The largely untouched nature, rolling hills with meadows and deep forests, wild lake and swamp landscapes and, last but not least, the unique Curonian Spit – Lithuania is simply a wonderful travel destination, especially for people who appreciate pristine and, in some places, perhaps somewhat rough nature.
From the landscape you can almost infer its inhabitants: The Kurds, who mainly settled up the coast up to Latvia, were considered a harsh people. In general, the Lithuanians seem to be a tough people. While the Latvians and Estonians were converted to Christianity by the Brothers of the Sword and the Teutonic Order in the 13th century, the Lithuanians put up bitter resistance. The religious turn to Christianity only came when Lithuania merged with Catholic Poland in the 14th century.
Vilnius and Kaunas are definitely worth a visit for anyone who is even vaguely interested in culture. Its history, the architectural image, which primarily embodies elements of classicism, baroque and renaissance, forms a wonderful backdrop for a city break. The countless churches, the famous university and of course the remains of the old castle of the capital Vilnius should not be missed by visitors. Kaunas, temporarily the capital of Lithuania and the country’s second largest city, attracts visitors with its old castle, the town hall, which is also known as the “White Swan” because of its architecture, and the Peter and Paul Cathedral, which is well worth seeing.
A visit to the Hill of Crosses near the town of Siaulilai is also interesting: after the suppression of the Lithuanian uprising in 1831, countless crosses were set up on a hill: large and small, ornate and unadorned – crosses as far as the eye can see. The place was destroyed several times under the Soviets, but was always rebuilt by the Lithuanians.
And of course a visit to the Curonian Spit should not be missing on any trip. The wonderful piece of earth with its unique dune landscape, the airy pine forests and the nicely landscaped fishing villages is a wonderful contrast to an eventful city trip.
As much as the Baltic states are sometimes seen as a unity by outsiders (especially recent history leads to this conclusion), one has to point out the differences and the independence of each republic. This is expressed, for example, in earlier history, in religion, in the completely different languages, but also in architecture.
The economic crisis has hit Lithuania. A high unemployment rate and a lack of prospects have made Lithuania a country of emigration. Younger people in particular are trying to orient themselves towards Western Europe in the hope of better professional prospects. The population of Lithuania shrank from 3.7 million shortly after independence to just under 3 million.
According to Countryaah, Lithuania is the southernmost of the three Baltic states and is located in northeastern Europe. The country has borders with the Russian exclave Kaliningrad, Poland, Belarus and Latvia. There are therefore two external EU borders with its neighbors Russia and Belarus.
In the west, Lithuania has its approximately 100 kilometers long Baltic coast. The port city of Klaipeda, via which many tourists come to Lithuania by ferry, and the seaside resort of Palanga are also located here.
Lithuania does not even have 3 million inhabitants, the number of inhabitants has been falling in recent years. If you take into account the country’s area of around 65,000 square kilometers (slightly smaller than Bavaria), the country is comparatively sparsely populated. The Lithuanian capital Vilnius has about 550,000 inhabitants. Kaunas is the second largest city in the country with around 400,000 inhabitants. This is followed by Klaipeda with 200,000 inhabitants.
Lithuania has a so-called young moraine landscape. In the course of the last ice age, almost the entire area of the country was shaped by the ice masses. A gentle hilly landscape is typical, the highest elevation is just 294 meters.
A third of the country’s area is forested. Pine, fir and birch are the most dominant tree species. Most of the land area is used for agriculture. Lithuania has numerous rivers. The longest is the Nemunas (German: Memel) with almost 1,000 kilometers. There are a total of 2,800 lakes with an area of more than 0.5 hectares in the Baltic state. The deepest lake is Vistytis Lake in the south. It belongs partly to Russia and reaches a maximum depth of 50 meters.
The Curonian Spit is a scenic feature. The 98 kilometer long peninsula, which belongs partly to Lithuania and partly to Russia (Kaliningrad Oblast), separates the Baltic Sea from the Curonian Lagoon. In the north, near Klaipeda, there is an opening about 300 meters wide to the open sea. The headland, which is a national park and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, measures just 3.8 kilometers at its widest point. The narrowest point is only about 400 meters. The dune landscape, the sand masses of which were constantly moving after the deforestation measures, buried entire villages under them during their migration. Renewed plantings were able to contain the problem.
The climate of Lithuania is a temperate continental climate with warm summers and quite cold winters. The short summer can have very hot days with more than 30 degrees Celsius.
According to calculations by French geographers, a point near the village of Purnuskes in southeast Lithuania is considered the center of Europe. This calculation is based on the extreme European points with Spitzbergen in the north, the Urals in the east, the Canary Islands in the south and the Azores in the west.