Lithuania is in northern Europe, on the eastern shore
of the Baltic Sea. Latvia is to the north, Belarus to the southeast, Poland
to the south and the Kaliningrad Region of the Russian Federation to the
southwest. Together, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia make up the Baltic States.
Lithuania is the largest and most populous of the three. It is slightly larger
than the province of Nova Scotia.
The land of Lithuania consists of low-lying plains in the
west and gently rolling hills in the east. The highest point in the country is
Juozapines Hill, near Vilnius, at 294 metres. There are numerous lakes in the
eastern part of the country. The Nemunas River and its many tributaries flow west
to the Baltic Sea. More than half of the coast is sheltered by a sand bar about
100 kilometres long and less than four kilometres wide, known as the Curonian
Spit. Today, the spit is a national park. The water between the sandbar and the
mainland is called the Curonian Lagoon.
At one time, thick forests covered much of the land, but
over the years, farmers have cleared the land for crops. Today, woodlands cover
only one-quarter of Lithuania. Pine trees grow along the coast and in the south,
while oak trees are abundant in the central region. Edible plants such as
mushrooms, wild strawberries, cranberries, raspberries and bilberries grow in
the southern pine woods. Lithuania's many nature reserves and national parks
support a variety of wildlife, including elk, deer, wolves, foxes and wild boar.
Bird species include white storks, herons, geese, ducks, swans, eagles and hawks.
The climate of Lithuania is generally mild, but cool. The
eastern regions are usually colder than the area along the coast. In winter,
between November and March, the temperature may fall to -10°C or lower and
much of the country is covered with snow. In summer, the temperature may reach
22°C and it often rains.
Did you know?|
Amber, "Lithuania's gold," washes up on the Curonian Spit.
Amber is formed from the resin of ancient trees that lived 40 to 55 million years
ago. Over time, the resin hardens into golden or red translucent deposits, some
of which contain insects that were trapped in the resin when it hardened. Amber
is used to make jewellery.