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Lithuania (listen); Lithuanian pronunciation: Lietuva [ljIetU’va]), officially known as the Republic of Lithuania (Lithuanian Lietuvos Respublika), can be found in the Baltic region of Europe. It is located on the east shore of the Baltic Sea and is one of the three Baltic States. Lithuania shares land borders to the west with Latvia, Belarus, Poland, and Kaliningrad Oblast in Russia. Lithuania has a total area of 65,300km2 (25,200 sq mi) and a population of approximately 2.8 million. Vilnius is the capital and largest city. Klaipeda and Kaunas are other important cities. Lithuanians are part of the ethno-linguistic group known as the Balts. They speak Lithuanian, which is one of very few Baltic languages. For millennia, various Baltic tribes inhabited the Baltic Sea's southeastern shores. Mindaugas, a Lithuanian nobleman, united the lands of Lithuania in the 1230s and founded the Kingdom of Lithuania 6 July 1253. The Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which was Europe's largest country, was founded in the 14th century. Today, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine are all part of the Grand Duchy. With the marriage of Hedwig, a Polish queen, and Jogaila of Lithuania's Grand Duke Jogaila of Lithuania in 1386, the Crown of Poland and Grand Duchy of Lithuania formed a de facto personal union. Jogaila was crowned King jure-uxoris Wladyslaw I Jagiello of Poland.

In July 1569, the Union of Lublin established the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania. The Commonwealth was in existence for more than 200 years. It was eventually dismantled by neighboring countries in 1772-1795. After that, the Russian Empire annexed most of Lithuania's territory. The modern Republic of Lithuania was founded by the signing of the Lithuanian Act of Independence on 16 February 1918 after World War I had ended. Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union, then Nazi Germany in World War II. The Soviet Union reoccupied Lithuania in 1944, just as the Germans were beginning to withdraw. The Soviet occupation was repelled by the Lithuanian armed resistance that lasted until the 1950s. On 11 March 1990, a year before the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union, Lithuania passed the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania, becoming the first Soviet republic to proclaim its independence.Lithuania is a developed country, with a high income advanced economy; ranking very high in the Human Development Index. It is a country that ranks highly in civil liberties, press freedom and internet freedom. Lithuania is a member of NATO, NATO, the European Union and the Council of Europe. It is a permanent observer to the Nordic Council and participates in the Nordic Baltic Eight (NB8) regional cooperation format.

Source: Wikipedia