudis, the Lithuanian Supreme Soviet passed constitutional amendments on the supremacy of Lithuanian laws over Soviet legislation, annulled the 1940 decisions on proclaiming Lithuania a part of the U.S.S.R., legalized a multi-party system, and adopted a number of other important decisions. A large number of LCP members also supported the ideas of Sajudis, and with Sajudis support, Algirdas Brazauskas was elected First Secretary of the Central Committee of the LCP in 1988. In December 1989, the Brazauskas-led LCP split from the CPSU and became an independent party, renaming itself in 1990 the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party.

In 1990, Sajudis-backed candidates won the elections to the Lithuanian Supreme Soviet. On March 11, 1990, its chairman Vytautas Landsbergis proclaimed the restoration of Lithuanian independence, formed a new Cabinet of Ministers headed by Kazimiera Prunskiene, and adopted the Provisional Fundamental Law of the state and a number of by-laws. The U.S.S.R. demanded revocation of the act and began employing political and economic sanctions against Lithuania as well as demonstrating military force. On January 10, 1991, U.S.S.R. authorities seized the central publishing house and other premises in Vilnius and unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow the elected government by sponsoring a local "National Salvation Committee." Three days later the Soviets forcibly took over the TV tower, killing 14 civilians and injuring 700. During the national plebiscite in February more than 90% of those who took part in the voting (76% of all eligible voters) voted in favor of an independent, democratic Lithuania. Led by the tenacious Landsbergis, Lithuania's leadership continued to seek Western diplomatic recognition of its independence. Soviet military-security forces continued forced conscription, occasional seizure of buildings, attacking customs posts, and sometimes killing customs and police officials.

During the August 19 coup against Gorbachev, Soviet military troops took over several communications and other government facilities in Vilnius and other cities but returned to their barracks when the coup failed. The Lithuanian Government banned the Communist Party and ordered confiscation of its property.

Despite Lithuania's achievement of complete independence, sizable numbers of Russian forces remained on its territory. Withdrawal of those forces was one of Lithuania's top foreign policy priorities. Lithuania and Russia signed an agreement on September 8, 1992, calling for Russian troop withdrawals by August 31, 1993, which took place on time.


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Lithuania is a multi-party, parliamentary democracy. The president, who is elected directly for 5 years, is head of state and commander in chief overseeing foreign and security policy. The president nominates the prime minister and his cabinet and a number of other top civil servants.

The parliament (Seimas) has 141 members that are elected for a 4-year term. About half of the members are elected in single constituencies (71), and the other half (70) are elected in the nationwide vote by party lists. A party must receive at least 5% of the national vote to be represented in the Seimas. The last parliamentary elections took place in October 2000.

Since 1991, Lithuanian voters have shifted from right to left and back again, swinging between the Conservatives, led by Vytautas Landsbergis (now headed by Andrius Kubilius), and the Labor (former communist) Party, led by former president Algirdas Brazauskas. This pattern was broken in the October 2000 elections when the Liberal Union and New Union parties won the most votes and were able to form a centrist ruling coalition with minor partners.

President Adamkus played a key role in bringing the new centrist parties together. The leader of the center-left New Union (also known as the Social Liberal party), Arturas Paulauskas, became the Chairman of the Seimas. The then-government of liberal Rolandas Paksas got off to a rocky start and collapsed within 7 months. In July 2001, the center-left New Union Party forged an alliance with the left-wing Social Democratic Party and formed a new cabinet under former President Algirdas Brazauskas. The cabinet of Algirdas Brazauskas is made up mostly of non-party technocrats and has emphasized the need for financial discipline.

In January 2003, former Prime Minister and Liberal Union Party leader Rolandas Paksas defeated incumbent president Valdas Adamkus in a runoff presidential election. In December 2003, an ad hoc parliamentary commission found that President Paksas' vulnerability to influence constituted a threat to national security. On April 7, 2004, parliament removed President Paksas from office. Parliamentary Speaker Arturas Paulauskas became acting President. Valdas Adamkus won the second round of presidential elections in June 2004 and was sworn in as President on July 12, 2004. The first round of parliamentary elections was held October 10, 2004 and a second round was held October 24, 2004. A new government, led by Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas, took office on December 14, 2004.

Lithuania officially became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on March 29, 2004 after depositing its instruments of treaty ratification in Washington, DC. Lithuania joined the European Union on May 1, 2004.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 12/15/04

President: Adamkus , Valdas
Prime Minister: Brazauskas , Algirdas Mykolas
Min. of Agriculture & Forestry: Prunskiene , Kazimiera
Min. of Culture: Prudnikovas , Vladimiras
Min. of Defense: Kirkilas , Gediminas
Min. of Economy: Uspaskich , Viktor
Min. of Education & Science: Motuzas , Remigijus
Min. of Environment: Kundrotas , Arunas
Min. of Finance: Butkevicius , Algirdas
Min. of Foreign Affairs: Valionis , Antanas
Min. of Health: Padaiga , Zilvinas
Min. of Internal Affairs: Furmanavicius , Gintaras Jonas
Min. of Justice: Buzinskas , Gintautas
Min. of Social Security & Labor: Blinkeviciute , Vilija
Min. of Transport: Balcytis , Zigmantas
Chmn., Bank of Lithuania: Sarkinas , Reinoldijus
Ambassador to the US: Usackas , Vygaudas
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Serksnys , Gediminas

Lithuania maintains an embassy in the United States at 2622—16th Street, Washington DC, 20009, tel: (202) 234-5860.


ECONOMY

The Soviet era brought Lithuania intensive industrialization and economic integration into the U.S.S.R., although the level of technology and state concern for environmental, health, and labor issues lagged far behind Western standards. Urbanization increased from 39% in 1959 to 68% in 1989. From 1949-52 the Soviets abolished private ownership in agriculture, establishing collective and state farms. Production declined and did not reach pre-war levels until the early 1960s. The intensification of agricultural production through intense chemical use and mechanization eventually doubled production but created additional ecological problems. This changed after independence, when farm production dropped due to difficulties in restructuring the agricultural sector.

The transportation infrastructure inherited from the Soviet period is adequate and has been generally well maintained since independence. Lithuania has one ice-free seaport with ferry services to German, Swedish, and Danish ports. There are operating commercial airports with scheduled international services at Vilnius, Kaunas, and Klaipeda. The road system is good. Border facilities at checkpoints with Poland were significantly improved by using EU funds, but long waits are still a frequent phenomenon. Telecommunications have improved greatly since independence as a result of heavy investment. The Telecom company had a monopoly on the market until the end of 2002, but now there are a number of cell phone companies to provide competition.

The economy of independent Lithuania had a slow start, as the process of privatization and the development of new companies slowly moved the country from a command economy toward the free market. By 1998, the economy had survived the early years of uncertainty and several setbacks, including a banking crisis, and seemed poised for solid growth. However, the collapse of the Russian ruble in August 1998 shocked the economy into negative growth and forced the reorientation of trade from Russia toward the West. Since the Russia crisis, the focus of Lithuania's export markets has shifted from East to West. In 1997, exports to former Soviet states were 45% of total Lithuanian exports. Today, exports to the East are only 19% of the total, while exports to EU members and candidates are 71%. The government of 1999, which was led by Prime Minister Kubilius, managed to control raging budget deficits in the midst of the crisis, and all successor governments have maintained that fiscal discipline.

The last couple of years have been good for the Lithuanian economy. The 6.7% growth in GDP in 2002 went beyond even the most optimistic expectations, despite the slower developments in the neighboring markets after the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, DC. The growth in Lithuania was mainly driven by private consumption and exports. The contribution of domestic market oriented sectors, especially construction, also was increasing. Growth was strongest in construction, financial intermediation, and processing and light industries. Inflation was low, the growth of the external account deficit stabilized, and the state finances improved noticeably with a fiscal deficit of 1.2% of GDP in 2002. Lithuania's GDP grew 9% in 2003. Progress has been achieved in the areas of privatization and deregulation. Weaknesses remain in public policy development and structural and agricultural reforms.

The privatization of major state enterprises is expected to be completed in the next couple of years. Currently, 75% of the economy is in private hands. The share of employees in the private sector rose to about 70%. Recently, the Government of Lithuania completed banking sector privatization, with 89% of this sector controlled by foreign capital. The privatization of the national gas and power companies "Lietuvos Dujos" (Lithuanian Gas) and "Lietuvos Energija" (Lithuanian Energy) also is underway. However, the privatization of "Lithuanian Railways" has been postponed.

Inflationary pressures continue to be low. Annual deflation in 2002 stood at 1.0%. The deflation has been the result of sharp competition among retail trade chains and appreciation of the local currency against the U.S. dollar.

The minimum wage has not changed since June 1998 and stands at $107.50 per month, well below the poverty threshold. The average wage stands at $336.8 per month.

Exports to the United States make up 3.6% of all Lithuania's exports, and imports from the United States comprise 1.4% of total imports to Lithuania. Foreign direct investment in Lithuania reached $3.9 billion at the end of 2002, which represented an increase of 24% compared to the previous year.

As of the end of 2002, the United States was the fifth-largest investor (8.7%) in Lithuania, behind Denmark, Sweden, Estonia, and Germany. In 2002, the current account deficit stood at 4.8% of GDP. More than 100% of it was financed by foreign direct investment.

On February 2, 2002, the government repegged the Litas from the U.S. dollar to the Euro at the rate of 3.4528 Litas for 1 Euro. The repeg, which went on smoothly, reflects a change in trade orientation and is to help Lithuania prepare for European Monetary Union. With the appreciation of local currency against the U.S. dollar, production costs to enterprises have been decreasing, but the higher exchange rate is not favorable to exports.


DEFENSE

Lithuania's defense system is based on the concept of "total and unconditional defense" mandated by Lithuania's national security strategy. The goal of Lithuania's defense policy is to prepare its society for general defense and to integrate Lithuania into Western security and defense structures. The defense ministry is responsible for combat forces, search/rescue, and intelligence operations. The core of the Lithuanian force structure is the "Iron Wolf" Rapid Reaction Brigade consisting of three mechanized and motorized battalions and appropriate combat support elements. An additional three battalions are located in the western military district. The National Volunteer Defense Forces (home guard) consist of one battalion-sized unit in each of Lithuania's 10 districts.

The 600-man navy uses patrol boats and former Russian corvettes for coastal surveillance; the 800-man air force operates 10 helicopters and 17 planes used mostly for reconnaissance and border patrol. A mandatory 1-year conscription and alternative service is available for conscientious objectors. Over the next decade Lithuania's military will undergo a transformation, cutting its active reserve to 5,000 and number of conscripts to 2000. With its security guaranteed through NATO, Lithuania is creating a military that focuses more on contributing to international operations, rather than territorial defense. Its military has participated in 11 international operations, including Afghanistan and Iraq.

The 5,400 border guards fall under the Interior Ministry's supervision and are responsible for border protection, passport and customs duties, and share responsibility with the navy for smuggling/drug trafficking interdiction. A special security department handles VIP protection and communications security.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Lithuania became a member of the United Nations on September 18, 1991, and is a signatory to a number of its organizations and other international agreements. It also is a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the North Atlantic Coordinating Council, and the Council of Europe. Lithuania gained membership in the World Trade Organization on May 31, 2001, and in November 2002 was invited to join NATO. Lithuania officially became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on March 29, 2004 after depositing its instruments of treaty ratification in Washington, DC. Lithuania joined the European Union on May 1, 2004.

Lithuania maintains foreign diplomatic missions in 94 countries on six continents and consular posts in two countries that are not represented by an embassy. Lithuania's liberal "zero-option" citizenship law has substantially erased tensions with its neighbors. Its suspension of two strongly ethnic Polish district councils on charges of blocking reform or disloyalty during the August 1991 coup had cooled relations with Poland, but bilateral cooperation markedly increased with the holding of elections in those districts and the signing of a bilateral friendship treaty in 1994. Relations with Poland are now among the closest enjoyed by Lithuania. Although a similar bilateral friendship agreement was signed with Belarus in 1995, Lithuania has joined the United States and other European nations in urging the Government of Belarus to adopt democratic and economic reforms.


U.S.-LITHUANIAN RELATIONS

The United States established diplomatic relations with Lithuania on July 28, 1922. The Soviet invasion forced the closure of the Legation to Lithuania on September 5, 1940, but Lithuanian representation in the United States continued uninterrupted. The United States never recognized the forcible incorporation of Lithuania into the U.S.S.R. and views the present Government of Lithuania as a legal continuation of the interwar republic. Lithuania has enjoyed most-favored-nation treatment with the United States since December 1991. Since 1992, the United States has committed more than $100 million to Lithuania's economic and political transformation and to address humanitarian needs. The United States and Lithuania signed an agreement on bilateral trade and intellectual property protection in 1994—a bilateral investment treaty in 1997, and in 1998, the United States signed a "Charter of Partnership" with Lithuania and the other Baltic countries. Under this partnership, bilateral working groups focusing on improving regional security, defense, and economic issues were established.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

VILNIUS (E) Address: Akmenu 6, Vilnius; APO/FPO: PSC 78 BOX V; Phone: 370-5-2665500; Fax: 370-5-2665510; Workweek: M–F/8-5; Website: WWW.USEMBASSY.LT

AMB:Stephen D. Mull
AMB OMS:Theresa Girone
DCM:Thomas Kelly
POL:Nancy Cohen
COM:Karen Pilmanis-Riga
CON:Ruta Elvikis
MGT:Cheryl Johnson
AFSA:Vacant
AGR:Wayne Molstaqd-Warsaw
CLO:Amy Mcdonough
CUS:James Taman-Frankfurt
DAO:Lawrence Beisel
DEA:Tom Bigoness-Copenhagen
ECO:Miguel Kamat
EEO:Ruta Elvikis
FAA:Paul Feldman-Brussels
GSO:Matthew Singer
ICASS Chair:Anthony Pahigian
IMO:David McCrane
INS:Gilbert L. Jacobs-Copenhagen
IPO:Eqbal Hakim
IRS:Peggy Mullins-Frankfurt
ISO:Christopher Gilberson
ISSO:David McCrane
LEGATT:James Nixon-Tallinn
PAO:Anthony Pahigian
RSO:Brent Barker
State ICASS:Miguel Kamat
Last Updated: 11/4/2004

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

September 17, 2004

Country Description: Lithuania is a country undergoing rapid economic transition. Tourist facilities in Vilnius, the capital, and to a lesser extent in Kaunas and Klaipeda, are similar to those available in a Western European city. In other parts of the country, however, some of the goods and services taken for granted in other countries may not be available.

Entry/Exit Requirements: A valid passport is required to enter Lithuania. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry. U.S. citizens do not need Lithuanian visas for most stays of 90 days or less. Travelers remaining in Lithuania for more than 90 days within any six-month period must apply for temporary residency and should apply as early as possible since processing may take more than a month. U.S. citizens should contact the Lithuanian Embassy at 2622 16th Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009, tel. (202) 234-5860, www.ltembassyus.org for current information on visa requirements.

Travelers to Lithuania who also plan to enter Russia, even in transit, need a Russian visa. The Russian Embassy in Lithuania is able to provide same-day processing of tourist visas with payment of an additional fee. Proof of medical insurance valid through the period of travel is required.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry and exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of family relationship and permission from the non-accompanying parent(s) or legal guardian for the child's travel. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry and departure.

Dual Nationality: In addition to being subject to all Lithuanian laws affecting U.S. citizens, those travelers also holding Lithuanian citizenship may be subject to other laws imposing special obligations on Lithuanian citizens. Lithuanian law views dual nationals in the same way as those who have only Lithuanian citizenship, which could hamper U.S. efforts to provide consular protection. More information regarding Lithuanian citizenship can be obtained from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, J. Tumo Vaizganto Street 2, 2600 Vilnius, telephone: (370) 2-362-539, e-mail: [email protected], website: www.urm.lt and from the Migration Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, Sventaragio 2, 2600 Vilnius, telephone: (370) 2-717-236, fax: (370) 2-718-210, website: www.vrm.lt.

For additional information regarding dual nationality, please see the Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov/ for our Dual Nationality flyer.

Safety and Security: Civil unrest is not a problem in Lithuania and there have been no incidents of terrorism directed toward American interests. Incidents of anti-Americanism are rare.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up to date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-800-407-4747 toll free in the United States, or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-317-472-2328. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: Crimes against foreigners, while usually non-violent, are becoming more common. Pickpocketing and theft are problems, so personal belongings should be well protected at all times. Car thefts, carjackings, and theft from cars are increasingly commonplace. Drivers should be wary of persons indicating they should pull over or that something is wrong with their car. Often, a second car or person is following, and when the driver of the targeted car gets out to see if there is a problem, the person who has been following will either steal the driver's belongings from the vehicle or get in and drive off with the car. Drivers should never get out of the car to check for damage without first turning off the ignition and taking the keys. Valuables also should not be left in plain sight in parked vehicles, as there have been increasing reports of car windows smashed and items stolen. Burglary of foreigners' homes is also prevalent; home alarm systems should be used whenever possible. American citizens should avoid walking alone or in small groups after dark. There have been cases of American citizens being drugged in bars and then taken elsewhere to be robbed. In any public area, one should always be alert to being surrounded by two or more people at once. Racially motivated verbal, and sometimes physical, harassment of American citizens of non-Caucasian ethnicity has been reported in major cities. Incidents of racially motivated attacks against foreigners have been reported in Klaipeda in particular.

If you are the victim of a crime while in Lithuania, in addition to reporting the crime to the local police, please contact the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local Lithuanian authorities, the Consular Section can provide information on the local criminal justice process. In Vilnius, an English-speaking Lithuanian police officer should always be available at 271-6222.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad," for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.

Medical Facilities: Medical care in Lithuania is improving but medical facilities do not always meet Western standards. There are a few private clinics with medical supplies and services that are nearly equal to Western European or U.S. standards. Most medical supplies are now widely available, including disposable needles, anesthetics, antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals. Lithuania has many highly trained medical professionals, but hospitals and clinics still suffer from a lack of equipment and resources. Western-quality dental care can be obtained in major cities. Elderly travelers who require medical care may face extreme difficulties. Most pharmaceuticals sold here are from Europe; travelers will not necessarily find the same brands that they use in the U.S. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars or more. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

Tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme disease are widespread. Those intending to visit parks or forested areas in Lithuania are urged to speak with their health care practitioners about immunization. The Lithuanian Government does not require HIV testing for U.S. citizens. However, sexually transmitted diseases are a growing concern.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.

When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties.

When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or auto-fax: (202) 647-3000.

Other Health Information: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/iht.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Lithuania is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Good (on major highways)

Roads in Lithuania range from well maintained two to four-lane highways connecting major cities, to small dirt roads traversing the countryside. Violation of traffic rules is common. It is not unusual to be overtaken by other automobiles traveling at high speeds, even in crowded urban areas. Driving at night, especially in the countryside, can be particularly hazardous. In the summer, older "seasonal" vehicles and inexperienced drivers are extra hazards. During the winter, most major roads are cleared of snow. Driving with caution is urged at all times. The speed limit is 60 km/hr in town and 90 km/hr out of town unless otherwise indicated. The phone number for roadside assistance is 8-800-0000 from a regular phone and 188 from a GSM mobile phone.

Seatbelts are mandatory for the driver and all passengers except children under the age of 12. Studded tires are not allowed from April 1st through November 1st. Headlights must be turned on at all times from September 1st through 7th (the first week of school) and November 1st through March 1st. The police allow Americans to drive in Lithuania with an American driver's license for up to 3 months. Public transportation may be slow, but is generally safe. For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning Lithuanian driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Lithuanian State Department of Tourism at Vilniaus gatve 4/35, 2600 Vilnius, telephone: (370) 2-622-610, e-mail: [email protected], website: www.tourism.lt. See also road safety information from the Lithuanian Road Administration at www.lra.lt/index_en.html.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service between the U.S. and Lithuania by local carriers at present, nor economic authority to operate such service, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Lithuania's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa.

Customs Regulations: Lithuanian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Lithuania of items such as firearms and antiquities. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Lithuania in Washington or one of Lithuania's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements. Special permission from the Ministry of Culture is required before one can remove antiques from Lithuania. Travelers are advised to contact the Foreign Export Valuation Control Section of the Ministry of Culture, Snipiskiu 3, Vilnius, tel: 2-724-113 or 2-724-005 before removing any object more than 50 years old from Lithuania; the definition of antiquity depends on the type of object. To export firearms, one needs special permission from the Ministry of the Interior. Cash in excess of 10,000 Lithuanian litai (or its equivalent in other currencies) must be declared in written form upon entry and exit.

Lithuanian customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information call (212) 354-4480, send an e-mail to [email protected], or visit www.uscib.org for details.

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products are illegal and bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines. A current list of those countries with serious problems in this regard can be found at www.ustr.gov/reports/2003/special301.htm

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law in Lithuania can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Lithuanian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Lithuania are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

Under the PROTECT Act of April 2003, it is a crime, prosecutable in the United States, for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18, whether or not the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident alien intended to engage in such illicit sexual conduct prior to going abroad. For purposes of the PROTECT Act, illicit sexual conduct includes any commercial sex act in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18. The law defines a commercial sex act as any sex act, on account of which anything of value is given to or received by a person under the age of 18.

Under the Protection of Children form Sexual Predators Act of 1998, it is a crime to use the mail or any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transmit information about a minor under the age of 16 for the criminal sexual purposes that include, among other things, the production of child pornography. This same law makes it a crime to use any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transport obscene material to minors under the age of 16.

Special Circumstances: Telephone connections are generally good, though phone numbers are in the process of being changed, especially in Vilnius. American 1-800 numbers can be accessed from Lithuania but not on a toll-free basis; the international long distance rate per minute will be charged.

Local Internet cafes offer computer access. ATMs are widely available. Most hotels, restaurants and other businesses now accept major credit cards.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children, international parental child abduction please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/family/index.html or telephone Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living or traveling in Lithuania are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Lithuania. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at Akmenu gatve 6, tel. (370)(5) 266-5500 or 266-5600; fax (370)(5) 266-5590. Consular information an also be found on the Embassy Vilnius home page at http://vilnius/usembassy.gov/.

International Adoption

January 2005

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this circular relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.

Please Note: The Department of State has been informed that some unscrupulous individuals in Lithuania have promised U.S. adoption agencies and prospective adoptive parents that they can escort Lithuanian orphans to the United States to be adopted, and have collected fees from parents in order to cover their "expenses." However, the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius confirms that such escorts are not allowed under Lithuanian law and orphans must be adopted in Lithuania.

Availability of Children for Adoption: Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to orphans.

FY-1997: IR-3 immigrant visas issued to Lithuanian orphans adopted abroad – 77, IR-4 immigrant visas issued to Lithuanian orphans to be adopted in the U.S. – 1
FY-1998: IR-3 Visas—72,
IR-3 Visas – 0
FY-1999: IR-3 Visas—61,
IR-3 Visas – 2
FY-2000: IR-3 Visas—29,
IR-3 Visas—0

Lithuanian Adoption Authority: Adoption Agency under Ministry of Social Security and Labor (Ivaikinimo agentura) is responsible for inter-country adoption in Lithuania. This agency maintains a registry of foreign families wishing to adopt in Lithuania.

Lithuanian Adoption Procedures: Prospective parents must register on this list before beginning any adoption proceedings. The application can be written in English with the translation into Lithuanian. The agency registers the applications according to the application receiving date. As children become available, the agency contacts parents according to their position on the list. Prospective adoptive parents may register with the Adoption Agency in person or by writing to the following address: Vivulskio 11, 115 kab, Vilnius, Lithuania. The fax number for the agency is (370-2) 60-38-13. Representatives of prospective adoptive parents may register on their behalf, if they have a power of attorney. At the time of registration, prospective adoptive parents should provide a statement in which they specify the age, health condition, sex or other qualities they are seeking in an adopted child. Along with the statement, prospective adoptive parents must present to the agency copies of the following documents:

  • 1. home study;
  • 2. health certificates of the prospective adoptive parents;
  • 3. financial statements, indicating their income;
  • 4. police certificates, indicating that they have never been convicted of a crime;
  • 5. copy of the first page of each of their passports;
  • 6. copy of each of their birth certificates; and,
  • 7. Copy of their marriage certificate.

A Secretary of the State in which the document has been produced must translate all documents into Lithuanian and authenticated with an Apostille. Translation of the originals must be notarized.

Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family.

Age and Civil Status Requirements: Foreign nationals can adopt a child in Lithuania only 6 months after the application is registered. The law does not permit foreign nationals to adopt children younger than 6 months.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: There are no adoption agencies in Lithuania.

Doctors: The U.S. Embassy (Consulate) maintains current lists of doctors and sources for medicines, should either you or your child experience health problems while in Lithuania.

Lithuanian Documentary Requirements:

  • original birth certificate of the child;
  • death certificate(s) of parent(s), if applicable;
  • parental affidavit surrendering all rights to the child (if father is "unknown," a statement to that effect by a competent authority must also be presented;
  • final Adoption Decree signed by the District Court;
  • new birth certificate of the child; and,
  • adoption certificate.

All questions concerning these documents and the completion of the I-604 Report should be addressed to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius. If the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius may be of further assistance, please contact them at:

U.S. Embassy in Vilnius:
Consular Section
U.S. Embassy Vilnius
PSC 78, Box V
APO AE 09723
Consular Section telephone:
011-3702-22-30-31
011-3702-22-27-37
Consular Section fax:
011-370-670-6084

U.S. Immigration Requirements: A Lithuanian child adopted by an American citizen must obtain an immigrant visa before he or she can enter the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details.

Lithuanian Embassy in the U.S.:
2622 16th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 234-5860

Warsaw Embassy in the United States:
Consular Section, IV Unit/Adoptions
U.S. Embassy
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20521-5010

The U.S. Embassy in Warsaw is responsible for the issuance of all immigrant visas for applicants from Lithuania. Therefore, we suggest that you request a copy of their standard information packet from the following address:

U.S. Embassy in Warsaw:
Consular Section, IV Unit/Adoptions or
U.S. Embassy Warsaw
Al. Ujazdowskie 29/21
00-540 Warsaw, Poland
Consular Section telephone:
011-48-22-628-3041, ext. 2105
Consular Section Fax:
011-48-22-627-4734

Interpreters and Translators

Zodis
Upes street #5
Tel: 75 16 49
HRS: 09:00-13:00, 14:00-17:00

Litinterp
Bernardinu street 7—2
Tel: 22 32 91, 22 38 50
HRS: 09:00-18:00, Sat 09:00-16:00

Questions: Specific questions regarding adoption in Lithuania may be addressed to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius. You may also contact the Office of Children's Issues, SA-29, 2201 C Street, NW, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-2818, and telephone 1-888-407-4747 with specific questions.

views updated

Lithuania

Compiled from the August 2006 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Lithuania

PROFILE

GEOGRAPHY

PEOPLE

HISTORY

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

ECONOMY

DEFENSE

FOREIGN RELATIONS

U.S.-LITHUANIAN RELATIONS

TRAVEL

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 65,200 sq. km. (26,080 sq. mi.); about the size of West Virginia.

Cities: Capital—Vilnius (pop. 541,278); Kaunas (364,059); Klaipeda (188,767); Siauliai (130,020) (January 2004).

Terrain: Lithuania’s fertile, central lowland plains are separated by hilly uplands created by glacial drift. A total of 758 rivers, many navigable, and 2,833 lakes cover the landscape. The coastline is 90 km. (56 mi.) long. Land use—44.2% arable land, 0.91% cultivated, 53.87% other.

Climate: With four distinct seasons, the climate is humid continental, with a moderating maritime influence from the Baltic Sea. January temperatures average -5°C (23°F); July, 17°C (63°F). Annual precipitation averages 62 centimeters (24.4 in.).

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Lithuanian(s).

Population: 3.4 million (July 2005 est.).

Growth rate: -0.3%. Birth rate—8.9/1,000. Death rate—11.9/1,000.

Ethnic groups: Lithuanian 83.4%, Poles 6.7%, Russians 6.3%.

Religions: Catholic (79%), Orthodox (4.1%), Protestant (1.9%).

Languages: Lithuanian; a minority speaks Russian (8%) and Polish (5.6%).

Education: Years compulsory—10 (until the age of 16). Literacy—99.6%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—67.8/1,000. Life expectancy—66.48 yrs. male, 77.85 yrs. female.

Work force: (2005 est.) 1.61 million: services 56%; industry and construction 20%; agriculture 16%.

Government

Type: Parliamentary democracy.

Constitution: On October 25, 1992 Lithuanians ratified a new constitution, which officially was signed on November 6 that year.

Government branches: Executive—popularly elected president (chief of state); prime minister (head of government). Legislative—Seimas (parliament—141 members, 4-year term). Judicial—Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, and Highest Administrative Court.

Political subdivisions: 10 counties and 60 municipalities.

Political parties: Labor Party—29 seats, Conservative Party—26 seats, Social Democratic Party—23 seats, Civil Democracy Group—12 seats, Liberal Movement Group—11 seats, Peasant and People’s Political Group—10 seats, Liberal Democratic Party—9 seats, New Union—9 seats, Liberal and Center Union—8 seats, Independent—4 seats.

Suffrage: 18 years, universal. General government budget: (2004) $4.96 billion (average exchange rate of 2004—2.78 Lt=$1).

Economy

GDP: (2005 est.) $25.5 billion.

Annual GDP growth rate: (2005 est.) 7.5%.

GDP per capita: (2005 est.) $7,487.

Inflation: (at the end of 2005) 2.7%.

Unemployment rate: (2005 est.) 4.8%.

Major sectors of the economy: Manufacturing 21.5%, wholesale and retail trade 17.7%, transport and communications 12.9%, real estate, renting and business activities 10%.

Trade: Exports—$11.82 billion: (2005) mineral products 27.5%, machinery and mechanical appliances 12.4%, textiles and textile articles 9.2%, wood and paper products 4.6%. Major export partners—Russia 10.4%, Latvia 10.1%, Germany 9.4%, France 7%. Imports—$15.48 billion: (2005) mineral products 25.6%, machinery and equipment 17.9%, transportation equipment 11.7%, chemicals 7.8%, base metals 7%, textiles and clothing 5.6%. Major import partners—Russia 27.8%, Germany 15.2%, Poland 8.3%, the Netherlands 3.9%.

GEOGRAPHY

The largest and most populous of the Baltic states, Lithuania is a generally maritime country with 60 miles of sandy coastline, of which only 24 miles face the open Baltic Sea. Lithuania’s major warm-water port of Klaipeda lies at the narrow mouth of Kursiu Gulf, a shallow lagoon extending south to Kaliningrad. The Nemunas River and some of its tributaries are used for internal shipping. (In 2000, 89 inland ships carried 900,000 tons of cargo, which is less than 1% of the total goods traffic). Between 56.27 and 53.53 latitude and 20.56 and 26.50 longitude, Lithuania is glacially flat, except for morainic hills in the western uplands and eastern highlands no higher than 300 meters. The terrain is marked by numerous small lakes and swamps, and a mixed forest zone covers 30% of the country.

The growing season lasts 169 days in the east and 202 days in the west, with most farmland consisting of sandy- or clay-loam soils. Limestone, clay, sand, and gravel are Lithuania’s primary natural resources, but the coastal shelf offers perhaps 10 million barrels’ worth of oil deposits, and the southeast could provide high yields of iron ore and granite. According to some geographers, Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, lies at the geographical center of Europe.

PEOPLE

The earliest evidence of inhabitants in present-day Lithuania dates back to 10,000 BC. Between 3,000-2,000 BC, the cord-ware culture people spread over a vast region of eastern Europe, between the Baltic Sea and the Vistula River in the west and the Moscow-Kursk line in the east. Merging with the indigenous population, they gave rise to the Balts, a distinct Indo-European ethnic group whose descendants are the present-day Lithuanian and Latvian nations and the now extinct Prussians. The name “Lietuva”, or Lithuania, might be derived from the word “lietava,” for a small river, or “lietus,” meaning rain (or land of rain).

Lithuanians are neither Slavic nor Germanic, although the union with Poland and Germanic and Russian colonization and settlement left cultural and religious influences. This highly literate society places strong emphasis upon education, which is free and compulsory until age 16. Most Lithuanians and ethnic Poles belong to the Roman Catholic Church; Orthodoxy is the largest non-Catholic denomination.

Enduring several border changes, Soviet deportations, a massacre of its Jewish population, and German and Polish repatriations during and after WWII, Lithuania has maintained a fairly stable percentage of ethnic Lithuanians (from 79.3% in 1959 to 83.5% in 2002). Lithuania’s citizenship law and constitution meet international and OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] standards, guaranteeing universal human and civil rights.

The Lithuanian language still retains the original sound system and morphological peculiarities of the prototypal Indo-European tongue and therefore is fascinating for linguistic study. Between 400-600 AD, the Lithuanian and Latvian languages split from the Eastern Baltic (Prussian) language group, which subsequently became extinct. The first known written Lithuanian text dates from a hymnal translation in 1545. Written with the Latin alphabet, Lithuanian has been the official language of Lithuania again since 1989. The Soviet era had imposed the official use of Russian, so many Lithuanians speak Russian as a second language while the resident Slavic populace generally speaks Russian or Polish as a first language.

HISTORY

The first written mention of Lithuania occurs in 1009 AD, although many centuries earlier the Roman historian Tacitus referred to the Lithuanians as excellent farmers. Spurred by the expansion into the Baltic lands of the Germanic monastic military orders (the Order of the Knights of the Sword and the Teutonic Order) Duke Mindaugas united the lands inhabited by the Lithuanians, the Samogitians, Yotvingians, and Couranians into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (GDL) in the 1230s-40s. In 1251 Mindaugas adopted Catholicism and was crowned King of Lithuania on July 6, 1253; a decade later, civil war erupted upon his assassination until a ruler named Vytenis defeated the Teutonic Knights and restored order.

From 1316 to 1341 Vytenis’ brother and successor, Grand Duke Gediminas, expanded the empire as far as Kiev against the Tatars and Russians. He twice attempted to adopt Christianity in order to end the GDL’s political and cultural isolation from western Europe. To that purpose, he invited knights, merchants, and artisans to settle in Lithuania and wrote letters to Pope John XXII and European cities maintaining that the Teutonic Order’s purpose was to conquer lands rather than spread Christianity. Gediminas’ dynasty ruled the GDL until 1572. In the 1300s through the early 1400s, the Lithuanian state expanded eastward. During the rule of Grand Duke Algirdas (1345-77), Lithuania almost doubled in size. The 1385 Kreva Union signed by the Grand Duke of Lithuania Jogaila (ruled in 1377-81 and 1382-92) and the Queen of Poland Jadwyga intensified Lithuania’s economic and cultural development, orienting it toward the West.

Lithuania’s independence under the union with Poland was restored by Grand Duke Vytautas. During his rule (1392-1430) the GDL turned into one of the largest states in Europe, encompassing present-day Belarus, most of Ukraine, and the Smolensk region of western Russia. Led by Jogaila and Vytautas, the united Polish-Lithuanian army defeated the Teutonic Order in the Battle of Tannenberg (Grunewald or Zalgiris) in 1410, terminating the medieval Germanic drive eastward.

The 16th century witnessed a number of wars against the growing Russian state over the Slavic lands ruled by the GDL. Coupled with the need

for an ally in those wars, the wish of the middle and petty gentry to obtain more rights already granted to the Polish feudal lords drew Lithuania closer to Poland. The Union of Lublin in 1569 united Poland and Lithuania into a commonwealth in which the highest power belonged to the Sejm of the nobility and its elected King who also was the Grand Duke of Lithuania. Mid-16th century land reform strengthened serfdom and yet promoted the development of agriculture owing to the introduction of a regular three-field rotation system.

The 16th century saw a more rapid development of agriculture, growth of towns, spread of ideas of humanism and the Reformation, and book printing. The emergence of Vilnius University in 1579 and the Lithuanian Codes of Law (the Statutes of Lithuania) stimulated the development of culture both in Lithuania and in neighboring countries.

The Polish-Lithuanian Republic was weakened by the rising domination of the big magnates, and the 16th-18th-century wars against Russia and Sweden over Livonia, Ukraine, and Byelorussia. The end of the 18th century witnessed three divisions of the commonwealth by Russia, Prussia, and Austria; in 1795 most of Lithuania became part of the Russian empire. Attempts to restore independence in the uprisings of 1794, 1830-31, and 1863 were suppressed and followed by a tightened police regime, increasing Russification, the closure of Vilnius University in 1832, and the 1864 ban on the printing of Lithuanian books in traditional Latin characters.

Because of his proclamation of liberation and self-rule, many Lithuanians gratefully volunteered for the French Army when Napoleon occupied Kaunas in 1812 during the fateful invasion of Russia. After the war, Russia imposed extra taxes on Catholic landowners and enserfed an increasing number of peasants. A market economy slowly developed with the abolition of serfdom in 1861. Lithuanian farmers grew stronger, and an increase in the number of intellectuals of peasant origin led to the growth of a Lithuanian national movement. In German-ruled East Prussia, also called Lithuania Minor, Königsberg or Kaliningrad, Lithuanian publications were printed in large numbers and then smuggled into Russian-ruled Lithuania. The most outstanding leaders of the national liberation movement were J. Basanavicius and V. Kudirka. The ban on the Lithuanian press finally was lifted in 1904.

During WW I, the German Army occupied Lithuania in 1915, and the occupation administration allowed a Lithuanian conference to convene in Vilnius in September 1917. The conference adopted a resolution demanding the restoration of an independent Lithuanian state and elected the Lithuanian Council, a standing body chaired by Antanas Smetona. On February 16, 1918, the council declared Lithuania’s independence. The years 1919-20 witnessed Lithuania’s War for Independence against three factions—the Red Army, which in 1919 controlled territory ruled by a Bolshevist government headed by V. Kapsukas; the Polish Army; and the Bermondt Army, composed of Russian and German troops under the command of the Germans. Lithuania failed to regain the Polish-occupied Vilnius region.

In the Moscow Treaty of July 12, 1920, Russia recognized Lithuanian independence and renounced all previous claims to it. The Seimas (parliament) of Lithuania adopted a constitution on August 1, 1922, declaring Lithuania a parliamentary republic, and in 1923 Lithuania annexed the Klaipeda region, the northern part of Lithuania Minor. By then, most countries had recognized Lithuanian independence. After a military coup on December 17, 1926, Nationalist Party leader Antanas Smetona became president and gradually introduced an authoritarian regime.

Lithuania’s borders posed its major foreign policy problem. Poland’s occupation (1920) and annexation (1922) of the Vilnius region strained bilateral relations, and in March 1939 Germany forced Lithuania to surrender the Klaipeda region. Radical land reform in 1922 considerably reduced the number of estates, promoted the growth of small and middle farms, and boosted agricultural production and exports, especially livestock. In particular, light industry and agriculture successfully adjusted to the new market situation and developed new structures.

The inter-war period gave birth to a comprehensive system of education with Lithuanian as the language of instruction and the development of the press, literature, music, arts, and theater. On August 23, 1939, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact pulled Lithuania first into the German sphere of influence and then brought Lithuania under Soviet domination following the Soviet-German agreement of September 28, 1939. Soviet pressure and a complicated international situation forced Lithuania to sign an agreement with the U.S.S.R. on October 10, 1939, by which Lithuania was given back the city of Vilnius and the part of Vilnius region seized by the Red Army during the Soviet-Polish war. In return, some 20,000 Soviet soldiers were deployed in Lithuania.

On June 14, 1940, the Soviet Government issued an ultimatum to Lithuania, demanding the formation of a new Lithuanian government and permission to station additional Red Army troops. Lithuania succumbed to the Soviet demand, and 100,000 Soviet troops moved into the country the next day. Arriving in Kaunas, the Soviet Government’s special envoy began implementing the plan for Lithuania’s incorporation into the U.S.S.R.

On June 17 the alleged people’s government, headed by J. Paleckis, was formed. Rump parliamentary elections were held a month later, and Lithuania was proclaimed a Soviet Socialist Republic on August 3. Total-itarian rule was established, Sovietization of the economy and culture began, and Lithuanian state employees and public figures were arrested and exiled to Russia. During the mass deportation campaign of June 14-18, 1941, about 7,439 families (12,600 people) were deported to Siberia without investigation or trial; 3,600 people were imprisoned, and more than 1,000 massacred.

A Lithuanian revolt against the U.S.S.R. quickly followed the outbreak of the war against Germany in 1941. The rebels declared the restoration of Lithuania’s independence and actively operated a provisional government, without German recognition, from June 24 to August 5. Lithuania became part of the German occupational administrative unit of Ostland. People were repressed and taken to forced labor camps in Germany. The Nazis and local collaborators deprived Lithuanian Jews of their civil rights and massacred about 200,000 of them. Together with Soviet partisans, supporters of independence put up a resistance movement to deflect Nazi recruitment of Lithuanians to the German Army.

The Red Army forced the Germans out of Lithuania in 1944 and reestablished control. Sovietization continued with the arrival of communist party leaders to create a local party administration. The mass deportation campaigns of 1941-52 exiled 29,923 families to Siberia and other remote parts of the Soviet Union. Official statistics state that more than 120,000 people were deported from Lithuania during this period, while some sources estimate the number of political prisoners and deportees at 300,000.

In response to these events, an estimated several tens of thousands of resistance fighters participated in unsuccessful guerilla warfare against the Soviet regime from 1944-53. Soviet authorities encouraged immigration of other Soviet workers, especially Russians, as a way of integrating Lithuania into the Soviet Union and of fomenting industrial development.

Until mid-1988, all political, economic, and cultural life was controlled by the Lithuanian Communist Party (LCP). The political and economic crisis that began in the U.S.S.R. in the mid-1980s also affected Lithuania, and Lithuanians as well as other Balts offered active support to Gorbachev’s program of social and political reforms. Under the leadership of intellectuals, the Lithuanian reform movement “Sajudis” was formed in mid-1988 and declared a program of democratic and national rights, winning nationwide popularity. Inspired by Sajudis, the Lithuanian Supreme Soviet passed constitutional amendments on the supremacy of Lithuanian laws over Soviet legislation, annulled the 1940 decisions on proclaiming Lithuania a part of the U.S.S.R., legalized a multi-party system, and adopted a number of other important decisions. A large number of LCP members also supported the ideas of Sajudis, and with Sajudis support, Algirdas Brazauskas was elected First Secretary of the Central Committee of the LCP in 1988. In December 1989, the Brazauskas-led LCP split from the CPSU and became an independent party, renaming itself in 1990 the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party.

In 1990, Sajudis-backed candidates won the elections to the Lithuanian Supreme Soviet. On March 11, 1990, its chairman Vytautas Landsbergis proclaimed the restoration of Lithuanian independence, formed a new Cabinet of Ministers headed by Kazimiera Prunskiene, and adopted the Provisional Fundamental Law of the state and a number of by-laws. The U.S.S.R. demanded revocation of the act and began employing political and economic sanctions against Lithuania as well as demonstrating military force. On January 10, 1991, U.S.S.R. authorities seized the central publishing house and other premises in Vilnius and unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow the elected government by sponsoring a local “National Salvation Committee.” Three days later the Soviets forcibly took over the TV tower, killing 14 civilians and injuring 700. During the national plebiscite in February more than 90% of those who took part in the voting (76% of all eligible voters) voted in favor of an independent, democratic Lithuania.

Led by the tenacious Landsbergis, Lithuania’s leadership continued to seek Western diplomatic recognition of its independence. Soviet military-security forces continued forced conscription, occasional seizure of buildings, attacking customs posts, and sometimes killing customs and police officials.

During the August 19 coup against Gorbachev, Soviet military troops took over several communications and other government facilities in Vilnius and other cities but returned to their barracks when the coup failed. The Lithuanian Government banned the Communist Party and ordered confiscation of its property.

Despite Lithuania’s achievement of complete independence, sizable numbers of Russian forces remained on its territory. Withdrawal of those forces was one of Lithuania’s top foreign policy priorities. Lithuania and Russia signed an agreement on September 8, 1992, calling for Russian troop withdrawals by August 31, 1993, which took place on time.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Lithuania is a multi-party, parliamentary democracy. The president, who is elected directly for 5 years, is head of state and commander in chief overseeing foreign and security policy. The president nominates the prime minister and his cabinet and a number of other top civil servants.

The parliament (Seimas) has 141 members that are elected for a 4-year term. About half of the members are elected in single constituencies (71), and the other half (70) are elected in the nationwide vote by party lists. A party must receive at least 5% of the national vote to be represented in the Seimas.

Since 1991, Lithuanian voters have shifted from right to left and back again, swinging between the Conservatives, led by Vytautas Landsbergis (now headed by Andrius Kubilius), and the Labor (former communist) Party, led by former president Algirdas Brazauskas. This pattern was broken in the October 2000 elections when the Liberal Union and New Union parties won the most votes and were able to form a centrist ruling coalition with minor partners. President Adamkus played a key role in bringing the new centrist parties together. The leader of the center-left New Union (also known as the Social Liberal party), Arturas Paulauskas, became the Chairman of the Seimas. The then-government of liberal Rolandas Paksas got off to a rocky start and collapsed within 7 months. In July 2001, the center-left New Union Party forged an alliance with the left-wing Social Democratic Party and formed a new cabinet under former President Algirdas Brazauskas.

In January 2003, former Prime Minister and Liberal Union Party leader Rolandas Paksas defeated incumbent president Valdas Adamkus in a runoff presidential election. In December 2003, an ad hoc parliamentary commission found that President Paksas’ vulnerability to influence constituted a threat to national security. On April 7, 2004, parliament removed President Paksas from office. Valdas Adamkus won the second round of presidential elections in June 2004 and was sworn in as President on July 12, 2004. Following parliamentary elections in October 2004, a new government led by Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas took office on December 14, 2004. On April 11, 2006, Parliamentary Speaker Paul-auskas was removed from his position following a vote of no-confidence. That same day, Paulauskas announced the withdrawal of his New Union party from the ruling coalition. On May 31, 2006 the government collapsed following the withdrawal of the Labor Party. A new coalition government headed by Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas took office on July 18, 2006.

Lithuania officially became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on March 29, 2004 after depositing its instruments of treaty ratification in Washington, DC. Lithuania joined the European Union on May 1, 2004.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 8/8/2006

President: Valdas ADAMKUS

Prime Minister: Gediminas KIRKILAS

Min. of Agriculture & Forestry: Kazimira PRUNSKIENE

Min. of Culture: Jonas JUCAS

Min. of Defense: Juozas OLEKAS

Min. of Economy: Vytas NAVICKAS

Min. of Education & Science: Roma ZAKAITIENE

Min. of Environment: Arunas KUNDROTAS

Min. of Finance: Zigmantas BALCYTIS

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Petras VAITIEKUNAS

Min. of Health: Rimvydas TURCINSKAS

Min. of the Interior: Raimondas SUKYS

Min. of Justice: Petras BAGUSKA

Min. of Social Security & Labor: Vilija BLINKEVICIUTE

Min. of Transport & Communications: Algirdas BUTKEVICIUS

Governor, Bank of Lithuania: Reinoldijus SARKINAS

Charge d’Affaires to the US: Kornelija JURGAITIENE

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Dalius CEKUOLIS

Lithuania maintains an embassy in the United States, temporarily located at 4590 MacArthur Blvd, Suite 200, Washington, DC, 20007, tel: (202) 234-5860.

ECONOMY

The Soviet era brought Lithuania intensive industrialization and economic integration into the U.S.S.R., although the level of technology and state concern for environmental, health, and labor issues lagged far behind Western standards. Urbanization increased from 39% in 1959 to 68% in 1989. From 1949-52 the Soviets abolished private ownership in agriculture, establishing collective and state farms. Production declined and did not reach pre-war levels until the early 1960s. The intensification of agricultural production through intense chemical use and mechanization eventually doubled production but created additional ecological problems. This changed after independence, when farm production dropped due to difficulties in restructuring the agricultural sector.

The transportation infrastructure inherited from the Soviet period is adequate and has been generally well maintained since independence. Lithuania has one ice-free seaport with ferry services to German, Swedish, and Danish ports. There are operating commercial airports with scheduled international services at Vilnius, Kaunas, and Klaipeda. The road system is good. Border facilities at checkpoints with Poland were significantly improved by using EU funds. Telecommunications have improved greatly since independence as a result of heavy investment. The national telecommunications company had a monopoly on the market until the end of 2002, but now several cell phone companies provide competition.

The economy of independent Lithuania had a slow start, as the process of privatization and the development of new companies slowly moved the country from a command economy toward the free market. By 1998, the economy had survived the early years of uncertainty and several setbacks, including a banking crisis, and seemed poised for solid growth. However, the collapse of the Russian ruble in August 1998 shocked the economy into negative growth and forced the reorientation of trade from Russia toward the West. Since the ruble crisis, the focus of Lithuania’s export markets has shifted from East to West. In 1997, exports to former Soviet states were 45% of total Lithuanian exports. In 2005, exports to the East (the Commonwealth of Independent States—CIS) were only 18% of the total, while exports to the EU-25 were 65%. The government of 1999, which was led by Prime Minister Kubilius, managed to control raging budget deficits in the midst of the crisis, and all successor governments have maintained that fiscal discipline.

The last couple of years have been good for the Lithuanian economy. In 2005, Lithuania’s GDP increased 7.5%, above expectations. Private consumption has been the principal driver of recent economic growth. The contribution of domestic market oriented sectors, especially construction, has also increased. Growth in 2005 was strongest in construction, retail and wholesale trade, and processing and light industries. Inflation was moderate, GDP growth was strong, and the government’s budget deficit stood at 1.2% of GDP in 2005. Lithuania continues to harmonize its regulatory environment with European Union requirements. Weaknesses remain in public policy development and structural and agricultural reforms. Lithuania pegged its national currency, the litas, to the euro on February 2, 2002 at the rate of LTL 3.4528 for EUR 1. The government hopes to join the single European currency zone on January 1, 2007, but its current inflation rate may reach or exceed the limit, forcing the government to postpone entry.

Lithuania has privatized nearly all formerly state-owned enterprises. More than 70% of the economy’s output is generated by the private sector. The share of employees in the private sector exceeds 72%. The Government of Lithuania completed banking sector privatization in 2001, with 89% of this sector controlled by foreign—mainly Scandinavian—capital. The government completed privatization of the national gas and power companies “Lietuvos Dujos” (Lithuanian Gas) and “Vakaru skirstomieji tinklai” (Western electricity distributor). “Rytu skirtomieji tinklai” (Eastern electricity distributor), “Lietuvos Energija” (Lithuanian Energy), and “Lithuanian Railways” remain state-owned.

Inflation reached 2.7% in 2005. The minimum wage increased in 2005 to $198 per month, slightly above the poverty threshold. The average wage stands at $464 per month.

Exports to the United States make up 4.7% of all Lithuania’s exports, and imports from the United States comprise 2% of total imports to Lithuania. Lithuania has accumulated foreign direct investment (FDI) of $6.8 billion. The stock of U.S. investments amounted to $300 million at the end of 2005, accounting for 5% of FDI. The current account deficit in 2005 stood at 7% of GDP.

DEFENSE

Lithuania, a relatively new NATO member, fully endorses the concept of “collective defense.” National policy recognizes the primacy of NATO as the guarantor of security in Europe. The goal of Lithuania’s defense policy is to create a military that can contribute to international missions through the NATO alliance, the UN, and other groups, and to continue to integrate Lithuania into Western defense structures. The defense ministry is responsible for combat forces, search and rescue operations, and intelligence. The government has committed to achieving the goal of dedicating 2% of GDP for defense spending.

Lithuania maintains 8,500 active duty troops and 8,000 reserve troops. The core of the Lithuanian force structure is the Iron Wolf Rapid Reaction Brigade, which consists of five battalions and appropriate support elements. The Lithuanian Air Force operates 17 fixed wing aircraft and nine helicopters. The Home Guard is currently organized into seven districts. Plans call for reorganization into five districts.

The Border Police are under the Interior Ministry and are responsible for border protection, passport and customs duties, and interdiction of smuggling and trafficking activities.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Lithuania became a member of the United Nations on September 18, 1991, and is a signatory to a number of its organizations and other international agreements. It also is a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the North Atlantic Coordinating Council, and the Council of Europe. Lithuania gained membership in the World Trade Organization on May 31, 2001, and in November 2002 was invited to join NATO. Lithuania officially became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on March 29, 2004 after depositing its instruments of treaty ratification in Washington, DC. Lithuania joined the European Union on May 1, 2004.

Lithuania maintains foreign diplomatic missions in 60 countries on six continents, a consular post in one country that is not represented by an embassy, consular posts led by Honorary Consuls in 32 countries that are not represented by an embassy, and a special mission in one country without other diplomatic representation. Lithuania’s liberal “zero-option” citizenship law has substantially erased tensions with its neighbors. Its suspension of two strongly ethnic Polish district councils on charges of blocking reform or disloyalty during the August 1991 coup had cooled relations with Poland, but bilateral cooperation markedly increased with the holding of elections in those districts and the signing of a bilateral friendship treaty in 1994. Relations with Poland are now among the closest enjoyed by Lithuania. Although a similar bilateral friendship agreement was signed with Belarus in 1995, Lithuania has joined the United States and other European nations in urging the Government of Belarus to adopt democratic and economic reforms. President Adamkus was instrumental in brokering a peaceful resolution to the electoral challenges in Ukraine in 2004, and Lithuania plays an important leadership role in promoting democracy throughout the region.

U.S.-LITHUANIAN RELATIONS

The United States established diplomatic relations with Lithuania on July 28, 1922. The Soviet invasion forced the closure of the Legation to Lithuania on September 5, 1940, but Lithuanian representation in the United States continued uninterrupted. The United States never recognized the forcible incorporation of Lithuania into the U.S.S.R. and views the present Government of Lithuania as a legal continuation of the inter-war republic. Lithuania has enjoyed most-favored-nation treatment with the United States since December 1991. Since 1992, the United States has committed more than $100 million to Lithuania’s economic and political transformation and to address humanitarian needs. The United States and Lithuania signed an agreement on bilateral trade and intellectual property protection in 1994—a bilateral investment treaty in 1997, and in 1998, the United States signed a “Charter of Partnership” with Lithuania and the other Baltic countries. Under this partnership, bilateral working groups focusing on improving regional security, defense, and economic issues were established.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

VILNIUS (E) Address: Akmenu 6, Vilnius; APO/FPO: PSC 78 BOX V, APO AE 09723; Phone: 370-5-2665500; Fax: 370-5-2665510; Workweek: M-F/8-5; Website: WWW.USEMBASSY.LT.

AMB:John A. Cloud
AMB OMS:Laurie L. Bateman
DCM:Thomas P. Kelly
DCM OMS:Allie L. Almero
POL/ECO:Rebecca J. Dunham
CON:James D. Fellows
MGT:Cheryl N. Johnson
AGR:Ed Porter (Warsaw)
CLO:David K. McCarthy
CUS:James Taman (Frankfurt)
DAO:Joseph B. King
DEA:Timothy Moran (Copenhagen)
ECO:Scott Woodard
EEO:J. Demian LaMadrid
FAA:Paul H. Feldman (Brussels)
FCS:David McNeill (Warsaw)
GSO:Joseph A. Strzalka
IMO:David J. McCrane
INS:Gilbert L. Jacobs (Copenhagen)
IRS:Susan Stanley (Frankfurt)
ISO:Garland E. Saunders
ISSO:J. Demian LaMadrid
LEGATT:John T. Sylvester (Tallinn)
PAO:Carlos E. Aranaga
RSO:Daniel M. Childs
State ICASS:James D. Fellows

Last Updated: 12/7/2006

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet : October 27, 2006

Country Description: Lithuania is a stable democracy undergoing rapid economic growth. Tourist facilities in Vilnius, the capital, and to a lesser extent in Kaunas and Klaipeda, are similar to those available in other European cities. In other parts of the country, however, some of the goods and services taken for granted in other countries may not be available.

Entry/Exit Requirements: A valid passport is required to enter Lithuania. The passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of entry. U.S. citizens do not need Lithuanian visas for most stays of 90 days or less. Travelers remaining in Lithuania for more than 90 days within any six-month period must apply for temporary residency. Lithuanian authorities recommend applying for a residency permit through a Lithuanian embassy or consulate before initial entry into Lithuania, as processing times can run beyond 90 days. All foreigners of non-European Union countries seeking entry into Lithuania must carry proof of a medical insurance policy contracted for payment of all costs of hospitalization and medical treatment in Lithuania. Visitors unable to demonstrate sufficient proof of medical insurance must purchase short-term insurance at the border from a Lithuanian provider for roughly $1.00 per day. The number of days will be calculated from the day of entry until the date on the return ticket. Visit the Embassy of Lithuania web site at www.ltembassyus.org for the most current visa information.

Safety and Security: Civil unrest is not a problem in Lithuania, and there have been no incidents of terrorism directed toward American interests. Incidents of anti-Americanism are rare.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site, where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: Lithuania is a relatively safe country. Visitors should maintain the same personal security awareness that they would in any metropolitan U.S. city. Large amounts of cash and expensive jewelry should be secured in a hotel safe or left at home. Crimes against foreigners, while usually non-violent, do occur. Pick pocketing and theft are problems; so personal belongings should be well protected at all times. Theft from cars and car thefts occur regularly. Drivers should be wary of persons indicating they should pull over or that something is wrong with their car. Often, a second car or person is following, and when the driver of the targeted car gets out to see if there is a problem the person who has been following will either steal the driver’s belongings from the vehicle or get in and drive off with the car. Drivers should never get out of the car to check for damage without first turning off the ignition and taking the keys. Valuables also should not be left in plain sight in parked vehicles, as there have been increasing reports of car windows smashed and items stolen.

Foreigners’ homes are sometimes burgled; home alarm systems should be used whenever possible. American citizens should avoid walking alone or in small groups late at night. ATMs should be avoided after dark. There have been cases of American citizens being drugged in bars and then taken elsewhere to be robbed. In any public area, one should always be alert to being surrounded by two or more people at once.

Racially motivated verbal, and sometimes physical, harassment of American citizens of non-Caucasian ethnicity has been reported in major cities. Incidents of racially motivated attacks against foreigners have been reported in Klaipeda.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical care in Lithuania has improved in the last 15 years, but medical facilities do not always meet Western standards. There are a few private clinics with medical supplies and services that nearly equal Western European or U.S. standards. Most medical supplies are now widely available, including disposable needles, anesthetics, antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals. However, hospitals and clinics still suffer from a lack of equipment and resources. Lithuania has highly trained medical professionals, but their availability is decreasing as they leave for employment opportunities abroad. Western-quality dental care can be obtained in major cities. Elderly travelers who require medical care may face difficulties. Most pharmaceuticals sold in Lithuania are from Europe; travelers will not necessarily find the same brands that they use in the United States. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation can cost thousands of dollars or more. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services, particularly if immigration status in Lithuania is unclear.

Tick-borne encephalitis and lyme disease are widespread throughout the country. Those intending to visit parks or forested areas in Lithuania are urged to speak with their health care practitioners about immunization. Rabies is also increasingly prevalent in rural areas. The Lithuanian Government does not require HIV testing for U.S. citizens. However, sexually transmitted diseases are a growing public health problem.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); or via the CDC’s Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. All foreigners of non-European Union countries seeking entry into Lithuania must carry proof of a medical insurance policy contracted for payment of all costs of hospitalization and medical treatment in Lithuania (please see entry/exit requirements above).

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Lithuania is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

The Police allow Americans to drive in Lithuania with an American driver’s license for up to 90 days. Americans who reside in Lithuania for 185 days or more in one calendar year and who wish to continue driving in Lithuania must acquire a Lithuanian driver’s license. The foreign license must be given to the Lithuanian Road Police to be processed by the Consular Department of the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which in turn sends it to the U.S. Embassy’s Consular Section, where the owner is expected to claim it.

Roads in Lithuania range from well-maintained two- to four-lane highways connecting major cities to small dirt roads traversing the countryside. Violation of traffic rules is common. It is not unusual to be overtaken by other automobiles, traveling at high speed, even in crowded urban areas. Driving at night, especially in the countryside, can be particularly hazardous. In summer, older seasonal vehicles and inexperienced drivers are extra hazards. Driving with caution is urged at all times. Driving while intoxicated is a very serious offense and carries heavy penalties. The speed limit is 50 km/hr in town and 90 km/hr out of town unless otherwise indicated. The phone number for roadside assistance is 8-800-01414 from a regular phone and 1414 from a GSM mobile phone.

Seatbelts are mandatory for the driver and all passengers except children under the age of 12. During the winter, most major roads are cleared of snow. Winter or all-season tires are required from November 10th through April 1st. Studded tires are not allowed from April 10th through October 31st. Drivers must have at least their low beam lights on at all times while driving. Public transportation is generally safe. Visit the website of the country’s national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety at www.tourism.lt and at www.lra.lt/index_en.html.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Lithuania, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Lithuania’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with ICAO aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s Internet web site at www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: Lithuanian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning the temporary importation into or export from Lithuania of items such as firearms and antiquities. Telephone connections are generally good. American 1-800 numbers can be accessed from Lithuania but not on a toll-free basis; the international long distance rate per minute will be charged. Local Internet cafes offer computer access. ATMs are widely available. Most hotels and other businesses now accept major credit cards.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Lithuanian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Lithuania are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States.

Children’s Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living or traveling in Lithuania are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Lithuania. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at Akmenu Gatve 6, tel. (370) (5) 266-5500 or 266-5600, fax (370) (5) 266-5590. Consular information can also be found at the Embassy Vilnius home page at www.usembassy.lt.

International Adoption : November 2006

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Please Note: Two U.S. embassies play complementary roles in the immigrant visa process for Lithuanian citizens, including adopted orphans. The U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, Poland ultimately issues all immigrant visas for citizens and residents of Lithuania. The U.S. Embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania conducts the mandatory I-604 Orphan Investigation interview for all orphan cases.

Patterns of Immigration: Please review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Adoption Authority:
The State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service
Ministry of Social Security and Labor:
Sodu g. 15
LT-03211 Vilnius, Lithuania
Tel: 370-5-231-0928
Fax: 370-5-231-0927
Web Site: www.ivaikinimas.lt
E-mail: [email protected]

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: There must be a minimum of 18 years’ difference between adoptive parents and child. Adoptive parents generally cannot be over the age of 50. In rare instances, the courts may allow a family with one parent over the age of 50 to adopt a child over the age of eight. In addition, intercountry adoption of Lithuanian children is generally restricted to married couples. A single parent may be considered in exceptional cases when 1) the individual has been the foster parent of the particular child to be adopted, 2) the child has extremely serious health problems and no married couple wishes to adopt the child, or 3) the child is eight years of age or older and unable to be placed with another family. The Government of Lithuania publishes a list of medical conditions that would disqualify a prospective adoptive parent from adopting in Lithuania. The list is maintained on the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service website and includes: dipsomania (alcoholism), drug addiction “absent steady remission,” mental diseases (not specified), AIDS, HIV positive status, infectious tuberculosis, chronic kidney insufficiency when dialysis is obligatory, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s chorea, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), epilepsy with mental and personality changes, multi-system degeneration and third or fourth stage cancers.

Residency Requirements: There are no residency requirements for prospective adoptive parents in Lithuania.

Time Frame: Once a family is approved to adopt, it can take several years for a child eligible for inter-country adoption to be matched with prospective adoptive parents’ preferences. After a referral has been made and accepted, an adoption petition can be filed with the court. There is a 40-day waiting period from the time when the court issues the final approval of adoption until it comes into force.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: The U.S. Embassy in Lithuania maintains a list of local attorneys at http://www.usembassy.lt/Text/Docs/Consular/lawyers.htm. The Lithuanian government requires that all foreign adoption agencies seeking Lithuanian children be officially registered with the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service of Lithuania. The Lithuanian State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service has a cooperative agreement with several overseas adoption agencies. The current list is available at the Lithuanian State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service’s web site at http://www.ivaikinimas.lt.

Adoption Fees: There is a 100 Litas (roughly $35) filing fee with the court for the adoption hearing. Prospective adoptive parents can expect to pay adoption agencies for services rendered. Reliable information on the total average cost of an adoption from Lithuania is not available at this time.

Adoption Procedures: Prospective adoptive parents should complete the initial stages of the international adoption process in the United States, including filing form I-600A with USCIS, as this documentation is required to complete processing with the Lithuanian government. Prospective adoptive parents should then send a letter to the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service describing the sex and age of the child(ren) they are interested in adopting. This letter should include information about the prospective adoptive parents’ ages and professions. Since foreign parents of Lithuanian heritage are given preference over foreigners with no Lithuanian heritage, prospective adoptive parents should describe any family ties to Lithuania.

The State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service places foreign families approved to adopt in Lithuania on a waiting list according to the date of submission of the complete set of documents. The agency then attempts to locate a child who seems to meet the prospective adoptive parents’ stated preferences. Foreigners interested in adopting are notified on a first-come, first-served basis by the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service about children available for adoption through the agents that represent them. The State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service provides the U.S. prospective adoptive parents a report about the child being referred for adoption, including information about the child’s background, health condition, biological parents, etc. The State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service issues special permission to citizens of foreign countries to meet with the child proposed for adoption. If the prospective adoptive parents accept the referral, i.e. agree to adopt the proposed child, they inform the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service, which then has the final decision about any particular adoption.

Once the prospective adoptive parents have decided to proceed with the adoption, they or their representative must submit a request for an adoption hearing to the Vilnius District Court. Please review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family for information on the documents required along with this request. After the Chairman of the Vilnius District Court verifies that all the documents are in order, he assigns the case to one of the Vilnius District Court judges for final review. Lithuanian law requires that both prospective adoptive parents appear in person at a court hearing to approve an intercountry adoption.

After the judge approves the adoption there is a 40-day waiting period before the adoption is final. Upon completion of the 40-day waiting period, the adoptive parents must then present the Adoption Decree to the Vilnius Civil Registry Office, Kalinausko Street #21, Room 8, together with their passports and marriage certificate, in order to obtain a new birth certificate and adoption certificate. After the adoption is final, the parents must obtain a Lithuanian passport for their child. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Documentary Requirements:

  • Prospective adoptive parents must a send a letter of interest to the Lithuanian State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service, through their adoption agency, asking to be placed on the waiting list to adopt a child;
  • Any other information the parents feel would be useful for the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service to know, including family heritage, ties to Lithuania, letters of reference, etc.
  • Home study, reflecting the financial ability of the prospective adoptive parents to raise a child, their suitability as adoptive parents, and a recommendation that they be permitted to adopt;
  • Medical examination certifying the prospective adoptive parents’ state of health;
  • Copy of marriage certificate;
  • Prospective adoptive parents’ birth certificates;
  • Certificate of Eligibility to Adopt issued by the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service;
  • Photocopies of the biographic pages of the prospective parents’ passports;
  • Financial statements showing income of prospective adoptive parents;
  • Police certificates from local police where the prospective adoptive parents reside for both prospective adoptive parents;
  • Copies of birth certificates of both prospective adoptive parents;
  • Copy of approved I-600A, issued by DHS.

Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania:
4590 MacArthur Blvd., N.W.
Tel: (202) 234-5860
Fax: (202) 328-0466
Web Site: www.ltembassyus.org
E-mail: [email protected]

Lithuania also has consulates in Chicago and New York.

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

U.S. Embassy in Lithuania:
Akmenu 6
Vilnius, Lithuania
Tel: 011-370-5-266-5500
Fax: 011-370-5-266-5590
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: http://vilnius.usembassy.gov/ConsCitizen.asp

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Lithuania may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius. General questions regarding intercountry adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

views updated

LITHUANIA

Compiled from the October 2005 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Lithuania


PROFILE

Geography

Area:

65,200 sq. km. (26,080 sq. mi.); about the size of West Virginia.

Cities:

Capital—Vilnius (pop. 541,278); Kaunas (364,059); Klaipeda (188,767); Siauliai (130,020) (January 2004).

Terrain:

Lithuania's fertile, central lowland plains are separated by hilly uplands created by glacial drift. A total of 758 rivers, many navigable, and 2,833 lakes cover the landscape. The coastline is 90 km. (56 mi.) long. Land use—44.2% arable land, 0.91% cultivated, 53.87% other.

Climate:

With four distinct seasons, the climate is humid continental, with a moderating maritime influence from the Baltic Sea. January temperatures average -5oC (23oF); July, 17oC (63oF). Annual precipitation averages 62 centimeters (24.4 in.).

People

Nationality:

Noun and adjective—Lithuanian(s).

Population:

3.4 million (July 2005 est.).

Growth rate:

−0.3%. Birth rate—8.9/1,000. Death rate—11.9/1,000.

Ethnic groups:

Lithuanian 83.4%, Poles 6.7%, Russians 6.3%.

Religion:

Catholic (79%), Orthodox (4.1%), Protestant (1.9%).

Language:

Lithuanian; a minority speaks Russian (8%) and Polish (5.6%).

Education:

Years compulsory—10 (until the age of 16). Literacy—99.6%.

Health:

Infant mortality rate—67.8/1,000. Life expectancy—66.48 yrs. male, 77.85 yrs. female.

Work force (2005 est.):

1.61 million: services 56%; industry and construction 20%; agriculture 16%.

Government

Type:

Parliamentary democracy.

Constitution:

On October 25, 1992 Lithuanians ratified a new constitution, which officially was signed on November 6 that year.

Branches:

Executive—popularly elected president (chief of state); prime minister (head of government). Legislative—Seimas (parliament—141 members, 4-year term). Judicial—Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, and Highest Administrative Court.

Administrative regions:

10 counties and 60 municipalities.

Principal political parties/coalitions:

Labor Party—39 seats, Conservative Party—25 seats, Social Democratic Party—20 seats, Liberal and Center Union—18 seats, New Union—11 seats, Liberal Democratic Party—10 seats, Union of Peasant and New Democracy Parties—10 seats, Independent—6 seats, Polish Electoral Action—2 seats.

Suffrage:

18 years, universal.

General government budget (2004):

$4.96 billion (average exchange rate of 2004—2.78 Lt=$1).

Economy

GDP (2004 est.):

$22.3 billion.

Annual GDP growth (2004 est.):

6.7%.

GDP per capita (2004 est.):

$6,474.

Inflation (at the end of 2004):

2.9%.

Unemployment rate (2004 est.):

11.4%.

Major sectors of the economy:

Manufacturing 20.8%, wholesale and retail trade 18.1%, transport and communications 13.2%.

Trade:

Exports—$9.28 billion (2004 est.): mineral products 25.2%, machinery and mechanical appliances 12.7%, textiles and textile articles 11.7%, wood and paper products 5%. Major export partners—Germany 10.2%, Latvia 10.1%, Russia 9.2%, France 6.3%. Imports—$12.35 billion (2004 est.): mineral products 19.7%, machinery and equipment 19%, transportation equipment 13.2%, chemicals 8.4%, base metals 7.2%, textiles and clothing 7%. Major import partners—Russia 22.9%, Germany 16.7%, Poland 7.3%, the Netherlands 4%.


GEOGRAPHY

The largest and most populous of the Baltic states, Lithuania is a generally maritime country with 60 miles of sandy coastline, of which only 24 miles face the open Baltic Sea. Lithuania's major warm-water port of Klaipeda lies at the narrow mouth of Kursiu Gulf, a shallow lagoon extending south to Kaliningrad. The Nemunas River and some of its tributaries are used for internal shipping. (In 2000, 89 inland ships carried 900,000 tons of cargo, which is less than 1% of the total goods traffic). Between 56.27 and 53.53 latitude and 20.56 and 26.50 longitude, Lithuania is glacially flat, except for morainic hills in the western uplands and eastern highlands no higher than 300 meters. The terrain is marked by numerous small lakes and swamps, and a mixed forest zone covers 30% of the country.

The growing season lasts 169 days in the east and 202 days in the west, with most farmland consisting of sandy- or clay-loam soils. Limestone, clay, sand, and gravel are Lithuania's primary natural resources, but the coastal shelf offers perhaps 10 million barrels' worth of oil deposits, and the southeast could provide high yields of iron ore and granite. According to some geographers, Lithuania's capital, Vilnius, lies at the geographical center of Europe.


PEOPLE

The earliest evidence of inhabitants in present-day Lithuania dates back to 10,000 BC. Between 3,000-2,000 BC, the cord-ware culture people spread over a vast region of eastern Europe, between the Baltic Sea and the Vistula River in the west and the Moscow-Kursk line in the east. Merging with the indigenous population, they gave rise to the Balts, a distinct Indo-European ethnic group whose descendants are the present-day Lithuanian and Latvian nations and the now extinct Prussians. The name "Lietuva", or Lithuania, might be derived from the word "lietava," for a small river, or "lietus," meaning rain (or land of rain).

Lithuanians are neither Slavic nor Germanic, although the union with Poland and Germanic and Russian colonization and settlement left cultural and religious influences. This highly literate society places strong emphasis upon education, which is free and compulsory until age 16. Most Lithuanians and ethnic Poles belong to the Roman Catholic Church; Orthodoxy is the largest nonCatholic denomination.

Enduring several border changes, Soviet deportations, a massacre of its Jewish population, and German and Polish repatriations during and after WWII, Lithuania has maintained a fairly stable percentage of ethnic Lithuanians (from 79.3% in 1959 to 83.5% in 2002). Lithuania's citizenship law and constitution meet international and OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] standards, guaranteeing universal human and civil rights.

The Lithuanian language still retains the original sound system and morphological peculiarities of the prototypal Indo-European tongue and therefore is fascinating for linguistic study. Between 400-600 AD, the Lithuanian and Latvian languages split from the Eastern Baltic (Prussian) language group, which subsequently became extinct. The first known written Lithuanian text dates from a hymnal translation in 1545. Written with the Latin alphabet, Lithuanian has been the official language of Lithuania again since 1989. The Soviet era had imposed the official use of Russian, so many Lithuanians speak Russian as a second language while the resident Slavic populace generally speaks Russian or Polish as a first language.


HISTORY

The first written mention of Lithuania occurs in 1009 AD, although many centuries earlier the Roman historian Tacitus referred to the Lithuanians as excellent farmers. Spurred by the expansion into the Baltic lands of the Germanic monastic military orders (the Order of the Knights of the Sword and the Teutonic Order) Duke Mindaugas united the lands inhabited by the Lithuanians, the Samogitians, Yotvingians, and Couranians into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (GDL) in the 1230s-40s. In 1251 Mindaugas adopted Catholicism and was crowned King of Lithuania on July 6, 1253; a decade later, civil war erupted upon his assassination until a ruler named Vytenis defeated the Teutonic Knights and restored order.

From 1316 to 1341 Vytenis' brother and successor, Grand Duke Gediminas, expanded the empire as far as Kiev against the Tatars and Russians. He twice attempted to adopt Christianity in order to end the GDL's political and cultural isolation from western Europe. To that purpose, he invited knights, merchants, and artisans to settle in Lithuania and wrote letters to Pope John XXII and European cities maintaining that the Teutonic Order's purpose was to conquer lands rather than spread Christianity. Gediminas' dynasty ruled the GDL until 1572. In the 1300s through the early 1400s, the Lithuanian state expanded eastward. During the rule of Grand Duke Algirdas (1345-77), Lithuania almost doubled in size. The 1385 Kreva Union signed by the Grand Duke of Lithuania Jogaila (ruled in 1377-81 and 1382-92) and the Queen of Poland Jadwyga intensified Lithuania's economic and cultural development, orienting it toward the West.

Lithuania's independence under the union with Poland was restored by Grand Duke Vytautas. During his rule (1392-1430) the GDL turned into one of the largest states in Europe, encompassing present-day Belarus, most of Ukraine, and the Smolensk region of western Russia. Led by Jogaila and Vytautas, the united Polish-Lithuanian army defeated the Teutonic Order in the Battle of Tannenberg (Grunewald or Zalgiris) in 1410, terminating the medieval Germanic drive eastward.

The 16th century witnessed a number of wars against the growing Russian state over the Slavic lands ruled by the GDL. Coupled with the need

for an ally in those wars, the wish of the middle and petty gentry to obtain more rights already granted to the Polish feudal lords drew Lithuania closer to Poland. The Union of Lublin in 1569 united Poland and Lithuania into a commonwealth in which the highest power belonged to the Sejm of the nobility and its elected King who also was the Grand Duke of Lithuania. Mid-16th century land reform strengthened serfdom and yet promoted the development of agriculture owing to the introduction of a regular three-field rotation system.

The 16th century saw a more rapid development of agriculture, growth of towns, spread of ideas of humanism and the Reformation, and book printing. The emergence of Vilnius University in 1579 and the Lithuanian Codes of Law (the Statutes of Lithuania) stimulated the development of culture both in Lithuania and in neighboring countries.

The Polish-Lithuanian Republic was weakened by the rising domination of the big magnates, and the 16th-18th-century wars against Russia and Sweden over Livonia, Ukraine, and Byelorussia. The end of the 18th century witnessed three divisions of the commonwealth by Russia, Prussia, and Austria; in 1795 most of Lithuania became part of the Russian empire. Attempts to restore independence in the uprisings of 1794, 1830-31, and 1863 were suppressed and followed by a tightened police regime, increasing Russification, the closure of Vilnius University in 1832, and the 1864 ban on the printing of Lithuanian books in traditional Latin characters.

Because of his proclamation of liberation and self-rule, many Lithuanians gratefully volunteered for the French Army when Napoleon occupied Kaunas in 1812 during the fateful invasion of Russia. After the war, Russia imposed extra taxes on Catholic landowners and enserfed an increasing number of peasants. A market economy slowly developed with the abolition of serfdom in 1861. Lithuanian farmers grew stronger, and an increase in the number of intellectuals of peasant origin led to the growth of a Lithuanian national movement. In German-ruled East Prussia, also called Lithuania Minor, Königsberg or Kaliningrad, Lithuanian publications were printed in large numbers and then smuggled into Russianruled Lithuania. The most outstanding leaders of the national liberation movement were J. Basanavicius and V. Kudirka. The ban on the Lithuanian press finally was lifted in 1904.

During WW I, the German Army occupied Lithuania in 1915, and the occupation administration allowed a Lithuanian conference to convene in Vilnius in September 1917. The conference adopted a resolution demanding the restoration of an independent Lithuanian state and elected the Lithuanian Council, a standing body chaired by Antanas Smetona. On February 16, 1918, the council declared Lithuania's independence. The years 1919-20 witnessed Lithuania's War for Independence against three factions—the Red Army, which in 1919 controlled territory ruled by a Bolshevist government headed by V. Kapsukas; the Polish Army; and the Bermondt Army, composed of Russian and German troops under the command of the Germans. Lithuania failed to regain the Polish-occupied Vilnius region.

In the Moscow Treaty of July 12, 1920, Russia recognized Lithuanian independence and renounced all previous claims to it. The Seimas (parliament) of Lithuania adopted a constitution on August 1, 1922, declaring Lithuania a parliamentary republic, and in 1923 Lithuania annexed the Klaipeda region, the northern part of Lithuania Minor. By then, most countries had recognized Lithuanian independence. After a military coup on December 17, 1926, Nationalist Party leader Antanas Smetona became president and gradually introduced an authoritarian regime.

Lithuania's borders posed its major foreign policy problem. Poland's occupation (1920) and annexation (1922) of the Vilnius region strained bilateral relations, and in March 1939 Germany forced Lithuania to surrender the Klaipeda region. Radical land reform in 1922 considerably reduced the number of estates, promoted the growth of small and middle farms, and boosted agricultural production and exports, especially livestock. In particular, light industry and agriculture successfully adjusted to the new market situation and developed new structures.

The inter-war period gave birth to a comprehensive system of education with Lithuanian as the language of instruction and the development of the press, literature, music, arts, and theater. On August 23, 1939, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact pulled Lithuania first into the German sphere of influence and then brought Lithuania under Soviet domination following the Soviet-German agreement of September 28, 1939. Soviet pressure and a complicated international situation forced Lithuania to sign an agreement with the U.S.S.R. on October 10, 1939, by which Lithuania was given back the city of Vilnius and the part of Vilnius region seized by the Red Army during the Soviet-Polish war. In return, some 20,000 Soviet soldiers were deployed in Lithuania.

On June 14, 1940, the Soviet Government issued an ultimatum to Lithuania, demanding the formation of a new Lithuanian government and permission to station additional Red Army troops. Lithuania succumbed to the Soviet demand, and 100,000 Soviet troops moved into the country the next day. Arriving in Kaunas, the Soviet Government's special envoy began implementing the plan for Lithuania's incorporation into the U.S.S.R. On June 17 the alleged people's government, headed by J. Paleckis, was formed. Rump parliamentary elections were held a month later, and Lithuania was proclaimed a Soviet Socialist Republic on August 3. Totalitarian rule was established, Sovietization of the economy and culture began, and Lithuanian state employees and public figures were arrested and exiled to Russia. During the mass deportation campaign of June 14-18, 1941, about 7,439 families (12,600 people) were deported to Siberia without investigation or trial; 3,600 people were imprisoned, and more than 1,000 massacred.

A Lithuanian revolt against the U.S.S.R. quickly followed the out break of the war against Germany in 1941. The rebels declared the restoration of Lithuania's independence and actively operated a provisional government, without German recognition, from June 24 to August 5. Lithuania became part of the German occupational administrative unit of Ostland. People were repressed and taken to forced labor camps in Germany. The Nazis and local collaborators deprived Lithuanian Jews of their civil rights and massacred about 200,000 of them. Together with Soviet partisans, supporters of independence put up a resistance movement to deflect Nazi recruitment of Lithuanians to the German Army.

The Red Army forced the Germans out of Lithuania in 1944 and reestablished control. Sovietization continued with the arrival of communist party leaders to create a local party administration. The mass deportation campaigns of 1941-52 exiled 29,923 families to Siberia and other remote parts of the Soviet Union. Official statistics state that more than 120,000 people were deported from Lithuania during this period, while some sources estimate the number of political prisoners and deportees at 300,000. In response to these events, an estimated several tens of thousands of resistance fighters participated in unsuccessful guerilla warfare against the Soviet regime from 1944-53. Soviet authorities encouraged immigration of other Soviet workers, especially Russians, as a way of integrating Lithuania into the Soviet Union and of fomenting industrial development.

Until mid-1988, all political, economic, and cultural life was controlled by the Lithuanian Communist Party (LCP). The political and economic crisis that began in the U.S.S.R. in the mid-1980s also affected Lithuania, and Lithuanians as well as other Balts offered active support to Gorbachev's program of social and political reforms. Under the leadership of intellectuals, the Lithuanian reform movement "Sajudis" was formed in mid-1988 and declared a program of democratic and national rights, winning nationwide popularity. Inspired by Sajudis, the Lithuanian Supreme Soviet passed constitutional amendments on the supremacy of Lithuanian laws over Soviet legislation, annulled the 1940 decisions on proclaiming Lithuania a part of the U.S.S.R., legalized a multi party system, and adopted a number of other important decisions. A large number of LCP members also supported the ideas of Sajudis, and with Sajudis support, Algirdas Brazauskas was elected First Secretary of the Central Committee of the LCP in 1988. In December 1989, the Brazauskas-led LCP split from the CPSU and became an independent party, renaming itself in 1990 the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party.

In 1990, Sajudis-backed candidates won the elections to the Lithuanian Supreme Soviet. On March 11, 1990, its chairman Vytautas Landsbergis proclaimed the restoration of Lithuanian independence, formed a new Cabinet of Ministers headed by Kazimiera Prunskiene, and adopted the Provisional Fundamental Law of the state and a number of by-laws. The U.S.S.R. demanded revocation of the act and began employing political and economic sanctions against Lithuania as well as demonstrating military force. On January 10, 1991, U.S.S.R. authorities seized the central publishing house and other premises in Vilnius and unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow the elected government by sponsoring a local "National Salvation Committee." Three days later the Soviets forcibly took over the TV tower, killing 14 civilians and injuring 700. During the national plebiscite in February more than 90% of those who took part in the voting (76% of all eligible voters) voted in favor of an independent, democratic Lithuania. Led by the tenacious Landsbergis, Lithuania's leadership continued to seek Western diplomatic recognition of its independence. Soviet military-security forces continued forced conscription, occasional seizure of buildings, attacking customs posts, and sometimes killing customs and police officials.

During the August 19 coup against Gorbachev, Soviet military troops took over several communications and other government facilities in Vilnius and other cities but returned to their barracks when the coup failed. The Lithuanian Government banned the Communist Party and ordered confiscation of its property.

Despite Lithuania's achievement of complete independence, sizable numbers of Russian forces remained on its territory. Withdrawal of those forces was one of Lithuania's top foreign policy priorities. Lithuania and Russia signed an agreement on September 8, 1992, calling for Russian troop withdrawals by August 31, 1993, which took place on time.


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Lithuania is a multi-party, parliamentary democracy. The president, who is elected directly for 5 years, is head of state and commander in chief overseeing foreign and security policy. The president nominates the prime minister and his cabinet and a number of other top civil servants.

The parliament (Seimas) has 141 members that are elected for a 4-year term. About half of the members are elected in single constituencies (71), and the other half (70) are elected in the nationwide vote by party lists. A party must receive at least 5% of the national vote to be represented in the Seimas.

Since 1991, Lithuanian voters have shifted from right to left and back again, swinging between the Conservatives, led by Vytautas Landsbergis (now headed by Andrius Kubilius), and the Labor (former communist) Party, led by former president Algirdas Brazauskas. This pattern was broken in the October 2000 elections when the Liberal Union and New Union parties won the most votes and were able to form a centrist ruling coalition with minor partners. President Adamkus played a key role in bringing the new centrist parties together. The leader of the center-left New Union (also known as the Social Liberal party), Arturas Paulauskas, became the Chairman of the Seimas. The then-government of liberal Rolandas Paksas got off to a rocky start and collapsed within 7 months. In July 2001, the center-left New Union Party forged an alliance with the left-wing Social Democratic Party and formed a new cabinet under former President Algirdas Brazauskas. The cabinet of Algirdas Brazauskas is made up mostly of non-party technocrats and has emphasized the need for financial discipline.

In January 2003, former Prime Minister and Liberal Union Party leader Rolandas Paksas defeated incumbent president Valdas Adamkus in a runoff presidential election. In December 2003, an ad hoc parliamentary commission found that President Paksas' vulnerability to influence constituted a threat to national security. On April 7, 2004, parliament removed President Paksas from office. Parliamentary Speaker Arturas Paulauskas became acting President. Valdas Adamkus won the second round of presidential elections in June 2004 and was sworn in as President on July 12, 2004. The first round of parliamentary elections was held October 10, 2004 and a second round was held October 24, 2004. A new government, led by Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas, took office on December 14, 2004.

Lithuania officially became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on March 29, 2004 after depositing its instruments of treaty ratification in Washington, DC. Lithuania joined the European Union on May 1, 2004.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 3/23/2005

President: Valdas ADAMKUS
Prime Minister: Algirdas Mykolas BRAZAUSKAS
Min. of Agriculture & Forestry: Kazimiera PRUNSKIENE
Min. of Culture: Vladimiras PRUDNIKOVAS
Min. of Defense: Gediminas KIRKILAS
Min. of Economy: Viktor USPASKICH
Min. of Education & Science: Remigijus MOTUZAS
Min. of Environment: Arunas KUNDROTAS
Min. of Finance: Algirdas BUTKEVICIUS
Min. of Foreign Affairs: Antanas VALIONIS
Min. of Health: Zilvinas PADAIGA
Min. of Internal Affairs: Gintaras Jonas FURMANAVICIUS
Min. of Justice: Gintautas BUZINSKAS
Min. of Social Security & Labor: Vilija BLINKEVICIUTE
Min. of Transport: Zigmantas BALCYTIS
Chmn., Bank of Lithuania: Reinoldijus SARKINAS
Ambassador to the US: Vygaudas USACKAS
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Gediminas SERKSNYS

Lithuania maintains an embassy in the United States at 2622 - 16th Street, Washington DC, 20009, tel: (202) 234-5860.


ECONOMY

The Soviet era brought Lithuania intensive industrialization and economic integration into the U.S.S.R., although the level of technology and state concern for environmental, health, and labor issues lagged far behind Western standards. Urbanization increased from 39% in 1959 to 68% in 1989. From 1949-52 the Soviets abolished private ownership in agriculture, establishing collective and state farms. Production declined and did not reach pre-war levels until the early 1960s. The intensification of agricultural production through intense chemical use and mechanization eventually doubled production but created additional ecological problems. This changed after independence, when farm production dropped due to difficulties in restructuring the agricultural sector.

The transportation infrastructure inherited from the Soviet period is adequate and has been generally well maintained since independence. Lithuania has one ice-free seaport with ferry services to German, Swedish, and Danish ports. There are operating commercial airports with scheduled international services at Vilnius, Kaunas, and Klaipeda. The road system is good. Border facilities at checkpoints with Poland were significantly improved by using EU funds. Telecommunications have improved greatly since independence as a result of heavy investment. The Telecom company had a monopoly on the market until the end of 2002, but now there are a number of cell phone companies to provide competition.

The economy of independent Lithuania had a slow start, as the process of privatization and the development of new companies slowly moved the country from a command economy toward the free market. By 1998, the economy had survived the early years of uncertainty and several setbacks, including a banking crisis, and seemed poised for solid growth. However, the collapse of the Russian ruble in August 1998 shocked the economy into negative growth and forced the reorientation of trade from Russia toward the West. Since the Russia crisis, the focus of Lithuania's export markets has shifted from East to West. In 1997, exports to former Soviet states were 45% of total Lithuanian exports. Today, exports to the East (the Commonwealth of Independent States—CIS) are only 16% of the total, while exports to the EU-25 are 71%. The government of 1999, which was led by Prime Minister Kubilius, managed to control raging budget deficits in the midst of the crisis, and all successor governments have maintained that fiscal discipline.

The last couple of years have been good for the Lithuanian economy. In 2003, Lithuania's GDP increased 9.7%, exceeding even the most optimistic expectations. Private consumption was the principal driver of recent economic growth. The contribution of domestic market oriented sectors, especially construction, also was increasing. Growth was strongest in construction, financial inter-mediation, and processing and light industries. Inflation was low, the growth of the external account deficit stabilized, and the state finances improved noticeably with a fiscal deficit of 1.2% of GDP in 2002. (However in 2004 the budget deficit increased to 2.48% of GDP.) Progress has been achieved in the areas of privatization and deregulation. Weaknesses remain in public policy development and structural and agricultural reforms.

The privatization of major state enterprises is expected to be completed in the next couple of years. Currently, 78% of the economy's output is generated by private sector. The share of employees in the private sector rose to about 70%. Recently, the Government of Lithuania completed banking sector privatization, with 89% of this sector controlled by foreign capital, mainly by Scandinavian capital. The privatization of the national gas and power companies "Lietuvos Dujos" (Lithuanian Gas) and "Vakaru skirstomieji tinklai" (Western electricity distributor) is completed. However, the privatization of "Rytu skirtomieji tinklai" (Eastern electricity distributor), "Lietuvos Energija" (Lithuanian Energy), and "Lithuanian Railways" has been postponed.

Inflation reached 2.9% in 2004, after two years of deflation, largely as a result of the sharp rise in international oil prices. The minimum wage increased in 2005 to $197.50 per month, well below the poverty threshold. The average wage stands at $458 per month.

Exports to the United States make up 4.7% of all Lithuania's exports, and imports from the United States comprise 1.57% of total imports to Lithuania. Lithuania has accumulated foreign direct investment (FDI) of $6.3 billion. U.S. investments accounted for 6.3% of FDI. The current account deficit in 2004 stood at 7.2% of GDP.

On February 2, 2002, the government repegged the Litas from the U.S. dollar to the Euro at the rate of 3.4528 Litas for 1 Euro. The repeg, which went on smoothly, reflects a change in trade orientation and is to help Lithuania prepare for European Monetary Union. With the appreciation of local currency against the U.S. dollar, production costs to enterprises have been decreasing, but the higher exchange rate is not favorable to exports.


DEFENSE

Lithuania, a relatively new NATO member, fully endorses the concept of "collective defense." National policy recognizes the primacy of NATO as the guarantor of security in Europe. The goal of Lithuania's defense policy is to create a military that can contribute to international missions through the NATO alliance, the UN, and other groups, and to continue to integrate Lithuania into Western defense structures. The defense ministry is responsible for combat forces, search and rescue operations, and intelligence. The government has committed to achieving the goal of dedicating 2% of GDP for defense spending.

Lithuania maintains 8,500 active duty troops and 8,000 reserve troops. The core of the Lithuanian force structure is the Iron Wolf Rapid Reaction Brigade, which consists of five battalions and appropriate support elements. The Lithuanian Air Force operates 17 fixed wing aircraft and nine helicopters. The Home Guard is currently organized into seven districts. Plans call for reorganization into five districts.

The Border Police are under the Interior Ministry and are responsible for border protection, passport and customs duties, and interdiction of smuggling and trafficking activities.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Lithuania became a member of the United Nations on September 18, 1991, and is a signatory to a number of its organizations and other international agreements. It also is a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the North Atlantic Coordinating Council, and the Council of Europe. Lithuania gained membership in the World Trade Organization on May 31, 2001, and in November 2002 was invited to join NATO. Lithuania officially became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on March 29, 2004 after depositing its instruments of treaty ratification in Washington, DC. Lithuania joined the European Union on May 1, 2004.

Lithuania maintains foreign diplomatic missions in 60 countries on six continents, a consular post in one country that is not represented by an embassy, consular posts led by Honorary Consuls in 32 countries that are not represented by an embassy, and a special mission in one country without other diplomatic representation. Lithuania's liberal "zero-option" citizenship law has substantially erased tensions with its neighbors. Its suspension of two strongly ethnic Polish district councils on charges of blocking reform or disloyalty during the August 1991 coup had cooled relations with Poland, but bilateral cooperation markedly increased with the holding of elections in those districts and the signing of a bilateral friendship treaty in 1994. Relations with Poland are now among the closest enjoyed by Lithuania. Although a similar bilateral friendship agreement was signed with Belarus in 1995, Lithuania has joined the United States and other European nations in urging the Government of Belarus to adopt democratic and economic reforms. President Adamkus was instrumental in brokering a peaceful resolution to the electoral challenges in Ukraine in 2004, and Lithuania plays an important leadership role in promoting democracy throughout the region.


U.S.-LITHUANIAN RELATIONS

The United States established diplomatic relations with Lithuania on July 28, 1922. The Soviet invasion forced the closure of the Legation to Lithuania on September 5, 1940, but Lithuanian representation in the United States continued uninterrupted. The United States never recognized the forcible incorporation of Lithuania into the U.S.S.R. and views the present Government of Lithuania as a legal continuation of the inter-war republic. Lithuania has enjoyed most-favored-nation treatment with the United States since December 1991. Since 1992, the United States has committed more than $100 million to Lithuania's economic and political transformation and to address humanitarian needs. The United States and Lithuania signed an agreement on bilateral trade and intellectual property protection in 1994—a bilateral investment treaty in 1997, and in 1998, the United States signed a "Charter of Partnership" with Lithuania and the other Baltic countries. Under this partnership, bilateral working groups focusing on improving regional security, defense, and economic issues were established.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

VILNIUS (E) Address: Akmenu 6, Vilnius; APO/FPO: PSC 78 BOX V; Phone: 370-5-2665500; Fax: 370-5-2665510; Workweek: M-F/8-5; Website: WWW.USEMBASSY.LT.

AMB:Stephen D. Mull
AMB OMS:Theresa Girone
DCM:Thomas Kelly
DCM OMS:Abigail Unger
POL:Nancy Cohen
CON:James Fellows
MGT:Cheryl Johnson
AGR:Wayne Molstaqd - Warsaw
CLO:Yun Hui Singer
CUS:James Taman - Frankfurt
DAO:Joseph King
DEA:Tom Bigoness - Copenhagen
ECO:Scott Woodard
FAA:Paul Feldman - Brussels
GSO:Matthew Singer
ICASS Chair:Anthony Pahigian
IMO:David McCrane
INS:Gilbert L. Jacobs - Copenhagen
IRS:Peggy Mullins - Frankfurt
ISSO:David McCrane
LEGATT:James Nixon - Tallinn
PAO:Anthony Pahigian
RSO:Daniel Childs
State ICASS:Anthony Pahigian
Last Updated: 10/17/2005

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

September 30, 2005

Country Description:

Lithuania is a stable democracy undergoing rapid economic growth. Tourist facilities in Vilnius, the capital, and to a lesser extent in Kaunas and Klaipeda, are similar to those available in other Western European cities. In other parts of the country, however, some of the goods and services taken for granted in other countries may not be available.

Entry/Exit Requirements:

A valid passport is required to enter Lithuania. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry. U.S. citizens do not need Lithuanian visas for most stays of 90 days or less. Travelers remaining in Lithuania for more than 90 days within any sixmonths period must apply for temporary residency. All foreigners of non-European Union countries seeking entry into Lithuania must carry proof of a medical insurance policy contracted for payment of all costs of hospitalization and medical treatment in Lithuania. Visitors unable to demonstrate proof of medical insurance must purchase short-term insurance at the border from a Lithuanian provider for roughly $1.00 per day. The number of days will be calculated from the day of entry until the date on the return ticket. Visit the Embassy of Lithuania web site at www.ltembassyus.org for the most current visa information.

Safety and Security:

Civil unrest is not a problem in Lithuania, and there have been no incidents of terrorism directed toward American interests. Incidents of anti-Americanism are rare.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime:

Lithuania is a relatively safe country. Visitors should maintain the same personal security awareness that they would in any metropolitan U.S. city. Large amounts of cash and expensive jewelry should be secured in a hotel safe or left at home. Crimes against foreigners, while usually non-violent, are becoming more common. Pickpocketing and thefts are problems, so personal belongings should be well protected at all times. Theft from cars, carjackings, and car thefts occur regularly. Drivers should be wary of persons indicating they should pull over or that something is wrong with their car. Often, a second car or person is following, and when the driver of the targeted car gets out to see if there is a problem the person who has been following will either steal the driver's belongings from the vehicle or get in and drive off with the car. Drivers should never get out of the car to check for damage without first turning off the ignition and taking the keys. Valuables also should not be left in plain sight in parked vehicles, as there have been increasing reports of car windows smashed and items stolen. Burglary of foreigners' home is also prevalent; home alarm systems should be used whenever possible. American citizens should avoid walking alone or in small groups in the dark. ATMs should be avoided after dark. There have been cases of American citizens being drugged in bars and then taken elsewhere to be robbed. In any public area, one should always be alert to being surrounded by two or more people at once. Racially motivated verbal, and sometimes physical, harassment of American citizens of non-Caucasian ethnicity has been reported in major cities. Incidents of racially motivated attacks against foreigners have been reported in Klaipeda.

Information for Victims of Crime:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while over-seas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information:

Medical care in Lithuania is improving, but medical facilities do not always meet Western standards. There are a few private clinics with medical supplies and services that nearly equal Western European or U.S. standards. Most medical supplies are now widely available, including disposable needles, anesthetics, antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals. Lithuania has many highly trained medical professionals, but hospitals and clinics still suffer from a lack of equipment and resources. Western-quality dental care can be obtained in major cities. Elderly travelers who require medical care may face extreme difficulties. Most pharmaceuticals sold in Lithuania are from Europe; travelers will not necessarily find the same brands that they use in the United States. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation can cost thousands of dollars or more. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

Tick-borne encephalitis and lyme disease are widespread throughout the country. Those intending to visit parks or forested areas in Lithuania are urged to speak with their health care practitioners about immunization. The Lithuanian Government does not require HIV testing for U.S. citizens. However, sexually transmitted diseases are a growing public health problem.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. All foreigners of non-European Union countries seeking entry into Lithuania must carry proof of a medical insurance policy contracted for payment of all costs of hospitalization and medical treatment in Lithuania.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Lithuania is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

The Police allow Americans to drive in Lithuania with an American driver's license for up to 90 days. Americans who reside in Lithuania for 185 days or more in one calendar year and who wish to continue driving in Lithuania must acquire a Lithuanian driver's license. The foreign license must be given to the Lithuanian Road Police to be processed by the Consular Department of the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which in turn sends it to the U.S. Embassy's Consular Section, where the owner is expected to claim it.

Roads in Lithuania range from well maintained two to four lane highways connecting major cities to small dirt roads traversing the countryside. Violation of traffic rules is common. It is not unusual to be overtaken by other automobiles, traveling at high speed, even in crowded urban areas. Driving at night, especially in the countryside, can be particularly hazardous. In summer, older "seasonal" vehicles (e.g., Soviet-era vehicles that will not run in the country's bitter winter months) and inexperienced drivers are extra hazards. Driving with caution is urged at all times. Driving while intoxicated is a very serious offense and carries heavy penalties. The speed limit is 50 km/hr in town and 90 km/hr out of town unless otherwise indicated. The phone number for roadside assistance is 8-800-000 from a regular phone and 188 from a GSM mobile phone.

Seatbelts are mandatory for the driver and all passengers except children under the age of 12. During the winter, most major roads are cleared of snow. Winter or all-season tires are required from November 10th through April 1st. Studded tires are not allowed from April 10th through October 31st. Public transportation may be slow but is generally safe.

Visit the website of the country's national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety at www.tourism.lt and at www.lra.lt/index_en.html.

Aviation Safety Oversight:

As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Lithuania, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Lithuania's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's Internet web site at www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.

Special Circumstances:

Lithuanian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning the temporary importation into or export from Lithuania of items such as firearms and antiquities.

Telephone connections are generally good. American 1-800 numbers can be accessed from Lithuania but not on a toll-free basis; the international long distance rate per minute will be charged. Local Internet cafes offer computer access. ATMs are widely available. Most hotels and other businesses now accept major credit cards.

Criminal Penalties:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Lithuanian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Lithuania are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues:

For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location:

Americans living or traveling in Lithuania are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Lithuania. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at Akmenu Gatve 6, tel. (370) (5) 266-5500 or 266-5600, fax (370) (5) 266-5590. Consular information can also be found at the Embassy Vilnius home page at www.usembassy.lt.

International Adoption

April 2005

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer:

The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Please Note:

Two U.S. Embassies play complementary roles in the Immigrant visa process for Lithuanian citizens, including adopted orphans. The U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, Poland ultimately issues all immigrant visas for citizens and residents of Lithuania. The U.S. Embassy in Vilnius conducts the mandatory I-604 Orphan Investigation interview for orphan adoption visas.

Patterns of Immigration of Adopted Orphans to the U.S.:

Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to orphans from Lithuania.

Fiscal Year: Number of Immigrant Visas Issued
FY 2004: 29
FY 2003: 15
FY 2002: 21
FY 2001: 30
FY 2000: 29

Adoption Authority in Lithuania:

The Adoption Agency (Ivaikinimo Agentura); Ministry of Social Security and Labor; Sodu g. 15; LT-2006 Vilnius, Lithuania; Tel: 370-5-231-0928; Fax: 370-5-231-0927; http://www.ivaikinimas.lt.

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents:

There must be a minimum of 18 years between adoptive parents and child. Adoptive parents cannot be over the age of 50. In addition, international adoption of Lithuanian children is generally restricted to married couples. A single parent may be considered in exceptional cases when 1) the individual has been the foster parent of the particular child to be adopted, 2) the child has extremely serious health problems, or 3) the child is older and unable to be placed with another family.

The Government of Lithuania publishes a list of medical conditions which would disqualify a prospective adoptive parent from adopting in Lithuania. The list is maintained on the Adoptions Agency's website and includes: dipsomania (a form of alcoholism), drug addiction "absent steady remission", mental diseases (not specified), AIDS, HIV positive status, infectious tuberculosis, chronic kidney insufficiency when dialysis is obligatory, Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's chorea, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease), epilepsy with mental and personality changes, "multidegeneration", and third or fourth stage cancer.

Residential Requirements:

There are no residency requirements for prospective adoptive parents in Lithuania.

Time Frame:

Once a family is approved to adopt, it can take several years for a child eligible for international adoption to be matched with prospective adoptive parents' preferences. After a referral has been made and accepted, an adoption petition can be filed with the court, there is a 40-day waiting period from the time an adoption petition is filed with the judge and when it becomes final.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys:

Prospective adoptive parents may contact the U.S. Embassy in Lithuania to obtain a list of local attorneys active in Lithuanian adoption. Neither the U.S. Department of State nor the U.S. Embassy in Lithuania can make any claims to the efficacy or professionalism of these attorneys.

Note:

Citizens of those countries which have not ratified the Hague Convention of 1993 on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, but comply with its requirements, may be represented by the adoption agencies or other accredited body of their State. Under Lithuanian laws such agencies or accredited body must submit a copy of their license permitting them to work in the sphere of inter-country adoption. The license must be issued by the State Authority and according to the laws of that State in which this agency functions. The adoptive parents, whose interests they represent, must authorize these agencies to act on their behalf.

The Lithuanian Adoption Agency has a co-operative agreement with several overseas adoption agencies. The current list is available at the Lithuanian Adoption Agency web site at http://www.ivaikinimas.lt.

Adoption Fees in Lithuania:

There is a 100 Lt filing fee with the court for the adoption hearing. Adoptive parents can expect to pay adoption agencies for services rendered. Reliable information on the total average cost of an adoption from Lithuania is not available at this time.

Adoption Procedures:

According to Lithuanian law, only those children whose parents are deceased or whose parents have had their parental rights taken away may be adopted. There are few such children and, by law, Lithuanian families interested in adopting are given precedence. As Lithuanian law mandates that healthy children should remain in Lithuania, only children with medical conditions for which adequate care is unavailable in Lithuania may be adopted internationally.

Prospective adoptive parents interested in adopting a child in Lithuania should send a letter to the Adoption Agency at the address listed above describing the sex and age of the children they are interested in adopting. This letter should include information about the adoptive parents' ages and professions. Since foreign parents of Lithuanian heritage are given preference over foreigners with no Lithuanian heritage, prospective adoptive parents should describe any family ties to Lithuania.

The Adoption Agency places foreign families approved to adopt in Lithuania on the waiting list according to the date of submission of the complete set of documents. The agency then attempts to locate a child that seems to meet the prospective adoptive parents' stated preferences. The Adoption Agency provides a report about the child being referred to the U.S. prospective adoptive parents for adoption, including information about the child's background, health condition, parents, etc. The Adoption Agency issues special permission to citizens of foreign countries to meet with the child proposed for adoption. If the prospective adoptive parents accept the referral, i.e., agree to adopt the proposed child, they so inform the Adoption Agency. However, the Adoption Agency makes the final decision about any particular adoption.

Once the parents have decided to proceed with the adoption, the adoptive parents or their representative must submit a request for an adoption hearing to the Vilnius District Court. Please review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family for details on documents necessary for this request.

The request should be sent to the Vilnius District Court care of Judge Konstantas Ramelis, Chairman, Civil Cases Department, Vilnius District Court, Gedimino 40/1. Contact telephone for Judge Ramelis is (370-5) 261-4923. After Judge Ramelis verifies that all the documents are in order, he assigns the case to one of the Vilnius District Court judges for final review. The assigned judge will set a court date. Lithuanian law requires that both prospective adoptive parents appear in person at a court hearing to approve an international adoption.

After the judge approves the adoption there is a 40-day waiting period before the adoption is final. Upon completion of the 40-day waiting period, the adoptive parents must then present the Adoption Decree to the Vilnius Civil Registry Office, Kalinausko Street #21, Room 8, in order to obtain a new birth certificate and adoption certificate. Either both parents must appear at the Registry Office with their passports and marriage certificate or one may do so upon submission of a Power of Attorney for the other.

Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family.

Documents Required for Adoption in Lithuania:

  • Prospective adoptive parents must a send a letter of interest to the Lithuanian Adoption Agency, either directly or through their adoption agency, asking to be placed on the waiting list to adopt a child(ren);
  • Any other information the parents feel would be useful for the Adoption Agency to know, including family heritage, ties to Lithuania, letters of reference, etc.
  • Home study, reflecting the material ability of the prospective adoptive parents to raise a child, their suitability as adoptive parents, and a recommendation that they be permitted to adopt;
  • Medical examination certifying the prospective adoptive parents' state of health;
  • Copy of marriage certificate;
  • Photocopies of the biographic pages of the prospective parents' passports;
  • Financial Statements showing income of prospective adoptive parents;
  • Police certificates from local police for both prospective adoptive parents;
  • Copies of birth certificates of both prospective adoptive parents;
  • Copy of approved DHS I-600A.

Authenticating U.S. Documents to be Used Abroad:

All U.S. documents submitted to the Lithuanian government/court must be authenticated. Visit the State Department website at travel.state.gov for additional information about authentication procedures.

Lithuanian Embassy in the United States:

2622 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009
Tel: (202) 234-5860
Fax: (202) 328-0466
http://www.ltembassyus.org/

U.S. Immigration Requirements:

Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family.

U.S. Embassy in Lithuania:

The Consular Section is located at:
U.S. Embassy
Akmenu 6
Vilnius, Lithuania
Tel: 011-370-5-266-5500
Fax: 011-370-5-266-5590
E-mail: [email protected]
http://vilnius.usembassy.gov/
ConsCitizen.asp

The Embassy will be able to provide information about any outstanding travel advisories, any recent changes in the adoption procedures and other information about the country, including lists of physicians, attorneys, interpreters and translators.

Medical Examinations:

Immigrant visa applicants from Lithuania may obtain their medical examination in Vilnius before travel to Warsaw. The U.S. Embassy Panel Physician in Lithuania is Dr. Richard Cervin located at Gedimino Pr. 1-19, telephone number 370-5-261-3534. The cost of the medical exam is USD $70.00 for children under 15 years of age. Medical examinations may also be completed in Warsaw, Poland. Adoptive parents should contact the Consular Section in Warsaw at 011-48-22-625-1401 for information on physicians who are authorized to perform immigrant visa medical examinations in Poland, and the fees they charge for the examination. An appointment is also necessary for the immigrant visa interview at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw. Call the Consular Section in Warsaw at 011-48-22-625-1401 or 504-2106 to make an appointment or for further information.

Additional Information:

Specific questions about adoption in Lithuania may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Lithuania. General questions regarding international adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-404-4747.

views updated

LITHUANIA

Compiled from the September 2003 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.


Official Name:
Republic of Lithuania


PROFILE
GEOGRAPHY
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
DEFENSE
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-LITHUANIAN RELATIONS
TRAVEL


PROFILE


Geography

Area: 65,200 sq. km. (26,080 sq. mi.); about the size of West Virginia.

Cities: Capital—Vilnius (pop. 553, 373); Kaunas (376, 575); Klaipeda (192,498); Siauliai (133,528); Panevezys (119,417).

Terrain: Lithuania's fertile, central lowland plains are separated by hilly uplands created by glacial drift. A total of 758 rivers, many are navigable, and 2,833 lakes cover the landscape. The coastline is 90 km. (56 mi.) long. Land use—53% arable land, 30% forest and woodland, 4% water, 13% other.

Climate: With four distinct seasons, the climate is humid continental, with a moderating maritime influence from the Baltic Sea. January temperatures average-5°C (23°F); July, 17°C (63°F). Annual precipitation averages 62 centimeters (24.4 in.).


People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Lithuanian(s).

Population: 3.476 million.

Growth rate: -2.5%. Birth rate—9.1/1,000. Death rate—11.6/1,000.

Ethnic groups: Lithuanian 83.5%, Poles 6.7%, Russians 6.3%, Belarusians 1.2%, Ukrainians 0.7% Jews 0.1% others 1.5%.

Religions: Catholic (70%), Orthodox (3%), Protestant (1%), Old Believers (0.8%), Jewish (0.1%).

Language: Lithuanian. A minority speaks Russian and Polish.

Education: Years compulsory—9. Literacy—99%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—7.8/1,000. Life expectancy—66 yrs. male, 77 yrs. female.

Work force: (2002, second quarter) 1.73 million: Manufacturing industry 18.3%; agriculture 17.1%; wholesale and retail trade 15.5%; construction 6.3%; transport 6.3%; public administration and defense 5.1%.


Government

Type: Parliamentary Democracy.

Constitution: On October 25, 1992 Lithuanians ratified a new constitution, which officially was signed on November 6 that year.

Branches: Executive—popularly elected president (chief of state); prime minister (head of government). Legislative—Seimas (Parliament-141 members, 4-year term). Judicial—Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, and Highest Administrative Court.

Administrative regions: 10 counties and 60 municipalities.

Principal political parties/coalitions: Social Democratic Party 47, New Union 26, Liberal Union 23, Liberal Democratic Party 9, Conservative Party 9, Peasant and New Democracy Party 7.

Suffrage: 18 years, universal.

General government budget: (2002) $4.8 billion (exchange rate at the end of 2002—3.4 Lt=$1).


Economy

GDP: (2002)$14.9 billion.

Annual 2002 GDP growth: 6.7%.

GDP per capita: $4,296.

Deflation: (2002) 1%.

Unemployment: (2002) 10.9%.

Major sectors of the economy: Manufacturing 19.4%, wholesale and retail trade 18%, transport and storage 9.2%.

Trade: Exports—$5.9 billion: mineral products 19.0%, textiles and textile articles 15.0%; agricultural and food products 10.8%; transport equipment 15.9%; machinery and mechanical appliances 9.9%; wood and paper products 6.7%. Major export partners—Great Britain 13.5%, Russia 12.1%, Germany 12.1%, Latvia 9.6%, Poland 3.6%. Imports—$8.3 billion: intermediate goods 55.9%, investment goods 18.6%, final consumption goods 17.5%, passenger cars 7.2%. Major partners—Russia 20.2%, Germany 19%, Poland 6.4%, Denmark 4%.


GEOGRAPHY

The largest and most populous of the Baltic states, Lithuania is a generally maritime country with 60 miles of sandy coastline, of which only 24 miles face the open Baltic Sea. Lithuania's major warm-water port of Klaipeda lies at the narrow mouth of Kursiu Gulf, a shallow lagoon extending south to Kaliningrad. The Nemunas River and some of its tributaries are used for internal shipping (In 2000, 89 inland ships carried 900,000 tons of cargo, which is less than 1% of the total goods traffic). Between 56.27 and 53.53 latitude and 20.56 and 26.50 longitude, Lithuania is glacially flat, except for morainic hills in the western uplands and eastern highlands no higher than 300 meters. The terrain is marked by numerous small lakes and swamps, and a mixed forest zone covers 30% of the country.


The growing season lasts 169 days in the east and 202 days in the west, with most farmland consisting of sandyor clay-loam soils. Limestone, clay, sand, and gravel are Lithuania's primary natural resources, but the coastal shelf offers perhaps 10 million barrels' worth of oil deposits, and the southeast could provide high yields of iron ore and granite. According to some geographers, Lithuania's capital, Vilnius, lies at the geographical center of Europe.




PEOPLE

The earliest evidence of inhabitants in present-day Lithuania dates back to 10,000 BC. Between 3,000-2,000 BC, the cord-ware culture people spread over a vast region of eastern Europe, between the Baltic Sea and the Vistula River in the west and the Moscow-Kursk line in the east. Merging with the indigenous population, they gave rise to the Balts, a distinct Indo-European ethnic group whose descendants are the present-day Lithuanian and Latvian nations and the now extinct Prussians. The name "Lietuva," or Lithuania, might be derived from the word "lietava," for a small river, or "lietus," meaning rain (or land of rain).

Lithuanians are neither Slavic nor Germanic, although the union with Poland and Germanic and Russian colonization and settlement left cultural and religious influences. This highly literate society places strong emphasis upon education, which is free and compulsory until age 16. Most Lithuanians and ethnic Poles belong to the Roman Catholic Church; Orthodoxy is the largest non-Catholic denomination.


Enduring several border changes, Soviet deportations, a massacre of its Jewish population, and German and Polish repatriations during and after WWII, Lithuania has maintained a fairly stable percentage of ethnic Lithuanians (from 79.3% in 1959 to 83.5% in 2002). Lithuania's citizenship law and constitution meet international and OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] standards, guaranteeing universal human and civil rights.


The Lithuanian language still retains the original sound system and morphological peculiarities of the prototypal Indo-European tongue and therefore is fascinating for linguistic study. Between 400-600 AD, the Lithuanian and Latvian languages split from the Eastern Baltic (Prussian) language group, which subsequently became extinct. The first known written Lithuanian text dates from a hymnal translation in 1545. Written with the Latin alphabet, Lithuanian has been the official language of Lithuania again since 1989. The Soviet era had imposed the official use of Russian, so most Lithuanians speak Russian as a second language while the resident Slavic populace generally speaks Russian or Polish as a first language.




HISTORY

The first written mention of Lithuania occurs in 1009 AD, although many centuries earlier the Roman historian Tacit us referred to the Lithuanians as excellent farmers. Spurred by the expansion into the Baltic lands of the Germanic monastic military orders (the Order of the Knights of the Sword and the Teutonic Order) Duke Mindaugas united the lands inhabited by the Lithuanians, the Samogitians, Yotvingians, and Couranians into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (GDL) in the 1230s-40s. In 1251 Mindau gas adopted Catholicism and was crowned King of Lithuania on July 6, 1253; a decade later, civil war erupted upon his assassination until a ruler named Vytenis defeated the Teutonic Knights and restored order.

From 1316 to 1341 Vytenis' brother and successor, Grand Duke Gediminas, expanded the empire as far as Kiev against the Tatars and Russians. He twice attempted to adopt Christianity in order to end the GDL's political and cultural isolation from western Europe. To that purpose, he invited knights, merchants, and artisans to settle in Lithuania and wrote letters to Pope John XXII and European cities maintaining that the Teutonic Order's purpose was to conquer lands rather than spread Christianity. Gediminas' dynasty ruled the GDL until 1572. In the 1300s through the early 1400s, the Lithuanian state expanded eastward. During the rule of Grand Duke Algirdas (1345-77), Lithuania almost doubled in size. The 1385 Kreva Union signed by the Grand Duke of Lithuania Jogaila (ruled in 1377-81 and 1382-92) and the Queen of Poland Jadwyga intensified Lithuania's economic and cultural development, orienting it toward the West.


Lithuania's independence under the union with Poland was restored by Grand Duke Vytautas. During his rule (1392-1430) the GDL turned into one of the largest states in Europe, encompassing present-day Belarus, most of Ukraine, and the Smolensk region of western Russia. Led by Jogaila and Vytautas, the united Polish-Lithuanian army defeated the Teutonic Order in the Battle of Tannenberg (Grunewald or Zalgiris) in 1410, terminating the medieval Germanic drive eastward.


The 16th century witnessed a number of wars against the growing Russian state over the Slavic lands ruled by the GDL. Coupled with the need
for an ally in those wars, the wish of the middle and petty gentry to obtain more rights already granted to the Polish feudal lords drew Lithuania closer to Poland. The Union of Lublin in 1569 united Poland and Lithuania into a commonwealth in which the highest power belonged to the Sejm of the nobility and its elected King who also was the Grand Duke of Lithuania. Mid-16th century land reform strengthened serfdom and yet promoted the development of agriculture owing to the introduction of a regular three-field rotation system.

The 16th century saw a more rapid development of agriculture, growth of towns, spread of ideas of humanism and the Reformation, and book printing. The emergence of Vilnius University in 1579 and the Lithuanian Codes of Law (the Statutes of Lithuania) stimulated the development of culture both in Lithuania and in neighboring countries.


The Polish-Lithuanian Republic was weakened by the rising domination of the big magnates, and the 16th-18thcentury wars against Russia and Sweden over Livonia, Ukraine, and Byelorussia. The end of the 18th century witnessed three divisions of the Commonwealth by Russia, Prussia, and Austria; in 1795 most of Lithuania became part of the Russian empire. Attempts to restore independence in the uprisings of 1794, 1830-31, and 1863 were suppressed and followed by a tightened police regime, increasing Russification, the closure of Vilnius University in 1832, and the 1864 ban on the printing of Lithuanian books in traditional Latin characters.

Because of his proclamation of liberation and self-rule, many Lithuanians gratefully volunteered for the French Army when Napoleon occupied Kaunas in 1812 during the fateful invasion of Russia. After the war, Russia imposed extra taxes on Catholic landowners and enserfed an increasing number of peasants. A market economy slowly developed with the abolition of serfdom in 1861. Lithuanian farmers grew stronger, and an increase in the number of intellectuals of peasant origin led to the growth of a Lithuanian national movement. In German-ruled East Prussia, also called Lithuania Minor, Königsberg or Kaliningrad, Lithuanian publications were printed in large numbers and then smuggled into Russian-ruled Lithuania. The most outstanding leaders of the national liberation movement were J. Basanavicius and V. Kudirka. The ban on the Lithuanian press finally was lifted in 1904.


During WWI, the German Army occupied Lithuania in 1915, and the occupation administration allowed a Lithuanian conference to convene in Vilnius in September 1917. The conference adopted a resolution demanding the restoration of an independent Lithuanian state and elected the Lithuanian Council, a standing body chaired by Antanas Smetona. On February 16, 1918, the council declared Lithuania's independence. The years 1919-20 witnessed Lithuania's War for Independence against three factions—the Red Army, which in 1919 controlled territory ruled by a Bolshevist government headed by V. Kapsukas; the Polish Army; and the Bermondt Army, composed of Russian and German troops under the command of the Germans. Lithuania failed to regain the Polish-occupied Vilnius region.


In the Moscow Treaty of July 12, 1920, Russia recognized Lithuanian independence and renounced all previous claims to it. The Seimas (parliament) of Lithuania adopted a constitution on August 1, 1922, declaring Lithuania a parliamentary republic, and in 1923 Lithuania annexed the Klaipeda region, the northern part of Lithuania Minor. By then, most countries had recognized Lithuanian independence. After a military coup on December 17, 1926, Nationalist Party leader Antanas Smetona became president and gradually introduced an authoritarian regime.

Lithuania's borders posed its major foreign policy problem. Poland's occupation (1920) and annexation (1922) of the Vilnius region strained bilateral relations, and in March 1939 Germany forced Lithuania to surrender the Klaipeda region. Radical land reform in 1922 considerably reduced the number of estates, promoted the growth of small and middle farms, and boosted agricultural production and exports, especially livestock. In particular, light industry and agriculture successfully adjusted to the new market situation and developed new structures.


The inter-war period gave birth to a comprehensive system of education with Lithuanian as the language of instruction and the development of the press, literature, music, arts, and theater. On August 23, 1939, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact pulled Lithuania first into the German sphere of influence and then brought Lithuania under Soviet domination following the Soviet-German agreement of September 28, 1939. Soviet pressure and a complicated international situation forced Lithuania to sign an agreement with the U.S.S.R. on October 10, 1939, by which Lithuania was given back the city of Vilnius and the part of Vilnius region seized by the Red Army during the Soviet-Polish war. In return, some 20,000 Soviet soldiers were deployed in Lithuania.


On June 14, 1940, the Soviet Government issued an ultimatum to Lithuania, demanding the formation of a new Lithuanian government and permission to station additional Red Army troops. Lithuania succumbed to the Soviet demand, and 100,000 Soviet troops moved into the country the next day. Arriving in Kaunas, the Soviet Government's special envoy began implementing the plan for Lithuania's incorporation into the U.S.S.R. On June 17 the alleged people's government, headed by J. Paleckis, was formed. Rump parliamentary elections were held a month later, and Lithuania was proclaimed a Soviet Socialist Republic on August 3. Totalitarian rule was established, Sovietization of the economy and culture began, and Lithuanian state employees and public figures were arrested and exiled to Russia. During the mass deportation campaign of June 14-18, 1941, about 7,439 families (12,600 people) were deported to Siberia without investigation or trial; 3,600 people were imprisoned, and more than 1,000 massacred.


A Lithuanian revolt against the U.S.S.R. quickly followed the outbreak of the war against Germany in 1941. The rebels declared the restoration of Lithuania's independence and actively operated a provisional government, without German recognition, from June 24 to August 5. Lithuania became part of the German occupational administrative unit of Ostland. People were repressed and taken to forced labor camps in Germany. The Nazis and local collaborators deprived Lithuanian Jews of their civil rights and massacred about 200,000 of them. Together with Soviet partisans, supporters of independence put up a resistance movement to deflect Nazi recruitment of Lithuanians to the German Army.


The Red Army forced the Germans out of Lithuania in 1944 and reestablished control. Sovietization continued with the arrival of communist party leaders to create a local party administration. The mass deportation campaigns of 1941-52 exiled 29,923 families to Siberia and other remote parts of the Soviet Union. Official statistics state that more than 120,000 people were deported from Lithuania during this period, while some sources estimate the number of political prisoners and deportees at 300,000. In response to these events, an estimated several tens of thousands of resistance fighters participated in unsuccessful guerilla warfare against the Soviet regime from 1944-53. Soviet authorities encouraged immigration of other Soviet workers, especially Russians, as a way of integrating Lithuania into the Soviet Union and of fomenting industrial development.

Until mid-1988, all political, economic, and cultural life was controlled by the Lithuanian Communist Party (LCP). The political and economic crisis that began in the U.S.S.R. in the mid-1980s also affected Lithuania, and Lithuanians as well as other Balts offered active support to Gorbachev's program of social and political reforms. Under the leadership of intellectuals, the Lithuanian reform movement "Sajudis" was formed in mid-1988 and declared a program of democratic and national rights, winning nationwide popularity. Inspired by Sajudis, the Lithuanian Supreme Soviet passed constitutional amendments on the supremacy of Lithuanian laws over Soviet legislation, annulled the 1940 decisions on proclaiming Lithuania a part of the U.S.S.R., legalized a multiparty system, and adopted a number of other important decisions. A large number of LCP members also supported the ideas of Sajudis, and with Sajudis support, Algirdas Brazauskas was elected First Secretary of the Central Committee of the LCP in 1988. In December 1989, the Brazauskas-led LCP split from the CPSU and became an independent party, renaming itself in 1990 the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party.


In 1990, Sajudis-backed candidates won the elections to the Lithuanian Supreme Soviet. On March 11, 1990, its chairman Vytautas Landsbergis proclaimed the restoration of Lithuanian independence, formed a new Cabinet of Ministers headed by Kazimiera Prunskiene, and adopted the Provisional Fundamental Law of the state and a number of by-laws. The U.S.S.R. demanded revocation of the act and began employing political and economic sanctions against Lithuania as well as demonstrating military force. On January 10, 1991, U.S.S.R. authorities seized the central publishing house and other premises in Vilnius and unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow the elected government by sponsoring a local "National Salvation Committee." Three days later the Soviets forcibly took over the TV tower, killing 14 civilians and injuring 700. During the national plebiscite in February more than 90% of those who took part in the voting (76% of all eligible voters) voted in favor of an independent, democratic Lithuania. Led by the tenacious Landsbergis, Lithuania's leadership continued to seek Western diplomatic recognition of its independence. Soviet military-security forces continued forced conscription, occasional seizure of buildings, attacking customs posts, and sometimes killing customs and police officials.

During the August 19 coup against Gorbachev, Soviet military troops took over several communications and other government facilities in Vilnius and other cities but returned to their barracks when the coup failed. The Lithuanian Government banned the Communist Party and ordered confiscation of its property.


Despite Lithuania's achievement of complete independence, sizable numbers of Russian forces remained on its territory. Withdrawal of those forces was one of Lithuania's top foreign policy priorities. Lithuania and Russia signed an agreement on September 8, 1992, calling for Russian troop withdrawals by August 31, 1993, which took place on time.




GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Lithuania is a multi-party, parliamentary democracy. President Rolandas Paksas, who took office in February 2003, is the head of state. The president is elected directly for 5 years, also is commander in chief overseeing foreign and security policy, and nominates the prime minister and his cabinet and a number of other top civil servants.


The parliament (Seimas) has 141 members that are elected for a 4-year term. About half of the members are elected in single constituencies (71), and the other half (70) are elected in the nationwide vote by party lists. A party must receive at least 5% of the national vote to be represented in the Seimas. The last parliamentary elections took place in October 2000.

Since 1991, Lithuanian voters have shifted from right to left and back again, swinging between the Conservatives, led by Vytautas Landsbergis (now headed by Andrius Kubilius), and the Labor (former communist) Party, led by former president Algirdas Brazauskas. This pattern was broken in the October 2000 elections when the Liberal Union and New Union parties won the most votes and were able to form a centrist ruling coalition with minor partners. Former President Adamkus played a key role in bringing the new centrist parties together. The leader of the center-left New Union (also known as the Social Liberal party), Arturas Paulauskas, became the Chairman of the Seimas. The then-government of liberal Rolandas Paksas got off to a rocky start and collapsed within 7 months. In July 2001, the center-left New Union Party forged an alliance with the left-wing Social Democratic Party and formed a new cabinet under former President Algirdas Brazauskas.


The cabinet of Algirdas Brazauskas is made up mostly of non-party technocrats and has emphasized the need for financial discipline. The government remains focused on NATO and EU membership goals.


Principal Government Officials
Last Updated: 6/4/03


President: Paksas, Rolandas

Prime Minister: Brazauskas, Algirdas Mykolas

Min. of Agriculture & Forestry: Kraujelis, Jeronimas

Min. of Culture: Zakaitiene, Roma

Min. of Defense: Linkevicius, Linas

Min. of Economy: Cesna, Petras

Min. of Education & Science: Monkevicius, Algirdas

Min. of Environment: Kundrotas, Arunas

Min. of Finance: Grybauskaite, Dalia

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Valionis, Antanas

Min. of Health: Olekas, Juozas

Min. of Internal Affairs: Bulovas, Virgilijus

Min. of Justice: Markevicius, Vytautas

Min. of Social Security & Labor: Blinkeviciute, Vilija

Min. of Transport: Balcytis, Zigmantas Chmn., Bank of Lithuania: Sarkinas, Reinoldijus

Ambassador to the US: Usackas, Vygaudas

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Serksnys, Gediminas



Lithuania maintains an embassy in the United States at 2622 - 16th Street, Washington DC, 20009, tel: (202) 234-5860.




ECONOMY

The Soviet era brought Lithuania intensive industrialization and economic integration into the U.S.S.R., although the level of technology and state concern for environmental, health, and labor issues lagged far behind Western standards. Urbanization increased from 39% in 1959 to 68% in 1989. From 1949-52 the Soviets abolished private ownership in agriculture, establishing collective and state farms. Production declined and did not reach pre-war levels until the early 1960s. The intensification of agricultural production through intense chemical use and mechanization eventually doubled production but created additional ecological problems. This changed after independence, when farm production dropped due to difficulties in restructuring the agricultural sector.


The transportation infrastructure inherited from the Soviet period is adequate and has been generally well maintained since independence. Lithuania has one ice-free seaport with ferry services to German, Swedish, and Danish ports. There are operating commercial airports with scheduled international services at Vilnius, Kaunas, and Klaipeda. The road system is good. Border facilities at checkpoints with Poland were significantly improved by using EU funds, but long waits are still a frequent phenomenon. Telecommunications have improved greatly since independence as a result of heavy investment. The Telecom company had a monopoly on the market until the end of 2002, but now there are a number of cell phone companies to provide competition.

The economy of independent Lithuania had a slow start, as the process of privatization and the development of new companies slowly moved the country from a command economy toward the free market. By 1998, the economy had survived the early years of uncertainty and several setbacks, including a banking crisis, and seemed poised for solid growth. However, the collapse of the Russian ruble in August 1998 shocked the economy into negative growth and forced the reorientation of trade from Russia toward the West. Since the Russia crisis, the focus of Lithuania's export markets has shifted from East to West. In 1997, exports to former Soviet states were 45% of total Lithuanian exports. Today, exports to the East are only 19% of the total, while exports to EU members and candidates are 71%. The government of 1999, which was led by Prime Minister Kubilius, managed to control raging budget deficits in the midst of the crisis, and all successor governments have maintained that fiscal discipline.


The last couple of years have been good for the Lithuanian economy. The 6.7% growth in GDP in 2002 went beyond even the most optimistic expectations, despite the slower developments in the neighboring markets after the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, DC. The growth in Lithuania was mainly driven by private consumption and exports. The contribution of domestic market oriented sectors, especially construction, also was increasing. Growth was strongest in construction, financial intermediation, and processing and light industries. Inflation was low, the growth of the external account deficit stabilized, and the state finances improved noticeably with a fiscal deficit of 1.2% of GDP in 2002. In fact, GDP grew at 9.4% in the first quarter of 2003. Progress has been achieved in the areas of privatization and deregulation. Weaknesses remain in public policy development and structural and agricultural reforms.


The privatization of major state enterprises is expected to be completed in the next couple of years. Currently, 75% of the economy is in private hands. The share of employees in the private sector rose to about 70%. Recently, the Government of Lithuania completed banking sector privatization, with 89% of this sector controlled by foreign capital. The privatization of the national gas and power companies "Lietuvos Dujos" (Lithuanian Gas) and "Lietuvos Energija" (Lithuanian Energy) also is underway. However, the privatization of "Lithuanian Railways" has been postponed.

Inflationary pressures continue to be low. Annual deflation in 2002 stood at 1.0%. The deflation has been the result of sharp competition among retail trade chains and appreciation of the local currency against the U.S. dollar.


The minimum wage has not changed since June 1998 and stands at $107.50 per month, well below the poverty threshold. The average wage stands at $336.8 per month.


Exports to the United States make up 3.6% of all Lithuania's exports, and imports from the United States comprise 1.4% of total imports to Lithuania. Foreign direct investment in Lithuania reached $3.9 billion at the end of 2002, which represented an increase of 24% compared to the previous year.


As of the end of 2002, the United States was the fifth-largest investor (8.7%) in Lithuania, behind Denmark, Sweden, Estonia, and Germany. In 2002, the current account deficit stood at 4.8% of GDP. More than 100% of it was financed by foreign direct investment.


On February 2, 2002, the government repegged the Litas from the U.S. dollar to the Euro at the rate of 3.4528 Litas for 1 Euro. The repeg, which went on smoothly, reflects a change in trade orientation and is to help Lithuania prepare for Europe an Monetary Union. With the appreciation of local currency against the U.S. dollar, production costs to enterprises have been decreasing, but the higher exchange rate is not favorable to exports.




DEFENSE

Lithuania's defense system is based on the concept of "total and unconditional defense" mandated by Lithuania's national security strategy. The goal of Lithuania's defense policy is to prepare its society for general defense and to integrate Lithuania into Western security and defense structures. The defense ministry is responsible for combat forces, search/rescue, and intelligence operations. The core of the Lithuanian force structure is the "Iron Wolf" Rapid Reaction Brigade consisting of three mechanized and motorized battalions and appropriate combat support elements. An additional three battalions are located in the western military district. The National Volunteer Defense Forces (home guard) consist of one battalion-sized unit in each of Lithuania's 10 districts.


The 600-man navy uses patrol boats and former Russian corvettes for coastal surveillance; the 800-man air force operates 10 helicopters and 17 planes used mostly for reconnaissance and border patrol. A mandatory 1-year conscription and alternative service is available for conscientious objectors. Over the next decade Lithuania's military will undergo a transformation, cutting its active reserve to 5,000 and number of conscripts to 2000. With its security guaranteed through NATO, Lithuania is creating a military that focuses more on contributing to international operations, rather than territorial defense. Its military has participated in 11 international operations, including Afghanistan and Iraq.


The 5,400 border guards fall under the Interior Ministry's supervision and are responsible for border protection, passport and customs duties, and share responsibility with the navy for smuggling/drug trafficking interdiction. A special security department handles VIP protection and communications security.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Lithuania became a member of the United Nations on September 18, 1991, and is a signatory to a number of its organizations and other international agreements. It also is a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the North Atlantic Coordinating Council, and the Council of Europe. Lithuania gained membership in the World Trade Organization on May 31, 2001, and in November 2002 was invited to join NATO. Lithuania also was invited to join the European Union on May 1, 2004, and in addition seeks membership in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and other Western organizations.


Lithuania maintains foreign diplomatic missions in 94 countries on six continents and consular posts in two countries that are not represented by an embassy. Lithuania's liberal "zero-option" citizenship law has substantially erased tensions with its neighbors. Its suspension of two strongly ethnic Polish district councils on charges of blocking reform or disloyalty during the August 1991 coup had cooled relations with Poland, but bilateral cooperation markedly increased with the holding of elections in those districts and the signing of a bilateral friendship treaty in 1994. Relations with Poland are now among the closest enjoyed by Lithuania. Although a similar bilateral friendship agreement was signed with Belarus in 1995, Lithuania has joined the United States and other European nations in urging the Government of Belarus to adopt democratic and economic reforms.




U.S.-LITHUANIAN RELATIONS

The United States established diplomatic relations with Lithuania on July 28, 1922. The Soviet invasion forced the closure of the Legation to Lithuania on September 5, 1940, but Lithuanian representation in the United States continued uninterrupted. The United States never recognized the forcible incorporation of Lithuania into the U.S.S.R. and views the present Government of Lithuania as a legal continuation of the interwar republic. Lithuania has enjoyed most-favored-nation treatment with the United States since December 1991. Since 1992, the United States has committed more than $100 million to Lithuania's economic and political transformation and to address humanitarian needs. The United States and Lithuania signed an agreement on bilateral trade and intellectual property protection in 1994—a bilateral investment treaty in 1997, and in 1998, the United States signed a "Charter of Partnership" with Lithuania and the other Baltic countries. Under this partnership, bilateral working groups focusing on improving regional security, defense, and economic issues were established.


Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Vilnius (E), Akmenu 6, 2600 Vilnius, Lithuania • PSC 78, Box V, APO AE 09723, Tel [370] (5) 2665500, Fax 2665510; Exec. Tel [370] (5) 2665531, Exec Fax 2665530; PAO 2662681; PO Fax 2665680.

AMB: Stephen D. Mull
AMB OMS: Theresa Girone
DCM: William F. Davnie
PAO: Anthony Pahigian
POL/ECO: Nancy Cohen
REGA: Albert Mueller
CON: Ruta D. Elvikis
RSO: Brent A. Barker
MGT: John M. Gieseke
GSO: John H. Griffith
IRM: Dennis Severns
DAO: Larry D. Beisel
ODC: LTC John McDonough
LEGATT: William Moschella III (res. Tallinn)
COM: Karen Pilmanis (res. Riga)
AGR: James Higgiston (res. Warsaw)
INS: Gilbert L. Jacobs (res. Copenhagen)
DEA: Arthur L. Kersey (res. Copenhagen)
FAA: Lynn Osmus (res. Brussels)
IRS: Margaret J. Lullo (res. Frankfurt)
CUS: Donald J. Fanning (res. Frankfurt)

Last Modified: Wednesday, September 24, 2003




TRAVEL


Consular Information Sheet
December 13, 2002


Country Description: Lithuania is a country undergoing rapid economic transition. Tourist facilities in Vilnius, the capital, and to a lesser extent in Kaunas and Klaipeda, are similar to those available in a Western European city. In other parts of the country, however, some of the goods and services taken for granted in other countries may not be available.


Entry Requirements: A valid passport is required to enter Lithuania. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry. U.S. citizens do not need Lithuanian visas for most stays of 90 days or less. Travelers remaining in Lithuania for more than 90 days within any six-month period must apply for temporary residency. U.S. citizens should contact the Lithuanian Embassy at 2622 16th Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009, tel. (202) 234-5860, www.ltembassyus.org for current information on visa requirements.


Travelers to Lithuania who also plan to enter Russia, even in transit, need a Russian visa. The Russian Embassy in Lithuania is able to provide same-day processing of tourist visas with payment of an additional fee. Proof of medical insurance valid through the period of travel is required.


In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry and exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of family relationship and permission from the non-accompanying parent(s) or legal guardian for the child's travel. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry and departure.

Dual Nationality: In addition to being subject to all Lithuanian laws affecting U.S. citizens, those travelers also holding Lithuanian citizenship may be subject to other laws imposing special obligations on Lithuanian citizens. Lithuanian law views dual nationals in the same way as those who have only Lithuanian citizenship, which could hamper U.S. efforts to provide consular protection. More information regarding Lithuanian citizenship can be obtained from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, J. Tumo Vaizganto Street 2, 2600 Vilnius, telephone: (370)(5) 2-362-539, e-mail: [email protected], website: www.urm.lt and from the Migration Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, Sventaragio 2, 2600 Vilnius, telephone: (370)(5) 2-717-236, fax: (370)(5) 2-718-210, website: www.vrm.lt. For additional information regarding dual nationality, please see the Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov/ for our Dual Nationality flyer.


Safety and Security: Civil unrest is not a problem in Lithuania and there have been no incidents of terrorism directed toward American interests. Incidents of anti-Americanism are rare.


Crime: Crimes against foreigners, while usually non-violent, are becoming more common. Pickpocketing and theft are problems, so personal belongings should be well protected at all times. Car thefts, carjackings, and theft from cars are increasingly commonplace. Drivers should be wary of persons indicating they should pull over or that something is wrong with their car. Often, a second car or person is following, and when the driver of the targeted car gets out to see if there is a problem, the person who has been following will either steal the driver's belongings from the vehicle or get in and drive off with the car. Drivers should never get out of the car to check for damage without first turning off the ignition and taking the keys. Valuables also should not be left in plain sight in parked vehicles, as there have been increasing reports of car windows smashed and items stolen. Burglary of foreigners' homes is also prevalent; home alarm systems should be used whenever possible. American citizens should avoid walking alone or in small groups after dark. There have been cases of American citizens being drugged in bars and then taken elsewhere to be robbed. In any public area, one should always be alert to being surrounded by two or more people at once. Racially motivated verbal, and sometimes physical, harassment of American citizens of non-Caucasian ethnicity has been reported in major cities. Incidents of racially motivated attacks against foreigners have been reported in Klaipeda in particular.

If you are the victim of a crime while in Lithuania, in addition to reporting the crime to the local police, please contact the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local Lithuanian authorities, the Consular Section can provide information on the local criminal justice process. In Vilnius, an English-speaking Lithuanian police officer should always be available at 716-222.


The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/index.html, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.


Medical Facilities: Medical care in Lithuania is improving but medical facilities do not always meet Western standards. There are a few private clinics with medical supplies and services that are nearly equal to Western European or U.S. standards. Most medical supplies are now widely available, including disposable needles, anesthetics, antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals. Lithuania has many highly trained medical professionals, but hospitals and clinics still suffer from a lack of equipment and resources. Western-quality dental care can be obtained in major cities. Elderly travelers who require medical care may face extreme difficulties. Most pharmaceuticals sold here are from Europe; travelers will not necessarily find the same brands that they use in the U.S. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars or more. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.


Tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme disease are wide spread. Those intending to visit parks or forested areas in Lithuania are urged to speak with their health care practitioners about immunization. The Lithuanian Government does not require HIV testing for U.S. citizens. However, sexually transmitted diseases are a growing concern.


Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.


When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.


Other Health Information: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.


Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Lithuania is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.


Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Good (on major highways)


Roads in Lithuania range from well maintained two to four-lane highways connecting major cities, to small dirt roads traversing the countryside. Violation of traffic rules is common. It is not unusual to be overtaken by other automobiles traveling at high speeds, even in crowded urban areas. Driving at night, especially in the countryside, can be particularly hazardous. In the summer, older "seasonal" vehicles and inexperienced drivers are extra hazards. During the winter, most major roads are cleared of snow. Driving with caution is urged at all times. The speed limit is 60 km/hr in town and 90 km/hr out of town unless otherwise indicated. The phone number for roadside assistance is 8-800-0000 from a regular phone and 188 from a GSM mobile phone.


Seatbelts are mandatory for the driver and all passengers except children under the age of 12. Studded tires are not allowed from April 1st through November 1st. Headlights must be turned on at all times from September 1st through 7th (the first week of school) and November 1st through March 1st. The police allow Americans to drive in Lithuania with an American driver's license for up to 3 months. Public transportation may be slow, but is generally safe.


For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning Lithuanian driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Lithuanian State Department of Tourism at Vilniaus gatve 4/35, 2600 Vilnius, telephone: (370)(5) 2-622-610, e-mail: [email protected], website: www.tourism.lt. See also road safety information from the Lithuanian Road Administration at www.lra.lt/index_en.html. (Note: "index_en").


Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service by local carriers at present, or economic authority to operate such service, between the U.S. and Lithuania, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Lithuania's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa.


The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.


Customs Regulations: Lithuanian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Lithuania of items such as firearms and antiquities. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Lithuania in Washington or one of Lithuania's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements. Special permission from the Ministry of Culture is required before one can remove antiques from Lithuania. Travelers are advised to contact the Foreign Export Valuation Control Section of the Ministry of Culture, Snipiskiu 3, Vilnius, tel: (370)(5) 272-4113 or (370)(5) 272-4005 before removing any object more than 50 years old from Lithuania; the definition of antiquity depends on the type of object. To export firearms, one needs special permission from the Ministry of the Interior. Cash in excess of 10,000 Lithuanian litai (or its equivalent in other currencies) must be declared in written form upon entry and exit.

Lithuanian customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information call (212) 354-4480, send an e-mail to [email protected], or visit www.uscib.org for details.


Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law in Lithuania can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Lithuanian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Lithuania are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

Special Circumstances: Telephone connections are generally good, though phone numbers are in the process of being changed, especially in Vilnius. American 1-800 numbers can be accessed from Lithuania but not on a toll-free basis; the international long distance rate per minute will be charged. Local Internet cafes offer computer access. ATMs are widely available. Most hotels, restaurants and other businesses now accept major credit cards.


Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children, international parental child abduction, and international child support enforcement issues, please refer to our Internet site at http://www.travel.state.gov/children's_ issues.html or telephone 1-888-407-4747.


Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living in or visiting Lithuania are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius and obtain updated information on travel and security within Lithuania. The U.S. Embassy is located at Akmenu gatve 6; telephone (370)(5) 266-5500 or 266-5600, fax (370)(5) 266-5590. Consular information can also be found on the Embassy Vilnius home page at www.usembassy.lt.

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LITHUANIA

Republic of Lithuania

Major City:
Vilnius

Other Cities:
Kapsukas, Kaunas, Klaipeda, Panevéžys, Šiauliai

EDITOR'S NOTE

This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated May 1997. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at http://travel.state.gov/ for the most recent information available on travel to this country.

INTRODUCTION

The Baltic nation of LITHUANIA was one of the republics in the former Soviet Union. Following the end of World War I in 1918, Lithuania was created as an independent republic. Lithuania maintained its independence until 1940, when it was annexed and absorbed into the Soviet Union along with the neighboring countries of Latvia and Estonia. In March 1990, Lithuania became the first Soviet republic to declare its independence. The Soviets responded harshly by imposing an economic blockade in April 1990, but the Lithuanians refused to back down. After several failed attempts to resolve the dispute through diplomatic negotiations, the Soviet Union sent troops into Lithuania's capital city and occupied several government buildings and communications centers. However, the Lithuanians remained defiant. The Soviet Union finally recognized Lithuanian independence on September 6, 1991. The country was also admitted as a member of the United Nations on September 17, 1991.

MAJOR CITY

Vilnius

Vilnius, the capital city, with an estimated population of 553,000, is situated at the confluence of the Neris and Vilnele Rivers, in southeastern Lithuania. Vilnius is 180 miles from the Baltic Sea, and just 21 miles from the Belarusan border. The city comprises an area of 100 sq. miles-of which one third is forests, parks, and gardens. The city is surrounded by wooded hills. Vilnius was founded and established as the capital of Lithuania in 1323 by Grand Duke Gediminas, founder of the Gediminian (later known as the Jogailian) dynasty, which ruled Lithuania, and later Poland, for 250 years. Archaeological findings show that the area was inhabited well over 2000 years ago. Over the centuries it has been ravaged many times by foreign troops.

The interwar fate of Vilnius differed from that of the rest of Lithuania. When the Lithuanians declared independence in 1918, the borders of the state were not precisely defined. This was also true of the newly restored Polish state. Skirmishes with Poland began almost at once and continued during the short but intense Polish-Soviet War of 1920. Following a separate truce and the signing of the Treaty of Suwalki, renegade Polish troops under General Zeligowski, with unofficial approval from the Pilsudski government, invaded Vilnius and the surrounding territory. The League of Nations could not solve the Polish-Lithuanian conflict. The city remained under Polish administration until 1939. During that time the city grew and became a multi-ethnic center with large numbers of Polish, Jewish, and Belarusan inhabitants. In fact, 30 percent of Vilnius' population was Jewish. The city was known as the "Jerusalem of the North" and it was considered one of the world's most important centers of Jewish culture. In 1939, after Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union secretly agreed to divide Poland and the Baltic States between themselves, Lithuania signed a treaty with the Soviets whereby, in exchange for the return of Vilnius, Lithuania accepted Red Army bases on its territory. This was followed by the first Soviet occupation in 1940.

One year later, in June 1941, came the German invasion and occupation. This lasted three years until 1944. One-third of the capital's population was killed. Mass executions took place in the nearby forest of Paneriai. Most of the Jewish population of Vilnius was murdered and the rich Jewish culture which had flourished in Vilnius since the Middle Ages was virtually annihilated.

The Soviets reoccupied Vilnius on July 13, 1944. At the end of the war, only half the prewar population remained. The city had no water, electricity, means of transport, or modern communications. All industrial enterprises had been destroyed and 42 percent of the city's residential areas and 20 percent of its architectural monuments were in ruins.

During the following Soviet period, Vilnius was the capital of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. The population steadily grew as the city was rebuilt. Huge apartment complexes were constructed and new industries were established. Vilnius was home to the only university in Lithuania, as well as to several other institutions of higher education. The city attracted students, artists, professionals, and workers. Many people from other Soviet republics were relocated to Vilnius to work, thus decreasing the indigenous population and associated nationalist tendencies. Vilnius also served as headquarters for units of the former Red Army, including the troops which assaulted the Television and Radio Tower on January 13, 1991.

Today Vilnius is the heart of Lithuania's political, economic, cultural, and public life. The Old Town is one of the largest in Eastern Europe, encompassing 74 blocks, 70 streets and lanes, and over 1200 buildings. These buildings were constructed over the course of five centuries, reflecting many styles of architecture. Unfortunately, the Old Town was severely neglected for many years and many sections are in desperate need of repair. The modern sections of the city, built during the Soviet period, are typical of the planned "microregions" of the Bloc: very large apartment blocks, with stores, schools and recreation areas nearby. The large greenbelts and parks make the city pleasant in the Summer.

Food

The food supply situation in Vilnius has improved markedly, though prices are at Western European levels.

Fresh produce is still sometimes hard to find; most of it is imported. Bring specialty items, like ethnic foods and staples such as sugar, flour, rice and cake mixes.

Clothing

Lithuania is a northern country with a generally cool climate. As has been said, "There is no such thing as bad weather; only bad clothes." Lithuania is completely dependent on outside sources of fossil fuel, so houses may not be as warm as desired.

Bring winterwear, including thermal underwear from the States, or prepare to pay a premium

Men: Since the summer season is short, fall and winter weight suits and jackets will suffice. Sweaters are a must. In fall and spring, the city steam heat is turned off and homes get cold. Bring comfortable warm clothes to wear in the house during the unheated period. Formal wear is not required. Heavy winter coats and hats, raincoats, boots and socks are mandatory. Casual wear is worn away from the office.

Women: A well rounded wardrobe for all seasons consisting of several cocktail/dinner dresses, suits or skirts with jackets, blouses, sweaters, slacks, and sportswear is appropriate. Most Lithuanian women can knit or sew, and you can find or commission items for less than Western prices. Heavy winter clothing, boots, and rainwear are a must. Also necessary are comfortable warm clothes to wear in the house during the fall and spring when the homes are unheated. Bring a good supply of leotard and pantyhose-especially if you are short or petite. Lithuanian women are fashion-conscious and generally dress more formally than women in the U.S.

Children: Schools do not require uniforms so play clothing is acceptable. Lots of sweaters, foul weather wear, and warm pajamas are a requirement.

Supplies and Services

Supplies: One can get almost any goods available in Western Europe, with some markup for shipping from there. This includes toiletries, cosmetics, etc. Many, but not all prescription drugs are available. For unusual or continuous-use prescription drugs, it is best to have a supplier in the U.S.

Basic Services: Dressmakers and tailors offer satisfactory service. Dry cleaning is available. Barbers and hairstylists are spotty in terms of quality and service.

Religious Activities

Lithuania is a predominantly Roman Catholic country. Feast days and holy days are observed with pageantry at churches and cathedrals. In addition, the city has Russian Orthodox, Jewish, Lutheran, and Evangelical services one can attend. Services in English are rare to nonexistent.

Education

The American International School of Vilnius has been growing steadily since it was founded in 1992. It currently has students in grades pre-K through 8.

Private language tutors as well as teachers of dance, music, art, crafts, and sports are readily available at reasonable rates.

Sports

There are opportunities for outdoor and indoor sports. Lithuanians are enthusiastic basketball players. They love to stroll in the woods collecting berries and mushrooms. Fishing is possible year round. Good riding stables are located just outside town. Many people enjoy cross-country skiing. Tennis and badminton courts are available. The Hash House Harriers are very active.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

The old town of Vilnius is very attractive. There are exquisite examples of Gothic and Baroque architecture, such as the Church of St. Anne. It is said that when Napoleon passed through Vilnius on his way to Moscow, he was so impressed with the small church that he wanted to "carry the church back to France in the palm of his hand."

The University of Vilnius is a wonderful ensemble of buildings and beautiful courtyards. All of the different architectural styles seen in Vilnius are represented here. The neoclassical Cathedral and its bell tower (a perfect meeting place) stand at the foot of Castle Hill. From the top of that hill, the famous Tower of Gediminas dominates the skyline from Old Town. In October of 1988, the national flag of independent Lithuania was raised above the Tower in place of the Soviet Republic banner.

Trakai, the medieval capital of Lithuania, is 18 miles southwest of Vilnius, situated in a beautiful area of recreational lakes, forests, and hills. This stronghold and former residence of Lithuanian Grand Dukes has been meticulously restored. The whole complex stands on an island. Trakai is also home to a small minority of Karaites (a tribe of Turkic people) who were brought to Lithuania by Grand Duke Vytautas in the 14th Century to serve as his bodyguards.

Kaunas, the second largest city in Lithuania, with a population of 379,000, is 60 miles west of Vilnius at the fork between the country's two largest rivers, the Nemunas and Neris. It is said that Napoleon Bonaparte stood at that fork and said, "Here begin the great steppes of Russia." Eighty-nine per cent of Kaunas' population is ethnically Lithuanian, which, as the interwar capital, is much more homogenous than Vilnius. Kaunas' Old Town is charming and boasts a pleasant Parisian-style walking mall. Museums there include the Ciurlionis Gallery and the Devils' Museum. The former is shrine to an early nationalist composer, the latter chock-full of hundreds of depictions of devils from Lithuania's Christian and pagan folk art past.

An hour from Vilnius on the road to Kaunas is Rumsiskes, location of the open air museum to Lithuanian peasant life. Although Lithuania is a small country, it is divided into four distinct regions: Zemaitija (Lowlands), Aukstaitija (High-lands), Dzukija and Suvalkija (south, near Poland). The Museum's exhibits, brought to Rumsiskes from all over the country, are representative of these four regions. Easter is an especially good time to see the thatched farmhouses, take part in the Easter Egg Roll (like marbles, but with decorated eggs), and sample the simple cooking of Lithuania's past. In Summer, the Rumsiskes Folk Music Ensemble creates an authentic country atmosphere and encourages spectator participation.

For nature-lovers, Lithuania offers the striking contrasts of the Baltic sand dunes of Nida, the seemingly infinite forests and lakes of the East, and the spas of Druskininkiai and Birstonas.

Entertainment

Cultural life in Lithuania is rich and varied. One has only to look at the schedule of events at the Opera and Ballet Theater or the Philharmonic, to plan for an evening well spent. When the weather turns cool, operas and ballets offer respite from cold grey skies. The Academic Theater, State Youth Theater, Russian Drama Theater, and the Little Theater of Vilnius all produce plays by internationally known playwrights. Some knowledge of Lithuanian or Russian is necessary to follow the action.

Folk music lovers will not be disappointed in Lithuania. Every year in May, a week-long celebration of folk music takes place in Old Town. Tangible, lasting expressions of Lithuanian folk culture are captured in ceramic, textiles, and leather goods. "Daile (Art)" galleries are open in Vilnius, Panevezys, and Kaunas.

Social Activities

There are many Americans throughout the country. These include Peace Corps volunteers, USG contractors and grantees, missionaries, and Lithuanian-American businessmen.

Vilnius is home to both Rotary and Kiwanis; informal gatherings of businessmen take place often. Charity events draw from both business and diplomatic communities with impressive results. There is an International Women's Club which meets monthly and organizes different events.

OTHER CITIES

The city of KAPSUKAS is one of Lithuania's industrial centers. Industries in Kapsukas produce textiles, furniture, processed foods, automotive parts, and building materials. Kapsukas has a population over 36, 000.

KAUNAS , located 60 miles (90 kilometers) west of Vilnius, is Lithuania's second largest city. Between 1920 and 1940, Kaunas served as the capital of Lithuania. The capital was transferred to Vilnius following the Soviet annexation of 1940. The city was heavily damaged during World War II, but has been rebuilt. Kaunas is the home of many major industries. These industries manufacture furniture, machine tools, and textiles. The city also serves as a transportation hub for rail and water transportation. Kaunas has two excellent museums. The Museum of Stained Glass and Sculpture features many beautiful exhibits. Another museum, the Ciurlionis Museum, houses the works of famous Lithuanian artist M. K. Ciurlionis. In 2001, Kaunas had an estimated population of 379,000.

KLAIPEDA is Lithuania's most important port. The city's location on the Baltic Sea has led to the development of a large fishing fleet and several shipbuilding and fish canning factories. Klaipeda is also the home of other major industries. These industries manufacture timber, paper, and textiles. Klaipeda's port facilities are an important asset because they remain ice-free during the winter. The city has a Marine Museum and Aquarium that offers tourists many interesting exhibits. Klaipeda had a population of approximately 194,000 in 2001.

The city of PANEVÉŽYS is located in north-central Lithuania. Panevéžys is home to many industries. These industries produce glass, metalwork, and processed foods. The city's Panevéžys Drama Theatre is one of the finest in Lithuania. Panevéžys had a population of 122,000 in 2001. Current population figures are not available.

ŠIAULIAI is a Lithuanian city noted for its leather industry. In addition to leather, Šiauliai industries produce precision tools, furniture, processed foods, and metal products. Several educational institutions, including a medical school and polytechnic institute, are located in Šiauliai. The city had a population of 133,000 in 2001.

COUNTRY PROFILE

Geography and Climate

Lithuania, covering an area of 26,173 sq. miles, is the largest of the three Baltic States, slightly larger than West Virginia. The country lies on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea at approximately the same latitude as Denmark and Scotland. Lithuania's neighbors are Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland and the Kaliningrad Region of the Russian Federation to the south and southwest. Lithuanians believe that the geographical center of the European continent lies 20 kilometers north of Vilnius, the capital.

A country known for its agrarian and wooded beauty, Lithuania is characterized by flat plains and rolling hills. The highest, Kruopine, is only 900 feet above sea level. Roughly one-fourth of the territory is covered by woodlands, consisting mainly of pine, spruce, and birch. One of the oldest oak trees in Europe, found in eastern Lithuania, is said to be about 1500 years old. The forests are home to a variety of animals including elk, bison, and wild boar; hunting is a popular pastime. Lithuanians especially enjoy mushroom collecting and berry picking.

More than 700 rivers and creeks crisscross Lithuania. The largest, the Nemunas, was once a strategically important shipping route through Lithuania. Its banks are dotted with castles and fortresses. There are numerous lakes, especially in eastern Lithuania where the Ignalina National Park is located. This region is home to the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant which exports electricity to other countries in the region.

Lithuania's climate is moderate. Summer brings average temperatures of 65°F (afternoon highs in the 70's and 80's) and plentiful rain. July is the warmest month. Summer days are long with only a few hours of darkness. Winters tend to be cold, damp, and overcast. Temperatures average about 30°F and days are very short. Average annual precipitation amounts to about 26 inches.

Population

The Republic of Lithuania is home to 3,699,000 people, approximately 81 percent are ethnically Lithuanian; 9 percent Russian or Russian-speaking; 7 percent Polish; and the remaining 3 percent Belarusans, Ukrainians, Latvians, Germans, and other nationalities.

The capital, Vilnius, with 553,000 inhabitants, has a multi-ethnic flavor as many residents are ethnic Russians and Poles. Other major cities include Kaunas, the interwar capital (379,000 inhabitants), the port city of Klaipeda (194,000); Siauliai (133,000) and Panevezys (122,000).

Public Institutions

On the leading edge of the processes which led to the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Lithuania today faces great challenges as it builds a democratic state and struggles to rid itself of the legacy of 50 years of Soviet domination.

Lithuanians have a long historical memory. They recall the glorious medieval Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which reached its zenith under the rule of Grand Duke Vytautas the Great. It was he and Jagiello (Jogaila in Lithuanian), King of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, respectively, who led the joint Polish-Lithuanian troops to victory against the Teutonic Knights in the Battle of Tannenberg/Gruenwald (Zalgiris, in Lithuanian) in 1410, and stopped the medieval German drive Eastward. Under Vytautas, the territory of the Grand Duchy extended from the Baltic to the Black Sea.

After Vytautas' death, the political importance of the Grand Duchy slowly declined. In 1569, to counter the growing strength of the Russian state, the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy were formally united in a Commonwealth. The head of that union was elected king by the nobility. Following a series of partitions in the 18th Century, this Commonwealth was wiped off the European map in 1795 as Russia, Austria, and Prussia partitioned its lands. Most of Lithuania fell under Russian rule while a smaller portion near the Baltic coast was appropriated by Prussia.

For the next 123 years, Lithuania experienced intense repression and Russification. Vilnius University was closed (1832) and the Latin alphabet was banned (1864). But as repression increased, so did the determination of a growing Lithuanian intelligentsia to retain Lithuanian culture, language, and traditions.

Taking advantage of the political turmoil in Russia near the end of the First World War, Lithuania declared independence on February 16, 1918. Wars to affirm this independence were fought against the Red Army, the Polish Army, and combined German-Russian mercenary forces which plundered broad areas in the Baltic states. Polish occupation of the Vilnius region in 1920 was a breach of the Treaty of Suwalki with Poland which confirmed Lithuanian rights to Vilnius. This step hopelessly strained Polish-Lithuanian relations between the wars. It rendered cooperation in the face of greater menaces, in 1939, impossible.

During the interwar years of independence, Kaunas became the provisional capital. Lithuania reached a living standard equal to that of Denmark and had one of the most stable currencies in the world.

Lithuanian independence was to be short-lived. The secret Molotov-Ribbentrop protocols between Germany and the USSR led to Soviet occupation in June 1940. During this first occupation, large-scale repression took place and about 40,000 people were exiled to Siberia. When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the Lithuanians attempted to reestablish an independent republic by revolting against the Soviets. In the face of the German Occupation, this effort failed. Under Nazi control, more than 200,000 Jews were murdered, 95 percent of the Jewish population, the highest proportion in Europe. This wiped out a major center of Jewish culture and learning which had thrived in Vilnius (the "Jerusalem of the North") since the Middle Ages. Tens of thousands of Lithuanians were deported to the Reich for manual labor.

Soviet troops and terror returned in 1944. Another 250,000 Lithuanians were deported to the Siberian Gulag. Over 100,000 lives were lost in a guerrilla war against the Soviets which lasted until 1953. Virtually no family was left untouched by the horrors of the Second World War and the Soviet Occupation.

Lithuania spent the next 45 years as a Soviet republic. The Soviets restored lands occupied by Poland and Germany in the interwar and wartime years. Lithuanian exiles in the West, especially the U.S. kept the flame of an independent nation alive, along with Lithuania's culture and traditions. The Lithuanian diplomatic service continued to function in countries (including the U.S.) which refused to recognize its incorporation into the USSR. Inside Lithuania, many Lithuanians attempted to resist Sovietization. Armed resistance (the so-called "forest brothers") continued sporadically until the early 1950s. Lithuania resisted much of the Soviet-imposed industrialization, sparing the large influx of Russian workers which occurred in Estonia and Latvia. Despite these modest successes, life under the Soviets was hard. Moscow repressed any expression of Lithuanian national aspirations. Travel to the West was very difficult.

In the late 1980s, Gorbachev's policy of perestroika allowed deeply hidden aspirations of the Lithuanian nation to surface. "Sajudis," a movement which began in support of perestroika, quickly snowballed into a full-fledged drive for independence. Despite warnings and threats from the Kremlin, the Lithuanians, led by a distinguished musicologist, Vytautas Landsbergis, reclaimed their independence when the new, democratically-elected Supreme Council voted on March 11, 1990 to reestablish the Lithuanian Republic.

The country persevered in its independence movement despite an economic blockade imposed by Moscow and Soviet Army operations which left 23 dead in 1991. The collapse of the Moscow coup in August of 1991 led to international recognition of Lithuania's independence, including by Russia. Foreign embassies began to open in the fall of that year.

The United States plus others never recognized Lithuania's forced incorporation into the USSR and maintained continuous ties with representatives of the interwar government in exile. The United States resumed diplomatic relations with an in-country government in September 1991.

Lithuania's present struggle to transform itself into a free-market democracy has shown considerable progress but is still incomplete. As in other Central and Eastern European countries, the society has been buffeted by economic dislocation, weak markets, a crumbling infrastructure, a bloated public sector, and a shallow understanding of working democracy.

In the Fall of 2000, Lithuanians elected a new Seimas (parliament). The Social Democratic Coalition, consisting of the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party, the Social-Democratic Party, the New Democratic Party, and the Lithuanian Russian Union, won the largest percentage of votes and the majority of seats in the new Seimas. In February 1998, Vladas Adamkus narrowly won the race for the position of President. The prime minister, appointed by the president, is Algirdas Brazauskas.

Arts, Science, and Education

"Folk art is the foundation of a nation's artistic tradition," said Mykolajus Ciurlionis (1875-1911), Lithuania's most renowned painter and composer. Since Lithuania has traditionally been an agrarian society, most of its folk art has been created by peasants. It has a rich tradition of music and dance, folklore and architecture, as well as wooden sculpture and applied folk arts. Currently, there is intense interest in research on authentic folk culture. Many ethnographic ensembles, both professional and amateur, perform the music and songs that accompanied the simple people throughout life.

Song and music remain important means of expression for the Lithuanian people today. The struggle for independence from the Soviet Union was characterized by many as the " Singing Revolution." Unarmed, the people faced down the military might of the Soviets by standing side by side, drawing strength from the lyrical songs of their forebears.

During the Soviet period, cultural life was subsidized and censored by the government. However, performance excellence was achieved in many fields, including classical music, opera, ballet and theater. Released from the censor's shackles and responding more directly to the public's tastes and needs, the fine arts and music scene has developed in new, different directions. Especially notable for excellence are the Lithuanian State Youth Theater, the Vilnius Little Theater, the Vilnius Academic Theater, and the Kaunas Academic Theater.

Lithuania has a very high literacy rate and the nation reveres its poets and writers. The situation in publishing reflects an intense interest in translations of internationally known authors and genres, which once were forbidden.

Lithuania was at the forefront of science and technology in the former Soviet Union. Although much of the work in these fields was a part of the Soviet military industrial complex, the achievements by certain specialists in certain fields (mainly mathematics, physics, and natural science) were notable.

The educational system is broken down into preschool, elementary (4 years), middle school (up to 9-or 12-year programs); trade schools; and schools of higher education. Vilnius also has numerous Polish and Russian general education schools. Children enter elementary school at age 6 and education is compulsory until age 16. There are more than a dozen schools of higher education, including universities, technical schools, pedagogical institutes, and art schools.

Vilnius University, founded in 1579 by Jesuits, is the oldest and largest higher education institution in the country. Broad educational reform is underway.

Commerce and Industry

During the 50 years of Occupation, the economy was completely integrated into and subordinated to the centralized Soviet system. In 1991, the economy went into a tailspin as old ties dried up, payment systems broke down, and new markets were slow in emerging.

Historically, Lithuanians were a farming people. The Soviets forced the collectivization of agriculture and excessively rapid industrialization in the 1950's and 60's. The Supreme Council passed legislation in 1992, to privatize agriculture and implement a system of restitution for property seized during the Soviet Era. As a result, there were 134,000 private farmers in 1994. They farm about 32 percent of arable land. Production dropped as a result of dislocation due to the changes and uncertainty among farmers about markets for their produce. Under Soviet rule, Lithuania overproduced domestic needs for meat and dairy products by 150 percent and exported the surplus to the Moscow and Leningrad market.

The dominant sectors in industry are chemicals and food processing. Machine-building and metal works have been developed. Light industry includes textiles, knitwear, electronics, furniture, plywood, building materials, and paper production.

Lithuania produces enough electrical power for its own needs and exports about 40 per cent of its output. In addition to the Ignalina power plant, there are other facilities for producing electricity with oil, gas, and hydropower. The Mazeikiai oil refinery produces refined petroleum products for domestic use and export. Crude oil is imported almost exclusively from Russia.

In addition to electricity and refined oil products, Lithuania's exports include food (mainly meat and dairy products), machinery and parts, and light industrial products. Major imports include crude oil, gas, metals, chemicals, machinery, consumer goods, and feed grain. Trade has shifted dramatically to the West, which accounts for about 60 percent of Lithuania's foreign commerce.

Lithuania became a member of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in 1992. Together with Latvia and Estonia, Lithuania is a member of the Baltic Council. Lithuania has close ties with the Nordic Council and most international and regional economic organizations.

Lithuania's economy continues to undergo a structural transformation. More than 86 percent of enterprises have been privatized, including companies in the energy and telecommunications sectors. Foreign investment remains modest, although the U.S. has been one of the largest sources. Major U.S. companies active in Lithuania include Philip Morris, McDonald's, IBM, and US West.

Lithuania has made efforts to ease its difficult transition from a command economy to a free market system. The country has signed free trade agreements with 20 countries. Lithuania has worked on restructing its financial sector, which helped keep the country safe from the 1998 Russian financial crisis. High unemployment and low consumption, however, have hindered economic growth.

Transportation

Local

The local transportation system includes electric trolley buses and diesel buses. They run regularly during the day throughout the city, but there are drawbacks: they are slow, often break down, and are terribly overcrowded at rush hours. Radio-dispatched cabs are still relatively inexpensive.

Regional

The main roads and highways between major cities are serviceable. One must take considerable care while driving off the intercity highways, as slow horse-drawn vehicles and large potholes are common hazards. During the winter months, snow and freezing conditions add to the driving hazards as the roads are not well plowed.

Intercity buses and trains are not geared for the comfort-or speed-oriented, except the express train between Kaunas and Vilnius. The overnight train to St. Petersburg is acceptable; reserving the entire compartment is recommended. Trains to Warsaw depart throughout the day.

Lithuanian Airlines, LOT (to Warsaw), Lufthansa, SAS, Finnair, and Austrian Air offer regular service to major European destinations. Ticket prices are high except to Eastern European destinations and the U.S. Two ferries connect Klaipeda with the German ports of Kiel and Mukran. Baltic Air and Estonian Air serve Riga, Tallinn, and Helsinki; a Denmark to Klaipeda ferry service is also available. Riga and Tallinn have ferry service to Scandinavia. The two other Baltic capitals are 3 and 7 hours away by car, respectively.

No visa is necessary for American citizens spending less than 90 days in Lithuania.

Communications

Telephone and Telegraph

International direct dial from residences is possible.

Radio and TV

There are now both Lithuanian (PAL system) and Russian television channels. Independent radio and TV stations have multiplied in recent years. Satellite television (CNN, British Sky News, CNBC, BBC, the Cartoon Network and numerous Scandinavian channels which carry English-language movies and series, as well as French, German and Italian stations) and some cable are available at moderate cost.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

The major daily newspapers are Lietuvos Rytas, Respublika, Lietuvos Aidas (the Opposition paper), and Tiesa (the Labor Party press). Weeklies of the above press are published in Russian. Additionally, there is the Russian-language Echo Litvy and the Polish language Kurier Wilenski. A few English Language weeklies are available, including the Baltic Times. Some Western newspapers and periodicals are available at major hotels or by subscription.

Health and Medicine

The German Pharmacy stocks and sells most Western European medicines and treatments and most local drugstores (apteka) carry a wide assortment of West-European medicines. A number of spas and personal hygiene/cosmetology businesses have opened in the last year.

Community Health

Periodic outbreaks of serious infectious illness strike the Lithuanian population. Hepatitis is a concern, especially when traveling. Consumption of shellfish should be avoided in the warmer months. All travelers should make arrangements to bring their shot records up to date before arrival.

Preventive Measures

Fluoride supplements are recommended for children as the city water is not fluoridated. Vitamin supplements are beneficial, especially in the Winter months.

The city water carries a burden of iron and other minerals from the well south of town, and an aging distribution system. While biological contamination in Vilnius is rare, drinking the water is not recommended because of the heavy mineral and metal content. Individuals are encouraged to filter or distill water prior to drinking or cooking. Bottled water is a must outside the capital area.

Pet Care

It should be noted that veterinary care falls below U.S. standards and "routine" operation in the U.S. are difficult, if not impossible, to carry out successfully in Lithuania. Care should be take to ensure that pets are fully immunized against the standard diseases (most of which are required for entry to Lithuania). Pet food is easily available in the country.

NOTES FOR TRAVELERS

There are no direct flights from the U.S. to Lithuania. Several European airlines, SAS, Lufthansa, Finnair and a few others serve Vilnius from most major European air hubs. Make sure your travel plans comply with the Fly America Act.

There are strict controls on the export of items more than 30 years old. To avoid difficulties in reexporting any things that fall into this category, a detailed list of such items should be presented to Lithuanian customs. Items declared upon entry can be freely exported.

There is no limit on the amount of currency which can be brought into Lithuania. Unofficial travelers must declare the amount of currency brought into the Country to expedite problem-free export.

Americans do not need visas to enter the Baltic States or Poland. Separate visas are necessary for travel to the Commonwealth of Independent States, or Russian Federation. Travelers should bring 6 passport-sized photos of self and family members for various ID cards. Passport photos are available locally.

Lithuania does not quarantine animals that are apparently in good health and are accompanied by a recent (no older than a month) veterinarian's certificate and proof of recent rabies vaccination.

The unit of currency is the Lithuanian Litas which, since 1993, has been fixed at 4-1 to the dollar under a currency board arrangement. Plans to peg the currency to the euro are underway. Credit cards are expanding in usefulness with many restaurants, hotels and some supermarkets accepting virtually any common card, but in general the country has a cash economy. Lithuania uses the metric system.

LOCAL HOLIDAYS

Jan. 1New Year's Day

Jan. 6Epiphany

Jan. 13Freedom Fighters' Day

Feb. 16Independence Day

Mar/Apr.Good Friday*

Mar/Apr.Easter Monday*

May 1Labor Day

July 6Mindaugas Coronation Day

Aug. 15Assumption Day

Nov. 1All Saints' Day

Dec. 25Christmas

Dec. 26Boxing Day

*variable

RECOMMENDED READING

The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country:

Fike, Linus R. Svetur (Away from Home). New York: Carlton Press, 1992.

Gordon, Harry. The Shadows of Death: The Holocaust in Lithuania. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1992.

Lerner Geography Department Staff, ed. Lithuania. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publications, 1992.

Lown, Bella. Memories of My Life: A Personal History of a Lithuanian Shtetl. Malibu, CA: Joseph Simon, 1991.

Senn, Alfred E. Lithuania Awakening. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1990.

Suziedelis, Saulius. The Sword & the Cross: A History of the Church in Lithuania. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, Publishing Division, 1988.

Willerton, John P. Patronage & Politics in the U.S.S.R. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

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Lithuania

Culture Name

Lithuanian

Orientation

Identification. Lithuanians are fond of nature and have a strong feeling of a shared culture that begins as early as primary school, where folk music, national traditions, and holidays play an important role. Among those who remember life under the Soviet regime, pride in surviving a period of repression and difficulty is a focal point of the national culture.

The most noticeable distinction between regions is the change in dialects as one travels across the country. To an outsider, a different dialect can sound like a completely different language and in some casesparticularly in border townsmay incorporate elements of the neighboring country's language.

Location and Geography. Lithuania is on the coast of the Baltic Sea. Just over 40,500 square miles (65,000 square kilometers) in area, it shares borders with Poland and Kaliningrad (Russian Federation) in the southwest, Belarus in the east, and Latvia in the north. The country is divided into four regions: Aukštaitija, the highlands in the northeast and central portion of the country; Žemaitija, the lowlands in the west, stretching from the Baltic coast to the Nevėžis river; Dzūkija, in the southeast; and Suvalkija, in the southwest. The climate is maritime along the coast and continental in other areas. The physical environment varies from sandy terrain spotted with pine trees on the coast and the Curonian Spit, to flatlands and low, rolling hills farther inland. There are more than eight thousand lakes, mostly in the uplands.

The capital, Vilnius, lies in the southwestern part of the country at the confluence of the Neris and Vilnia rivers. Vilnius has been the capital since the fourteenth century, except for the period from 1919 to 1939 during Poland's annexation of southern Lithuania, when it was temporarily moved to Kaunas.

Demography. In 2000, the population was 3.8 million, of which approximately 80 percent were ethnic Lithuanians, 9 percent Russians, 7 percent Poles, 2 percent Belarussians, and 2 percent were of other nationalities. Lithuania is 70 percent urban, with the largest cities being Vilnius (population 600,000), Kaunas (population 430,000), Klaipėda (population 210,000), Šiauliai (population 150,000), and Panevėžys (population 130,000).

Linguistic Affiliation. The official language is Lithuanian, one of two remaining languages in the Baltic branch of the Indo-European languages. Dialects vary by region, and their distinctiveness often depends on the distance from the nearest big city or the proximity to borders, where incorporation of neighboring countries' words is common. The language has survived despite a history of domination by foreign powers and serves as a focal point of cultural identity.

Lithuanian is spoken by nearly everyone in the country except for a few Russians and Poles in Vilnius and in the extreme east and south. It is a language with many words to describe a single idea. There is an abundance of nature words, probably because the people are so fond of the outdoors. This is particularly evident in traditional personal names such as Rūta ("Rue"), Aušra ("Dawn"), and Giedrius ("Dew"). Lithuanian often makes use of diminutives to soften the connotation of words or make them more personal.

Symbolism. The national symbol is Vytis, the white knight, sitting astride his horse and brandishing a sword; he symbolizes the nation's struggle to defend itself from intruders. The national plant is rue, and the national bird is the stork. The flag consists of horizontal stripes in yellow, green, and red; the colors symbolize nature (sun and trees) and traditional values such as solidarity and national pride.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. The origin of the nation and the development of its culture were strongly influenced by foreign occupation of the country and are the result of the perceived need of the people to preserve something of their own. Even when the national language was banned and reading or writing of books in the native tongue was forbidden, people were determined to spread their heritage and share their traditions.

The first Lithuanian state was established in 1230 after Duke Mindaugas united the tribes and lands in the area. His crowning in 1252 marked the beginning of a cultural identity focused on solidarity. Further credit for the early development of this character goes to Gediminas, the principal unifier of the territory from the Baltic to the Black Sea. He was one of the first leaders to instill in the people the spirit of nationhood, and the main street of Vilnius, with the parliament building at one end and the national cathedral at the other, bears his name. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the marriage of Jogaila, the grand duke of Lithuania, to Queen Jadvyga of Poland created the formal confederation Rzeczpospolita; extensive development of the Lithuanian cultural identity took place during that period. While at several points in history this camaraderie could not overcome the presence of occupiers (in 1569 an attempt to defend against an expanding Russian state failed, and attempts at independence in 1795, 18301831, and 1863 were also unsuccessful), the resolute nature of the national character was not undermined.

National Identity. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, literacy became a valuable tool in the development of cultural and national identity. Although it was illegal, people continued to read the literature of the national movement. Literacy rates were considerably higher than those in Russia and contributed greatly to the rise of a national identity.

In 1905, when over two thousand delegates representing different sectors of the society gathered at the Great Lithuanian Assembly to discuss the Lithuanian nation, representatives of different political backgrounds agreed that the country should fight for and be granted autonomy, whether within Czarist Russia or independent of it. The intelligentsia, with help from the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, drafted a document making demands for the future of the Lithuanian state. Among those demands were autonomy, equal rights for aliens within Russia, the construction of Lithuanian schools, freedom of worship, and the return of Suvalkija, which was controlled by the Poles.

In 1918, Lithuania formally declared independence, which was granted by both Germany and the Soviet Union. While lasting independence would not come until nearly a century later (the Soviet Union occupied the nation in 1940, and the Nazis in 1941), the fact that schools resumed teaching in Lithuanian, folk dance groups began meeting more freely, and people around the country assembled more readily to discuss their views was significant.

The period from 1941 to 1944 saw the countryside destroyed and almost all of the Jewish population (up to 250,000) annihilated. The period under Stalin, from 1945 to 1953, made the people more determined to put an end to the repression their country had experienced for so long. Tens of thousands of people, including most intellectuals, were deported to Siberia for being educated or being involved in intellectual circles, and many others fled. Those who remained were determined to change the system. Groups of "forest fighters" fled to the woods to avoid deportation and maintain nationalist resistance. It is said that some of these fighters remained in the forests until 1960, seven years after Stalin's reign ended.

At the beginning of 1989, the popular movement Sajūdis announced a platform for the complete restoration of Lithuanian sovereignty. This led to closer monitoring by the Soviet Union and increased Soviet troop movements in Lithuania in an effort to maintain order. The remainder of 1989 and most of 1990 were marked by deliberations both between the Soviet government and the Lithuanian popular movement and among different parties within those constituencies. In March 1990, Lithuania declared full reestablishment of independence from the Soviet Union, based on the argument that the occupation and annexation of the country by the Soviet Union was a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939 and its secret protocols and thus were illegal. In response, the Soviet Union imposed an economic blockade.

In late 1990 a popularist rally to help Lithuanians evade the Red Army draft was organized, and the Soviet government decided to deal with "the Lithuanian problem" once and for all. The Lithuanian Communist Party secretary had claimed that the human rights of non-Lithuanian citizens in the country were being violated and encouraged Soviet intervention. In January 1991, KGB plants posing as Russian workers stormed the parliament. A few days later, in what were described as precautionary measures to protect the human rights of Soviet citizens, Soviet troops gathered around the Parliament, the Lithuanian Press House, and the Vilnius television tower. Soldiers abused bystanders with little or no provocation, and several people were wounded.

The culmination of the Soviet campaign occurred on 13 January at the base of the Vilnius television tower, where thousands of nonviolent protestors had gathered. Irritated by Lithuanian persistence, Soviet forces attacked the crowd. Tanks crushed those who got in the way, and soldiers fired into the crowd. Thirteen people died at the television tower.

Two weeks after the episode, Mikhail Gorbachev appointed a delegation to negotiate with Baltic leaders. Although troop movements continued for much of the year, especially in Vilnius and along the border with Kaliningrad, it was obvious that the Soviet presence was finished. In September 1991, the Soviet Union recognized Lithuania as an independent republic. Later that month, Lithuania became a member of the United Nationsthree months before the demise of the Soviet Union. In 1993, the first directly elected president, Algirdas Brazauskas, was chosen; the last Russian soldiers left the country; and Lithuania became a member of the Council of Europe.

Ethnic Relations. Historically, relations with other ethnic groups have been amicable; this is perhaps because over 80 percent of citizens are ethnic Lithuanians. While relations with minority groups, especially Russians, were strained during the period immediately preceding the reestablishment of independence, ethnic strife is not a matter of grave concern.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

Styles of architecture reflect the sociopolitical and religious past of the country. While most people in urban areas live in Soviet-era blocks of concrete apartment buildings, the countryside is dotted with traditional wooden churches and houses. Also present are fortlike structures and castles built in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as residences for the local nobility. The Old Town of Vilnius has been restored and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Monument.

Present-day government buildings are often old brick edifices left over from the Soviet period. The propagandistic statues in many of the main squares were removed in the early 1990s and have been replaced with more nationalistic monuments.

Among the 70 percent of people who reside in urban areas, many live in small two- or three-room apartments with sitting rooms that double as bedrooms. Kitchens are generally small, and toilets are often separate from washrooms. Most of these apartments were distributed during the Soviet period, and many are owned or rented by the original recipients.

Among those who live in towns, it is common to have a garden just outside the city limits, often as part of a collective. In the summer, families tend these gardens and grow produce to be canned and consumed in the winter. Many families live in garden houses for extended periods during the summer to escape cramped accommodations at home.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. The typical diet consists of items that are readily available and not expensive. National dishes reflect the economic situation and the fact that the weather is cold for much of the year, creating a shortage of vegetables in the winter and a desire to prepare and eat warm, wholesome food. Pork, smoked meats, cabbage, beets, and potatoes are staples. Two favorite traditional dishes are šaltibarščiai, cold beet soup with buttermilk, and cepelinai, boiled potato dumplings filled with meat or curd and served with fried pork fat or sour cream. Eating in restaurants has become more popular, and there are many different types of restaurants in the larger cities; how frequently a family dines out is determined by its income.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Food plays an important role in celebrations, and a long table full of tasty fare is considered a sign of hospitality and affluence. It is customary for all guests to sit at a common table that fills most of the room, and for the hosts to ensure that no guest leaves the table hungry. These meals start with salads, cold meats, and bread, accompanied by kompotas (cold fruit tea) or juice, vodka, wine, or gira, a carbonated soft drink made from grain. This is followed by a hot course, singing and conversation, and perhaps dessert and coffee.

The Christmas Eve meal,kučios, is the most symbolic meal of the year. Twelve meatless dishes are prepared, including several types of herring, grain porridge, and often pickled mushrooms. Hay sometimes is sprinkled under the tablecloth to represent the manger where Jesus was born. People often eat kučiukai (bite-sized biscuitlike cakes) with poppy milk (poppy seeds boiled with water and sugar) for dessert. They also break symbolic Christmas wafers (Dievo pyragai ) which were once acquired in churches but are now available in local shops at Christmas, to bring the family closer together and wish for a healthy and successful year. If a family member has died in the past year, a plate and chair are placed at the table, along with a small candle, to welcome the spirit to participate in one last family gathering.

Basic Economy. The economy is mainly agricultural, but in recent years the government has attempted to distribute commercial activity. Light industry, metalworking, and woodworking, along with petroleum refining, are part of the commercial profile. Livestock breeding, primarily pigs, and dairy farming are an important sector of the economy, and cereals, flax, beets, and potatoes are the primary crops. Lithuania's unit of currency is the litas, pegged at fourlitas per U.S. dollar.

Lithuania is dependent on other nations for fuel and raw materials. The main economic problems are job insecurity, high unemployment, and poor labor protection laws.

Land Tenure and Property. Reestablishment of independence in 1991 led to the abandonment of the strict Soviet system of property and land allocation, and a need for new laws on restoration of ownership rights. There is has been a movement to accelerate the restoration process, clarify the property registration system and the role of government ministries therein, and develop a national strategy on property security and management.

Commercial Activities. Commercial activity is determined largely by geography. On the coast, where tourism and fishing are prevalent, fish products and the shipping of equipment are the major commercial endeavors. In the south, where the soil is fertile and mineral springs are predominant, wild mushrooms and farm products are the major products. The east is known for wooden handicrafts and metalworking, and the north for wheat, flax, and beets.

Major Industries. Metalworking, manufacturing, woodworking, and light industry are widespread in the east; water power, metalworking, manufacturing, food processing, farming, and livestock rearing are predominate in the south; and shipbuilding, fish processing, and tourism in the West. The north does not have any major industries.

Trade. In the past, Lithuania traded mainly with Russia, exporting foodstuffs, especially dairy products, and textiles. It also exported machinery and light industrial products to other countries of the former Soviet Union. Since 1991, exports have shifted more to the west, and close to 50 percent of exports are to the European Union. Major imports are fuel and raw materials, primarily from the European Union and Russia.

Division of Labor. The division of labor is by law determined by ability, certification, education, and training, but age, gender, and social connections continue to play a role in career advancement. The coming of independence ended the institutional guarantee of a job.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. There is not a highly defined caste system in Lithuania. Society is primarily middle class, and there is a large income gap between the wealthy and the very poor. Low salaries, high unemployment rates, and a poor social security system make it difficult for pensioners to meet their basic needs.

Symbols of Social Stratification. Owning a private home or new car is a symbol of wealth, but there is not a traditional system of social stratification in Lithuania.

Political Life

Government. Lithuania is a parliamentary democracy, with a constitution that was adopted in 1992. The Parliament, or Seimas, is unicameral with 141 seats and is the highest legislative body. Seventy-one members are elected directly by popular vote, and seventy by proportional representation from single seat districts, to four-year terms.

The head of state is the president, who is elected to a five-year term by universal, equal, direct suffrage. The president is responsible for approving and publishing laws adopted by the Seimas and appoints and dismisses the prime minister with approval of the Seimas. Ministers are appointed by the president upon recommendation by the prime minister.

The government is actively involved with international organizations, including the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, and its continual membership in both the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Leadership and Political Officials. The political system includes a central government, and forty-four regions with eleven municipalities. Public opinion toward political officials and their effectiveness and trustworthiness is mixed, and corruption is a problem in some governmental bodies.

The major political parties are the conservative Homeland Union Party, the Christian Democrat Party, the New Union Party, the Center Party, the Social Democrat Party, the Liberal Party, the Democratic Labor Party, and the Lithuanian Women's Party. All major parties promote integration into the European Union and NATO. The constitution provides "guarantees for the activities of political parties and political organizations" and mandates that state personnel, judges, prosecutors, and investigators may not be active members of political parties.

Social Problems and Control. The judicial branch of the government includes the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court, plus district and local courts whose judges are all appointed directly or indirectly by the Seimas. The most common crimes are theft, domestic and public violence, and corruption.

Public opinion of social control often reflects dissatisfaction with the system. Bribery, which has been present since the Soviet era and may stem from the low salaries of public servants, is widespread among police officers. Some people argue that "taking of the law into one's own hands" is a natural response to and means of closing the gap between public sector salary levels and the value of the public sector's contribution to the national economy.

Military Activity. The military is composed of ground forces, air and air defense forces, a navy, security forces (internal forces and border guards), and a national guard. All male citizens over the age of eighteen are required to complete one year of mandatory military service unless exempted for academic or professional reasons. Alternative service is available.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

There are social welfare and change programs at all levels of society, including several national youth clubs and peer support groups, as well as societies for recovering alcoholics and members of marginalized groups. Local and national environmental and conservation groups have begun participating in international projects to reduce pollution in the Baltic Sea and the region as a whole.

The involvement of governmental and nongovernmental organizations is a key factor in the success of these programs. While many social programs are in the beginning stages because only scientific organizations could legitimately address "controversial" issues in the Soviet era, increased interest in schools and by the international donor community has contributed to social progress.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

There are several thousands of organizations and associations, which by law are divided into four distinct types: societal organizations, associations, charity and sponsorship funds, and public institutions. Regulations regarding the establishment of and guidelines for various organizations are confusing.

The Vilnius NGO Information and Support Centre serves as a central clearinghouse for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), provides links to other organizations around the world, and attempts to establish dialog between the two groups. Also, 1998 amendments to NGO laws, which resulted from cooperation among NGOs, the government, the United Nations Development Programme, the Information Centre for Not-for-Profit Law, and the NGO Information and Support Centre, have brought in outside help for this sector. Current policies endorse tax breaks for NGOs, further clarification of NGO laws, and the redefinition of charity versus sponsorship, along with greater flexibility in administrative matters.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. Gender discrimination in employment is illegal, and control mechanisms and ombudsman institutions ensure that the law is observed. Nevertheless, while the workforce has seen an increase in female participation, division of labor by gender still exists. Jobs traditionally done by women are often lower-paid positions such as teaching and public service jobs. The majority of doctors are women because of the low salaries for public servants; the health, social service, and education sector also are characterized by high concentrations of female employees. Although women now constitute 50 percent of the labor force and close to 90 percent of working-age women work or study, this female presence is not reflected in pay rates. As the private sector becomes more prominent, the workforce is shrinking, and women are being squeezed out regardless of their educational level.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. Obvious discrepancies exist with regard to pay rates, and increased unemployment and decreased real wages affect women in particular.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Marriages typically have two components: religious and legal. Couples must register at the municipal wedding hall and often have a religious union in a church, followed by an elaborate party that can last for three days. While on the average people marry younger than do their Western counterparts, this has changed with the increasing popularity among women of higher education. There has been a sharp decrease in the number of marriages since the Soviet period. The ending of a woman's surname changes to reflect her marital status, and people may look skeptically upon older women who have never married.

Domestic Unit. The primary domestic unit is the nuclear family based on a marital relationship. Households are often run by women, who have traditionally been the cooks and cleaners. This has changed because more women are discovering that if they stay home, they miss out on opportunities to make money and can lose their competitive status in the job market.

Families usually have close ties with parents and immediate relatives, and much of everyday life focuses on this relationship. Lithuanians often use the term "acquaintance" and grant the title of "friend" only to someone who is very close and like a member of the family.

Kin Groups. Membership in groups helps some people improve their standard of living. Strong social networks and extended relationships with family and friends are an important part of life. Often family members are assisted by relatives who live abroad and send money, clothing, and other goods.

Socialization

Infant Care. Infants usually are cared for by their mothers or grandmothers. Children go to nursery school or kindergarten as early as three years old and stay until they start elementary school. Younger children with working parents often stay at nursery school or kindergarten until the early evening.

Child Rearing and Education. Child rearing is traditionally the responsibility of the mother. Although the law allows fathers to take paternal leave and receive paternal pay, it is not common for men to do this. Children are required to complete nine years of formal schooling, but most finish twelve grades. The number of specialized schools has increased as higher education has become more popular. Many children also attend music, art, or athletics schools.

Higher Education. There are fifteen institutions of higher education: six universities, seven academies, and two institutes. Most higher education is free or very inexpensive, as the state subsidizes 75 percent of university education. A university education is becoming increasingly important for getting a good job.

Studying abroad has become very popular, although complications with visas and high foreign tuition present problems for many students. Foreign donor programs make it possible for many students to overcome these financial difficulties.

The largest universities are Vilnius University, Vytautas Didysis University, Kaunas Technological University, Klaipėda University, Klaipėda Christian College, and Šiauliai University. Vilnius University, established in 1579, is the oldest university in Central Europe and the most prestigious in the country. The majority of university students are women, primarily majoring in education. Male students are more likely to study business or computers.

Etiquette

Lithuanians are a reserved people with respect for tradition. They generally will not go out of their way to greet someone they do not know; people on public conveyances do not look directly at someone else unless they are friends and generally give up their seats to their elders.

People often bring a small gift of candy or flowers when they visit someone (always an odd number of flowers unless someone has passed away). Hosts are generous and do anything they can to make a guest comfortable.

Men always shake the hands of male friends when they meet in a café or on the street but never inside a door. This is one of many superstitions, which include not whistling indoors for fear of calling little devils and not sitting at the corner of a table if one wishes to marry soon.

Religion

Religious Beliefs. Lithuania is mainly Roman Catholic (90 percent), with some Lutherans and a few members of other churches. The Jewish population, was almost completely erased between 1941 and 1944.

Religious Practitioners. The Catholic Studies Academy has over eight hundred members in Lithuania, and there are several seminaries and monasteries. Klaipėda University has a Lutheran Evangelical Theology Center that hosts about thirty monks. The Lithuanian Lutheran Youth Center and various Bible studies organizations serve religious practitioners and their patrons.

Rituals and Holy Places. One of the most significant holy places is the Hill of Crosses just north of Šiauliai on the road to Rīga, Latvia. The hill has hundreds of thousands of crosses brought by believers from throughout the country and around the world. Although the Soviets bulldozed the hill several times for its open violation of their anti-religious policy, the crosses always reappeared.

Medicine and Health Care

The health care system, many of whose elements are left over from the Soviet regime, is a system of state hospitals, clinics, and smaller doctors' offices, with a growing number of private practitioners. People who go to public health clinics often face long lines and complain about the high prices of prescription drugs, but visits to the doctor are free.

Economic conditions have a significant influence on health; some families cannot afford to buy healthy foods or pay for prescription medicines. Doctors often are not paid on time because of lack of funds or cutbacks. While there are many doctors, they often face the problem of scarce resources. As a result, it is customary for patients to take a "gift" to the doctor to thank him for his services and ensure that he makes an effort to get the patient what he or she needs.

Many people prefer to use traditional home remedies that have been passed down for generations. Hot tea with honey or lemon, vodka, chamomile, and mustard plasters on the back are considered a sure cure for the common cold or the flu and cost far less than products available in pharmacies. Doctors make house calls, especially for older people and those living on the countryside.

Secular Celebrations

The Day of Remembrance of the Television Tower incident is celebrated on 13 January. Shrove Tuesday (Užgavėnės ), the second Tuesday in February, is a Catholic feast day forty days before Easter, that has become popular with the nonreligious and is the Lithuanian equivalent of trick or treating. Children wear masks and go door to door singing a song that asks for pancakes and coffee. More elaborate celebrations involve the burning of an effigy of winter to welcome the spring. Independence Day is celebrated on 16 February. Saint Kazimier's Day on 4 March, originally was a religious holiday but now provides a reason to hold annual fairs at which vendors sell handicrafts. Every five years a national folk music festival takes place in honor of Saint Kazimier's Day. Reestablishment of Independence Day is celebrated on 11 March. Midsummer's Eve (Saint John's Day) on 24 June, celebrates the arrival of summer. The tradition includes running into the forest at night to search for fern blossoms. Legend holds that Midsummer's Eve is a night for young people to find a mate, and finding a fern blossom is a sign of great luck. Women and girls make wreaths of flowers to be worn on their heads or floated down the river with candles. Celebrants dance around a campfire and jump over it to bid farewell to the cold season. Crowning of Mindaugas Day occurs on 6 July. The Day of Remembrance of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is celebrated on 23 August.

Death and the Afterlife. Funeral practices in Lithuania take place in three phases. First, the deceased is formally dressed and laid out for a three-day, three-night viewing either at home or in a public venue. Family and friends keep watch and ensure that candles stay lit as people come to bring flowersalways in even numbersand pay their respects. This is followed by a burial ceremony at a cemetery (cremation is not common), and a sitdown luncheon for all funeral attendants. The luncheon is a time for friends and family to share their memories of the deceased. It is common to visit the graves of loved ones at birthdays and on 1 November (All Souls' Day), when most cemeteries overflow with flowers and burning candles.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. Many artists are self-supporting, but limited funding is available from the government. Some apply for foreign grant money, and many spend time in foreign countries studying or practicing their trade. There are strict laws on exporting cultural properties, and anyone who wishes to purchase or move cultural properties more than fifty years old must follow a detailed registration procedure.

Literature. Chronicles of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania , a historical treatise, marks the beginning of the national literature. Works in the Middle Ages were primarily religious, the first in Lithuanian being Katekizmas (the catechism). From the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, literature increased in popularity; Konstantinas Sirvydas printed the first Lithuanian language dictionary, and the Bible was translated into Lithuanian during that period.

Secular literature became more widespread in the eighteenth century. Kristijonas Donelaitis, considered the founder of Lithuanian literature, wrote MetNA Laikai (Seasons). at that time.

Literature in the early twentieth century was linked to the national independence movement. Writings were characterized by symbolism, romanticism, and existentialism. The Soviet occupation undermined the creativity of writers, many of whom fled to the West and wrote in secret. After World War II, there emerged a collection of literature describing experiences during the war. The most famous is DievNA Miskas (Forest of the Gods) by Balys Sruoga,which describes life in a concentration camp.

Poetry has also served as a means of expressing and sharing cultural heritage and has played a role in preserving the national identity.

Graphic Arts. Graphic and decorative art have been part of the cultural heritage for centuries. The Vilnius School of Art was established at the end of the eighteenth century, but handicrafts and religious art date much further back. Large carved wooden crosses and statues are seen throughout the countryside. They sometimes mark the boundaries of towns but often are set up for decoration or to mark the spot of the death of a loved one. Large collections of wooden statues appear in sculpture parks across the country.

Many towns have art galleries, museums, and handicraft shops to exhibit or sell works. Several international artist unions have Lithuanian branches, and artists often arrange personal shows outside the country.

Performance Arts. There are thirteen professional theaters, a National Opera Theater, several youth theaters, puppet theaters, state orchestras, and hundreds of choral groups. The Vilnius Quartet and the Rinkevičius Orchestra are well known throughout the country, and the Nekrošius Theater has won international acclaim. Folk music and dancing are the most popular performance arts, and there are thousands of folklore groups. Often schools and towns have their own groups that dress in traditional costume, travel, and perform or compete with groups from other locations. Attending theatrical and musical events is a reasonably priced and popular cultural activity.

The State of Physical and Social Sciences

The Lithuanian Academy of Science is a major force in the physical and social sciences and was actively involved in the preservation of the national identity when scientific organizations were the only groups permitted to investigate and criticize existing social policies. It was a principal agent in the fight against opening an additional nuclear reactor at the Ignalina Power Plant in eastern Lithuania. The Academy of Science promotes physical and social science around the country. Twenty-four of the country's twenty-nine scientific institutes were founded by the academy, and scientists trained there work in all scientific fields.

Institutes of higher education play an important role in the development of the physical and social sciences and provide training and instruction for scientists. The Academy of Science and other institutions of higher learning receive funding from the state, but have become increasingly reliant on foreign grants and foundations.

Bibliography

Ashbourne, Alexandra. Lithuania: The Rebirth of a Nation, 19911994, 1999.

Dawson, Jane I. Eco-Nationalism: Anti-Nuclear Activism and National Identity in Russia, Lithuania, and Ukraine, 1996.

Gerner, Kristian, and Stefan Hedlund. The Baltic States and the End of the Soviet Empire, 1993.

Girnius, Kestutis. "The Party and Popular Movements in the Baltic." In Jans Arves Trapans, ed. Toward Independence: The Baltic Popular Movements, 1991.

Hiden, John, and Patricia Salmon. The Baltic Nations and Europe: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the Twentieth Century, 1991.

Krickus, Richard J.Showdown: The Lithuanian Rebellion and the Breakup of the Soviet Empire, 1997.

LaFont, Suzanne.Women in Transition: Voices from Lithuania, 1998.

Lithuanian Institute of Philosophy and Sociology. Everday Life in the Baltic States, 1997.

Norgaard, Ole, and Lars Johannsen with Mette Skak and Rene Hauge Sorensen. The Baltic States after Independence, 1996.

Oleszczuk, Thomas A. Political Justice in the USSR: Dissent and Repression in Lithuania, 19691987, 1988.

Suziedelis, Saulius. Historical Dictionary of Lithuania, 1997.

Vardys, V. Stanley, and Judith B. Sedaitis. Lithuania: The Rebel Nation, 1997.

Web Sites

Lithuanian Institute of Mathematics and Informatics. Lithuanian Homepage, http://neris.mii.lt

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania "Welcome to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania," http://www.urm.lt, 2000.

United States Department of State. Background Notes: Lithuania , http://www.state.gov/www/background_notes/lithuania_0697_bgn.html

Coleen Nicol

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