What is Littuania? OK, that name may vaguely ring a bell, but it must be said that it is one of the countries in Europe that we still don't know much about.
Where is Lithuania?
– Surface : 65,303 km². Lithuania is the largest and most populous country of the three Baltic States.
– Capital : Vilnius.
– Population : 3,505,738 inhabitants (2014 estimate), 67% urbanized. One million Lithuanians live abroad.
– Density: 53,7 hab./km².
– Life expectancy: 76 years old (10 years between men and women!).
– Change : the euro (since January 1, 2015).
– Language : Lithuanian.
– Political regime: parliamentary democracy.
– Jet lag : +1h.
– UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the historic center of Vilnius (1994); the Courland Isthmus ; the archaeological site of Kernavé (2004); the Struve geodesic arc (2005).
History / general
Lithuania is the largest of the three Baltic countries, and also the one with the most troubled history. After being a great kingdom, constantly occupied by Poland, Germany, Russia, Lithuania was the first country to face the USSR, in 1989-1990, showing the way to independence.
Today Lithuania integrates the European Union dynamically, and adopted the euro on January 1, 2015.
Lithuania: little-known regions and many lakes, thick forests and some magnificent national parks ...
Its relief is flat: the national average is 99 m, with the highest point being the Juozapine Hill, 294 m (not that high point…). It also has a large number of rivers and some 2,830 lakes (of glacial origin)!
The seafront is very short: only 99 km. But what a facade! There are sand dunes that sometimes exceed 60 m in height. The region, baptized Amber Coast, has earned the nickname "Lithuanian Sahara"! The Curonian Peninsula was even listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
The fertile inland land occupy almost half of the country. Well-ordered fields, scarecrows, flowery meadows, haystacks, stork nests on pylons and chimneys ... Lithuania is a land of images that smack of the countryside of yesteryear.
Lithuania, like its Baltic neighbors, experiences maritime influences on the Baltic coast and a climat continental dans l’intérieur des terres.L’hiver débute dès le mois de novembre. Il y neige fréquemment durant trois ou quatre mois, et il peut faire très froid.Le printemps commence mi-avril, avec la fonte des neiges : la campagne se couvre alors de boue. Il est suivi d’un été baigné de lumière, où le mercure daigne enfin approcher les 20 °C (30 °C certains jours dans la capitale).
Lithuania, even more than its two Baltic neighbors, experienced a difficult period of transition after the return to independence. This improved in 1995. But the Russian crisis of 1998 turned all indicators red. Lithuania will be the last of the three Baltic countries to re-take off in 2001, then post exceptional growth rates in Europe until 2008.
This growth is linked to diversified exports, a skilled and competitive workforce, and a good level of private consumption. The fiscal consolidation measures are successful.
Today, the country is brilliantly developing projects in the sectors ofenergy, transports, biotechnologies, of the'optroniqueandfood.
– L’euro replaced the Litas on January 1, 2015, which itself replaced the ruble in 1993. Lithuania's entry into the euro zone is of course an essential step in the country's economy.
Of all the Baltic countries, Lithuania is undoubtedly the best eater. Peasant, sometimes rustic but generally tasty (and loaded with calories ...), traditional cuisine is inspired by Polish know-how, without neglecting some Russian contributions.
Some examples :
– Appetizers : herring (herring) marinated or smoked, so tender it melts like silk in your mouth, is served with potatoes, chopped onions, sour cream. The smoked eel (rukytas unguris) worth a visit, like the red caviar (red caviar), salmon roe to spread on blinis.
– Main dishes : Pork chops (steak), grilled or breaded, veal (veal), paupiettes (zrazy), beef tongue (tongue), Caucasian kebabs (shashlik) ... No meat is served without its dose of boiled potatoes or its grilled patties drizzled with sour cream (pancakes).
– Vegetable side, on se retrouve souvent avec une assiette de champignons marinés (marinuoti grybai), une salade de chou (kopūstų) ou de betteraves rouges (burokas). Le šaltibarščiai, servi en été, est un borchtch (soupe) froid à la betterave. L’hiver, il est chaud…
– Les Lituaniens, comme les Polonais, ont même des plats conçus uniquement à partir de pommes de terre : vėdarai (saucisses),cepelinai (Zeppelins !) farcis de viande, kugelis (gâteau de pommes de terre)…
– Les desserts : Pour finir le repas, rien de mieux qu’une de ces délicieuses petites crêpes (blyneliai) : à la banane, aux pommes, à la confiture ou nappées d’un coulis de fruits.
The thé (arbata): there are some very good ones with red fruits.
Lovers of hot chocolate : the chocolate is melted, there is no milk!
The beer : in Lithuania as in the other Baltic countries, everything revolves around beer, blond (light beer) or sometimes brown (dark beer).
Nature is very important in Lithuania, with many possibilities for sports and outdoor activities which vary seasonally. In winter, ski tours, ice skating and sledding are very popular.In summer, les promenades en forêt, les excursions en canoë, notamment dans les parcs nationaux, l’observation des oiseaux, l’équitation, la pêche et les randonnées à vélo font partie des activités sportives les plus courantes.
Sur la mer Baltique, les Lituaniens s’adonnent aux joies des nautical sports, comme le jet ski ou la plongée.
Par ailleurs, le basket-ball est le sport le plus populaire en Lituanie, bien plus que le football.
Fêtes et traditions
Nombre de fêtes et traditions lituaniennes se rattachent au cycle des saisons et au travail de la terre.
– Dans tout le pays, et surtout en Žemaitija, enfants et adultes déguisés en animaux déambulent dans les rues des villages pour Mardi Gras (Mardi Gras). After midnight, an effigy of winter incarnate, baptized Morė, is burned in collective joy.
– Easter (Easter): in the old days we bathed in a river before dawn as a sign of purification, before undertaking the great spring cleaning. The Lithuanians threw dust at the neighbor's house, hoping it would stay there all year ... On Good Friday, everything stopped lest it seep into Christ's eyes! On Saturdays, after mass, the eggs are painted again, then the children look for them in the garden.
- The Saint Jean (Race or St. John's wort) marks the summer solstice. As in the other Baltic countries, city dwellers meet in the countryside to maintain until dawn the great blaze in which their past worries are symbolically consumed.
– Christmas is celebrated in a way quite similar to ours, with a big New Years Eve meal (Kucios)… without meat on the menu, but rich in twelve dishes as much as apostles.
Close to Latvian, Lithuanian, like him, descends from an old Indo-European strain associated with Sanskrit and Hittite, dead languages. Suffice to say that Lithuanian unlike anything we know.
On the program: seven cases and five groups of declensions, diphthongs, a pronunciation so punctilious that a bad tonic accent can change the meaning of a word, and an alphabet of 32 letters - including 12 vowels - full of funny occupants .
Thank you The backpacker !