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BACKGROUND NOTES:  LITHUANIA
PUBLISHED BY THE BUREAU OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Official Name:
Republic of Lithuania


PROFILE

Geography
Area:  65,200 sq. km. (26,080 sq. miles); about the size of West 
Virginia.  

Cities:  Capital--Vilnius (pop. 592,500).  Other cities--Kaunas 
(430,000); Klaipeda (206,000); Siauliai (148,000); Panevezys (129,000). 

Terrain:  Lithuania's fertile, central lowland plains are separated by 
hilly uplands created by glacial drift.  

Climate:  With four distinct seasons, the climate is humid continental, 
with a moderating maritime influence from the Baltic Sea.  


People
Nationality:  Noun and adjective--Lithuanian(s).  

Population:  3.8 million.  

Growth rate:  -0.4%.  Infant mortality--13/1,000. 

Ethnic groups:  Lithuanian 80%, Russians 10%, Poles 7%, Belorussians 
1.7%, Ukrainians 1.2%.  

Religions:  Catholic (85%), Russian Orthodox.  

Languages:  Lithuanian (official).  Russian and Polish also are spoken 
by a large minority.  

Education:  Years compulsory--9.  Literacy--99%.  

Health:  Infant mortality rate--18/1,000.  Life expectancy--66 years 
male, 76 female.   Work force (1.9 million):  Industry--33%.  
Science/Education/Culture--14%.  Construction--13%.  
Agriculture/Forestry--8%.  Health care--7%.  
Transportation/Communications--7%.  Trade and Government--10%.


Government
Type:  Parliamentary democracy.  

Constitution:  1992.  

Branches:  Executive--popularly elected president (chief of state); 
prime minister (head of government).  Legislative--Seimas (parliament--
141 members, 4-year term); Judicial--Supreme Court.  

Administrative subdivisions:  11 cities, 44 rural districts. 
Principal political parties/coalitions:

Democratic Labor Party (75 seats); Landowners Union (0 seats); Social 
Democrats (8 seats); Union of Poles (4 seats); "Homeland Concord" 
Sajudis (26 seats); Christian Democrats (17 seats); Nationalist Union (4 
seats); Democratic Party (2 seats); Political Prisoners (1 seat); 
Independence Party (1 seat); Christian Democratic Union (1 seat); Greens 
(0 seats); Independent (1 seat).

Suffrage:  Universal at 18. 

Flag:  Horizontal tricolor:  yellow, green, red.


Economy
GDP:  $2.5 billion.  

Real GDP growth:  -17%.  

Per capita GDP (at 1992 prices):  $732. 

Natural resources:  Peat, potential for exploiting moderate oil and gas 
deposits offshore and on the coast. 

Agriculture/forestry (19% of GNP): Products--cattle, milk and dairy 
products, cereals, potatoes. 

Manufacturing (58% of GNP):  Products--Technological instruments, 
energy, textiles and footwear, machinery and spare parts, chemicals, 
food processing, wood/paper/pulp products. 

Trade:  Exports--$1 billion:  building materials (36%), services (15%), 
chemicals (14%), foodstuffs (14%), consumer goods (9%).  Imports--$1 
billion: chemicals (52%), heavy machinery (17%); fuels, metals, minerals 
(13%).  Major partners--Russia (45%), Belarus (13%), Germany (10%), 
Ukraine (6%).

Exchange rate (July 1994):  3.8 litai=U.S. $1. 

(###)



PEOPLE
The name "Lietuva," or Lithuania, might be derived from the word 
"lietava," for a small river, or "lietus," meaning rain (or land of 
rain).  Lithuanian still retains the original sound system and 
morphological peculiarities of the prototypal Indo-European tongue.  
Between A.D. 400 and 600, the Lithuanian and Latvian languages split 
from the Eastern Baltic (Prussian) language group, which subsequently 
became extinct.  The first known written Lithuanian text dates from a 
hymnal translation in 1545.  Written with the Latin alphabet, Lithuanian 
has been the official language of Lithuania again since 1989.  The 
Soviet era had imposed the official use of Russian, so most Lithuanians 
speak Russian as a second language while the resident Slavic populace 
generally speaks Russian as a first language.

Lithuanians are neither Slavic nor Germanic, although Polish and 
Germanic colonization and settlement in the 1300s left cultural and 
religious influences.  This highly literate society places strong 
emphasis upon education, which is free and compulsory until age 16.  
Most Lithuanians and ethnic Poles belong to the Roman Catholic Church, 
but a sizeable minority are Russian Orthodox.

Enduring several border changes, Soviet deportations, a massacre of its 
Jewish population, and postwar German and Polish repatriations, 
Lithuania has maintained a fairly stable percentage of ethnic 
Lithuanians (from 84% in 1923 to 80% in 1993).  Lithuania's citizenship 
law and constitution meet international standards, guaranteeing 
universal human and civil rights.


HISTORY
The earliest evidence of inhabitants in present-day Lithuania dates back 
12,000 years.  About 5,000 years ago, a culture known to archaeologists 
as "the cord-ware culture" spread over a vast region of Eastern Europe, 
between the Baltic Sea and the Vistula River in the west and the Moscow-
Kursk line in the east.  Merging with the indigenous population, they 
gave rise to the Balts, a distinct Indo-European ethnic group whose 
descendants are the present-day Lithuanian and Latvian nations and the 
now-extinct Prussians.

The first written mention of Lithuania occurs in A.D. 1009, although 
many centuries earlier the Roman historian Tacitus referred to the 
Lithuanians as excellent farmers.  Spurred by the expansion into the 
Baltic lands of the Germanic monastic military orders (the Order of the 
Knights of the Sword and the Teutonic Order), Duke Mindaugas united the 
lands inhabited by the Lithuanians,  Samogitians, Yotvingians, and 
Couranians into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (GDL) in the mid-13th 
century.  In 1251, Mindaugas adopted Catholicism and was crowned King of 
Lithuania on July 6, 1253; a decade later, civil war erupted upon his 
assassination until a ruler named Vitenis defeated the Teutonic Knights 
and restored order.

During 1316-41, Vitenis' brother and successor, Grand Duke Gediminas, 
expanded the empire as far as Kiev against the Tartars and Russians.  He 
twice attempted to adopt Christianity in order to end the GDL's 
political and cultural isolation from Western Europe.  To that purpose, 
he invited knights, merchants, and artisans to settle in Lithuania and 
wrote letters to Pope John XXII and European cities maintaining that the 
Teutonic Order's purpose was to conquer lands rather than spread 
Christianity.  Gediminas' dynasty ruled the GDL until 1572.  From the 
1300s through the early 1400s, the Lithuanian state expanded eastward.  
During the rule of Grand Duke Algirdas (1345-77), Lithuania almost 
doubled in size and achieved major victories over the Teutonic and 
Livonian Orders.  However, backed by the Pope and the Catholic West 
European countries, the Orders intensified their aggression.

During this period, Kestutis (Grand Duke in 1381-82) distinguished 
himself as the leader of the struggle against the Teutonic Order.  The 
ongoing struggle precipitated the 1385 Kreva Union signed by Grand Duke 
Jogaila of Lithuania (ruled in 1377-81 and 1382-92) and Jadwyga,  Queen 
of Poland. Upon their marriage, he became King of Poland.  A condition 
of the union was Lithuania's conversion to Christianity (in 1387).  This 
intensified Lithuania's economic and cultural development and oriented 
it toward the West.  The conversion invalidated claims by the Teutonic 
Order and temporarily halted its wars against Lithuania.

Lithuania's independence under the union with Poland was restored by 
Grand Duke Vytautas.  During his rule (1392-1430) the GDL turned into 
one of the largest states in Europe, encompassing present-day Belarus, 
most of Ukraine, and the Smolensk region of western Russia.  Led by 
Jogaila and Vytautas, the united Polish-Lithuanian army defeated the 
Teutonic Order in the Battle of Tannenberg (Gruenwald or Zalgiras) in 
1410, terminating the medieval Germanic drive eastward.

The 16th century witnessed a number of wars against the growing Russian 
state over the Slavic lands ruled by the GDL.  Coupled with the need for 
an ally in those wars, the wish of the middle and petty gentry to obtain 
more rights already granted to the Polish feudal lords drew Lithuania 
closer to Poland.  The Union of Lublin in 1569 united Poland and 
Lithuania into a commonwealth in which the highest power belonged to the 
Sejm of the nobility and its elected King, who was also the Grand Duke 
of Lithuania.  Mid-16th-century land reform strengthened serfdom and 
promoted the development of agriculture, owing to the introduction of a 
regular three-field rotation system.

The 16th century saw a rapid development of agriculture, growth of 
towns, spread of ideas of humanism and the Reformation, book printing, 
the emergence of Vilnius University in 1579, and the Lithuanian Codes of 
Law (the Statutes of Lithuania), which stimulated the development of 
culture both in Lithuania and in neighboring countries.

In the 16th-18th century, wars against Russia and Sweden weakened the 
Polish-Lithuanian Republic.  The end of the 18th century saw three 
divisions of the commonwealth by Russia, Prussia, and Austria; in 1795 
most of Lithuania became part of the Russian empire.  Attempts to 
restore independence in the uprisings of 1794, 1830-31, and 1863 were 
suppressed and followed by a tightened police regime, increasing 
Russification, the closure of Vilnius University in 1832, and the 1864 
ban on the printing of Lithuanian books in traditional Latin characters. 

Because of his proclamation of liberation and self-rule, many 
Lithuanians gratefully volunteered for the French army when Napoleon 
occupied Kaunas in 1812 during his catastrophic invasion of Russia.  
After the war, Russia imposed extra taxes on Catholic landowners and 
enserfed an increasing number of peasants.  

A market economy slowly developed with the abolition of serfdom in 1861.  
Lithuanian farmers grew stronger, contributing to an increase in the 
number of intellectuals of peasant origin, which, in turn, led to the 
growth of a Lithuanian national movement.  In German-ruled Lithuania 
Minor (Konigsberg or Kalinin-grad), Lithuanian publications were printed 
in large numbers and then smuggled into Russian-ruled Lithuania.  The 
most outstanding leaders of the national liberation movement were J. 
Basanavicius and V. Kudirka.  The ban on the Lithuanian press finally 
was lifted in 1904.

During World War I, the German army occupied Lithuania in 1915, and the 
occupation administration allowed a Lithuanian Conference to convene in 
Vilnius in September 1917.  The conference adopted a resolution 
demanding the restoration of an independent Lithuanian state and elected 
the Lithuanian Council, a standing body chaired by Antanas Smetona

In 1919 and 1920, Lithuania fought what is known as its war for 
independence against three factions:  the Red Army, which in 1919 
controlled territory ruled by a Bolshevist government headed by V. 
Kapsukas; the Polish army; and the Bermondt army, composed of Russian 
and German troops under the command of the Germans.  Lithuania failed to 
regain the Polish-occupied Vilnius region.

In the Moscow Treaty of July 12, 1920, Russia recognized Lithuanian 
independence and renounced all previous claims to it.  The Seimas 
(parliament) of Lithuania adopted a constitution on August 1, 1922, 
declaring Lithuania a parliamentary republic, and in 1923 Lithuania 
annexed the Klaipeda region, the northern part of Lithuania Minor.  

By then, most countries had recognized Lithuanian independence.  After a 
military coup on December 17, 1926, Nationalist Party leader Antanas 
Smetona became President and gradually introduced an authoritarian 
regime.

Lithuania's borders posed its major foreign policy problem.  Poland's 
occupation (1920) and annexation (1922) of the Vilnius region strained 
bilateral relations, and in March 1939 Germany forced Lithuania to 
surrender the Klaipeda region (after World War II, the Nuremberg trials 
declared the treaty null and void).  Radical land reform in 1922 
considerably reduced the number of estates, promoted the growth of small 
and middle farms and boosted agricultural production and exports, 
especially of livestock.  In particular, light industry and agriculture 
successfully adjusted to the new market situation and developed new 
structures.

The interwar period gave birth to a comprehensive system of education, 
with Lithuanian as the language of instruction and the development of 
the press, literature, music, arts, and theater.  On August 23, 1939, 
the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact pulled Lithuania under German domination 
until the Soviet-German agreement of September 28, 1939, brought 
Lithuania under Soviet domination.  Soviet pressure and a complicated 
international situation forced Lithuania to sign an agreement with the 
U.S.S.R. on October 10, 1939, by which Lithuania was given back the city 
of Vilnius and the part of Vilnius region seized by the Red Army during 
the Soviet-Polish war; in return, some 20,000 Soviet soldiers were 
deployed in Lithuania.

On June 14, 1940, the Soviet Government issued an ultimatum to 
Lithuania, demanding the formation of a new Lithuanian Government and 
permission to station additional Red Army troops. Lithuania succumbed to 
the Soviet demand, and 100,000 Soviet troops moved into the country the 
next day.  

Arriving in Kaunas, the Soviet Government's special envoy began 
implementing the plan for Lithuania's incorporation into the U.S.S.R.  
On June 17, the alleged People's Government, headed by J. Paleckis, was 
formed; one month later, parliamentary elections were held, whereupon 
Lithuania was proclaimed a Soviet Socialist Republic on August 3. 

Totalitarian rule was established, Sovietization of the economy and 
culture began, and Lithuanian state employees and public figures were 
arrested and exiled to Russia.  During the mass deportation campaign of 
June 14-18, 1941, about 7,400 families (12,600 people) were deported to 
Siberia without investigation or trial; 3,600 people were imprisoned; 
and over 1,000 were massacred.

Lithuanian revolt against the U.S.S.R. soon followed the outbreak of the 
war against Germany in 1941.  Via Radio Kaunas on June 23, the rebels 
declared the restoration of Lithuania's independence and actively 
operated a provisional government, without German recognition, from June 
24 to August 5.  Lithuania became part of the German occupational 
administrative unit of Ostland.  People were repressed and taken to 
forced labor camps in Germany.  The Nazis and local collaborators 
deprived all Lithuanian Jews of their civil rights and massacred about 
200,000 of them.  Together with Soviet partisans, supporters of 
independence put up a resistance movement to deflect Nazi recruitment of 
Lithuanians to the German army.

Forcing the Germans out of Lithuania by 1944, the Red Army re-
established control, and Sovietization continued with the arrival of 
communist party leaders to create a local party administration.  The 
mass deportation campaigns of 1941-52 exiled 30,000 families to Siberia 
and other remote parts of the Soviet Union.  Official statistics state 
that over 120,000 people were deported from Lithuania during this 
period, while Lithuanian sources estimate the number of political 
prisoners and deportees at 300,000.  

In response to these events, thousands of resistance fighters 
participated in unsuccessful guerilla warfare against the Soviet regime 
from 1944 to 1953.  

In attempted integration and industrial development, Soviet authorities 
encouraged immigration of other Soviet workers, especially Russians.

Until mid-1988, all political, economical and cultural life was 
controlled by the Lithuanian Communist Party (LCP).  First Secretary 
Antanas Snieckus ruled the LCP during 1940-74.  The LCP, in turn, was 
responsible to the Communist Party of the U.S.S.R.  

Lithuanians comprised only 18% of total party membership in 1947 and 
continued to represent a minority until 1958; by 1986, they made up 70% 
of the party's 197,000-strong body.  During the Khrushchev thaw in the 
1950s, the leadership of the LCP acquired limited independence in 
decision-making.

The political and economic crisis that began in the U.S.S.R. in the mid-
1980s also affected Lithuania, and Lithuanians as well as other Balts 
offered active support to Gorbachev's program of social and political 
reforms.  

Under the leadership of intellectuals, the Lithuanian reform movement 
Sajudis was formed in mid-1988 and declared a program of democratic and 
national rights, winning nationwide popularity.  On Sajudis' demand, the 
Lithuanian Supreme Soviet passed constitutional amendments on the 
supremacy of Lithuanian laws over Soviet legislation, annulled the 1940 
decisions on proclaiming Lithuania a part of the U.S.S.R., legalized a 
multi-party system, and adopted a number of other important decisions.  

A large number of LCP members also supported the ideas of Sajudis, and 
with Sajudis support, Algirdas Brazauskas was elected First Secretary of 
the Central Committee of the LCP in 1988.  In December 1989, the 
Brazauskas-led LCP split from the Soviet Union's Communist Party and 
became an independent party, renaming itself  the Lithuanian Democratic 
Labor Party in 1990.

In 1990, Sajudis-backed candidates won the elections to the Lithuanian 
Supreme Soviet.  On March 11, 1990, its chairman, Vytautas Landsbergis, 
proclaimed the restoration of Lithuanian independence, formed a new 
cabinet of ministers headed by Kazimiera Prunskiene, and adopted the 
Provisional Fundamental Law of the state and a number of bylaws.  

The U.S.S.R. demanded revocation of  the act and began employing 
political and economic sanctions against Lithuania as well as 
demonstrating military force.  On January 10, 1991, Soviet authorities 
seized the central publishing house and other premises in Vilnius and 
unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow the elected government by 
sponsoring a local "National Salvation Committee."  Three days later the 
Soviets forcibly took over the TV tower, killing 14 civilians and 
injuring 700.

During the national plebiscite on February 9, over 90% of those who took 
part in the voting (76% of all eligible voters) voted in favor of an 
independent, democratic Lithuania.  Led by the tenacious Landsbergis, 
Lithuania's leaders continued to seek Western diplomatic recognition of 
its independence.  Soviet military-security forces continued forced 
conscription, seized buildings, attacked customs posts, and sometimes 
killed customs and police officials.

During the August 19 coup against Gorbachev, Soviet military troops took 
over several communications and other government facilities in Vilnius 
and other cities but returned to their barracks when the coup failed.  
The Lithuanian Government banned the Communist Party and ordered 
confiscation of its property.

Despite Lithuania's achievement of complete independence, sizeable 
numbers of Russian forces remained on its territory.  Withdrawal of 
those forces was one of Lithuania's top foreign policy priorities.  
Lithuania and Russia signed an agreement on September 8, 1992, calling 
for Russian troop withdrawals by August 31, 1993.   These have been 
completed in full, despite unresolved issues such as the question of 
Russian military transit to and from the Kaliningrad enclave.


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
For over a year after independence, political life was fettered by an 
unclear delineation of powers between parliament and government.  
Political polarization increased, and name recognition played a much 
more significant role in politics than party affiliation.  Sajudis 
remained part of an unofficial ruling coalition with two other 
politically right-wing parties, but rivalries were heightened by 
personally divisive political attacks and bureaucratic gridlock.

In an effort to reduce the size and recalcitrance of a government 
bureaucracy allegedly impeding reform, in April 1992 then-Prime Minister 
Vagnorius unsuccessfully attempted to enact a measure permit-ting the 
dismissal of former Communist Party members and of those unwilling to 
enforce government decrees.  Two deputies and a minister unsuccessfully 
tendered resignations in support of Vagnorius, but the rest of the 
cabinet wrote a letter to President Landsbergis complaining of the Prime 
Minister's confrontational governing style.  Vagnorius, in turn, 
unsuccessfully submitted his resignation effective in May.

With the failure of the May 23 referendum on establishing a permanent 
office of the president (based on the French model), President 
Landsbergis threatened to resign.  Right-wing parliamentarians boycotted 
legislative sessions to delay attempts to form a quorum and successfully 
forestalled Vagnorius' resignation until mid-June, when a quorum passed 
a no-confidence motion.  Aleksandras Abisala, another Landsbergis 
favorite, became the new Prime Minister.

A constitution was approved by 53% of eligible voters (85% of those who 
actually voted) in an October 2, 1992, referendum.  The results of the 
October 25 and the November 15 runoff elections handed the Democratic 
Labor Party (LDP), headed by former Communist Party boss Algirdas 
Brazauskas, a plurality of votes and a clear majority of parliamentary 
seats.  

Subsequent presidential elections on February 14, 1993, gave Brazauskas 
victory over a non-LDP coalition led by independent candidate Stasys 
Lozoraitis, Lithuania's former ambassador to the U.S.  Economic 
mismanagement and collapse, fueled by chronic energy shortages and 
political factionalism, played a decisive role in the election results.

The Seimas (parliament), a unicameral legislative body, is the highest 
organ of state authority.  It initiates and approves legislation 
sponsored by the prime minister.  The prime minister has full 
responsibility and control over his cabinet.

National Security
Lithuania's defense system is based upon the Swedish-Finnish concept of 
a rapid response force composed of a mobilization base and a small group 
of career professionals.  The defense ministry is responsible for combat 
forces, border control, customs, civil defense, search/rescue, and 
intelligence operations.  The army consists of three battalions of 850 
troops each, and there is a mandatory one-year active-duty draft period.  
Alternative service for conscientious objectors is available.  The navy 
and coast guard use patrol boats and small Russian frigates for coastal 
surveillance; the air force operates 30 planes used for reconnaissance 
and border patrol.

The 5,400 border guards fall under the interior ministry's supervision 
and are responsible for border protection and passport and customs 
duties and share responsibility with the navy for smuggling/drug 
trafficking interdiction.  A special security department handles VIP 
protection and communications security.  The "SKAT," or national guard, 
consists of over 700 professionals and 5,000 volunteers.

Key Government Officials
President--Algirdas Brazauskas 
Prime Minister--Adolfas Slezevicius
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Povilas Gylys

Lithuania maintains an embassy in the United States at 2622 16th Street, 
Washington, DC 20009 tel:  202-234-5860.


ECONOMY
The Soviet era brought Lithuania intensive industrialization and 
economic integration into the U.S.S.R., although the level of technology 
and state concern for environmental, health, and labor issues lagged far 
behind Western standards.  Urbanization increased from 39% in 1959 to 
68% in 1989.  From 1949 to 1952, the Soviets abolished private ownership 
in agriculture, establishing collective and state farms.  Production 
declined and did not reach pre-war levels until the early 1960s.  The 
intensification of agricultural production through intense chemical use 
and mechanization eventually doubled production but created additional 
ecological problems.

Industry is Lithuania's largest economic sector.  It is being 
privatized, and most small firms are now under private ownership.  Large 
industries, accounting for the bulk of Lithuania's capital investment, 
are still mainly under state control. Food-processing and light 
industries dominate, but furniture, footwear, and textile manufacturing 
are important. 

Machine industries (tools, motors, computers, consumer durables) account 
for over one-third of the industrial work force but generally suffer 
from outdated plants and equipment.  In agriculture, Lithuania produces 
cattle, hogs, and poultry for export.  The principal crops are wheat, 
feed grains, and rye.  Farm production dropped in 1992 as a result of 
difficulties with agricultural privatization and poor weather.

The transportation infrastructure is adequate.  Lithuania has one ice-
free seaport with ferry services to German ports.  There are operating 
commercial airports with scheduled international services at Vilnius and 
Kaunas.  The road system is good, but border crossings may be difficult 
due to inadequate border facilities at checkpoints with Poland. 
Telecommunications have improved greatly since independence as a result 
of heavy investment.  The banking/financial sector is weak but 
improving.

Lithuania had a slightly negative trade balance in 1993.  Its main 
trading partners are Eastern Europe and the New Independents States 
(NIS) of the former Soviet Union.  The main categories of imported 
products are energy, vehicles for transport and machinery.  Exports 
consist mainly of machinery and food products.  Trade with Western 
countries rose from 8% of the total in 1992 to over 24% in 1993.  

Although gross domestic product (GDP) accounts comparable to Western 
figures are not yet fully available, real GDP has been declining since 
1990.  In 1992, it fell by about 40% and continued to fall this year, 
albeit at a less dramatic rate. Inflation is also high due to price 
deregulation and higher costs of imported energy and other inputs from 
the traditional suppliers in the NIS.  The consumer price index rose by 
1,200% in 1992, and monthly retail price increases in 1993 have been 
generally above 10%.  This year, however, there are indications of 
improvement.  The spread of private sector activity, not always 
reflected in national accounts statistics, is creating productive jobs 
and boosting consumer spending.  Also, the introduction in mid-1993 of a 
stable national currency has stimulated investment.

The government focuses its efforts on stabilizing the economy, taking 
measures to secure supplies of energy and other vital inputs, providing 
a social safety net to alleviate the worst consequences of the economic 
depression, and combating economic crime.  It has enacted legislation 
providing a reasonably transparent and favorable regulatory regime for 
private investment.

In 1993, Lithuania exported $16 million in goods to the U.S. and 
imported $57 million, much of the latter being agricultural commodities 
under concessional programs.  U.S.-Lithuanian firms registered 235 of 
3,674 foreign joint ventures, and of $115 million in total foreign 
investment, the U.S. holds a $35 million share.

Over 55,000 private, personally owned companies now exist in Lithuania, 
including an additional 19,000 corporations and 600 foreign-controlled 
businesses.  To date, the state privatization agency has privatized 
3,800 companies.  State companies are now authorized to sell up to 50% 
of their shares for hard currency without cabinet approval, and many of 
more than 20 commercial banks offer a full range of international 
banking services.  Monthly inflation remains in the single digits, and 
the new currency remains stable.  Lithuania recorded a trade surplus in 
1992 and has discussed creation of six "free economic zones" offering 
tax, customs, and tariff breaks for foreign investors.


FOREIGN RELATIONS
Lithuania became a member of the United Nations on September 18, 1991, 
and participates in a number of its organizations and is a signatory to 
other international agreements.  It also is a member of the Conference 
on Security and Cooperation in Europe, the North Atlantic Cooperation 
Council, and the Council of Europe.  Lithuania is unaffiliated directly 
with any political alliance but welcomes further cooperation and 
integration with NATO, the European Union, and other Western 
organizations.

Lithuania maintains embassies in the United States, Sweden, Finland, the 
Vatican, Belgium, Denmark,  France, Germany, Poland, United Kingdom, and 
Venezuela.  It also operates missions in Estonia, Latvia, Russia, Czech 
Republic, Italy, Ukraine, and in New York City, to the United Nations 
and a consulate.  Honorary consuls are located in Argentina, Australia, 
Canada, Iceland, South Korea, Greece, Norway, Philippines, and in the 
United States in Los Angeles and Chicago.

Lithuania's liberal citizenship law has substantially eased tensions 
with its neighbors.  Lithuania's suspension of two strongly ethnic 
Polish district councils on charges of blocking reform or disloyalty 
during the August 1991 coup had cooled relations with Poland, but 
bilateral cooperation has markedly increased with the holding of 
elections in those districts and the signing of a bilateral friendship 
treaty.  A long-standing border dispute with Belarus is being 
negotiated.

U.S.-Lithuanian Relations
The United States established diplomatic relations with Lithuania on 
July 28, 1922.  U.S. representation accredited to Lithuania served from 
the legation in Riga, Latvia, until May 31, 1930, when a legation in 
Kaunas was established.  The Soviet invasion forced the closure of the 
legation in Kaunas on September 5, 1940, but Lithuanian representation 
in the United States has continued uninterrupted for over 70 years.  The 
U.S. never recognized the forcible incorporation of Lithuania into the 
U.S.S.R. and views the present Government of Lithuania as a legal 
continuation of the interwar republic.  Lithuania has enjoyed most-
favored-nation (MFN) treatment with the U.S. since December 1991.  
Through 1993, the U.S. has committed over $66 million to Lithuania's 
economic and political transformation and to address humanitarian needs.  
Food grain and feed grain assistance totals $46 million of this figure.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--vacant
Economic Officer--John Stepanchuk Political Officer--Algis Avizienis
Administrative Officer--Matthew Johnson 
Consular Officer--Steven Wangsness 
AID Director--John Cloutier 
Public Affairs Officer--Victor Sidabras

The U.S. embassy in Lithuania is located at Akmenu 6, Vilnius tel. (370-
2) 222-724.  

(###)



TRAVEL NOTES
Customs:  Lithuanian tourist visas still may be obtained at Western road 
border crossings and at Vilnius Airport, but the U.S. Embassy strongly 
recommends that all visitors obtain visas from the Lithuanian Embassy in 
Washington DC (or in major Western European capitals) before departure. 
The Embassy and its Consulates charge a $25 visa processing fee. Polish 
border crossings have expanded and improved, but one can expect delays. 
Visitors are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy. Latvian visas 
are also valid for entry into Lithuania.

Duty-free items include humanitarian aid, foreign currency and 
securities, goods and valuables unsuitable for consumption, and items 
temporarily brought into Lithuania and brought back without "reworking 
or processing."  Besides internationally banned or regulated items 
requiring special permission, 10-25% percent duties and restrictions are 
imposed on a number of imports and exports, particularly alcohol, 
tobacco, foodstuffs and nonferrous metals.  The government has lifted 
restrictions on the export of hard currency.

Climate and clothing:  Vilnius's climate is temperately continental, 
with seasons of almost equal length.  Summers are pleasant, but winters 
inland are very cold and snowy.

Health:  Medical care does not meet Western standards, facing a severe 
shortage of basic medical supplies, including disposable needles, 
anesthetics, and antibiotics.  Bring personal medication.  Sometimes 
heat and hot water are unavailable because of the occasional disruption 
of energy supplies.  Raw fruits and vegetables are safe to eat, but 
avoid drinking unpasteurized milk and tapwater.

Transportation:  SAS, LOT, Malev, Swissair, Austrian Air, Lithuanian 
Airlines and Lufthansa provide service between Vilnius Airport and 
European cities. Two trains depart daily for Warsaw without crossing 
into Belarus, but take 12 hours.  A bus line connects Warsaw, Vilnius, 
Riga and Tallinn. Bus and taxi services within the capital and its 
environs are good. Taxis are inexpensive and available at stands or may 
be ordered by phone.  Rental cars are available. Gasoline prices are 
reaching market rates, and rationing is in effect.

Telecommunications:  Improved telephone and telegraph services are 
readily available at standard international rates.  Vilnius is 7 hours 
ahead of Eastern Standard Time.

Tourist attractions:  Over 550,000 tourists visited Lithuania in 1989. 
As Europe's geographic epicenter, Vilnius is the leading attraction, 
featuring beautiful Baroque churches and estates, 16 museums, fortress 
towers, and historic medieval castles nearby in Trakai and Medininkai. 
The seaside resorts of Palanga and Kursiu Nerija are famous for clean 
beaches and natural sand dunes.  Ethnographic parks and museums 
depicting Lithuanian life through the centuries abound, as do scenic 
national preserves.  Historic churches and castles dating to Lithuania's 
Great Power era are also readily accessible.

Currency, Weights and Measures:  The national currency, the litas, is 
convertible with major Western monies, but some vendors still accept 
Western cash for purchases.  Major credit cards can be used primarily at 
large banks and Western hotels in Vilnius, but traveler's checks are 
rarely accepted yet.  Lithuania uses the metric system.  

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Further Information

These titles are provided as a general indication of material published 
on this country.  The Department of State does not endorse unofficial 
publications.

Gordon, Harry.  The Shadow of Death: The Holocaust in Lithuania. 
Lexington:  University Press of Kentucky, 1991. 

Jurgela, Constantine R.  History of the Lithuanian Nation.  New York: 
Lithuanian Cultural Institute. 

Kantautas, Adam, and Kantautas, Filomena.  A Lithuanian Bibliography:  A 
Checklist of Books and Periodicals Held by the Major Libraries of Canada 
and the United States.  Edmonton:  University of Alberta Press, 1975; 
supplement 1980. 

Kaslas, Bronis J.  The U.S.S.R.-German Aggression Against Lithuania.  
New York:  Robert Speller & Sons, 1973. 

Koncius, Joseph B.  Vytautas the Great:  Grand Duke of Lithuania.  
Miami:  The Franklin Press, 1964. 

Olcott, Martha Brill.  "The Lithuanian Crisis."  Foreign Affairs (Summer 
1990), 30-46. 

Olesczuk, Thomas A.  Political Justice in the Soviet Union:  Dissent and 
Repression in Lithuania, 1967-1987.  New York:  Columbia University 
Press/East European Monographs, 1988. 

Remeikis, Thomas.  Opposition to Soviet Rule in Lithuania, 1945-1980.  
Chicago:  Institute for Lithuanian Studies Press, 1980. 

Rodgers, Mary M., and Streissguth, Tom, eds.  Lithuania:  Then and Now.  
Minneapolis:  Lerner Publications Company, 1992. 

Senn, Alfred Erich.  Lithuania Awakening Berkeley:  University of 
California Press, 1990 

Silbajoris, Frank R.  "Lithuania: A Question of Identity."  Cross 
Currents, 10 (1991), 31-38. 

Urdzins, Andrejs and Vilks, Andris, editors.  The Baltic States:  A 
Reference Book.  Vilnius:  Encyclopedia Publishers, 1991. 

Williams, Roger, ed.  Baltic States:  Insight Guides.  Boston:  
Houghton-Mifflin Company, 1993.

For information on economic trends, commercial development, production, 
trade regulations, and tariff rates, contact the International Trade 
Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, DC 20230 at 
(202) 482-4915, or any Commerce Department district office.  For 
information on business opportunities, call the Commerce Department's 
East European Business Information Center at (202)482-2645.  

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Published by the United States Department of State -- Bureau of Public 
Affairs -- Office of  Public Communication -- Washington, DC -- August 
1994 -- Managing Editor:  Peter A. Knecht -- Editor:  Peter Freeman  

Department of State Publication 10196 -- Background Notes Series 
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing 
Office, Washington, DC 20402.

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