Lithuanian lands were united under MINDAUGAS in 1236; over the next century, through alliances and conquest, Lithuania extended its territory to include most of present-day Belarus and Ukraine. By the end of the 14th century Lithuania was the largest state in Europe. An alliance with Poland in 1386 led the two countries into a union through the person of a common ruler. In 1569, Lithuania and Poland formally united into a single dual state, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. This entity survived until 1795 when its remnants were partitioned by surrounding countries. Lithuania regained its independence following World War I but was annexed by the USSR in 1940 - an action never recognized by the US and many other countries. On 11 March 1990, Lithuania became the first of the Soviet republics to declare its independence, but Moscow did not recognize this proclamation until September of 1991 (following the abortive coup in Moscow). The last Russian troops withdrew in 1993. Lithuania subsequently restructured its economy for integration into Western European institutions; it joined both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004.
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulphur 85, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified:
none of the selected agreements
Independence Day, 16 February (1918); note - 16 February 1918 was the date Lithuania declared its independence from Soviet Russia and established its statehood; 11 March 1990 was the date it declared its independence from the Soviet Union
president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 17 May 2009 (next to be held in May 2014); prime minister appointed by the president on the approval of the Parliament
Dalia GRYBAUSKAITE elected president; percent of vote - Dalia GRYBAUSKAITE 69.1%, Algirdas BUTKEVICIUS 11.8%, Valentinas MAZURONIS 6.2%, others 12.9%; Andrius KUBILIUS' government approved by Parliament 83-40 with 5 abstentions
Christian party [Gediminas VAGNORIUS]; Civil Democracy Party or PDP [Algimantas MATULEVICIUS]; Electoral Action of Lithuanian Poles or LLRA [Valdemar TOMASZEVSKI]; Homeland Union - Lithuanian Christian Democrats or TS-LKD [Andrius KUBILIUS]; Labor Party or DP [Viktor USPASKICH]; Liberal and Center Union or LCS [Gintautas BABRAVICIUS]; Liberal Movement or LS or LRLS [Eligijus MASIULIS]; Lithuanian Farmers' Union or LVLS or VLS [ Ramunas KARBAUSKIS]; Lithuanian People's Party (not yet officially established) [Kazimiera PRUNSKIENE]; National Revival or TPP [Arunas VALINSKAS]; New Union (Social Liberal) or NS [Arturas PAULAUSKAS]; Order and Justice Party or TT [Rolandas PAKSAS]; Social Democratic Party or LSDP [Algirdas BUTKEVICIUS]
three equal horizontal bands of yellow (top), green, and red; yellow symbolizes golden fields, as well as the sun, light, and goodness; green represents the forests of the countryside, in addition to nature, freedom, and hope; red stands for courage and the blood spilled in defense of the homeland
Lithuania gained membership in the World Trade Organization and joined the EU in May 2004. Despite Lithuania's EU accession, Lithuania's trade with its Central and Eastern European neighbors, and Russia in particular, accounts for a growing percentage of total trade. Privatization of the large, state-owned utilities is nearly complete. Foreign government and business support have helped in the transition from the old command economy to a market economy. Lithuania's economy grew on average 8% per year for the four years prior to 2008 driven by exports and domestic demand. However, GDP plunged 15% in 2009 - the three former Soviet Baltic republics had the world's worst economic declines last year. The current account deficit rose to roughly 15% of GDP in 2007-08, but fell sharply in 2009 in the wake of a cutback in imports to almost half the 2008 level. Unemployment reached 13.7% in 2009, up from 5.8% in 2008. In 2009 the government launched a high-profile campaign, led by Prime Minister KUBILIUS, to attract foreign investment and to develop export markets.
general assessment: adequate; being modernized to provide improved international capability and better residential access
rapid expansion of mobile-cellular services has resulted in a steady decline in the number of fixed-line connections; mobile-cellular teledensity has increased to about 140 per 100 persons while fixed-line teledensity has dropped to 22 per 100 persons
country code - 370; major international connections to Denmark, Sweden, and Norway by submarine cable for further transmission by satellite; landline connections to Latvia and Poland (2008)
public broadcaster operates 3 channels with the third channel - a satellite channel - introduced in 2007; various privately-owned commercial TV broadcasters operate national and multiple regional channels; large number of privately-owned local TV stations; multi-channel cable and satellite TV services are available; publicly-owned broadcaster operates 3 radio networks; large number of privately-owned commercial broadcasters, many with repeater stations in various regions throughout the country (2007)
Lithuania and Russia committed to demarcating their boundary in 2006 in accordance with the land and maritime treaty ratified by Russia in May 2003 and by Lithuania in 1999; Lithuania operates a simplified transit regime for Russian nationals traveling from the Kaliningrad coastal exclave into Russia, while still conforming, as a EU member state having an external border with a non-EU member, to strict Schengen border rules; the Latvian parliament has not ratified its 1998 maritime boundary treaty with Lithuania, primarily due to concerns over potential hydrocarbons; as of January 2007, ground demarcation of the boundary with Belarus was complete and mapped with final ratification documents in preparation
transshipment and destination point for cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, and opiates from Southwest Asia, Latin America, Western Europe, and neighboring Baltic countries; growing production of high-quality amphetamines, but limited production of cannabis, methamphetamines; susceptible to money laundering despite changes to banking legislation