It is believed that Lithuania gods its name from the River Lietava (Lietauka), a tributary of the Neris. It flows about 25 km from the little town of Kernavė, an important political center in ancient Lithuania in the eastern part of the country. Lithuania was first mentioned in the Annales Quedlinburgenses, a Latin chronicle, in 1009.
The Lithuanian mounted knight, called Vytis, is one of the oldest state emblems in Europe. It dates back to 1366, the time of Grand Duke Algirdas, and became an emblem of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania at the beginning of the 15th century. In 1918 Vytis became the foremost symbol of statehood of Lithuania.
The state flag was created in 1918. The colors of the flag symbolize: yellow - the sun, light and prosperity; green - the Lithuanian landscape, hope and joy; red - the color of earth, life and blood. It symbolizes the nation's courage and tenacity in the struggle for freedom.
On 19 April 1918 after a long dispute between intellectuals and politicians on the issue of the colours of the flag, a commission made up of famous political and cultural figures had made the final decision that it should consist of three equal horizontal stripes in yellow, green, and red. The colours stem from folklore and traditional textile design. Yellow symbolises the sun and light, and prosperity; green stands for forests and meadows; red is the color of earth, life and blood. Or, in more general terms, yellow denotes welfare, green means life and red stands for the blood shed for the native land. The country also adopted another flag, red, with Vytis on one side and Gediminaičių stulpai (the Columns of the Gediminas Dynasty) on the other,which was used as the flag of the president.
NATIONAL ANTHEM - LIETUVOS VALSTYBĖS HIMNAS (Tautiška giesmė)
In 1898, when the tenth anniversary of Varpas magazine, the herald of ideas of independence during the tsarist regime, drew nearer, one of the leaders of the national movement, the writer Vincas Kudirka, wrote a poem called the National Song - Tautinė giesmė and set it to music. It was published for the first time in 1898, and first publicity performed in Vilnius in 1905. In 1918 Tautinė giesmė officially became the national anthem of the Republic of Lithuania. During the years of Soviet occupation it was forbidden to play it.
Lithuania, our homeland, Lietuva, Tėvyne mūsų, Land of worshipped heroes! Tu didvyrių žeme, Let yours sons draw their strength Iš praeities Tavo sūnūs From our past experience. Te stiprybę semia. Let your children always follow Tegul Tavo vaikai eina Only roads of virtue. Vien takais dorybės, May your own and Tegul dirba Tavo naudai Mankind's well being Ir žmonių gėrybei. Be the goals they work for. May the sun above our land Tegul saulė Lietuvoj Banish darkening clouds around Tamsumas prašalina, Light and truth all along Ir šviesa, ir tiesa Quid our steps forever. Mūs žingsnius telydi. May the love of Lithuania Tegul meilė Lietuvos Brightly burn in our hearts. Dega mūsų širdyse, For the sake of this land Vardan tos Lietuvos Let unity blossom. Vienybė težydi! Translated by Birutė Jatautaitė V.Kudirkos eilės (original text)
The Seimas (Parliament) is the highest body of state power. It consists of 141 MPs elected for four-years terms.The President of the Republic is elected by direct suffrage for a term of five years. President Valdas Adamkus took oath on 26 February 1998. The Government is composed of the Prime Minister and 14 ministers. The Prime Minister is appointed or dismissed by the President with the approval of the Seimas.
The total length of the inland borders is 1,747 km, with the coastline adding another 99 km. There are no islands in the Baltic Sea belonging to Lithuania. In the north it borders Latvia (610 km border), in the east and south Belarus (724 km), in the south-west Poland (110 km) and the Kaliningrad region of the Russian Federation (303 km). From east to west the country is 373 km, and from south to north 276 km.
Capital - Vilnius
Visit the Gallery "Old Vilnius in Postcards" and read about Vilnius gardens and squares.
The country has adverse landscape - three hilly uplands, and three lowland plains. The highest point is Juozapinė Hill, not far from Vilnius; it is 293,6 m above sea level. There are over 4,000 lakes and 722 rivers. The longest river is the Nemunas which is 937 km long. Its length through Lithuania is 475 km.
Transitional between maritime and continental. Average temperatures: yearly 6.7 C; January - 4.9 C; July 17 C; but it can be as high as 30 C in summer and as low as -32 C in winter. Annual precipitation level: 744.6 mm. Humidity: 78%. Any season, don't forget your umbrella.
Cultural and language differences distinguish the regions of Žemaitija (western Lithuania), Aukštaitija (mid and eastern Lithuania), Suvalkija (below the Nemunas) and Dzūkija (southern Lithuania).
Mostly Roman Catholic. Others - Russian Orthodox, Evangelical Lutheran, Judaic, etc.
Lithuanian is an archaic language. It has retained its ancient sound system and morphological characteristics. Of all the living Indo-European languages, Lithuanian is the most similar to Sanskrit. The 32-letter Lithuanian alphabet is Latin based.
There are things without which some nations could not exist. The French could not live without wine, the Chinese without their rice, and the Lithuanians without their black rye bread. This, for Lithuanians, is the everyday staple, eaten with soup, meat, fish, vegetables and milk. No festive occasion is celebrated without it. Guests are welcomed, according to tradition, with a loaf of rye bread on a linen towel: it is an essential part of wedding and christening parties.
Many Lithuanians returning home can hardly wait to feast on rye bread. They think that nobody in the world makes bread as delicious as here. When they go to see friends or relatives abroad they very often take a loaf of bread as a present.
Black bread has always been highly respected. It is the fruit of the joint efforts of many people: the farmer, the miller and the backer. Some centuries ago Bread was the name of a pagan god alongside Sun and Moon. Even now it is a sign of disrespect to put a loaf of bread upside down or to take a slice with a fork or a knife. Some old people will pick up a piece of bread from the floor, blow the dirt off and kiss it.
Black bread is made of rye flour. Sometimes wheat flour is added too. The finer the flour the less bran it contains, and the lighter the bread is. Sometimes loaves are put on sweet flag or cabbage leaves, which gives it an even more pleasant smell. Any baker will tell you that it is much easier to bake a pie than black bread. Although real bread should only be backed in a traditional oven, the method of making bread used by modern bakeries is very similar to that followed by our ancestors. It takes 12 hours before the ingredients turn into a nice loaf of bread.
Recipe for Black Rye Bread
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