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Monday 21st April
Lithuania Facts
Lithuania is one of three countries known as the Baltic States. The other Baltic State countries are Estonia and Latvia. However the concept of Baltic States is misleading as it implies some sort of political unity between Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia which is not the case.

The highest point in Lithuania is Juozapines Hill (294 m), near Vilnius.

The Nemunas is the largest and longest (937 km) river in Lithuania.

Lithuania's largest lake is the Druksiai (44.5 sq km), the longest is the Asveja (21.9 km) and its deepest lake is the Tauragnas (60.5 m).

The Kernave Archaeological Site, about thirty-five kilometres from Vilnius, is on the World Heritage List. The site which dates from the late Palaeolithic period to the Middle Ages includes settlements, burial sites, forts and the town of Kernave.

Romuva was Lithuania's religion before the introduction of Christianity.

Lithuania was the last country in Europe to be converted to Christianity.

In pre-Christian Lithuania the oak tree was of religious significance. The oak tree is still a symbol of long life and strength.

Amber, formed by resin from ancient trees and insects in the resin, is found on the Curonian Spit.

King Mindaugas (1236-1263) was Lithuania's only king.

Kaunas is Lithuania's second city. The first written mention of Kaunas dates back to the fourteenth century.

Jews started to settle in Lithuania in the fifteenth century. Vilnius became an important centre of Jewish culture and learning.

Lithuania's first publishing house was founded in Vilnius in 1522.

The First Lithuanian Book was published in 1547.

Vilnius University was founded in 1579.

Many Lithuanians migrated to the USA. Household names of people of Lithuanian descent include Charles Bronson (actor), Aaron Copland (composer) and Sara Lee (Sara Lee Foods).

Joseph Weber was an eminent physicist whose father emigrated from Lithuania to the USA.

The mother of Pope John Paul II was of Lithuanian descent.

During the Second World War (1939-45) Lithuania was annexed to the USSR. (The following countries in Europe were members of the former USSR along with Russia: Belarus, Estonia (from WW2), Latvia (from WW2), Lithuania (from WW2), Moldova (from WW2) and Ukraine; member countries from Asia were: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan).

In 1989, to demonstrate the Baltic States' wish for independence, Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians joined hands forming a chain stretching from Vilnius to Riga (Latvia) and to Tallinn (Estonia).

Lithuania was the first Soviet republic to declare independence from the USSR.

In December 2002 Lithuania took part in EU accession negotiations with nine other countries (Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia). The Accession Treaty was signed on 16 April 2003 with 1 May 2004 the formal entry date. EU enlargement meant the unification of twenty-five countries after over half a century of political division and the "Cold War" which followed World War II.

Dalia Grybauskaite became the first female president of Lithuania in May 2009.

Lithuania is one of the Baltic Sea States. Other members of the Council of the Baltic Sea States are Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden, and the European Commission.

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