Republic. Independent from the Soviet Union since 1990.
Head of state:
President Dalia Grybauskaite since 2009.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius since 2012.
220 volts AC, 50Hz. European two-pin plugs are in use.
Lithuania is a land of castles, lakes and forests. Its landscape consists of vast plains parted by hills and sand dunes along the Baltic shore. Its capital, Vilnius, is one of Europe's most enchanting cities, owing especially to its Baroque old town.
Lithuanian independence came soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. By 1995, the transition to a full market economy had been completed. The long-running border dispute with Poland was settled with the signing of a friendship and co-operation treaty in January 1992 and negotiations with Russia led to the withdrawal of the remaining Russian troops in Lithuania in August 1993.
It is the largest of the three Baltic states. Since gaining EU membership in 2004, the country has been placed on the global stage, encouraging more visitors than ever.
Last updated: 02 March 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Petty crime is common. Take extra care of your belongings in busy locations. Pickpockets operate in bars and restaurants. There is a risk of mugging and bag snatching, particularly on public transport. Avoid poorly-lit streets, parks and secluded areas after dark.
Be wary of accepting food and drink from strangers in bars, nightclubs and restaurants. Some visitors have been drugged and robbed.
Foreign tourists have been charged extortionate prices for drinks and had fraudulent transactions debited against credit/debit cards
Seek recommendations for bars and clubs from trustworthy sources. Vilnius Police publish a list of clubs where they have received the highest number of crimes reported.
Car theft is rife. Lock unattended vehicles and hide contents, including radios if possible. Use guarded car parks in cities, especially overnight.
There have been a number of recent thefts of bicycles in Vilnius.
Bus and trolley bus tickets are cheaper if bought from a news kiosk (spauda). Remember to frank your ticket on the machine on board or you may be fined by undercover inspectors.
Taxis are reasonably priced. Make sure the meter is used. It is cheaper and safer to phone for a taxi from a recognised company than to hail one in the street. Ask your hotel reception to call one. Do not use unregistered taxis
You can drive using a UK photo card driving licence. You must have suitable insurance and carry the original vehicle registration documents (copies are not acceptable).
Take care when driving, particularly at night. Equip your car for severe conditions in winter. Winter tyres are a legal requirement in Lithuania between 10 November and 1 April. Dipped headlights are compulsory all year round. Speed limits, unless otherwise indicated, are 50km/h in towns, 90km/h on country roads and 110km/h on highways.
Do not drink and drive. The legal blood-alcohol limit is 0.04%. Those found over the limit face a fine and possible imprisonment.
In 2012 there were 301 road deaths in Lithuania (source: DfT). This equates to 10 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2012.
When arriving in Lithuania with a car, border officials will ask for:
a passport with a validity of at least six months
Original vehicle registration documents (copies are not acceptable)
Be prepared for extremely cold and possibly hazardous weather if you intend to travel to Lithuania in the winter (October to March). There is likely to be snow on the ground and temperatures may drop to -25 degrees Celsius or below.
Local travel - Klaipeda, Nida and Palanga
If you intend to walk along the Curonian Spit be aware that after a short distance the Spit forms part of Kaliningrad, which is a territory of the Russian Federation.