Lithuania Population, Politics and Economy
Population in Lithuania
According to directoryaah, about 2.8 million people live in Lithuania with a statistical population density of about 43 people per km². However, over half of the population of Lithuania lives in the larger cities of Lithuania, while large parts of the moorlands are largely uninhabited. The population growth in Lithuania has been declining by around -1% for decades due to massive emigration and a decline in births. With a median age of 43, Latvian society is relatively old. Due to the somewhat lower life expectancy of Lithuanian men, there is a slight surplus of women in the country.
In addition to the Lithuanian majority (approx. 80% of the population) there is a significant Russian and Polish minority (approx. 6% each) and smaller groups such as Belarusians (3.3%) and Slavs. There are also Estonians, Latvians, Germans, Ukrainians, Roma and Tatars.
Lithuanian is the mother tongue of over two thirds of the population and at the same time the official language that is recorded. In second place is Russian, which around 30% of the population speak as their mother tongue. In addition, Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Tatar, Latvian and Karaim are spoken in Lithuania, and German is spoken on the Curonian Spit.
Over 75% of the Lithuanian population profess the Roman Catholic faith, around 2% are Protestants, around 4% Russian Orthodox, and around 10% are non-denominational. There are also minorities of Jews, Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Politics and Economy in Lithuania
Lithuania is a semi-presidential democracy and constitutional republic with separation of powers. Citizens’ trust in the realization of democracy is, however, rather low.
The head of state is the president, who is responsible for the country’s foreign policy in addition to his representative duties. In addition, he has an extensive right of veto, which enables him to block laws previously enacted by parliament. He is followed in the hierarchy by the chairman of parliament and the prime minister, who, according to the constitution, can lead the Republic of Lithuania or represent it to foreign state guests in the absence of the president.
The Lithuanian parliament is called the Seimas. The unicameral parliament consists of 141 members of parliament who are elected for four years.
The Lithuanian party landscape is fragmented. Owing to the frequent government crises and changing majorities in parliament, the smaller parties have a not inconsiderable influence on parliamentary decision-making. Interest groups do not play as important a role in the political system as they do in other countries. The trade unions are of very little importance in political and social life. The delimitation of the parties from one another is low and hardly hindered by ideological barriers. Personal acquaintance, on the other hand, plays a major role and is therefore asserted at the various levels of political decision-making.
According to ebizdir, the transition from a planned to a market economy in Lithuania was associated with a structural change that has been accelerated since the country joined the EU in 2004. The Lithuanian economy has been growing at around 3% annually for several years. The gross domestic product in 2015 was 37.2 billion euros, and the GDP per capita was 13,282 euros. The most important export items from Lithuania are machines, electrical goods, textiles and food.
The unemployment rate is around 6.8%, which is slightly below the EU average. Over 9% of all workers work in agriculture, 25.2% in industry and 65.8% in the service sector.
Transport network in Lithuania
Lithuania is of great importance as a transit country between Central and Northern Europe, between the Kaliningrad Oblast and the Russian heartland and between Belarus and Scandinavia. Lithuania also plays an important role as an oil transit country.
Lithuania’s road network is still being expanded. The entire Lithuanian road network covers around 85,000 km, of which around 72,300 km are paved. The most important connections are the highways Vilnius – Kaunas – Klaipėda (German Memel) and Vilnius – Panevėžys as well as the trunk road E 67 “Via Baltica” from Warsaw via Kaunas and Riga to Tallinn or Helsinki, which is to be expanded into a full motorway in the long term. Motorways around Šiauliai and in the Telšiai region are also under construction. Bus transport (e.g. the long-distance bus routes from Eurolines, Ecolines or Lux-Express) plays an important role in national and international passenger transport.
The Lithuanian railway network is almost 2000 kilometers long. Fast direct trains and other train connections from Poland to Lithuania operate between Vilnius and Warsaw.
International flights go from Vilnius, Kaunas, Palanga and Šiauliai airports, mainly to European and Russian destinations.
In Klaipėda there is an important seaport with ferry connections in the entire Baltic Sea area (including to Kiel) and increasing importance for freight traffic. The Memel and the Neris are navigable for inland navigation.
Cities and regions in Lithuania
Lithuania is traditionally divided into four historical regions. Upper Lithuania in the northeast is partly very hilly and rich in lakes and, as the largest of the four regions, extends down to the capital Vilnius. Lower Lithuania includes the traditionally wealthy Suvalkija or Sūduva in the southwest and the traditionally rather poor Dzūkija in the south. A fifth region, which in Lithuania is mostly regarded as part of Lower Lithuania, is Little Lithuania, which forms the extreme western strip of Lithuania and until 1918 belonged to the German Empire as part of East Prussia. Administratively, Lithuania is divided into ten administrative districts: Alytus, Kaunas, Klaipėda, Marijampolė, Panevėžys, Šiauliai, Tauragė, Telšiai, Utena and Vilnius.
The capital and largest city of Lithuania is Vilnius (Wilna) with around 540,000 residents, which is home to around a quarter of the Lithuanian population. Other large cities in Lithuania are Kaunas (Kauen approx. 293,000 residents), Klaipėda (Memel, approx. 151,000 residents) and Šiauliai (Schaulen, 101,000 residents).