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Coat of Arms of Lithuania

Lithuania (/ˌlɪθjuˈniə/ LITH-yoo-AYN-ee-ə; Lithuanian: Lietuva [lʲɪɛtʊˈvɐ]), officially the Republic of Lithuania (Lithuanian: Lietuvos Respublika [lʲɪɛtʊˈvoːs rʲɛsˈpʊblʲɪkɐ]), is a country in the Baltic region of Europe. It is one of three Baltic states and lies on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea. It borders Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland to the south, and Russia to the southwest, with a maritime border with Sweden to the west. Lithuania covers an area of 65,300 km2 (25,200 sq mi), with a population of 2.86 million. Its capital and largest city is Vilnius; other major cities are Kaunas, Klaipėda, Šiauliai and Panevėžys. Lithuanians belong to the ethnolinguistic group of the Balts and speak Lithuanian, one of only a few living Baltic languages, and the most widely spoken.

For millennia, the southeastern shores of the Baltic Sea were inhabited by various Baltic tribes. In the 1230s, Lithuanian lands were united for the first time by Mindaugas, who formed the Kingdom of Lithuania on 6 July 1253. Subsequent expansion and consolidation resulted in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which by the 14th century was the largest country in Europe. In 1386, the Grand Duchy entered into a de facto personal union with the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland. The two realms were united into the bi-confederal Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1569, forming one of the largest and most prosperous states in Europe. The Commonwealth lasted more than two centuries, until neighbouring countries gradually dismantled it between 1772 and 1795, with the Russian Empire annexing most of Lithuania's territory. Towards the end of World War I, Lithuania declared Independence in 1918, founding the modern Republic of Lithuania. In World War II, Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union, then by Nazi Germany, before being reoccupied by the Soviets in 1944. Lithuanian armed resistance to the Soviet occupation lasted until the early 1950s. On 11 March 1990, a year before the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union, Lithuania became the first Soviet republic to break away when it proclaimed the restoration of its independence.

Lithuania is a developed country with a high income, advanced economy, ranking 35th in the Human Development Index. Lithuania is a member of the European Union, the Council of Europe, the eurozone, the Nordic Investment Bank, the Schengen Agreement, NATO, and OECD. It also participates in the Nordic-Baltic Eight (NB8) regional co-operation format. (Full article...)

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Soviet prisoners of war in a Lithuanian camp. As of December 1, 1919, the Lithuanians held 1,773 Soviet prisoners.

The Lithuanian–Soviet War or Lithuanian–Bolshevik War (Lithuanian: karas su bolševikais) was fought between newly independent Lithuania and the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic in the aftermath of World War I. It was part of the larger Soviet westward offensive of 1918–1919. The offensive followed the retreat of German troops and sought to establish Soviet republics in Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland and link up with the German Revolution. By the end of December 1918 Soviet forces reached Lithuanian borders. Largely unopposed, they occupied one town after another and by the end of January 1919 controlled about two thirds of the Lithuanian territory. In February, the Soviet advance was stopped by Lithuanian and German volunteers, who prevented the Soviets from capturing Kaunas, the temporary capital of Lithuania. From April 1919, the Lithuanian war went parallel with the Polish–Soviet War. Poland had territorial claims over Lithuania, especially the Vilnius Region; these tensions spilt over into the Polish–Lithuanian War.

British-Polish historian Norman Davies summarized the situation: "the German army was supporting the Lithuanian nationalists, the Soviets were supporting the Lithuanian communists and the Polish Army was fighting them all." In mid-May, the Lithuanian army, now commanded by General Silvestras Žukauskas, began an offensive against the Soviets in Northeastern Lithuania. By mid-June, the Lithuanians reached the Latvian border and cornered the Soviets among lakes and hills near Zarasai, where the Soviets held out until the end of August 1919. The Soviets and Lithuanians, separated by the Daugava River, maintained their fronts until the Battle of Daugavpils in January 1920. As early as September 1919, the Soviets offered to negotiate a peace treaty, but talks began only in May 1920. The Soviet–Lithuanian Peace Treaty was signed on July 12, 1920. Soviet Russia fully recognized independent Lithuania. (Full article...)
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Military of Lithuania
Public holidays in Lithuania
Date English name Local name Remarks
1 January New Year's Day Naujųjų metų diena  
16 February Day of Restoration of the State of Lithuania (1918) Lietuvos valstybės atkūrimo diena  
11 March Day of Restoration of Independence of Lithuania (1990) Lietuvos nepriklausomybės atkūrimo diena  
Moveable Sunday Easter Sunday Šv. Velykos Commemorates resurrection of Jesus. The first Sunday after the full moon that occurs on or soonest after 21 March.
The day after Easter Sunday Easter Monday Antroji šv. Velykų diena  
1 May International Workers' Day Tarptautinė darbo diena  
First Sunday in May Mother's Day Motinos diena  
First Sunday in June Father's Day Tėvo diena  
24 June St. John's Day / Day of Dew Joninės / Rasos Celebrated according to mostly pagan traditions (Midsummer Day, Saint Jonas Day).
6 July Statehood Day Valstybės (Lietuvos karaliaus Mindaugo karūnavimo) ir Tautiškos giesmės diena Celebrates the 1253 coronation of Mindaugas, the first King of Lithuania, and the national anthem of Lithuania.
15 August Assumption Day Žolinė (Švč. Mergelės Marijos ėmimo į dangų diena) Also marked according to pagan traditions, celebrating the goddess Žemyna and noting the mid-August as the middle between summer and autumn.
1 November All Saints' Day Visų šventųjų diena Halloween is increasingly popular and is also informally celebrated on the eve (31 October).
2 November All Souls' Day Mirusiųjų atminimo (Vėlinių) diena  
24 December Christmas Eve Šv. Kūčios  
25 and 26 December Christmas Day Šv. Kalėdos Commemorates birth of Jesus.


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