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News from Lithuania
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History & Politics of Lithuania
Lithuania, officially the Republic of Lithuania , is a country in northern Europe. The largest of the three Baltic States situated along the Baltic Sea, it shares borders with Latvia to the north, Belarus to the southeast, Poland to the south, and the Russian exclave of the Kaliningrad Oblast to the southwest. Lithuania has been a member state of the European Union since May 1, 2004.
Since Lithuania declared independence on March 11, 1990, it has kept strong democratic traditions. In the first general elections after the independence on October 25, 1992, 56.75% of the total number of voters supported the new constitution. Drafting the constitution was a long and complicated process. The role of the President fueled the most heated debates. Drawing from the interwar experiences, politicians made many different proposals ranging from strong parliamentarism to the United States' model. Eventually a compromise semi-presidential system was agreed upon
Historical & Tourist Attractions in Lithuania
Most visits to Lithuania start with the capital, Vilnius , which is also known as "the Jerusalem of the North" because of its many churches and its formerly significant Jewish minority. At every turn, the visitor sees the creations of all the cultures - Lithuanian, Polish, Jewish, Russian, French, German, and American - that are part of its history.
Its old town is one of the largest in Central Europe and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Close to Vilnius is historic Trakai with its lake-island castle, as well as the country's historic capitol Kernave, a prominent archeological site, often called the "Baltic Troy". Kernave is also included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. The Geographical Centre of Europe, as determined by the French Geographical Institute, lies a few miles from Vilnius; it is celebrated by a 136-acre sculpture park, Europos Parkas, filled with the work of sculptors from around the world. On the way from the capital to the sea is Lithuania's interwar capital, Kaunas. The city boasts a Hanseatic old town, while the modern area contains probably the densest concentration of pre-war Functionalist architecture in Europe. On the Baltic coast, the seaside resort of Palanga draws many thousands of tourists to its beaches, art galleries, restaurants, and nightlife. In the north, near the city of Šiauliai, lies the unique Hill of Crosses - an impressive site of Catholic pilgrimage and faith. South of Vilnius, near the city and spa of Druskininkai, is "Stalin's World" (Grutas Park), which is filled with the monuments to Lenin and other Soviet leaders that were erected all over Lithuania by the Soviets and joyfully toppled after they left.