Lithuania is the largest and most southerly of the three Baltic republics.
Not much more than a decade after it regained its independence during the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, Lithuania was welcomed as a Nato member in late March 2004.
The move came just weeks before a second historic shift for the country in establishing its place in the Western family of nations as it joined the EU in May 2004. These developments would have been extremely hard to imagine in not-so-distant Soviet times.
Russia, anxious about the implications of the eastward advance of the EU and Nato to include the three Baltic republics, has a particular eye on Lithuania which has an important border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.
- Republic of Lithuania
- Capital: Tarawa Vilnius
- Population 3.3 million
- Area 65,300 sq km (25,212 sq miles)
- Languages Lithuanian (official), Russian, Polish, Belarusian
- Major religions Christianity
- Life expectancy 67 years (men), 78 years (women)
- Currency euro