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Country, the largest of the three Baltic States, northeastern Europe. Area: 25,212 sq mi (65,300 sq km). Population: (2009 est.) 3,339,000. Capital: Vilnius. Lithuanians make up about four-fifths of the population; there are smaller numbers of Russians, Poles, and Belarusians. Languages: Lithuanian (official), Russian, Polish, Belarusian. Religion: Christianity (predominantly Roman Catholic; also Eastern Orthodox). Currency: litas. The country consists of low-lying plains alternating with hilly uplands, watered by rivers that meander westward to the Baltic Sea. Manufacturing, including metalworking, woodworking, and textile production, is especially important in the east and south. Agriculture focuses on livestock breeding, especially dairy farming and pigs, and the cultivation of cereals, flax, sugar beets, potatoes, and fodder crops. Lithuania is a unitary multiparty republic with one legislative house; its head of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister. Lithuanian tribes united in the mid-13th century to oppose the Teutonic Knights. Gediminas, one of the grand dukes, expanded Lithuania into an empire that dominated much of eastern Europe in the 14th–16th centuries. In 1386 the Lithuanian grand duke became the king of Poland, and the two countries remained closely associated for the next 400 years. Lithuania was acquired by Russia in the Third Partition of Poland in 1795 and joined in the Polish revolt in 1863. Occupied by Germany during World War I, it declared its independence in 1918. In 1940 the Soviet Red Army gained control of Lithuania, which was soon incorporated into the Soviet Union. Germany occupied Lithuania again from 1941, but the Red Army regained control in 1944. With the breakup of the U.S.S.R., Lithuania declared its independence in 1990 and gained full independence in 1991. In the 1990s and early 21st century it sought economic stability, and in 2004 it became a member of the European Union.
Variants of LITHUANIA
Lithuania officially Republic of Lithuania
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Lithuania, visit Britannica.com.