Official language: Lithuanian
Area : 25,174 sq mi
Population (2012 estimate): 2,988,381
Religion (2001 census): 79% Roman Catholic; also Orthodox, Lutheran, others.
Government: Parliamentary republic
Lithuania is a picturesque country, situated on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea and bordering Latvia on the north, Belorus on the east, and Poland on the south. It is a country of gently rolling hills, many forests, rivers and streams, and deep clear lakes. Its principal natural resource is fertile agricultural land.
The capital of Lithuania is Vilnius, founded in the 13th century and widely known for its contrasting architectural monuments of Western and Eastern influence. Through the centuries Vilnius has remained the center of Lithuania’s intellectual and political life.
The Lithuanians are a distinct group of the Indo-European family of nations, distinct from the Slavic and German branches, with their own ancient culture and language. They inhabited the Baltic shores long before the Christian era and at the dawn of European history had attained a level of civilization equal to that of many other European peoples of those days. The Lithuanian language is one of the oldest living Indo-European languages and is studied in numerous centers of learning throughout the world. Today 80% of the country’s population is of Lithuanian nationality.
Contemporary Lithuanian culture represents a synthesis of ancient traditions, Christianity, and Western modernism. Christianity came to Lithuania only in the 14th century and never completely replaced the old pagan ways. Despite the changes, the old Lithuanian worldview has remained alive in contemporary cultural expression. The rich heritage of folk art and lore, of ancient Baltic mythology, of folk songs, dances, and customs remains a source of inspiration for modern creators. Colorful woven fabrics are still worn as national costumes, miniature crosses carved from wood are found in the homes, lively folk dances and songs are still performed by both young and old. The present is closely intermeshed with the past, maintaining the continuity and unique identity of the people.