OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Lithuania
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Unitary Multiparty Republic
AREA: 65,301 Sq Km (25,213 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION: 3,861,400
LOCATION AND GEOGRAPHY: Lithuania is a former republic of
the USSR. It is bound by the Baltic Sea to the west, Latvia
to the north, Poland and the Kalinigrad Oblast of Russia
to the southwest as well as Belarus to the south and east.
Topographically, the country is part of the coastal rim
of the Russian Plain with moraine and other glacial deposits.
The country has two hilly regions, (1.) the Samogitian Hills
to the west and (2.) the lake and bog filled hill country
of the east. Both of these areas are separated by the Lithuanian
Lowlands. The principal river is the Nemunas or Niemen River
with its two main tributaries. Major Cities (pop. est.);
Vilnius 584,400, Kaunas 423,900, Klaipeda 204,600 (1994).
Land Use; forested 31%, pastures 7%, agricultural-cultivated
46%, other 16% (1993).
CLIMATE: Lithuania has a transitional climate between the maritime
climate of West Europe and the continental climate of Russia. Winters are
generally mild and summers are cooler along the coast with temperature
extremes increasing inland. Average annual precipitation varies from 850
mm (34 inches) on the Baltic coastal hills to less than 600 mm (24 inches)
in the central lowlands. Average temperature ranges are from -4 degrees
Celsius (25 degrees Fahrenheit) in January to 17 degrees Celsius (63 degrees
Fahrenheit) in July.
PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the Lithuanians who
account for 80% of the population while 9% are Russians and 7% are Poles.
Other ethnic minorities include Ukrainians, Belarussians, Jews, Latvians,
Tartars and Germans.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 58 persons per sq km (151
persons per sq mi) (1993). Urban-Rural; 68.5% urban, 31.5% rural (1993).
Sex Distribution; 47.3% male, 52.7% female (1993). Life Expectancy at Birth;
65.3 years male, 76.1 years female (1991). Age Breakdown; 23% under 15,
23% 15 to 29, 21% 30 to 44, 17% 45 to 59, 11% 60 to 74, 5% 75 and over
(1991). Birth Rate; 14.3 per 1,000 (1992). Death Rate; 11.0 per 1,000 (1992).
Increase Rate; 3.3 per 1,000 (1992). Infant Mortality Rate; 16.5 per 1,000
live births (1992).
RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians, of which the majority are Roman
Catholic while there are minorities of Evangelical Lutherans and Lutheran
LANGUAGES: The official language is Lithuanian while Russian
is also widely spoken and each ethnic minority also has its own language.
EDUCATION: Persons having attained: some primary 12.5%, primary
31.7%, some secondary 23.1%, secondary 25.0%, higher 7.7% (1979). Literacy;
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: On Mar. 11, 1990 Lithuania declared
its independence, although prior to independence its history was closely
tied with that of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
In Mar. 1953 Yosef Stalin died and was succeeded by Georgy Malenkov who
was in turn forced to relinquish the party leadership to Nikita Khrushchev
after a little over one week in power. In 1955 the Warsaw pact militarily
aligned the Soviet Union with other communist countries and in Nov. 1956
the Soviet Red Army invaded Hungary to quell uprisings. In 1957 three communist
ministers unsuccessfully attempted to depose Khrushchev which resulted
in their expulsion from the central committee. In 1962 under Khrushchev's
rule the USSR was involved in the Cuban Missile crisis and in the same
year relations with China were broken off as a result of ideological differences.
In Oct. 1964 Khrushchev was forced to retire and was succeeded by Leonid
Brezhnev. In Aug. 1968 the Warsaw Pact forces led by the Red Army invaded
Czechoslovakia to halt their Prague Spring reforms. In 1977 Breshnev was
elected President. In Nov. 1982 Brezhnev died and was succeeded by Yuri
Andropov, the former head of the KGB. Andropov introduced limited economic
reforms and established an anti-corruption program. In Feb 1984 Andropov
died and was succeeded by Konstantin Chernenko who in turn died on Mar.
10, 1985. On Mar. 11, 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev was elected as Chernenko's
successor and Gorbachev embarked on a program which restructured the USSR's
relations with the West. Gorbachev also established Glasnost (openness)
as well as Perestroika (restructuring and reform). In Apr. 1986 a meltdown
in the reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power station in Ukraine sent radioactive
fallout across northern Europe. In Dec. 1987 the USSR and USA signed the
Treaty on Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF). In Feb. 1988 a dispute erupted
between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh which
resulted in mass demonstrations and strikes in the two republics. In Dec.
1988 an earthquake in Armenia killed some 50,000 people. In Apr. 1989 troops
violently repressed demonstrations in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia.
In Dec. 1989 the Lithuanian Parliament adopted multiparty politics. In
Jan. 1990 Gorbachev visited Lithuania and was met by some 250,000 pro-independence
demonstrators. In Feb. 1990 some 18 people were killed in riots over housing
discrimination in Tajikistan. In May 1990 Boris Yeltsin was elected President
of the Russian Federation and on Nov. 1, 1990 launched a 500 day plan to
give the Russian Republic a free market economy. In June 1990 Nakhichevan
an Azerbaijani enclave bordering Iran declared its intention for a unification
with Iran while a civil war was escalating between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
In the same month around 150 people were killed during ethnic clashes in
Kyrgyzstan. In Jan 1991 another 15 people were killed as the Red Army seized
a television station in Lithuania while in Latvia the Soviet Black Berets
killed 5 people in an attack on the ministry building. In the same month
troops were being deployed in Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Moldova. In
Mar. 1991 pro-Yeltsin demonstrators held a mass rally. On Aug. 18, 1991
as Gorbachev was vacationing in the Crimea, the Politburo hard liners attempted
a coup to remove Gorbachev from power through the declaration of a State
of Emergency under the control of a State Committee. Almost immediately
republic leaders declared the emergency committee illegal as well as unconstitutional
and began to barricade their parliaments as troops and tanks were deployed
throughout the republics. By Aug. 20 senior officers had refused to order
their troops to use force against the civilians and on Aug. 21, 1991 the
coup collapsed as troops were ordered to return to their barracks. Immediately
following the unsuccessful coup many republics suspended or purged the
communist party and on Sept. 5, 1991 after 3 days of debate the 74 years
of centralized communist control came to an end. On Sept. 6, 1991 Lithuania
regained its full independence after 51 years of Soviet domination. On
Sept. 17 Lithuania joined the UN and the Conference on Security and Cooperation
in Europe (CSCE) on Oct. 15, 1991. In Oct. and Nov. 1992 the communist
Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party (LDLP) led by Algirdas Brazauskas won
both rounds of elections gaining a clear majority over its main opposition
the nationalist Lithuanian Reform Movement (Sajudis). The LDLP announced
that it intended forming a coalition government, not wanting to be held
solely responsible for the country's economic situation and that it intended
developing a better relationship with Russia and slower reforms in moving
to a market economy. On Feb. 14, 1993 Algirdas Brazauskas won Presidential
elections and appointed Adolfas Slezevicius as Prime Minister. On May 1,
1993 following the defeat of the Sajudis organization in 1992 elections
the Homeland Union was established. On May 14, 1993 Lithuania was accepted
as a member of the Council of Europe and on June 25, 1993 the government
introduced its new currency, the Lita. On August 31, 1993 the withdrawal
of Russian troops from its territory was completed. Also in 1993 market
economy reforms were slow with the government's new regulations for privatization
of state enterprises impeding the whole process.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Litas (L) (plural; Litai)
divided into 100 Centai.
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $4,891,000,000 (1993). Public
Debt; USD $163,500,000 (1993). Imports; USD $2,210,000,000 (1994). Exports;
USD $1,892,000,000 (1994). Tourism Receipts; N/A. Balance of Trade; N/A.
Economically Active Population; 1,741,000 or 46.8% of total population
(1994). Unemployed; 3.8% (1994).
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are the CIS.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Barley, Fish, Flax, Legumes, Livestock, Potatoes,
Rye, Sugar Beets, Timber, Wheat.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Chemicals, Dairy Farming, Deep Sea
Fishing, Electrical and Electronic Equipment, Machines, Shoes, Sugar Milling,
Textiles, Wood Working.
MAIN EXPORTS: Dairy Products, Electrical and Electronic, Equipment,
Machine Tools, Refrigerators and Washing Machines.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 2,996 km (1,862 mi) (1992),
passenger-km 2,740,000,000 (1,703,000,000 passenger-mi) (1992), cargo ton-km
11,337,000,000 (7,765,000,000 short ton-mi) (1992). Roads; length 44,500
km (27,651 mi) (1991). Vehicles; cars 565,320 (1992), trucks and buses
92,056 (1992). Merchant Marine; vessels 52 (1992), deadweight tonnage 373,911
(1992). Air Transport; passenger-km 917,000,000 (569,797,000 passenger-mi)
(1992), cargo ton-km 5,253,000 (3,598,000 short ton-mi) (1992).
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 18 with a total circulation
of 836,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 1,420,000 (1994). Television; receivers
1,400,000 (1994). Telephones; units 858,500 (1993).
MILITARY: 8,900 (1995) total active duty personnel with 93.3%
army, 3.9% navy and 2.8% air force while military expenditure accounts
for N/A of the Gross National Product (GNP).
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