Lithuania, is a small country in the Baltic region of Europe. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea and bordered by Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland to the south, and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave. It is also known as the land of storks, the national bird for the country with 13000 pairs, hence the mythology of storks bringing babies.
The country has a lot to offer for nature lovers. Its dense forests, hills, beautiful blue lakes, and rivers are the main base. The forests are home to elk, deer, wild boar, and many birds. Some pine trees are up to 200 years old. The 126 lakes and countless streams make the park a great place for water sports. And old villages with wooden churches are found in many national parks.
Lithuania is the only Baltic country with more than eight hundred years of statehood tradition and its name was first mentioned one thousand years ago, in 1009. Wedged at the dividing line of Western and Eastern civilizations, Lithuania battled dramatically for its independence and survival. Once in the Middle Ages (15th century), Lithuania was the largest state in the entire continent of Europe, where crafts and overseas trade prospered. Lithuania was part of the Russian Empire in the nineteenth century. They became independent after World War I and then later annexed to the Soviet Union in 1940, before regaining full national independence in 1991.
Lithuania is justly proud of its unfailing treasures of folklore: colorful clothing, meandering songs, an abundance of tales and stories, sonorous dialects, and voluble language. Recent years have witnessed the revival of folk crafts and culinary traditions. The country’s lovely capital, Vilnius, is a small, pleasant place with a UNESCO-listed historic center.
Ethnic Lithuanians make up about five-sixths of the country’s population and Lithuania has the most homogeneous population in the Baltic States. And Lithuanian is one of only two living languages in the Baltic branch of the Indo-European language family, the other being Latvian. English is generally well-spoken and preferred foreign language by the younger generation. Most people of the older generation know Russian.
Lithuanian cuisine features products suited to the cool and moist northern climate of Lithuania. Since it shares its climate and agricultural practices with Northern Europe, its cuisine has some similarities to Scandinavian cuisine. Nevertheless, it has its distinguishing features with barley, potatoes, rye, beets, greens, berries, and mushrooms that are locally grown, and dairy products are one of its specialties. Fish dishes are very popular in the coastal region. Also, Lithuania is a beer-drinking country. Its beer is excellent, putting global brands to shame.