Lithuania Destination Guide & Country Overview
Republic of Lithuania | Lietuvos Respublika
Lithuania is one of northeastern Europe’s Baltic countries, as its western border is the Baltic Sea; its land borders include Russia’s Kaliningrad Oblast to its west, Belarus to its east, Latvia to its north, and Poland to its south. Called Lietuva by the locals, Lithuania is a fairly “new” country, being the first country to regain its independence from the Soviet Union in 1990.
Vilnius, the capital and largest city of Lithuania, has a UNESCO-awarded World Heritage Site in its Old Town, which also happens to be the largest in Europe of the Baroque influence. It has had a large Jewish influence for quite some time, and it can be felt when visiting; the city retains its name as “the Jerusalem of Lita (Lithuania)” even now, stemming from Napoleon’s naming of the city as “the Jerusalem of the North” when he passed through two centuries ago.
For a unique geographical excursion, check out the Curonian Spit, a long, thin strip of sand dune-y land that runs between Lithuania and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad Oblast; this spit fences off the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea, and is quite a pleasant experience. It has also been awarded the status of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, shared by the two countries.