A map of Lithuania Lithuania is the largest and most populous of the Baltic states—a group of countries including Latvia and Estonia, which border the Baltic Sea. It was ruled by Russia and the communist Soviet Union for much of the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, it is a member of the European Union and has a rapidly-developing economy. Lithuania’s landscape was smoothed down by glaciers during the most recent Ice Ages, about 22,000 years ago. Apart from some low hills in the east, the land is fairly flat and forested, dotted with lakes, rivers and marshes. Sandy beaches and dunes stretch along the coast. Winters in Lithuania are cold, while summers are sunny but usually mild.
Most of the people are ethnic Lithuanians, a Baltic people directly descended from the region’s first settlers. The rest are mainly Poles and Russians. Lithuanian is one of the oldest languages in Europe; it is very similar to the ancient language spoken by the earliest Lithuanians. More people live in cities and towns than in the countryside, many in large housing blocks built during the Soviet era (1944–90). In the countryside, traditional homes are built entirely from wood.
Lithuania has over 2800 lakes.
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