Capital | Vilnius
Population | 3,535,547 (July 2011 est.)
Area | 65,200 SQ KM
Official Language | Lithuanian
Holidays | Independence Day, 16 February (1918); note - 16 February 1918 was the date Lithuania declared its independence from Soviet Russia and established its statehood; 11 March 1990 was the date it declared its independence from the Soviet Union
Currency | Litas (LTL)
Time Zone | UTC +2
Best Time to Visit | May to September (spring and summer)
Connecting with the Culture | Wandering through the winding streets of Vilnius and peering into hidden courtyards. Exploring the Curonian Spit, an isolated thread of sand composed of dunes and lush pine forests inhabited by elk, deer, and wild boar. Savouting fish freshly smoked to an old Curonian recipe. Visiting the old Lithuanian capital of Trakai—a quiet town in an attractive area of lakes and islands dotted with old wooden cottages. Soaking up the curative powers of Druskininkai’s mineral springs.
Read | Antanas Skma’s semi-autobiographical novel Balta drobule, which pioneered the use of stream of consciousness in Lithuanian literature.
Listen | to the avant-garde jazz of the Ganelin Trio.
Watch | Koridorius (The Corridor) by director Šarcnas Bartas or The Necklace of Wolf’s Teeth by Algimantas Puipa.
Eat | zeppelin cepelinai, an airship-shaped parcel of thick potato dough, filled with cheese, mesa (meat) or grybai (mushrooms). It comes topped with a sauce made from onions, butter, sour cream, and bacon bits. You also might like to try smoked pig’s ears (or not).
Drink | the local beer Utenos or potent staliskes, a honey liqueur.
In a Word | Lábas (hello)
Characteristics | Winning independence from the Soviet Union; Baltic states; Stalin World; Eurovision Song Contest.
Surprises | When visiting a Lithuanian, bring an odd number of flowers—even-numbered bouquets are for the dead! Never shake hands across a doorway, as it is believed to bring bad luck.