Europe

Lithuania country profile

Map of Lithuania

Lithuania is the largest and most southerly of the three Baltic republics.

Not much more than a decade after it regained its independence during the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, Lithuania was welcomed as a Nato member in late March 2004.

The move came just weeks before a second historic shift for the country in establishing its place in the Western family of nations as it joined the EU in May 2004.

Russia's Kaliningrad exclave hosts the headquarters of the Russian Navy's Baltic Fleet, and shares a major border with Lithuania.

FACTS

Republic of Lithuania

Capital: Vilnius

  • Population 3.3 million

  • Area 65,300 sq km (25,212 sq miles)

  • Languages Lithuanian (official), Russian, Polish, Belarusian

  • Major religions Christianity

  • Life expectancy 67 years (men), 78 years (women)

  • Currency euro

Getty Images

LEADERS

President: Dalia Grybauskaite

Image copyright Getty Images

Dalia Grybauskaite was voted in as Lithuania's first woman president with an emphatic election victory in May 2009.

She was re-elected in May 2014, in a presidential runoff held amid widespread apprehension over a resurgent Russia.

Ms Grybauskaite is sometimes dubbed the "Iron Lady", the nickname of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, a forthright free-marketeer whom she describes as one of her political models.

Prime Minister: Saulius Skvernelis

Image copyright PETRAS MALUKAS/AFP/Getty Images

Former national police chief Saulius Skvernelis became prime minister after voter anger at the established political parties propelled his centrist Peasant and Green Union (LVZS) to a surprise victory in parliamentary elections in 2016.

Mr Skvernelis formed a coalition with the Social Democrats of outgoing Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius, which came third, and promised to curb social inequality, boost sluggish growth, limit emigration to Western Europe, and boost defence spending in the face of a resurgent Russia.

Previously a minor agrarian party led by farming tycoon Ramunas Karbauskis, the LVZS campaigned on Mr Skvernelis's reputation as a fighter against corruption, as well as on promises of a more interventionist economic policy.

MEDIA

Image copyright Getty Images

Lithuania's private TV and radio stations compete with public networks run by Lithuanian National Radio and Television (LRT).

The media are free and operate independently of the state. There are no government-owned newspapers.

TIMELINE

Some key dates in Lithuania's modern history:

1915 - Lithuania, under Russian rule since the late 18th century, is occupied by German troops during the First World War.

1918 - Lithuania declares independence.

1920 - Soviet Russia recognises Lithuania's independence.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A view of Vilnius cathedral

1939 - The Soviet Union compels Lithuania to accept Soviet military bases.

1940 - Soviet Army invades. Smetona flees. Lithuania incorporated into Soviet Union.

1941 - Thousands of Lithuanians deported to Siberia. Nazi Germany invades Soviet Union and occupy Lithuania.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Parade to mark the 25th anniversary of the restoration of independence held in Vilnius in 2015

1944 - Soviet Army returns, presaging further deportations and repression of resistance.

1989 - Parliament approves declaration of Lithuanian sovereignty, stating that Lithuanian laws take precedence over Soviet ones.

1991 - Following failed coup in Moscow the previous month, the Soviet Union recognises Lithuania's independence. Lithuania joins the UN.

1992 - New constitution introduces presidency. The former Communist Party, renamed the Lithuanian Democratic Labour Party, wins more seats than Sajudis in general election. Coalition government formed.

1993 - Lithuania joins Council of Europe. Litas national currency re-introduced. Russian troops complete withdrawal.

2004 - Lithuania is one of 10 new states to join the EU. Lithuania also joins Nato.

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