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Fast Facts


... neighbors Lithuania to the north, Belarus to the southeast, and Poland and ... Postwar ushered in immigrants from Russia and Belarus ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Fast Facts

(No Transcript)
Fast Facts
  • Capital Vilnius
  • Population 3.4 million people
  • Area 65,303 sq. miles
  • Currency lita (US12.84 Lt)
  • Famous for causing the collapse of the USSR
  • Lifestyle wealthiest 10 spend 7.7xs more
    p/month than poorest 10

  • Terrain lowland, many scattered small lakes,
    fertile soil
  • Elevation extremes lowest pt Baltic Sea (0m)
    and highest pt Juozapines Kalnas (293.6m)
  • Natural resources peat, arable land, amber

  • Government type parliamentary democracy
  • Administrative divisions 10 counties (Alytaus,
    Kauno, Klaipedos, Marijampoles, Panevezio,
    Siauliu, Taurages, Telsiu, Utenos, Vilniaus)
  • National holiday Independence Day (February 16)

  • GDP (purchasing power parity) 54.03 billion
  • GDP (official exchange rate) 30.2 billion
  • GDP (composition by sector) agriculture 5.5,
    industry 33.3, services 61.2
  • Labor force 1.617 million people (agriculture
    15.8, industry 28.2, and services 56)
  • Unemployment rate 3.7
  • Pop. below poverty line 4

Economy (conti.)
  • Agriculture products grain, potatoes, sugar
    beets, flax, vegetables, beef, milk, eggs, fish
  • Industries metal-cutting machine tools, electric
    motors, television sets, refrigerators and
    freezers, petroleum refining, shipbuilding (small
    ships), furniture making, textiles, food
    processing, fertilizers, agricultural machinery,
    optical equipment, electronic components,
    computers, amber jewelry
  • Industrial growth rate 7

Economy (conti.)
  • Exports 14.64 billion (mineral products 23,
    textiles and clothing 16, machinery and
    equipment 11, chemicals 6, wood and wood
    products 5, foodstuffs 5)
  • Imports 18.25 billion (mineral products,
    machinery and equipment, transport equipment,
    chemicals, textiles and clothing, metals)

  • Predominately urban 25 of pop. live in or
    around Vilnius (capital) and 40 live in the
    countrys five major cities
  • Pop. density is about 52.2 people p/sq km (2005)
  • About 83 Lithuanians make up the entire
    population (most ethnically homogenous of the 3
    baltic states)
  • Russians make up 6.3 and Poles and Jews make up
    6.7 and .1 respectively

  • Basketball is huge national team is reigning
    European champions and won bronze in 3
    consecutive Olympic Games (92, 96, 00)
  • Basketball schools in Vilnius and Kaunas
  • First Lithuanian to play in the NBA was in 1989

  • Roman Catholicism is the majority, but much of
    its religious art, national culture, and
    traditions have pagan roots (last pagan country
    in Europe to convert to Catholicism in 1387)
  • Other minorities include Orthodox, Lutherans, and

The Land
  • The largest of the Baltic countries
  • Dotted w/lush forests, 4000 lakes (1.5 of the
    country), and a 100 km-wide lowland centre
  • Latvia neighbors Lithuania to the north, Belarus
    to the southeast, and Poland and Russia to the
  • Half of Lithuanians short (99 km) Baltic Coast
    lies along the Curonian Spit (the regions most
    breathtaking natural feature)

  • Home to 70 species of mammal (elks, wild boars
    and lynx) and birds (stork)
  • The beaver, European bison, and the red deer have
    just been reintroduced
  • Forests cover 30 of the country pine, spruce,
    and birch are the dominate trees (great source of
    pride for them)

Environmental Issues
  • Huge amt. of EU money is being spent on the
    environment E307.05 million in cohesion funds
    and E32.8 million in structural funds b/n 2004
    and 2006
  • Main current issue is the Ignalina Nuclear Power
    Plant (120 km north of Vilnius) closed at the
    end of 2006 and final shutdown scheduled for
    2009. Big question is how to decommission it
    w/least cost to the environment (approx. E3.2
  • Generation of future energy is another big
    question only 3.7 of electricity is produced by
    renewable energy currently, but EU wants to
    increase it to 12 by 2010
  • Oil extraction and transportation threatens the
    Curonian Spit and the Baltic Sea
  • Contamination of soil and groundwater with
    petroleum products and chemicals at military

  • Lithuania goes back to at least 9000 BC
  • Trade in amber started during the Neolithic
    period (6000-4500 yrs ago), providing the Balts a
    source of wealth when they arrived around 2000
  • In 1009, Lithuania was mentioned for the first
    time in written sources as the place where an
    archbishop called Brunonus was struck in the head
    by pagans. Its 1000th anniversary will be
    celebrated in Vilnius, capital, where an entire
    palace is being rebuilt brick by brick to mark
    the event
  • Then there was religious conflict

History (conti.)
  • Mindaugas was crowned king in 1253. In order to
    defuse the threat from the Teutonic Order, he
    accepted Catholicism, which neither conversion
    nor unity lasted long. Assassinated in 1263 and
    Christianity rejected.
  • In 1290, Lithuania was reunified and borders were
    extended south and east to modern-day Belarus.
  • In 1377, Jogaila made himself sole ruler of
    Lithuania. He was in a struggle between
    converting to Orthodoxy or Catholicism.

History (conti.)
  • In 1386, he wed a Polish princess to forge an
    alliance that lasted for 400 years. Last
    European country to accept Christianity
  • In 1579, Polish Jesuits founded Vilnius
  • Poland and Lithuania joined in a formal union
    together, making Lithuania a junior role in its
  • Russia invaded 1654, weakening the commonwealth.
    Majority of Lithuania went to Russia and a small
    chunk went to Prussia

History (conti.)
  • In 1840, Russian law was introduced and its
    language used for teaching
  • In 1861, Lithuanian and Russian peasants were
    emancipated national revival became the new
    trend in the 19th and early 20th century
  • During WWI, Lithuania was occupied by Germany and
    continued to be until Feb. 16, 1918. Declared
    independence and that November, Germany
    surrendered to Western Allies and a Lithuanian
    republican government was set up
  • 1920, Vilnius occupied and was annexed by the
    Poles making it an isolated corner while rest of
    Lithuania had independence

History (conti.)
  • Kaunas became capital during this interwar
  • 1939, Lithuania fell to the Nazis and soon after
    into Soviet hands
  • Following Hitlers invasion of the USSR and Nazi
    occupation of the region in 1941, nearly all
    Jewish pop. (b/n 135,000-300,000) were killed
    (total of 475,000 Lithuanians were killed during
  • September 6, 1991, the USSR recognized the
    independence of Lithuania
  • 1995-96, the countrys banking system collapsed
    which led to a currency change from the talonas
    to the litas

Current Events
  • Making Lithuanias EU dream come true, Valdas
    Adamkus, an 80 yr. old Lithuanian émigré and
    former US citizen, was re-elected president for
    a 5-year term in June 2004
  • November 2004, first of the 25 EU members to
    ratify the EU constitution (highlighted the
    nations eagerness for all things European,
    including the euro)
  • Former President and current Prime Minister
    Algirdas Brazauskas was picked by the current
    president to form a government in late 2004
  • Since joining NATO, Lithuania has been the first
    Soviet republic to host the military alliance
    (home to at least 4 F-16 military alliance jet
    fighters used to police the Baltic skies)

Hill of Crosses (1st stop)
  • Thousands upon thousands of crosses on a hill
  • Variety of crosses large and tiny expensive and
    cheap wood and metal finely folk carved out
    masterpieces memorials tagged w/flowers,
    photographs, and momentos
  • Located in the village of Jurgaicai

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  • 4th largest city in Lithuania (next to the Hill
    of Crosses)
  • Main centre of the northwestern Samogitia region
  • TV sets, Black Panther bicycles, milk, and beer
    are the mixed bag of manufactured products in
    this town
  • Main pedestrian street, Vilniaus gatve, is due
    for reconstruction while the transformation of
    its Soviet military airfield into a tourist
    attraction an interesting future for this town

Sights in Town Centre
  • St. Peter and Pauls Cathedral constructed b/n
    1595 and1625 from proceeds of the sale of 4 year
    old bulls donated by local farmers. St. Georges
    Church built for local Russian garrison in 1909
    but is Catholic today
  • Mammoth sundial distinctive city landmark.
    Topped by a bronze statue of an archer in what
    has become known as Sundial Square. Built in
    1986 to commemorate the 750th anniversary of the
    Battle of Saule (local Samogitians defeated the
    Knights of the Sword and founded the town)
  • Eccentric museum collection Radio TV Museum,
    Museum of Cats, Photography Museum, Bicycle

  • A grim and grimy town of only a population of
    21,000 people (22km SE of Siauliai)
  • Only notable as the central hub of the rail

  • A 16th century architectural monument 10km east
    of Radviliskis
  • Large village w/a yellow and white baroque church
    framed by cobbled streets and small tannery
  • Main attraction is a restaurant inside a windmill
    called Devils Mill

Kaunas City
  • Reputation as a sprawling urban city and hotbed
    of post-Soviet mafia
  • 2nd largest city in Lithuania (415,800)
  • Thriving cultural and industrial centre with an
    interesting Old Town
  • Legend has it that Kaunas was founded by the son
    of tragic young lovers they were sentenced to
    death by vengeful gods, thus they fled to a cave
    and gave birth to Kaunas
  • In the 15th and 16th centuries, it became a
    successful river-trading town
  • It has a sizable student population,
    architecture, and museums

Sights in Kaunas
  • Old town Vilniaus gatve the main part of Old
    Town. Its eastern end is dominated by the
    former Presidential Palace of Lithuania, where
    the country was run b/n 1920-1939. The palace
    holds a great exhibition on independent
  • Nearby is the Folk Music Instrument Museum
  • St. Peter Pauls Cathedral a single tower
    thats been reconstructed, but its 15th century
    gothic shape windows remain
  • Rotuses Aikste the central square where its a
    Palace of Weddings where the brides and grooms
    say I do on Saturdays

Sights in Kaunas (conti.)
  • Squares southern side is dominated by the
    twin-towered St. Francis Church, college and
    Jesuit monastery and the late-Renaissance Holy
    Trinity Church fills the western side
  • Southeast corner is the House of Perkunas. Built
    in red brick in the 16th century as trade offices
    on the site of a former temple to Lithuanian
    thunder god, Perkunas.
  • Beyond that on the bank of the Nemunas River is
    the gothic style Vytautas Church
  • Kaunas Castle reconstructed tower around which
    the town originally grew. Founded in the 13th
    century, it was an important bastion of
    Lithuanias western borders
  • New Town expanded east from Old Town in the 19th
    century giving birth to the modern centre and its
    striking 1.7km pedestrian street, Laisves ajeja,
    also known as Freedom Avenue.

  • History legend says that Vilnius was founded in
    1320s when Lithuanian grand duke Gedimanas
    dreamt of an iron wold that howled with the
    voices of 1000 wolves-sure sign to build a city
    as mighty as their cry. In fact, the site had
    already been settled for 1000 years.
  • In the 16th century, one of Eastern Eupopes
    biggest cities. Three centuries later,
    industrialization arrived railways were laid and
    it became a key Jewish city.
  • Germany occupied it during WWI.
  • During WWII, german occupation continued where
    there was a huge death toll of Jewish people
  • Postwar ushered in immigrants from Russia and
  • Late 1980s, the capital became the focus of
    Lithuanias push for independence from USSR

Vilnius (conti.)
  • Orientation sits on the south bank of the Neris
    River. The heart is the cathedral-studded
    Katedros aikste with Gediminas Hill rising behind
    it. Southward lies the cobbled Old Town, which
    as Pilies gatve as the main pedestrian street.
    East along the river is Uzupis Republic

Vilnius (conti.)
  • Sights Gediminas Hill is a 48m high hill that
    Vilnius was founded upon. Part of it that was
    destroyed during the Russian occupation was
    restored to house the Upper Castle Musuem.
    Theres the Royal Palace, a quadrangle of 4 wings
    enclosing a vast courtyard measuring 10,000 sq.
    meteres, but was also destroyed by Russian
    occupation. It is currently being restored and
    will be completed by July 6, 2009 to mark the
    millennium anniversary of the first mention of
    Lithuania in writing.

Vilnius (conti.)
  • Vilnius Cathedral a national symbol that was
    originally used for the worship of the thunder
    god, Perkunas. Later the Soviets turned it into
    a picture gallery. In 1989, it was reconstructed
    and Mass has been celebrated daily ever since.
    Its been redone so many times that it is hard to
    recognize its original form. Most important
    restoration was completed in 1801, when the
    outside was redone in todays classical style.
    The statues on the south side facing the square
    are Lithuanian dukes on the north side are
    apostles and saints the interior retains more of
    its original aspects except for the entrances to
    the side chapels that were redone in the 18th

Vilnius (conti.)
  • Old Town Eastern Europes old town
  • Area stretches 1.5km and was built in the 15th
    and 16th centuries
  • Consists of narrow winding streets, hidden
    courtyards, and old churches
  • Pilies Gatve the Cobbled Castle Street- the hub
    of tourist action and main entrance to the Old
  • Vilnius University Eastern Europes oldest
    university, founded in 1579.
  • Has 22,500 students and Lithuanias oldest
    library holding 5 million books

Dangers Annoyances
  • Street wise is very important
  • Dont hop into a taxi directly from the
    streetask hotel/restaurant/bar that youre
    leaving to call one for you
  • Resident beggars are notorious for hassling
    tourists on Pilies gatve
  • Better to drink bottled water than the tap water