Republic of Lithuania
LOCATION AND SIZE.
An East European country bordering on the Baltic Sea, Lithuania has an area of 65,200 square kilometers (25,174 square miles) and a total coastline of 99 kilometers (62 miles). Lithuania is a mid-size country by European standards and is about the size of West Virginia. Lithuania's border countries are: Belarus, 502 kilometers (312 miles); Latvia, 453 kilometers (282 miles); Poland, 91 kilometers (57 miles); and Russia (Kaliningrad), 227 kilometers (141 miles). Vilnius, Lithuania's capital, is located in the country's southeastern part. Vilnius is also the nation's largest city with a population of about 600,000.
The population of Lithuania was estimated at 3,620,800 in July of 2000 but the population is decreasing, that is the growth rate is negative (-0.29 percent). In 2000, the birth rate stood at 9.77 births per 1,000 while the death rate stood at 12.87 per 1,000, with suicide rates among the highest in the world. The nation's fertility rate is below replacement level with only 1.34 children born to each woman. In addition, Lithuania has an infant mortality rate with 14.67 deaths per 1,000 live births. The nation also loses population to immigration , a loss of 0.16 people per 1,000 members of the population. Life expectancy for males is 63.07 years and 75.41 years for females.
The Lithuanian population is close to 100 percent literate. The official language (Lithuanian) is related to the pre-Indo-European language Sanskrit, very archaic in its structure, and therefore studied around the world for comparative linguistic purposes. Polish and Russian are also widely spoken. Ethnic Lithuanians constitute some 80 percent of the population. The largest national minorities include Russians (9 percent), Poles (7 percent), and Belorussians (1.6 percent). Despite decades of the communist propaganda and persecutions, many religions survived in Lithuania, including Roman Catholicism (dominant), Lutheranism, Russian Orthodoxy, Judaism, and Islam. Reflecting average European levels of urbanization, most Lithuanians (68 percent) live in urban areas. By international standards, Lithuania's population is distributed rather evenly across the country with a population density of 56 per square kilometer (146 per square mile).
The first private commercial banks in Lithuania since the period between World War I and II were established in 1989. The nation's banks underwent a period of consolidation in the mid-1990s during which several banks went out of business while others were acquired by larger banks through mergers and acquisitions. In response, the government passed a series of laws which placed additional regulations on banks in an effort to ensure their solvency . A number of international banks have a presence in Lithuania. These include Société Générale of France, Svedfund Financial Markets of Sweden, and DE GmbH of Germany. However, these banks only account for 3.1 percent of the banking market. About 42 percent of total banking assets were controlled by just 2 banks—both of them state-owned (al-though both are scheduled to be privatized by 2002). The nation's largest private bank, Vilniaus Bankas, is the largest bank among the Baltic nations. The insurance sector of Lithuania is vibrant with 31 different firms, including major multinational firms such as Lloyd's of the United Kingdom and Coris of France. From 1997 to 1998, insurance revenues increased by 40 percent.
TRAVEL AND TOURISM.
Since the end of Soviet control in 1990, tourism has increased significantly in Lithuania. Since 1996, tourist revenues have increased by 50 percent to over US$420 million in 1999. That same year, Lithuania received 3.7 million visitors or more tourists than there were people in the population. In 1997, tourism accounted for 4.2 percent of the GDP. The main tourist destination was the nation's capital, Vilnius, which received 58 percent of all visitors. This has led to the construction of 15 new hotels in the capital since 1996, including ones owned by Sheraton and Radisson. The increased number of tourists has led to a doubling of restaurants, clubs, and tourist shops since 1996.
Lithuania has no territories or colonies.
Litas (Lt). One litas equals 100 centas. There are notes in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 litas. There are 1, 2, and 5 litas coins, as well as 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 centas.
Food products, textiles, consumer electronics, other manufactured goods.
Oil, gas, machinery, equipment.
GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT:
US$15.5 billion (purchasing power parity, 2000 est.). [CIA World Factbook estimated GDP at purchasing power parity at US$17.3 billion for 1999.]
BALANCE OF TRADE:
Exports: US$4.033 billion (2000). Imports: US$5.043 billion (2000). [CIA World Factbook indicates exports were US$3.3 billion (f.o.b., 1999) and imports were US$4.5 billion (f.o.b., 1999).]