Basketball is the country's most popular sport. It was introduced to Lithuania by Steponas Darius. He had lived in the United States for many years and when he returned to Lithuania in the 1920s, he established several basketball clubs. Today, Lithuania is known internationally for its basketball players. The men's Lithuanian basketball team took home a bronze medal from the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Before independence, Lithuania produced the best basketball players for the Soviet teams and the Kaunas team won the Soviet championship twice. Several Lithuanians are currently among the top basketball players in the United States. 

The government encourages a healthy way of life and physical education for all people. More than 52,000 people of all ages participate regularly in activities sponsored by sports clubs. There are more than 800 clubs for sports such as basketball, soccer, body-building, track and field, boxing, weightlifting, judo, volleyball, rowing, wrestling, cycling, sailing, swimming and tennis. Cross-country skiing, skating and tobogganing are popular winter sports. All children enjoy cycling and badminton. 

On weekends and during vacations, many families spend time at cottages that they build themselves, known as sodyba. The cottages are made of brick and wood. Families grow flowers and vegetables and spend time relaxing, collecting berries and picking mushrooms. Nearly every cottage has an indoor or outdoor sauna.

 Many Lithuanians visit national parks and beach resorts on their holidays. Aukstaitija National Park, in eastern Lithuania, attracts cross-country skiers in the winter and canoeists in summer. Bird-watchers frequent the west coast, especially the town of Vente, on the eastern side of the Curonian Lagoon. In the depths of winter, ice fishing is popular on the frozen Curonian Lagoon.

  Did you know?
Vida Venckiene, a cross-country skier, won the first gold medal of the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, skiing under the Soviet flag. At the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Romas Ubartas took home a gold for discus. At the Sydney Olympics in 2000, Daina Gudzinervičižte won a gold medal for trap shooting and Virgilijus Alekna won gold for discus throwing.