Lithuania, in the Baltics, is one of Europe’s newer states, having gained independence from the Soviet Union on 11 March 1990. This article contains a number of useful Lithuania facts – from detail about its current economy and population, to details of Lithuania’s history – to help you learn about Lithuania.
Population of Lithuania
The population of Lithuania in 2011 is estimated to be 3,225,694. This makes it the 133rd largest country in the world. The vast majority (83.1%) of the people of Lithuania are ethnic Lithuanians. Other ethnic groups include Poles (6.0%) and Russians (4.8%).
The population of Vilnius, Lithuania’s largest city is 546,733. Other large cities in Lithuania include Kaunas (352,279 people) and Klaipeda (183,433 people)
The Lithuanian GDP 2011 estimate is $59.825 billion (Purchasing Power Parity, PPP), which equates to a GDP per capita of $18,278. Nominal GDP is $40.333 billion, a per capita GDP of $12,323.
Lithuania has the largest economy among the three Baltic states, and it has grown rapidly since independence from the Soviet Union as Lithuania transitions to a knowledge economy. In fact, growth has been consistently higher than the rest of the European Union, and certainly higher than most other Soviet states on average. Since 2000, the economy of Lithuania has almost doubled, although growth has slowed dramatically since 2007.
Lithuania used to be the largest country in Europe
Although Lithuania is one of Europe’s smallest countries today, perhaps best known for being a tiny part of the Russian and Soviet empires, it once used to be the largest and most powerful state in Europe. Between the 13th and 15th centuries, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania controlled territory from the Baltic Sea in the North to the Black Sea in the South, as you can see from the map of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania that accompanies this article.
Lithuania is a member of the European Union
Lithuania joined the EU on 1 May 2004, following a referendum in 2003. 63.4% of Lithuanians voted in the referendum, and 91.1% voted in favour of joining the EU. Lithuania is also a member of the EU’s Schengen Area, which has removed border controls between many EU member states.
With one eye nervously directed to Russia, its old imperial master in the East, Lithuania is also a member of NATO. It formally joined NATO in November 2002.
Religion in Lithuania
The main Lithuanian religion is Roman Catholicism. 79% of Lithuanians consider themselves Catholic. The only other religion of any size in Lithuania is Orthodox Christianity – 4.1% of Lithuanians are Orthodox.
Sport in Lithuania
Basketball is the sport that most Lithuanians follow, and this small country has produced a number of notable NBA stars, including Šarūnas Marčiulionis and Linas Kleiza. Football is also popular, as is ice hockey – Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, is often reported as a KHL expansion team, but so far the only Baltic team in the KHL is Dinamo Riga.