Lithuania Geography and Population

Lithuania (Geography)

The Lithuanian landscape consists almost exclusively of alternating moraine formations with hills, hills and ice shelf formations between river valleys, lakes and bogs. The central parts are located low around the country’s largest river, Nemunas (Ty. Memel), and its network of tributaries, Neris, which is navigable between Vilnius and Kaunas. To the NW are the Žemaitija heights and in SE Medininkai, which is part of the edge moraine Den Baltiske Bakkeryg. Here lies Juozapinė (292 m), Lithuania’s highest point, near the border with Belarus. Nemunas, which is navigable up to Kaunas, runs in a swampy delta out into the shallow and fresh Kurisk Bay, which except for a narrow outlet at Klaipėdais blocked off from the Baltic Sea by the long sandy seaweed The Curonian Spit (Kuršią Nerija). Sailing from Nemunas to Klaipėda, Lithuania’s only port city, takes place on the King Wilhelm Canal, built 1863-73 when the area was called Memel and was German. The 100 km long Kurisk Næs is divided between Lithuania and Russia (Kaliningrad region); Among other things, due to its hiking dunes, it is a destination for increasing tourism just like the rest of the Baltic coast with wide sandy beaches. The resort town of Palanga was already in the 1800’s. a coveted holiday destination.

Over a quarter of the area is forest, predominantly coniferous forest, but also mixed forest with birch and elm. Beech is almost non-existent. Almost all forest is public property; in the 1990’s, plans emerged to privatize a third of the forest area. Just under half of the area is agricultural land, a large part of which has been fallow since independence. The last quarter are predominantly wetlands. The rather untouched forests, lakes and bogs house a species-rich wildlife with otter and badger and a dense population of storks. In the 300 km2 national park at Ignalina and in three other nature parks, less common species of the country’s flora and fauna are secured and promoted.

Climatically, Lithuania is on the transition between mainland and coastal climates with temperate climates and erratic weather. The winters are somewhat colder than Denmark’s, which are usually three months of frost and snow cover, and the summers a little warmer, while the annual precipitation is of the same order of magnitude, 550-880 mm.


The composition of the population by gender, age and ethnicity is still affected by the consequences of World War II. The Lithuanian population is old and has a significant predominance of older women. Acts of war, the Holocaust, deportations, flight and emigration caused the population to fall from approximately 3 million to 2.4 million. from 1939 to 1945. Industrialization and urbanization after 1945 took place more slowly in Lithuania than in Estonia and Latvia, and Russian immigration was therefore also smaller. At the 2001 census, the Lithuanian population with 83.5% Lithuanians was ethnically more homogeneous than the populations of the other Baltic countries. Poles accounted for 6.7%, Russians 6.3% and Belarusians and Ukrainians 2%. The Russians live mainly in the industrial cities, while the Polish minority is mainly found in and around Vilnius. Before World War II, many of the country’s approximately 200,000 Jews here, and Vilnius was called “Jerusalem of the North”, but after the genocide initiated by the Germans, Lithuania’s Jewish ethnic group is almost non-existent. The changed conditions after the country’s independence meant that a number of Russians emigrated, but as a result of Lithuania’s liberal rules on citizenship (unlike Estonia and Latvia), this emigration has been of limited scope. At the same time, the birth rate has been declining, and the death rate increasing, and from 1993 there has been a birth deficit. It reflects the age composition mentioned, but also the deep economic crisis of the 1990’s with deteriorating living conditions for the majority of the population.

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After independence, production generally declined, but since 1995 it has risen steadily year by year, except in 1999 due to the financial crisis in Russia in 1998.

Agriculture employs an ever smaller proportion of the workforce (16% in 2004) and is now entirely dominated by private property. Privatization was a major topic of political debate right after independence, and the design of land reform became strongly ideological. The large collective farms and a few state farms were split up into a large number of small, uneconomic farms and many even smaller homesteads for self-sufficiency production outside the market economy. In 2003, the average farm size was 10.4 ha, but 55% of the farms had only 5 ha or less. The declining demand both at home and for exports and difficulties in obtaining feed necessitated a reduction in the previously very large populations of cattle, pigs and poultry. In 2005, cattle breeding was still too declining; the stock had been reduced by 25% since 1996. During the same period, the number of pigs decreased by 16%. In 2004, agriculture’s contribution to GDP was approximately 6% against 12% in 1995. The fall in production caused problems for the large processing and processing industries.

Fishing also fell sharply. The High Sea Fleet and the Baltic Sea Fleet, both based in Klaipėda, catch only 10% of previous catches. It is especially the Atlantic fishery, which was previously subsidized by the low oil prices of the Soviet Union, that has declined. The fishing industry therefore has a large overcapacity, which is partly managed by imports. EU membership has led to higher demands on the production of canned fish, an important export commodity, and the number of companies was sharply reduced from 2004 to 2005.

Industry.In the years after World War II, Lithuania was fully integrated into the Soviet planned economy, and from the late 1950’s, extensive industrial development began at a moderate pace, organized by the central planning authorities and based more on the needs of the Soviet Union than on local ones. In addition to the country’s traditional industries (food, textiles and wood products), large chemical industries (oil refinery, fertilizer) and electronics and machinery factories were established. The big companies had the whole union as a market, but were also energy and raw material dependent on it. 40% of the production went to exports, of which 80-90% to the other Soviet republics. The transition to independence was therefore very difficult, and much of the production capacity remained unused during the 1990’s, at the same time as the industry’s contribution to GDP was halved. By 2005, privatization was nearing completion, with a number of companies of strategic importance remaining state-owned, and Western firms had made investments, particularly in the light industry. Among the privatized companies is the oil refinery Mazeikiai Oil, which is the largest single contributor to the country’s GDP, as refined oil is the country’s most important export commodity. Production has increasingly focused on Western markets, and in 2005 Germany was Lithuania’s largest trading partner after Russia, while the EU-25 accounted for 66% of exports and 59% of imports. is the largest single contributor to the country’s GDP, with refined oil being the country’s most important export commodity. Production has increasingly focused on Western markets, and in 2005 Germany was Lithuania’s largest trading partner after Russia, while the EU-25 accounted for 66% of exports and 59% of imports. is the largest single contributor to the country’s GDP, with refined oil being the country’s most important export commodity. Production has increasingly focused on Western markets, and in 2005 Germany was Lithuania’s largest trading partner after Russia, while the EU-25 accounted for 66% of exports and 59% of imports.

Energy. Lithuania’s own energy resources are modest. The subsoil in the western part of the country and offshore in the Baltic Sea have shown promising opportunities for oil discoveries, and a small production has begun near Klaipėda. Two hydropower plants on Nemunas provide 5% of the country’s electricity production, but 85% of this comes from the large nuclear power plant at Ignalina. Some of the electricity is exported to Latvia and Kaliningrad, but Lithuania is still the country in the world that gets the largest share of its energy consumption covered by a-kraft. The plant is considered in the West to be a regional risk factor, and various international projects seek to improve safety. During the negotiations on Lithuania’s accession to the EU, the government has agreed to shut down the criticized nuclear power plant at Ignaliná in 2009, and in 2004 the first reactor shut down.

Environment. The environmental movements in Lithuania grew very large in the last years of the Soviet Union. There were extensive demonstrations against several of the central government’s investment plans, including the expansion of the Ignalina plant. Following independence and under harsher economic conditions, environmental movements have become quieter. Both agricultural and industrial pollution decreased in the 1990’s, but this was mainly due to declining production, and pollution remains high. Over 40% of all wastewater is sent untreated into the rivers, and the rest only partially treated. The rivers are thus still heavily polluted, as is the shallow Curonian Bay. Construction of treatment plants had started in 1996 in a number of cities, in several places with international financial assistance and with e.g. Danish expertise.

Lithuania – language

The official language is Lithuanian, which is the mother tongue of approximately 87% of the population (2005). In addition, Russian is spoken by 8-9%, Polish by 4-5%, Belarusian (0.6%), Ukrainian (about 0.4%) and Yiddish (about 3000); the Turkish language Karaim is spoken by quite a few. Most minorities are bilingual or trilingual and thus also speak Lithuanian. For culture and traditions of Lithuania, please check aparentingblog.

Lithuania (Religion)

The country was Christianized in the mid-1200’s, some own however only later. In the 1500’s. the princely majority became Calvinist, but the Roman Catholic Church soon prevailed again. The Russian rule after 1795 meant serious encroachments on the church, which only regained its full rights in independence in 1918. With the Soviet occupation of 1940, it again became the subject of now bloody persecution, with imprisonments, deportations, closure of monasteries and churches, confiscation of properties etc. However, this did not prevent the church from acting as an important oppositional element. Like other religious communities, since 1989-90 it has been able to operate freely and improve its conditions decisively. It comprises approximately 3/4of the population (2.8 million). The active minority communities include the Lutheran and Reformed Churches (30,000 and 12,000, respectively), the Orthodox Church (50,000), Old Believers (54 congregations), several neo-Protestant groups, Baptists, Adventists, Pentecostal churches, Jews, and Muslims.