Lithuania: History, Culture, And Everything You Need To Know | Kidadl

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Lithuania: History, Culture, And Everything You Need To Know

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Lithuania sits next to Baltic Sea and is one of the three major Baltic states of Europe, the other two being Estonia and Latvia.

The country of Lithuania has a lot to offer to any curious traveler. If you're looking to spend some quality time in nature, or just want to relax in spa resorts, Lithuania can offer you both.

Lithuania is a popular spot for tourists all year round. The people of this beautiful country to the east of Europe have a great sense of fashion and are proud to have a 'national scent.' The 'Scent of Lithuania,' as it is called, was introduced in the market not long ago and has become a national sensation ever since. This perfume is made of a number of ingredients, primarily wildflowers, raspberry, musk, ginger, and sandalwood. The perfume industry is one of the major industries of Lithuania, another one being the food processing industry.

So read on to find out all about Lithuania before you travel to this exceptional country!

History Of Lithuania

The recorded history of Lithuania began in the year 1009 when the name 'Lithuania' was incorporated into a book titled the 'Annals Of Quedlinburg.'

By the beginning of first millennium AD, several tribes living in the region (which is modern-day Lithuania) joined together to establish the Kingdom of Lithuania. With time, this kingdom grew stronger and took control of its adjoining lands As lands belonging to Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus were acquired by the rulers of Lithuania, this kingdom spanned a large territory.

During this time, the Russian lands were governed by the tenacious Mongols, and to take over their lands was not an easy feat. By the end of the 14th century AD, Lithuania attained the status of being the largest country in the whole of Europe in terms of territorial size. The Kingdom of Lithuania had by then been renamed the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It was one of the most influential and powerful kingdoms of its time.

Lithuanian people practiced a native religion called Romuva for a long period of time. It was only in the year 1387 that Christianity gained a foothold in the region. This made Lithuania the last major country in Europe to adopt Christianity as its official religion. Although a large number of Lithuanians today identify as Christians, many people in the country still have connections to their pagan past. In fact, in recent times, a revival of sorts of ancient traditions can be seen in younger generation of Lithuanians.

There are a plethora of religious traditions in the country, and indigenously-conscious younger Lithuanians are looking into ways of rekindling the many folk religions of Lithuania. As per country-wide censuses, the number of Lithuanians who have declared themselves as practitioners of indigenous folk religions has increased from 1,270 to 5,118. These folk religions of Lithuania are together known as the 'Baltic Faith.'

The movement to bring back ancient religious traditions in modern times was championed under the leadership of Jonas Trinkunas in the '90s. This movement is now engaged in petitioning the Lithuanian parliament to pass a resolution to announce the 'Baltic Faith' as the official faith of Lithuania.

Lithuania already had parts of Poland within its realm since the first part of the first millennium AD. However, in 1569, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania announced its formal union with Poland. Together, they formed the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth after the union took place. This Commonwealth lasted for three more centuries, until it met its demise towards the end of the 18th century.

It was around this time that Lithuania lost its power and prestige in Europe, and was quickly overrun by Prussian and Russian armies. The once-powerful Grand Duchy of Lithuania was divided between Russia and Prussia. Its occupation lasted for more than two centuries. At first, Tsarist Russia captured huge parts of the former Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1795. Russian domination continued until after the end of the First World War, when the Russian Empire ceased to exist and several of its constituent kingdoms declared themselves independent from Russia.

During the years between 1918-1940, Lithuania was an independent country. However, it was taken over by the Germans. When Nazi Germany was ultimately defeated at the end of the Second World War, Lithuania passed into the hands of Communist Russia. Soviet rule endured in Lithuania during the period between 1944-1990, and the latter became the first country to formally declare its independence from the crumbling Soviet Union in March 1990.

This historic occasion took place on March 11, 1990, a day that is celebrated as Lithuanian Independence Day.

Climate And Weather In Lithuania

Lithuania generally experiences a moderate climate. In summer months, temperatures can go up to 70-80°F (21.1-26.7°C). There is a lot of rainfall in the summer season as well. July is usually the wettest month of the calendar. The days of the summer season stretch for long hours, and the nights are relatively shorter.

On the other hand, winter months are generally very cold and damp. The sky remains overcast on most days in the winter season. The average temperature in winter months remains close to 86°F (30°C). The days in winter are usually very short. It rains and snows in Lithuania, with an average annual precipitation of around 26 in (66 cm).

Purnuskes village in Lithuania is the geographical center of Europe.

Culture Of Lithuania

Lithuania is culturally a very rich country. It is here that the oldest extant Indo-European language, Lithuanian, is spoken by the Lithuanian people. This language is similar in structure to other Indo-European languages, such as the ancient Indian language 'Sanskrit.' Anthropologists have suggested that Lithuanian was developed for the first time as far back as 5,000 years ago. Lithuanian has survived through the years, and is now one of the two remaining Baltic languages still in use in the world, with the other being Latvian.

Lithuanians love nature! The country is a storehouse of natural resources. It has done an admirable job when it comes to protecting its natural heritage by setting up five chief national parks. It boasts several nature reserves, and almost a third of the country's geographic area is covered with Lithuanian forests. This nation also houses a substantial number of the world's stork population. It is not surprising, therefore, that the stork is the national bird of Lithuania.

One of the most spectacular moving sand dunes of Europe is also located in Lithuania. The Curonian Spit is a peninsula that was shaped by a number of natural and artificial factors, and it has become one of the top destinations for both Lithuanian travelers as well as foreign tourists. The area that encompasses the Spit has a number of Curonian settlements in and around the lagoons that are part of the landscape. 

The Nemunas Delta Regional Park is situated very close to the Curonian Spit, and is a fantastic place to watch and admire more than 295 species of birds who breed on these lands. This Park is one of several Lithuanian national parks spread all across the country to preserve and protect the rich fauna of the land.

If you want a taster of Lithuania's rich natural beauty, be sure to check out the documentary 'The Ancient Woods.' This documentary is the next best thing to getting an idea of the country's rich natural resources, short of going there in person.

The sport of basketball is an integral part of Lithuanian popular culture. It is easily the most-loved sport in the country and is eagerly followed by a large number of citizens. Lithuanian players of the national team have performed brilliantly over the years in international competitions such as the Olympics. The Lithuanian national basketball team has so far bagged bronze medals on three occasions in the Summer Olympics. Several Lithuanian players have secured a place in the NBA Hall of Fame. The greatest basketball player that this country of eastern Europe has produced is arguably Arvydas Sabonis.

Lithuania has an interesting and rich culinary tradition. A dish referred to as 'Cepelinai' has been the mainstay of Lithuanian cuisine for more than a century now. Cepelinai is a dish containing dumplings made with potatoes, which are filled with pork and are consumed along with beer. The local population has a habit of eating these delicious dumplings with mugs of beer. The beer that is produced in Lithuania is renowned for its unique taste and flavor.

Cost Of Living In Lithuania

Living, studying, or traveling in Lithuania is not very costly. You would need around $900 to live decently for a month in one of the major cities of Lithuania. To live in the capital city of Vilnius, a salary of about a $1000 would be sufficient for a single person. The cost differs from place to place.

If we go by statistics, living in Lithuania is actually cheaper than the entire world's average. Lithuania is actually one of the best places to live in, with the country being ranked 33rd out of the 197 countries worldwide.

FAQs

What does the Lithuanian flag look like?

The Lithuanian flag displays three primary colors: yellow, green, and red. On the horizontal flag, yellow is placed at the top, followed by green and red.

What are some Lithuanian traditions?

Some popular Lithuanian traditions include the celebration of Easter Sunday, playing basketball at local and international levels, taking vacations in the Lithuanian wilderness, and drinking the world-famous Lithuanian beer.

How old is the Lithuanian language?

The Lithuanian language is around 5,000 years old. It hails from the Indo-European family of languages and is connected to other ancient languages like Sanskrit.

How do you greet others in Lithuanian?

Most people in this country greet each other by using the term 'labas,' which basically means 'hello.'

What is the most popular food in Lithuania?

The most popular food in Lithuania is Cepelinai. This dish consists of dumplings made with potato dough which are filled with pork.

What are some fun facts about Lithuania?

Lithuania is geographically unique, as the exact center of Europe is situated within this country. This country was also the first to invent the method of manufacturing vodka from corn. Lithuanians also have a passion for hot air balloons.

What is Lithuania best-known for?

Lithuania is best-known for being one of the unexplored treasures of eastern Europe. It has the distinction of being one of the greenest countries in the world. The Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, has a beautiful heritage of well-preserved medieval architecture. The diverse culture of the land is a strong attraction for many tourists.

Rajnandini is an art lover and enthusiastically likes to spread her knowledge. With a Master of Arts in English, she has worked as a private tutor and, in the past few years, has moved into content writing for companies such as Writer's Zone. Trilingual Rajnandini has also published work in a supplement for 'The Telegraph', and had her poetry shortlisted in Poems4Peace, an international project. Outside work, her interests include music, movies, travel, philanthropy, writing her blog, and reading. She is fond of classic British literature.

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