Labas! Lithuania really is a country of contrasts. It sits right at the heart of Europe and has something to please just about everyone – dense forests, lakes and a beautiful coastline, as well as some world class spas and a vibrant (and ancient) culture. The people are friendly and love to welcome visitors. Why not pay Lithuania a visit?
Lithuania is a small country (about the same size as Ireland) situated in the geographical centre of Europe. With a colourful and varied history, it has experienced its fair share of change over the centuries. In the Middle Ages Lithuania was a feudal country and part of an empire that stretched from the Baltic to the Black Sea. It’s been invaded and occupied countless times, but in more recent decades, it gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1990 and became an EU and NATO Member in 2004.
Lithuania is often called the land or rivers and lakes. It’s easy to see why. There are more than 22,000 rivers and 820 lakes, so is a mecca for nature and water lovers. It’s also got monuments, castles and rather a lot of churches. It was the last Eastern European country to convert to Christianity but still keeps remnants of its pagan past. What’s less well known is the country’s strong art and music heritage. Why not take in a classical concert or see a play or opera in one of the country’s 30 theatres, or check out a contemporary art exhibition.
In 2003, UNESCO confirmed Lithuania as a world heritage site. The Vilnius Historical Centre has one of the largest and most beautiful old towns in Central and Eastern Europe. The Kernave is also well worth a visit and is the place to see ‘cross-crafting’ – a unique Lithuanian folk art tradition. Crosses were (and still are) build as memorials to the dead and as signs of spiritual protection. The art of cross carving is passed on from generation to generation.
And the food is interesting too. Think rye break, cream cheese and honey. Popular traditional foods include black bread, cold beet-root soup (šaltibarščiai) and zeppelins (didžkukuliai). Or how about a deep-fried biscuit (žagarėliai) or Bankuchen (šakotis) for dessert? Zeppelins (didžkukuliai) are a sort of ‘national’ pastime. They are dumplings made of potato grated with a minced meat, curd, carrot or other kind of filling and available pretty much as street food.
And then there’s the beer. Lithuanians love their beer and have more than 200 different types to try. Why not live like a local and try a Zeppelin with a perfect pint of cold beer?
And a little known fact – Lithuania has invested heavily in its broadband and now claims to have the fastest broadband in the whole of Europe! So keeping in touch really won’t be a problem.
At a glance facts
- Currency: – Lithuania joined the Eurozone in January 2015
- Population: 2,731,464 (as at 2020, made up of Lithuanians Poles, Russians, Belorrussians)
- Languages: official language is Lithuanian
- Time Zone: GMT + 1
Interested in studying in Lithuania? Go here for all the information you need to get you started
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