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Economy of Lithuania

In the second half of the 20th century, the Lithuanian economy underwent fundamental transformations. The Soviet occupation of 1940 brought Lithuania intensive industrialization and economic integration into the U.S.S.R., although the level of technology and state concern for environmental, health, and labor issues lagged far behind Western standards. Urbanization increased from 39% in 1959 to 68% in 1989. From 1949 to 1952 the Soviets abolished private ownership in agriculture, establishing collective and state farms. Production declined and did not reach pre-war levels until the early 1960s. The intensification of agricultural production through intense chemical use and mechanization eventually doubled production but created additional ecological problems. The disadvantages of a centrally planned economy became evident after the collapse of the U.S.S.R. in 1991, when Lithuania began its transition to a market economy. Owing to the availability of inexpensive natural resources, the industrial sector had become excessively energy intensive, inefficient in its utilization of resources, and incapable of manufacturing internationally competitive products. More than 90% of Lithuania's trade was with the rest of the U.S.S.R., which supplied Lithuanian industry with raw materials for production and a market for its outputs. The need to sever these trading links and to reduce the inefficient industrial sector led to serious economic difficulties. The process of privatization and the development of new companies slowly moved Lithuania from a command economy toward a free market. By 1998, the economy had survived the early years of uncertainty and several setbacks, including a banking crisis, and seemed poised for solid growth. However, the collapse of the Russian ruble in August 1998 shocked the economy into negative growth and forced the reorientation of trade from Russia toward the West. In 1997, exports to former Soviet states were 45% of total Lithuanian exports. In 2006, exports to the East (the Commonwealth of Independent States--CIS) were only 21% of the total, while exports to the EU-25 were 63%, and to the United States, 4.3%. By mid-2010, Lithuania had accumulated foreign direct investments (FDI) of $13.7 billion, with U.S. investments amounting to $356 million, or 2.7% of FDI. The current account deficit in the second quarter of 2010 was 3.6% of GDP. Lithuania has privatized nearly all formerly state-owned enterprises. More than 79% of the economy's output is generated by the private sector. The share of employees in the private sector exceeds 65%. The Government of Lithuania completed banking sector privatization in 2001, with 89% of this sector controlled by foreign--mainly Scandinavian--capital. "Lithuanian Railways" and Lithuanian Post are the only remaining state-owned companies that may be offered for privatization in the near future. The transportation infrastructure inherited from the Soviet period is adequate and has been generally well maintained since independence. Lithuania has one ice-free seaport with ferry services to German, Swedish, and Danish ports. There are operating commercial airports with scheduled international services at Vilnius, Kaunas, and Klaipeda, though air connections contracted in 2009 with the bankruptcy of national carrier FlyLAL. The road system is good. Telecommunications have improved greatly since independence as a result of heavy investment. After joining the EU in 2004, Lithuania saw its economy boom, reaching a record 8.9% GDP growth in 2007. Strong growth continued through much of 2008, but a weak fourth quarter, as financial stress spread through Europe, slowed growth to 3.0% for the year. In 2009, the global financial crisis hit the Lithuanian economy hard: the economy shrank by 15%, unemployment climbed to 13.7%, and salaries fell by 12.3%, the worst performance since comparable records began in 1995. Growing unemployment and lower income contributed to some limited social unrest in early 2009. That same year the government approved heavy budget cuts and passed a $2.3 billion stimulus plan. In 2010 Lithuania’s GDP grew slightly by 1.3%. Lithuania pegged its national currency--the lita--to the euro on February 2, 2002 at the rate of LTL 3.4528 to EUR 1. The initial target date for Lithuania to adopt the euro, January 1, 2007, was postponed due to the high inflation rate of 2006. The government and most private analysts predict that euro adoption is unlikely until 2014 at the earliest. Throughout 2009 the government was able to finance its budget deficit through private sector credit, thus avoiding the need to adopt an International Monetary Fund (IMF) program. GDP (2010): $36 billion. Annual growth rate (2010): 1.3%. Annual inflation rate (2010 average): 1.3%. Unemployment rate (2010): 14.5%. Average monthly earnings (2010, third quarter): $832. Natural resources: Limestone, clay, sand, gravel, iron ore, and granite. Major sectors of the economy (2009, third quarter): wholesale and retail trade, transport, and communications 33%, manufacturing 19.8%. Trade: Exports (2010)--$21.7 billion: mineral products 23.6%, machinery and mechanical appliances 10.5%, chemicals 8.1%, vehicles and transport equipment 9.8%. Major export partners --EU 61%, CIS 7%. Imports (2010)--$24.3 billion: mineral products 54%, machinery and equipment 27.5%. Major import partners --EU 56.6%, CIS 35.7%.

Geography of Lithuania

Location: Eastern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, between Latvia and Russia Map references: Europe Area: total area: 65,200 sq km land area: 65,200 sq km comparative area: slightly larger than West Virginia Land boundaries: total 1,273 km, Belarus 502 km, Latvia 453 km, Poland 91 km, Russia (Kaliningrad) 227 km Coastline: 108 km Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm International disputes: dispute with Russia (Kaliningrad Oblast) over the position of the Nemunas (Nemen) River border presently located on the Lithuanian bank and not in midriver as by international standards Climate: maritime; wet, moderate winters and summers Terrain: lowland, many scattered small lakes, fertile soil Natural resources: peat Land use: arable land: 49.1% permanent crops: 0% meadows and pastures: 22.2% forest and woodland: 16.3% other: 12.4% Irrigated land: 430 sq km (1990) Environment: current issues: contamination of soil and groundwater with petroleum products and chemicals at military bases natural hazards: NA international agreements: party to - Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands; signed, but not ratified - Biodiversity, Climate Change

Government of Lithuania

Lithuania is a multi-party, parliamentary democracy. The president, who is elected directly for 5 years, is head of state and commander in chief overseeing foreign and security policy. The president nominates the prime minister and his cabinet and a number of other top civil servants. The Seimas, a unicameral parliament, has 141 members that are elected for a 4-year term. About half of the members are elected in single constituencies (71), and the other half (70) are elected in a nationwide vote by party lists. A party must receive at least 5% of the national vote to be represented in the Seimas. For the first 9 years of its post-Soviet independence, voters in Lithuania shifted from right to left and back again, swinging between the Conservatives, led by Vytautas Landsbergis (now headed by Andrius Kubilius), and the Labor (former Communist) Party, led by former President Algirdas Brazauskas. This pattern was broken in the October 2000 elections, when the Liberal Union and New Union parties won the most votes and were able to form a centrist ruling coalition with minor partners. President Valdas Adamkus played a key role in bringing the new centrist parties together. The leader of the center-left New Union Party (also known as the Social Liberal Party), Arturas Paulauskas, became the Chairman of the Seimas, and the leader of the Liberal Union Party, Rolandas Paksas, became Prime Minister. The new coalition was fragile from the outset, as the Liberal Union was pro-business and right of center, while the New Union had a populist and leftist orientation. The government collapsed within 7 months and, in July 2001, the center-left New Union Party forged an alliance with the left-wing Social Democratic Party and formed a new cabinet under former President Algirdas Brazauskas. The new government tightened budgetary discipline, supported market reforms, and passed the legislation required to ensure entry into the European Union. Several years of solid economic growth helped to consolidate the government's popularity, despite discontent within two of its core constituencies--unskilled urban workers and farmers--who had expected more generous funding of social and agricultural programs. The government remained firmly in control, and by mid-2004 it was the longest-serving administration since the recovery of independence. In an unexpected political development in January 2003, Rolandas Paksas defeated the incumbent Valdas Adamkus in the second round of the presidential election to become Lithuania's third President since 1992. Paksas' tenure as president was short-lived. In December 2003, an ad hoc parliamentary commission found that President Paksas' vulnerability to influence constituted a threat to national security. On April 7, 2004, the Seimas removed President Paksas from office. Valdas Adamkus won the second round of presidential elections in June 2004 and was sworn in as president on July 12. Brazauskas remained prime minister after the 2004 parliamentary elections, but the government collapsed in late May 2006 after the New Union and Labor parties withdrew from the coalition. A new minority coalition government headed by Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas, a Social Democrat, took office on July 18, 2006, and retained the support of the opposition Conservative party on the major issues until September 2007. On January 28, 2008 the Social Liberal party joined the coalition, giving it a bare majority. In the October 2008 parliamentary elections, the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrat Party, widely known as the Conservatives, won a plurality, winning almost twice as many seats (45) as the second-place Social Democrats (25). The National Revival Party, a new party with numerous show business and TV-journalism celebrities in its top ranks, finished third (16 seats). The Conservatives put together a four-party coalition with the National Revival, Liberal Movement, and Liberal and Center Union parties, and Conservative leader Andrius Kubilius became prime minister--a post he previously held in 1999-2000. National Revival founder and leader Arturas Valinskas became Seimas Speaker. Following accusations of corruption and the splitting of the National Revival party, in September 2009 the Seimas removed Valinskas from that position, and First Deputy Speaker Irena Degutiene of the Conservative Party became speaker. Although the government lost its majority in March 2010, when one parliamentarian left the coalition to join an opposition party, a small non-coalition party agreed to support the government on important votes. In May 2009, Dalia Grybauskaite, an Independent, overwhelmingly won Lithuania’s presidential election, receiving 68% of the vote. She previously served as the EU Commissioner for Financial Programming and Budget and is a former Lithuanian Finance Minister. Grybauskaite, who has said her top priorities would be domestic issues, especially those relating to the Lithuanian economy, was inaugurated July 12, 2009 in Vilnius. Since becoming President, Grybauskaite has focused on action to mitigate the effects of the economic crisis; to recalibrate Lithuania’s foreign policy to achieve balance in terms of relations with countries in the East, the EU, and the U.S.; and to assert stronger governmental oversight of the State Security Department. Principal Government Officials President--Dalia Grybauskaite Prime Minister--Andrius Kubilius, Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats (known as Conservatives) Minister of Foreign Affairs--Audronius Azubalis, Conservative Party Minister of Defense--Rasa Jukneviciene, Conservative Party Minister of Interior--Raimundas Palaitis, Liberal and Center Union Minister of Justice--Remigijus Simasius, Independent (delegated by the Liberal Movement) Minister of Finance--Ingrida Simonyte, Independent (delegated by the Conservative Party) Minister of Transport and Communications--Eligijus Masiulis, Liberal Movement Minister of Economy--Dainius Kreivys, Conservative Party Minister of Agriculture--Kazimieras Starkevicius, Conservative Party Minister of Education and Science--Gintaras Steponavicius, Liberal Movement Minister of Health--Raimondas Sukys, Liberal and Center Union Minister of Social Security and Labor--Donatas Jankauskas, Conservative Party Minister of Culture--Arunas Gelunas, Independent (delegated by the National Revival Party) Minister of Environment--Gediminas Kazlauskas, Independent (delegated by the National Revival Party) Minister of Energy--Arvydas Sekmokas, Independent (delegated by the Conservative Party) Lithuania maintains an embassy in the United States at 2622 - 16th Street, Washington DC, 20009, tel: (202) 234-5860. Type: Parliamentary democracy. Constitution: On October 25, 1992, Lithuanians ratified a new constitution, which was officially signed on November 6 that year. Branches: Executive--President (chief of state), popularly elected every 5 years; Prime Minister (head of government); Legislative--Seimas (141-member Parliament). Judicial--Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, and Highest Administrative Court. Administrative regions: 10 counties and 60 municipalities. Principal political parties/coalitions (December 2008): Four-party governing coalition has 82 members plus the Speaker. Conservatives--45 seats; National Revival Party faction--17 seats (including two independent members of parliament, or MPs) and the Speaker; Liberal Movement--11 seats; Liberal and Center Union faction--9 seats (including 1 independent MP). Opposition has 58 members: Social Democrat faction--25 seats (plus 1 independent MP); Order and Justice Party faction--18 seats (including 3 Polish Electoral Action Party MPs); Labor Party--10 seats; non-affiliated faction--4 seats (including 3 Peasants Party MPs and 1 Social Liberal MP). Suffrage: Universal adult (18 years of age). General government budget (2008): $9.9 billion.

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History of Lithuania

The earliest evidence of inhabitants in present-day Lithuania dates back 12,000 years. About 5,000 years ago, a culture known to archaeologists as "the cord-ware culture" spread over a vast region of Eastern Europe, between the Baltic Sea and the Vistula River in the west and the Moscow- Kursk line in the east. Merging with the indigenous population, they gave rise to the Balts, a distinct Indo-European ethnic group whose descendants are the present-day Lithuanian and Latvian nations and the now-extinct Prussians. The first written mention of Lithuania occurs in A.D. 1009, although many centuries earlier the Roman historian Tacitus referred to the Lithuanians as excellent farmers. Spurred by the expansion into the Baltic lands of the Germanic monastic military orders (the Order of the Knights of the Sword and the Teutonic Order), Duke Mindaugas united the lands inhabited by the Lithuanians, Samogitians, Yotvingians, and Couranians into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (GDL) in the mid-13th century. In 1251, Mindaugas adopted Catholicism and was crowned King of Lithuania on July 6, 1253; a decade later, civil war erupted upon his assassination until a ruler named Vitenis defeated the Teutonic Knights and restored order. During 1316-41, Vitenis' brother and successor, Grand Duke Gediminas, expanded the empire as far as Kiev against the Tartars and Russians. He twice attempted to adopt Christianity in order to end the GDL's political and cultural isolation from Western Europe. To that purpose, he invited knights, merchants, and artisans to settle in Lithuania and wrote letters to Pope John XXII and European cities maintaining that the Teutonic Order's purpose was to conquer lands rather than spread Christianity. Gediminas' dynasty ruled the GDL until 1572. From the 1300s through the early 1400s, the Lithuanian state expanded eastward. During the rule of Grand Duke Algirdas (1345-77), Lithuania almost doubled in size and achieved major victories over the Teutonic and Livonian Orders. However, backed by the Pope and the Catholic West European countries, the Orders intensified their aggression. During this period, Kestutis (Grand Duke in 1381-82) distinguished himself as the leader of the struggle against the Teutonic Order. The ongoing struggle precipitated the 1385 Kreva Union signed by Grand Duke Jogaila of Lithuania (ruled in 1377-81 and 1382-92) and Jadwyga, Queen of Poland. Upon their marriage, he became King of Poland. A condition of the union was Lithuania's conversion to Christianity (in 1387). This intensified Lithuania's economic and cultural development and oriented it toward the West. The conversion invalidated claims by the Teutonic Order and temporarily halted its wars against Lithuania. Lithuania's independence under the union with Poland was restored by Grand Duke Vytautas. During his rule (1392-1430) the GDL turned into one of the largest states in Europe, encompassing present-day Belarus, most of Ukraine, and the Smolensk region of western Russia. Led by Jogaila and Vytautas, the united Polish-Lithuanian army defeated the Teutonic Order in the Battle of Tannenberg (Gruenwald or Zalgiras) in 1410, terminating the medieval Germanic drive eastward. The 16th century witnessed a number of wars against the growing Russian state over the Slavic lands ruled by the GDL. Coupled with the need for an ally in those wars, the wish of the middle and petty gentry to obtain more rights already granted to the Polish feudal lords drew Lithuania closer to Poland. The Union of Lublin in 1569 united Poland and Lithuania into a commonwealth in which the highest power belonged to the Sejm of the nobility and its elected King, who was also the Grand Duke of Lithuania. Mid-16th-century land reform strengthened serfdom and promoted the development of agriculture, owing to the introduction of a regular three- field rotation system. The 16th century saw a rapid development of agriculture, growth of towns, spread of ideas of humanism and the Reformation, book printing, the emergence of Vilnius University in 1579, and the Lithuanian Codes of Law (the Statutes of Lithuania), which stimulated the development of culture both in Lithuania and in neighboring countries. In the 16th-18th century, wars against Russia and Sweden weakened the Polish-Lithuanian Republic. The end of the 18th century saw three divisions of the commonwealth by Russia, Prussia, and Austria; in 1795 most of Lithuania became part of the Russian empire. Attempts to restore independence in the uprisings of 1794, 1830-31, and 1863 were suppressed and followed by a tightened police regime, increasing Russification, the closure of Vilnius University in 1832, and the 1864 ban on the printing of Lithuanian books in traditional Latin characters. Because of his proclamation of liberation and self-rule, many Lithuanians gratefully volunteered for the French army when Napoleon occupied Kaunas in 1812 during his catastrophic invasion of Russia. After the war, Russia imposed extra taxes on Catholic landowners and enserfed an increasing number of peasants. A market economy slowly developed with the abolition of serfdom in 1861. Lithuanian farmers grew stronger, contributing to an increase in the number of intellectuals of peasant origin, which, in turn, led to the growth of a Lithuanian national movement. In German-ruled Lithuania Minor (Konigsberg or Kalinin-grad), Lithuanian publications were printed in large numbers and then smuggled into Russian-ruled Lithuania. The most outstanding leaders of the national liberation movement were J. Basanavicius and V. Kudirka. The ban on the Lithuanian press finally was lifted in 1904. During World War I, the German army occupied Lithuania in 1915, and the occupation administration allowed a Lithuanian Conference to convene in Vilnius in September 1917. The conference adopted a resolution demanding the restoration of an independent Lithuanian state and elected the Lithuanian Council, a standing body chaired by Antanas Smetona In 1919 and 1920, Lithuania fought what is known as its war for independence against three factions: the Red Army, which in 1919 controlled territory ruled by a Bolshevist government headed by V. Kapsukas; the Polish army; and the Bermondt army, composed of Russian and German troops under the command of the Germans. Lithuania failed to regain the Polish-occupied Vilnius region. In the Moscow Treaty of July 12, 1920, Russia recognized Lithuanian independence and renounced all previous claims to it. The Seimas (parliament) of Lithuania adopted a constitution on August 1, 1922, declaring Lithuania a parliamentary republic, and in 1923 Lithuania annexed the Klaipeda region, the northern part of Lithuania Minor. By then, most countries had recognized Lithuanian independence. After a military coup on December 17, 1926, Nationalist Party leader Antanas Smetona became President and gradually introduced an authoritarian regime. Lithuania's borders posed its major foreign policy problem. Poland's occupation (1920) and annexation (1922) of the Vilnius region strained bilateral relations, and in March 1939 Germany forced Lithuania to surrender the Klaipeda region (after World War II, the Nuremberg trials declared the treaty null and void). Radical land reform in 1922 considerably reduced the number of estates, promoted the growth of small and middle farms and boosted agricultural production and exports, especially of livestock. In particular, light industry and agriculture successfully adjusted to the new market situation and developed new structures. The interwar period gave birth to a comprehensive system of education, with Lithuanian as the language of instruction and the development of the press, literature, music, arts, and theater. On August 23, 1939, the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact pulled Lithuania under German domination until the Soviet-German agreement of September 28, 1939, brought Lithuania under Soviet domination. Soviet pressure and a complicated international situation forced Lithuania to sign an agreement with the U.S.S.R. on October 10, 1939, by which Lithuania was given back the city of Vilnius and the part of Vilnius region seized by the Red Army during the Soviet- Polish war; in return, some 20,000 Soviet soldiers were deployed in Lithuania. On June 14, 1940, the Soviet Government issued an ultimatum to Lithuania, demanding the formation of a new Lithuanian Government and permission to station additional Red Army troops. Lithuania succumbed to the Soviet demand, and 100,000 Soviet troops moved into the Lithuania the next day. Arriving in Kaunas, the Soviet Government's special envoy began implementing the plan for Lithuania's incorporation into the U.S.S.R. On June 17, the alleged People's Government, headed by J. Paleckis, was formed; one month later, parliamentary elections were held, whereupon Lithuania was proclaimed a Soviet Socialist Republic on August 3. Totalitarian rule was established, Sovietization of the economy and culture began, and Lithuanian state employees and public figures were arrested and exiled to Russia. During the mass deportation campaign of June 14-18, 1941, about 7,400 families (12,600 people) were deported to Siberia without investigation or trial; 3,600 people were imprisoned; and over 1,000 were massacred. Lithuanian revolt against the U.S.S.R. soon followed the outbreak of the war against Germany in 1941. Via Radio Kaunas on June 23, the rebels declared the restoration of Lithuania's independence and actively operated a provisional government, without German recognition, from June 24 to August 5. Lithuania became part of the German occupational administrative unit of Ostland. People were repressed and taken to forced labor camps in Germany. The Nazis and local collaborators deprived all Lithuanian Jews of their civil rights and massacred about 200,000 of them. Together with Soviet partisans, supporters of independence put up a resistance movement to deflect Nazi recruitment of Lithuanians to the German army. Forcing the Germans out of Lithuania by 1944, the Red Army re-established control, and Sovietization continued with the arrival of communist party leaders to create a local party administration. The mass deportation campaigns of 1941-52 exiled 30,000 families to Siberia and other remote parts of the Soviet Union. Official statistics state that over 120,000 people were deported from Lithuania during this period, while Lithuanian sources estimate the number of political prisoners and deportees at 300,000. In response to these events, thousands of resistance fighters participated in unsuccessful guerilla warfare against the Soviet regime from 1944 to 1953. In attempted integration and industrial development, Soviet authorities encouraged immigration of other Soviet workers, especially Russians. Until mid-1988, all political, economical and cultural life was controlled by the Lithuanian Communist Party (LCP). First Secretary Antanas Snieckus ruled the LCP during 1940-74. The LCP, in turn, was responsible to the Communist Party of the U.S.S.R. Lithuanians comprised only 18% of total party membership in 1947 and continued to represent a minority until 1958; by 1986, they made up 70% of the party's 197,000-strong body. During the Khrushchev thaw in the 1950s, the leadership of the LCP acquired limited independence in decision- making. The political and economic crisis that began in the U.S.S.R. in the mid- 1980s also affected Lithuania, and Lithuanians as well as other Balts offered active support to Gorbachev's program of social and political reforms. Under the leadership of intellectuals, the Lithuanian reform movement Sajudis was formed in mid-1988 and declared a program of democratic and national rights, winning nationwide popularity. On Sajudis' demand, the Lithuanian Supreme Soviet passed constitutional amendments on the supremacy of Lithuanian laws over Soviet legislation, annulled the 1940 decisions on proclaiming Lithuania a part of the U.S.S.R., legalized a multi-party system, and adopted a number of other important decisions. A large number of LCP members also supported the ideas of Sajudis, and with Sajudis support, Algirdas Brazauskas was elected First Secretary of the Central Committee of the LCP in 1988. In December 1989, the Brazauskas-led LCP split from the Soviet Union's Communist Party and became an independent party, renaming itself the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party in 1990. In 1990, Sajudis-backed candidates won the elections to the Lithuanian Supreme Soviet. On March 11, 1990, its chairman, Vytautas Landsbergis, proclaimed the restoration of Lithuanian independence, formed a new cabinet of ministers headed by Kazimiera Prunskiene, and adopted the Provisional Fundamental Law of the state and a number of bylaws. The U.S.S.R. demanded revocation of the act and began employing political and economic sanctions against Lithuania as well as demonstrating military force. On January 10, 1991, Soviet authorities seized the central publishing house and other premises in Vilnius and unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow the elected government by sponsoring a local "National Salvation Committee." Three days later the Soviets forcibly took over the TV tower, killing 14 civilians and injuring 700. During the national plebiscite on February 9, over 90% of those who took part in the voting (76% of all eligible voters) voted in favor of an independent, democratic Lithuania. Led by the tenacious Landsbergis, Lithuania's leaders continued to seek Western diplomatic recognition of its independence. Soviet military-security forces continued forced conscription, seized buildings, attacked customs posts, and sometimes killed customs and police officials. During the August 19 coup against Gorbachev, Soviet military troops took over several communications and other government facilities in Vilnius and other cities but returned to their barracks when the coup failed. The Lithuanian Government banned the Communist Party and ordered confiscation of its property. Despite Lithuania's achievement of complete independence, sizeable numbers of Russian forces remained on its territory. Withdrawal of those forces was one of Lithuania's top foreign policy priorities. Lithuania and Russia signed an agreement on September 8, 1992, calling for Russian troop withdrawals by August 31, 1993. These have been completed in full, despite unresolved issues such as the question of Russian military transit to and from the Kaliningrad enclave.

People of Lithuania

Lithuanians are neither Slavic nor Germanic, although the union with Poland and the colonization by Germans and Russians has influenced the culture and religious beliefs of Lithuania. This highly literate society places strong emphasis upon education, which is free and compulsory until age 16. Most Lithuanians and ethnic Poles belong to the Roman Catholic Church; the Russian Orthodox Church is the largest non-Catholic denomination. In spite of several border changes, Soviet deportations, a massacre of its Jewish population, and German and Polish repatriations, the population of Lithuania has maintained a fairly stable percentage of ethnic Lithuanians (from 79.3% in 1959 to 84.6% in 2007). Lithuania's citizenship law and constitution meet international and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) standards, guaranteeing universal human and civil rights. The Lithuanian language still retains the original sound system and morphological peculiarities of the prototypal Indo-European tongue and, therefore, is fascinating for linguistic study. Between 400 and 600 AD, the Lithuanian and Latvian languages split from the Eastern Baltic (Prussian) language group, which subsequently became extinct. The first known written Lithuanian text dates from a hymnal translation in 1545. Written with the Latin alphabet, Lithuanian has been the official language of Lithuania since 1989. While Lithuania was a member of the U.S.S.R., Russian was the official language, so many Lithuanians speak Russian as a second language. The resident Slavic populace generally speaks Russian or Polish as a first language.
Nationality:
Noun and adjective --Lithuanian(s). Population (2011): 3,239,032. Annual population growth rate (2010): -0.6%. Birth rate-- 11/1,000. Death rate-- 12.6/1,000 (2009). Population density (2007): 51.8 per sq. km. Ethnic groups (2007): Lithuanians 84.6%, Poles 6.3%, Russians 5.1%. Religions (2001 census): Roman Catholic (79%), Russian Orthodox (4.1%), Protestant (including Lutheran and Evangelical Christian Baptist) (1.9%). Languages (2008): Lithuanian (official language) 84.6%, Russian, and Polish. Education: Years compulsory-- 10 (until the age of 16). Literacy-- 99.6%. Health (2007): Infant mortality rate-- 6.9/1,000. Life expectancy-- 66.3 yrs. male, 77.57 yrs. female. Work force (2008): 1.59 million. Services 61.3%; industry 30.3%; agriculture 8.4%.
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