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Country Information Lithuania


at a glance

destination Lithuania

civilization and culture





65 200 square kilometres


3.56 million (July 2009)

Capital city

Vilnius (553 000 inhabitants 2006)

Official language

Lithuanian  (other languages: Russian 8 % and Polish 5,6 %)

Gross national product per capita

US$ 17 700 (2008) (PPP)

Population growth

-0.28 % (2009)

Life expectancy

74,9 years (men: 70 years, women: 80,1 years) (2009)

Infant mortality

6.5 per 1000 live births (2008)

Rate of illiteracy

0 % (2007)





Lithuania is attractive both for tourists with cultural interests as well as for nature lovers. The varied architecture of the towns is an impressive monument to Lithuanian history. Wooded landscapes, and hundreds of unspoilt lakes and rivers offer a spectacular setting for outdoor holidays. And along the sea coast there are fine sand beaches, some offering splendid solitude, such as those on the Courland Spit and near Palanga.

According to UNWTO in the year 2005 approximately 740 million Euro were paid by tourists.


Commercial sexual exploitation of children in tourism

According to UNICEF, 20 - 50% of the prostitutes in Lithuania are minors, but the country is not a common destination for tourists intent on the sexual abuse of children. Sexual abuse of minors is punishable in Lithuania with prison sentences of between three and fifteen years.


People trafficking is a major problem in Lithuania. A third of victims are minors and they are lured with false promises in the West where they are sexually exploited. Sometimes newspaper advertisements promise well-paid jobs in foreign countries, seek participants in beauty competitions, promising a trip abroad as a prize.


Legal situation

In Lithuania sexual contact with children is a criminal offence. The abuse of children in prostitution is punishable with prison sentences between three and seven years. Lithuania ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in March 1992.



According to estimates from UNAIDS and the World Health Organization, at the end of 2007 approximately 2.200 people in Lithuania were infected with HIV, including 1.000 women. How many children were infected, could not be estimated. In the same year 200 Lithuanians died following infection with HIV.


Local Contacts


Save the Children Lithuania

(Gelbekit Vaikus )

Vilniaus G 22/1

Vilnius LT-01119, Lithuania

Phone: +370 5 261 08 15

Fax: +370 5 261 08 37



Main contact person(s): Rasa Dicpetriene (


Children Support Center

Latviu 19A-8

Vilnius LT-08113

Phone: +370 5 2715980 or +370 611 43567

Fax: +370 5 2715979






Lithuanian tribes cooperated to oppose the Teutonic knights in the mid-13th century, and the region was only Christianised at the end of the 14th century. Lithuania benefited from the weakness of Russia as a result of the Mongolian invasions, and came to dominate much of Eastern Europe. After close links with Poland, Lithuania was acquired by Russia in 1795 in the Third Polish Partition. It only became independent at the end of the First World War, but in 1940 the Red Army gained control. This was followed by German occupation from 1941- 44, during which period there was widespread persecution, and many Lithuanian Jews were killed. In 1944 the Red Army regained control; Lithuania was made a Soviet Republic, and this was followed by deportations and the resettlement of other "Soviet citizens".

The first free elections were held in Lithuania in 1990, but a declaration of independence was met by a Russian economic blockade. After overcoming a putsch attempt in 1991, Lithuania was recognised by the world community and accepted into the United Nations. It acceded to the European union in 2004.


State and society

Under the Lithuanian constitution of 1991, the country is a democracy with single parliamentary chamber (the Seimas). The President has considerable powers. 

The history of the country is reflected in the ethnic mix of the population, although to a lesser extent than in the other Baltic states. The Lithuanians make up 83.5% of the population. The largest minorities are Poles (6.8%), Russians (6.3%), Belarusians (1.2%) and Ukrainians (0.7%).

Despite impressive economic performance, the average standard of living in Lithuania is less than 40% of the EU average. The level of unemployment in 2004 was just above 10%, but was showing a downward trend.



Lithuania is poor in raw materials, with small reserves of oil and natural gas. Key natural resources are wood, peat, sand, and clay. However, it has an advantageous geographical position as a transit country between Central and Northern Europe, as well as between Russia and Europe. Additionally, Lithuania has the only oil refinery in the Baltic states, which accounts for 10 % of its gross national product. 

High hopes are placed on the membership of the European Union. The economic statistics are encouraging with a growth rate of more than 7% and a budget deficit of 1.2 % and virtually no inflation in 2003.

The privatisation of state-owned concerns had made significant advances by 2004, with plans to make further progress in the coming years. Growth areas have also established themselves, such as the IT-sector. However, extensive restructuring will be necessary in the agricultural sector, which currently still employs some 17% of the working population.