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Lithuania

Lithuania
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GALLERY

"Lithuania" ("Lietuva") is a Baltic country in Europe. It has a Baltic Sea coastline in the west and surrounded by Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east, Poland to the southwest, and Russia (Kaliningrad) to the west.

Understand

Lithuania is an active member of the European Union (since 1 May 2004) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (since 29 March 2004). Lithuania is the only Baltic country with more than eight hundred years of statehood tradition, while its name was first mentioned one thousand years ago, in 1009. Wedged at the dividing line of Western and Eastern civilizations, Lithuania battled dramatically for its independence and survival. Once in the Middle Ages (15th century), Lithuania was the largest state in the entire Europe, where crafts and overseas trade prospered.

In 1579, Vilnius University, an important scientific and education centre of the European scale, was opened. In 16th century, Lithuania adopted its First, Second and Third Statutes. Not only the Statutes were the backbone of the legislative system of the country, they had a major impact on legislation of other European states of the time. Despite losing its independence, Lithuania managed to retain its Third Statute in effect for as many as 250 years, which was instrumental in preservation of national and civic selfawareness of the public. The Constitution of LithuaniaPoland together with the French Constitution, both adopted in 1791, were the first constitutions in Europe (LithuanianPolish constitution was adopted few months earlier).

Climate
Transitional, between maritime and continental; wet, moderate winters and summers.

Terrain
Lowland, many scattered small lakes, fertile soil. The fertile central plains are separated by hilly uplands that are ancient glacial deposits.
; "Highest point" : Aukstojas Hill 294.84 m (967.322 ft), about 24 km southeast of Vilnius lies just off the main highway to Minsk and within sight of the Belarus border. 30% forest

History

Lithuania, first formed in the middle of the 13th century, was a huge feudal country stretching from the Baltic to the Black sea in the middle ages and in 1569 entered an union with Poland to form a commonwealth.
Lithuania was part of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth until the Polish Partitions in the 18th century when it became part of the Russian Empire.

Independence

Modern Lithuania gained its independence from Russia in 1918 following World War I and the dissolution of the Czarist monarchy. However, in 1940 Lithuania was forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union. On 11 March 1990, Lithuania became the first of the Soviet republics to declare its independence, but this proclamation was not generally recognized until September 1991, following the abortive coup in Moscow. The Soviet Union recognized Lithuania"s independence on 6 September 1991. A constitution was adopted adopted 25 October 1992. The last Russian troops withdrew in 1993. Lithuania subsequently has restructured its economy for integration into Western European institutions.

National Holidays

; "St. John"s Day" : 25 July : Despite its Christian name, celebrated mostly according to Pagan traditions (Midsummer"s Day).

; "Statehood Day" : 6 July : Commemorates the coronation in 1253 of Mindaugas as the first and only King of Lithuania. Later rulers of Lithuania were called Grand Dukes.

; "Independence Day" : 16 February : Independence from Russian Empire in 1918 following World War I.

; "Restitution of Independence" : 11 March : Restoration of independence from the Soviet Union.

Regions

Regional differences of Lithuanian culture reflect the complicated historical development of the country. Since the thirteenth century five ethnographic areas, or regions, have historically formed in the current territory of Lithuania:



These ethnographic regions even today differ by dialects, ways of life and behaviour styles, while until the turn of the last century there were pronounced differences in dress and homestead styles as well as village planning.

Lithuania is justly proud of its unfailing treasures of folklore: colourful clothing, meandering songs, an abundance of tales and stories, sonorous dialects and voluble language. This ethnographic heritage is nourished by ethnographic and folklore companies and barn theatres. Recent years have witnessed the revival of ethnographic crafts and culinary traditions. Folk craft fairs and live craft days are organized during many events and festivals.

Cities
Merkinė hillfort. Lithuanians are very proud of their ancient history. Hundreds of hillforts still stand, a reminder of the struggle against the Teutonic Order
Much of Lithuania"s natural beauty is well preserved. The eastern part of the country Aukštaitija, is famous for lakes, hills and forests

* Vilnius the capital of the country with many medieval churches

* Jonava
* Kaunas the second largest city and temporary capital of the country
* Klaipėda the third biggest city, famous for its summer festivals
* Panevėžys
* Šiauliai
* Trakai

Other destinations

* Aukštaitija National Park a land of lakes, hills and forests, popular for water tourism and rural tourism in the summer
* Curonian Spit unique sand dunes with rare flora, seaboard forest, white sanded beaches and old ethnographic villages
* Dzūkija National Park the biggest forest (Dainavos) and swamp (Čepkelių) in the country, and some old unique villages in the middle of the forests
* Hill of Crosses site of religious significance, north of Šiauliai
* Kernavė former Lithuanian capital at the bank of the river Neris and now a wellpreserved archaeological site
* Purnuskes according to some measures the center of Europe
* Žemaičių Kalvarija famous pilgrimage site, most visitors come in the beginning of July to visit the large church festival

Get in

By plane

Most airlines arrive at main Vilnius international airport and smaller seaside Palanga airport , while nofrills carriers (Ryanair) land in Kaunas international airport Kaunas airport also has direct link with with AirBaltic.

Majority of flights are operated by Ryanair .

For destinations in Northern Lithuania airport is an attractive option.

By train

There are train connections to Vilnius from Daugavpils (Latvia), Warsaw, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Minsk and Kaliningrad.

By car

Major "Via Baltica" road links Kaunas to Warsaw and /Tallinn. The Baltic road, which links Vilnius to Tallinn, was just reconstructed. It is a very easy and pleasant route.
Overall, the major roads between the cities are of decent quality. Be extremely cautious when getting off the main roads in rural areas, as some of them may contain pot holes and general blemishes which could damage a regular car if you go too fast.
While driving between cities there are usually cafes and gas stations with bathrooms and snacks.

By bus

* Eurolines
* Ecolines
* Busturas

By boat

There are several passenger/car ferries from Klaipeda to Sweden, Germany, Denmark. See Lisco or Scandlines


From Poland
* While the main railway connecting Lithuania and Poland is now crossing a piece of Belarus (which cannot be entered without a visa by most), there is fortunately a minor line left that connects the two countries directly. The border stations are "Šeštokai" (Lithuania) and "Suwałki" (Poland). There are only a few passenger connections a day and you need to change trains at the border, because of the different rail gauge used in the two countries.
* A popular alternative of crossing the border, if you are going on a longer distance, is to use the bus between "Vilnius" and "Warsaw".

Get around
By train
Litrail has services to major cities in Lithuania. Fares are low compared to Western Europe: VilniusKaunas ~17 Litas (5 Euro), VilniusKlaipeda ~50 Litas (14,5 Euro), Sestokai (LithuanianPolish border) Kaunas ~20 Litas (5,8 Euro).

Many of the long distance trains have compartments which can accommodate six seated passengers or four sleeping passengers. The headrest can be lifted up to form a very comfortable bunk bed, which can be used while people are seated below. The seats themselves form the other pair of beds. As some journeys are quite long (about 5 hours in the case of VilniusKlaipeda), it is common to see people sleeping on the upper bunks during daytime journeys as well.

Narrow Gauge Railway in Anyksciai offers short trips to a nearby lake. In summer it runs on regular schedule, rest of the time tours must be booked in advance.

By thumb
Hitchhiking in Lithuania is generally good. Get to the outskirts of the city, but before cars speed up to the highway speeds. The middle letter on the older licence plates (with Lithuanian flag) of the three letter code usually corresponds with the city of registration (V for Vilnius, K for Kaunas, L for Klaipeda, etc.). Newer licence plates (with EU flag) are not bound to city of registration in any way.

By bus
In Lithuania it is easy to move by buses and in practice, all the bigger even a little places can be reached with buses. The buses usually run more slowly than where a Western has got used due to if it is not a question of Ekspresas, the bus stops at every stop exactly. For example 40 km the trip by bus can last thus an hour. The buses are old cars that have mainly been brought from the Nordic countries. There is usually its own bus company on every town and the best are Kautra, the TOKS of Kaunas, Vilnius and mini bus company, Transrevis, which will drive turns between Kaunas and Vilnius. A company to avoid is worthwhile is Busturas, they drive the old buses to Siauliai and are in a weak economic situation, but if you travel, the alternative is not always.

The bulk of Lithuania"s bus routes and turns has been listed in an address from which you also can reserve the tickets for certain routes. However, pay attention to the fact that the payment system supports only some of the Lithuanian banks for the present and the credit card at the moment does not suit.

Buses operate regularly between the main centres as well as the regional centres. Kautra operates a number of routes out of Kaunas with the cost of ~2030 Litas for most journeys. Other companies with intercity routes worth to mention are Toks (from Vilnius) and Busturas from Siauliai. For students with Lithuanian student id, bus companies grant 50% discount around the year with the exception of July and August. For students with ISIC (international student card), bus companies grant 50% discount.

For buses and trolleybuses on routes within towns and cities it is usual to buy the ticket in advance from a kiosk, board the vehicle using the middle door and stamp the ticket using one of the ticket punches. These were historically located near the middle door, but with the introduction of electronic ticketing, there is often a single ticket punch located just behind the driver"s seat. Tickets bought from the driver, rather than kiosks, are more expensive and may also generate an offhanded response if the bus is late or crowded and you don"t provide the exact change. Inspectors periodically check tickets and will issue a fine if you cannot produce a correctly punched ticket. The bus is exited by the middle door and it is important to head for the door before the bus has stopped it can be impossible to leave once people have started boarding.

In addition to common buses, there are minibuses which usually operate express routes. For schedules, consult

By taxi
Taxis are run on a meter and can be booked by the phone numbers shown on the door of the taxi. Taxis are relatively cheap compared to western Europe. Beware however, some companies may not be as safe as others, common sense will keep you safe in this regard. "Taking the long way round" used to be common but had nearly been irradicated, western Europeans may still find themselves taking the scenic route, don"t worry though, the maximum that this will add is a few litas. It is customary to give a small tip at the end of your journey.

It"s usually cheaper to order a taxi by phone instead of taking one in the street, especially in bus stations or airports.

Recently (spring 2009) taxi prices, especially in Vilnius, have dropped dramatically from previous level during the boom years. If you don"t need a fancy ride, taxi can be as cheap as 1.25 litas (37 euro cents) per kilometer.

By bicycle

Cycling in Lithuania is quite popular, however it depends on the exact location as in major cities pavements usually will have a bicycle pathways with numerous signs, although getting around by bicycle in rural areas might become a bit of a challenge. Two international EuroVelo cycle routes across the country, EuroVelo No. 10 and EuroVelo No. 11 equipped with quality signs, bikepaths are of excellent quality.

Just as it is in Western Europe, it might be dangerous to leave your bicycle outside alone for more than a few hours without locking it.
The international bicycle project BaltiCCycle may provide you with an information and help.

By car

As with the rest of mainland Europe, Lithuanian traffic moves on the right, and all distances are posted in kilometres.

The road network in Lithuania is fairly good, especially the motorways. The quality of road surface on minor roads can vary. The improvement work hampers traffic in many places. The Via Baltica road goes through Lithuania from Estonia to Poland. Another important road is the A1 from Vilnius to Klaipeda.

Unlike many European countries, but similar to North American practice, turning right at a red traffic light is allowed "where indicated by a "green arrow" (square white sign next to the red light, containing a green arrow indicating the permitted direction), provided that it does not endanger other traffic. Be aware that the absence of such a sign means that turning right on red is not allowed, and the police will stop any driver seen breaking this rule.

Many bigger junctions have a separate green light for traffic turning left, but no red light. The green light for the other directions shows arrows going straight and to the right, but you need to look closely to make them out.

On two or three lane roads, it is polite to move out of the righthand lane (if safe to do so) when you intend to travel straight ahead; this keeps the righthand lane clear for rightturning traffic. When moving back to the right hand lane watch out for fastmoving vehicles approaching from behind.

On the motorways the uturn is possible. The motorists do not observe traffic regulations so especially the pedestrians must be exact as conscientiously as elsewhere in former Soviet countries. Moving domestic animals and roe animals may cause dangerous situations on the roads and motorways.

Roundabouts are a feature of the Lithuanian road network, particularly in the cities. Visitors from countries where this type of junction is uncommon or not used at all, may find the useful.

The alcohol limit is 0,4 in Lithuania"s traffic. The alcohol limit is being lowered to 0,2.

Fixed speed cameras are frequent along country roads and motorways, usually near crossroads or pedestrian crossings, and in cities. These are usually announced by a sign. Many of them appear to be designed to be turned around from time to time, watching the opposite direction.

Talk
The official language of Lithuania is Lithuanian, making up one of only two languages (along with Latvian) on the Baltic branch of the IndoEuropean family. Despite the kinship of Lithuanian to many other European languages, the archaic nature of its grammar makes it hard for foreigners unfamiliar with the language to form even basic sentences.

Russian is spoken as a second language by about 80% of the population according to European Union statistics, clearly making it the most useful nonLithuanian language to know. The younger generation is becoming more and more proficient in English, but still only 32% of Lithuanians can speak it. Polish and, to a lesser extent, German are also spoken in some places for historical reasons. Lithuanians are always eager for an opportunity to practice their English, but those who learn a few basic phrases of the local language are always amply awarded with good will and appreciation for their efforts.

In Samogitia (Western Lithuania), most people talk in Samogitian, which is somewhat different from Standard Lithuanian and is sometimes called an independent language.

Remember that you are in Lithuania, not in a Russian colony and no longer in the Soviet Union: Lithuanians do not want to hear their language being "almost Russian" because it is not and they do not like to be associated with Russia.

Lithuanian and Latvian are the last living languages of the Baltic language family. Local people greatly appreciate even small attempts to speak Lithuanian.

See

Do
*Enjoy times at ancient castles and ruins, as also commonly seen in Latvia.(its neighbor)


Buy

Lithuania has a lot of shopping malls for such small amount of inhabitants. There is no big difference between shoping malls here and modern part of Europe.

Vilnius recently became a shopper"s paradise when plenty of massive shopping centres were opened all over the city. Akropolis (a chain of shopping malls in Lithuania) is one of them and definitely worth visiting if you are a shoping malls maniac, as it houses an ice skating rink, bowling lanes and a cinema.

Shopping center Helios City in Savanoriu ave offers to have dinner, to take a cup of coffee and to go shopping under the one roof. On the first and the second floors of the Helios City restaurants, cafes, small shops, beauty salon, dry cleaning and other service companies are located. The centre of the city or the Old Town and the new leisure and service centre are separated by less than 1,5km. It is convenient to access the Helios City from any place of the city – either by public or proper transport.

Gariunai is the Baltic"s largest open air market, located on the western edge of Vilnius. Thousands of merchants can be found there on a good weekend, from not only Lithuania, but also from as far away as Ukraine. Clothes, shoes, and even music and software can be bought there. Counterfeit goods are ubiquitous. A low price is guaranteed, quality is not.

Kaunas is also a city of shopping centers, and the center of the city, Laisvės avenue is a pedestrian thouroghfare. The main shopping centers in Kaunas are: Akropolis, Mega, Molas, Savas, HyperMaxima, and Urmas shopping area. There is even that symbol of "mall culture", which is new to Lithuania, Akropolis.

Klaipeda is a major shopping center for people from Latvia and Kaliningrad. The main shopping centers are: Akropolis, Arena, Studlendas and BIG. Many people coming to the city on cruise ships shop in Klaipeda, due to the good value and price combination.

Eat
Lithuanian dinners usually include meat, potato, vegetables and sometimes a curd sauce of some sort. Case in point: the "cepelinai", or zeppelins, which are meat filled potatostarch based zeppelinshaped masses traditionally slathered in a sauce of sour cream, butter, and pork cracklings. Pork is traditionally eaten, beef much less so. Needless to say, vegans will have a hard time eating out, although some large restaurant chains will have vegetarian dishes on the menu.

Some fast food in Lithuania, such as Kibinai, (from the Karaim people) small turnovers usually filled with spiced lamb, and Cheburekai (a Russian snack), large folds of dough with a scant filling of meat, cheese, or even apples, can be found around the city.

Many restaurants have menus in English (usually in the Lithuanian menu) and to a lesser extent, Russian. Though use caution as sometimes menus in other languages may have inflated prices, although this is a rarity, and won"t be found in Vilnius, or the better known chains such as Cili Pizza.

Drink
Lithuania is a beer drinking country, with the most famous brands being Svyturys, Kalnapilis, Utenos, Horn and Gubernija. A visit to a kiosk will show that there may be more than 50 different brands of beer in this small country. Alcohol percentages are displayed on the label, and usually range from 4 to 9.5 percent. Compared to other European countries, beer is usually affordable, in shops approx. 0.50 to 1 € per half litre, in bars approx. 0.75 to 2 € per half litre(beer is sold by the half or full litre, a full litre being found rarely). The beer tastes excellent, putting global brands to shame and it can be said that Lithuanian lager is of at least equal quality to Czech, Slovak, German, and Polish lager. A request for a Lithuanian beer always generates goodwill, even in a Chinese or other foreignthemed restaurant.

When you visit a bar or restaurant without intending to eat, try one of the bar snacks, which are very popular among Lithuanians. The most popular of these snacks consists of a bowl of pieces of garlic bread covered in cheese.

In addition to beer, rather cheap but high quality vodka (or "degtinė" in Lithuanian) is consumed, but not to the extent usually associated with this part of the world. Also, every region has its own homemade speciality of which "Samane" is most famous/notorious and is best avoided. The larger supermarkets have an incredible variety of vodka from all the main vodkaproducing countries.

Lithuanian mead, or "midus" is a beverage produced exclusively under government control. It is commonly made from all sorts of Lithuanian flora, from leaves and berries to some tree bark. Alcohol percentages range from 10% to 75% (considered medicinal).

For tourists, quality sparkling wines, such as Alita or Mindaugas, and local liqueurs are popular choices to bring back home.

Keep in mind the law that came into effect from January 2009 that prohibits selling alcohol in shops between 10PM and 8AM (bars, cafes, restaurants etc. are exempt from this).

In shops and cafés different tea and coffee qualities are widely available. The selection in coffee ranges from northern European brands to French ones. In coffee houses, you should expect to pay up to 1.50 € for your coffee. Some cafés offer also a variety of special coffees with more or less special prices. Many cafes (kavinės) still make "lazy" coffee, which is simply coffee grounds and boiling water, unfiltered, with grounds at the bottom of the cup, often surprising the drinker ask before you buy! Tea is usually sold at 50% of the price of coffee. Some of the wonderful drinks such as the Marganito are great for fun filled party drinks and rated one of the top kinds of wine in the country, perfect for weddings.

Unlike restaurants, or pubs aimed at tourists, bars (Baras) may be frequented by heavy drinkers and can therefore be somewhat rowdy. Nevertheless a visit may still be very rewarding, especially if you accept an invitation to participate in karaoke.

A law banning smoking in cafés, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, discotheques and other public establishments was passed in May 2006, and came into effect on January 1 2007. However, many nightclubs have internal smoking rooms, which have a degree of ventilation.

Tap water is suitable for drinking in many parts of Lithuania. In other areas, local people prefer to purchase bottled water or to run tap water through water filters. If you need to buy bottled water, a 5 litre bottle is not much more expensive than a one litre bottle. Where in doubt about the tap water, seek local advice.

Mineral water is also offered in restaurants, cafés and shops, although it"s a bit more expensive than tap water. Some popular brands are Birutė and Vytautas.

Sleep
The price of accommodation depends very much on the place. For instance, in Joniškis (Northern Lithuania), you can get a good hotel room for 25 euros whereas an equivalent room might be as much as 100 euros in Vilnius. Some hotels do not have home pages. Nevertheless, the Internet helps considerably in planning.

Throughout the country, homestays – sleeping "with the grandmother" – are typical. On main street of a town there are many elderly townsfolk offering spare beds in their extra rooms. These experiences are absolutely worth seeking out.

If you want to rent the apartment, the prices will be usually 200 euros a month since. In the biggest towns there are companies which rent apartments "to the longtime tourist or working here". In these you complete on good conditions the apartment furnished and cleaned by the cleaner. Since 300 euros.

If you are looking for an apartment for a shorter period (from a few days onwards), do a Web search for "trumpalaikė būtų nuoma". This will give you some portals or sites of companies, though not all of them are available in English – some are, however, available in other languages such as German, Polish or Russian.

You will find the hotels of every town on their own interleaves. However, remember that this is the service maintained by the volunteers and you should not wait for current prices let alone that there would be all the possibilities listed.

An interesting accommodation alternative is a countryside accommodation or an own cottage. offers the shining catalog for accommodation alternatives and you find nearly all the countryside targets and a reservation system from there.

Most large cities such as Vilnius or Kaunas have an abundance of hotel options from 60 litas and up. When traveling to a popular vacation spot in the summer (like Palanga or Druskininkai) make sure to book a room in advance because demand may outnumber supply. Additionally, some of the Cafes on the main highways between cities also have rooms to rent.

Learn
Lithuania has one of the best educational systems in the World. Many universities participate in student exchange programs. Most popular international college in Lithuania is Lithuania Christian College in Klaipeda . The best universities of Lithuania are Vilnius University (Vilniaus Universitetas), Kaunas University of Technology (Kauno Technologijos Universitetas) and Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas (Vytauto Didžiojo universitetas).

One of the oldest Universities of Europe in that Finnish language also is taught is located in Vilnius.

In Kaunas there is the biggest technical university, KTU, in the country and a medical university KMU, sports academy LKKA, the veterinary medicine academy LVA, agriculture university LZUU and multidisciplinary University of Vytautas Magnus, VDU.

Klaipeda and Siauliai also has its own universities. In the country several lower educational institutions which go with the name kolegija (engl a college) also are found.

The course supply hangs very much from the university and there also are somewhere programmes for English. However, pay attention to the fact that Lithuania"s official language is Lithuanian and in the law it has been prescribed that the Lithuanian student has a right to study in Lithuanian in Lithuania. Especially all the courses of the candidate level will be thus in Lithuanian and in the Master of Arts programmes in English the bulk of the courses is in English. Depending on the rules of the university the courses must have a certain number of foreign students before it must be in English (it touches courses in English) and if this limit is not exceeded, the lecturer may lecture, if desired, in Lithuanian. Because the employment of universities has been lowered last year about 20% and the addition which is paid for the courses in English in some universities to the lecturers was removed, many lecturers choose the easiest road preferably for them to themselves. Then the foreign students can take the course by writing either essays or based on personal meetings.

The grading system in Lithuania is generally 110 in which 510 correspond to the accepted performances. The local students usually have to keep their average very high and still a higher one in order to get the scholarship in order to guarantee free studies. There is no financial aid for studies.

Work
There are now many work options in Lithuania. Any EU national can work and live in Lithuania. However, residence permits must be obtained, and employers must prove a lack of competent workers in Lithuania for such employment, which can be difficult. Also, Lithuanian law dictates that all business be conducted in Lithuanian language.

In Lithuania you need the residence permit and a registered address for the working. The immigration authorities may not necessarily know a word of English, so either Russian or Lithuanian is useful. One seldom manages working life without control of the language.

In Lithuania the worker pays 21% of an income tax 6% for health and unemployment insurance which is about 3%. The taxes take about 30% of the salary, irrespective of income minimum wage is about 220 Euros

Stay safe

In general, Lithuania is a safe country. But you should take basic safety measures:

* Take care when visiting potentially dangerous neighbourhoods at night. After dark it is safer to walk along main roads, than to take a short cut through a park or apartment complex, as these areas often have very poor lighting. Take a taxi if you are nervous. A thing to watch out for is bicycle theft, and it is advisable not to leave valuable things in your car.

* As with eastern Europe in general, openly gay behaviour such as holding hands or kissing may result in a violent confrontation from an onlooker. Suspicion of homosexuality may also cause problems; two male visitors to a straight nightclub should sit a respectable distance apart, even if they are heterosexual.

* Members of ethnic minorities, (particularly those of African descent), may experience some form of racism. This is not tolerated by the authorities and racist attacks are rare. However nonwhites may at least have to get used to being stared at by locals, especially in rural areas. More often than not this can be out of pure curiosity rather than malice. The issue of race relations, the history of slavery and civil rights are relatively unknown. That said, the presence of several AfroAmerican basketball players in the Lithuanian league does help and means that racism is perhaps not as big a problem as other eastern European countries. The best way to overcome any minor issues is to maintain a dignified air and understanding, that for many Lithuanians living in a homogenous society, they may not have had any previous contact with a person of colour.

* Driving in Lithuania is considered dangerous according to European standards. Lithuania"s rapidly expanding economy has lead to an increase in traffic density, thus accident rates are high. As a pedestrian, take great care when crossing the roads, as pedestrian crossings are widely ignored. When driving be careful of aggresive, quickly going and irresponsible drivers. It"s better to pass them even if they are flouting rules. Keep in mind that traffic police could be corrupt. Mind the forest roads, collisions with wildlife animals can easily occur.

* If bitten by a dog, wild animal or a snake, seek medical attention immediately. Snakes are not venomous in Lithuania, except for the European Viper ("angis") whose bite only rarely is lethal though quite painful. A dog ("šuo") or cat ("katė") bite can carry the risk of rabies. Mosquitoes ("uodai") carry no disease and are only an annoyance in the summer months. A forest tick ("erkė") bite carries the risk of Lyme disease or encephalitis.

Stay healthy
If you are searching for some health treatment or recreation the best resorts for that are Druskininkai and Palanga. Neringa is a great option for a nice, calm holiday for becoming one with yourself.

Basketball is the national sport, and the nation is basketball mad, (comparable to the british with Soccer and New Zealand with rugby). Lithuania is one of the most successful teams in international competition, winning medals in three out of four Olympic tournaments, (bronze), and finishing fourth in 2008. All this from just five Olympic appearances. Major domestic clubs are BC Žalgiris from Kaunas and BC Lietuvos Rytas from Vilnius. For this reason in almost every park and playground you will find a basketball court.

Be careful if some people challenge you to a basketball game. Common Lithuanians are very good in basketball, and you might just embarrass yourself.

Respect
Prechristian Baltic Sun and the Moon cross at the top of wooden monument. Christian and pagan traditions are very interwined in Lithuanian culture

Lithuanians are a Baltic nation; however, it"s common for tourists to think that they are somehow connected with Russians.

Lithuanians form their own distinct ethnic group and speak their own language (Lithuanian), which is one of the oldest IndoEuropean languages, belonging to the Baltic ("not" the Slavic) branch of IndoEuropean languages (although they have some common similarities).

It is a notoriously difficult language to master, but learning how to greet locals in their own language can go a long way. They will appreciate your efforts in Lithuanian.

Lithuania was part of the Soviet Union from the end of World War II until 1991. You should also try to remember that the Lithuanian capital is Vilnius, not , which is the capital of neighbouring Latvia, a common mistake for travellers and an annoyance to locals.

Because of war time occupations by Tsarist Russia in the 19th century, the Soviet Union in the 20th century and the territorial disputes with Poland in the early 20th century, conversations revolving around disputes with neighboring countries are not a good idea for those not from the region. Be careful when mentioning Lithuania in the context of the former USSR. Any praising of Soviet practices is very unlikely to be understood or appreciated by the Lithuanias. Talking about World War II or the Holocaust is not something to talk about either. This is because this is a very touchy subject to many Lithuanians.

Lithuanians may appear at times nationalistic; however, it is with good reason that they are a proud nation as they have fought to maintain their cultural identity through dark times, and this has kept them a unique and in general a warm and charming race. Although most Lithuanians officially are Christians, native (pagan) Lithuanian religion is still alive in traditions, ethnoculture, festivals, music etc.

Lithuanians may appear sad, depressive (suicide rates in Lithuania are among the highest in the world), a little bit rude and suspicious, so talking about your good health, wealth, and happiness could be sometimes taken negatively. Smile at a Lithuanian in the street and most likely they will not respond in kindness. Smiling in Lithuania is traditionally reserved for friends; smile at a stranger and they will either think you"re making fun of them and there"s something wrong with their clothes or hairdo, or that you must be an idiot. Furthermore, an automatic Western smile is widely regarded as insincere.

Women in the entire former USSR area are traditionally treated with utmost respect. Female travellers should not act surprised or indignant when their Lithuanian male friends pay their bills at restaurants, open every door in front of them, offer their hand to help them climb down that little step or help them carry anything heavier than a handbag this is not sexual harassment or being condescending to the weaker sex. Male travellers should understand that this is exactly the sort of behavior that most Lithuanian girls and women will expect from them, too.

Pilgrim
Lithuania has many religious sites, especially many for people of Catholic faith, all of them are open for people of any religion and background, due to high tolerance of the locals. Most favorite pilgrimage sites to visit are:
*Žemaičių Kalvarija in Samogitia (most pilgrims come in July)
*Hill of Crosses near Šiauliai
*Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn, Vilnius,
*Šiluva.

Contact

"Land line phones"

There is monopoly operator for land line phones TEO (now it belongs to "TeliaSonera AB"), a subsidiary of Sweden (Telia) and Finland (Sonera). Land line phones are easy to find in all country. Phones are used with cards, witch you can find in kiosks, "TEO" or newspaper stands.


"Mobile phones"

There are three mobile phone operators in Lithuania: Omnitel, BITE and TELE 2. About 97% of the country"s surface is covered by the standard European GSM 900/1800 MHz network, the remaining 3% are nonwalkable forests.


"International calls"

To call abroad from Lithuania:

* From a land line phone: 00 Your Country Code The Number Abroad
* From a mobile phone: + Your Country Code The Number Abroad


To call to Lithuania from abroad, dial the Lithuania country code, 370, then the number, as if calling from a domestic mobile phone.


International and roaming calls are expensive. To reduce your bill you can:

* Buy "phone cards" for international calls
* Talk over the Internet


"Internet"

If you"re bringing a laptop, Wireless LAN HotSpots are available in distinct places (mostly "Zebra" from TEO), sometimes free, otherwise not very cheap. Best chances of finding one are at airports, railway stations, in cafés, shopping malls, universities, various places. You can ask in your hotel, but be prepared to pay. For those who need to connect at an Internet cafes, major cities do have internet cafes. You can get free wireless Internet in Kaunas main pedestrian street Laisvės Alėja. Internet speed in Lithuania is actually better than American internet speed. Download speed reaches 26.2 Mb/s, while upload speed is 16.8 Mb/s. Keep in mind that the internet service that provide such speeds are not free.

With your mobile phone you can use: CSD, HSCSD, GPRS or EDGE, but the cost may be unattractive. UMTS is only available in some bigger cities. If your phone is not SIMlocked, you may consider purchasing a prepaid SIM card designed for data access.

If you want to communicate with your friends or locals using internet, you"ll need two programs Skype or ICQ. The most popular chatting program is Skype, all of which can be used in English as well. As well in Lithuania social websites are getting very popular. The most popular is ONE.lt, second popular (>600000 users) is Facebook. Myspace exists, but it is not widely used.





ca:Lituània
de:Litauen
eo:Litovio
es:Lituania
fi:Liettua
fr:Lituanie
hu:Litvánia
it:Lituania
ja:リトアニア
nl:Litouwen
pl:Litwa
pt:Lituânia
ro:Lituania
ru:Литва
sv:Litauen
wts:Category:Lithuania


WikiPedia:Lithuania
Dmoz:Europe/Lithuania/
World66:europe/lithuania
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