Lithuania is a true gem of Eastern Europe and the Baltics, situated in the heart of Europe on the Baltic Sea and surrounded by Belarus, Latvia, Poland, and Russia. There’s much to like about it, including its ancient history, fascinating pagan roots, and archaic language.
When you combine a stunning natural environment with a 61-mile stretch of sand dunes and Unesco World Heritage Sites like the Kernave Archaeological Site, it’s hard to understand why more people don’t visit. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of some of Lithuania’s most fascinating facts to demonstrate exactly how fascinating the ancient Baltic nation is.
1. Linguists flock to Lithuania in droves
Lithuanian is the world’s oldest Indo-European language still in use. It’s an antique language with a structure and form that’s akin to Sanskrit, a classical Indian language. Over 5,000 years have passed since Lithuatioan was first used. It is now one of only two Baltic languages spoken in the world, the other being Lithuanian. All of the others, such as Galindian and ancient Prussian, died out.
Lithuanian is spoken by more than 80% of the country’s 3.8 million people. However, only about 3 million people speak it today, making it one of Europe’s least spoken languages. Belarusian, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, and Yiddish are among the other minority languages.
2. Lithuania has a national fragrance
Here’s something you might not know about Lithuania. One of Lithuania’s most well-known characteristics is that it is the only country on the earth with an official smell. It’s The Scent of Lithuania, that’s for sure. The perfume was created by Dainius Rutkauskas and two other Lithuanian business people in order to build a profitable national brand. Wildflowers, raspberry, ginger, sandalwood, and musk smells make up the fragrance.
While Switzerland has its chocolate and watches, and England has its fish and chips, the team contends Lithuania lacks a well-known identity. The £25 smell was created to address this. The majority of the time, it is employed to promote the image of local tourism offices and enterprises.
The government, on the other hand, is a supporter. The prime minister’s chief of staff once sent a bottle to each of Vilnius’ foreign ministers, while the defense minister even flew 20 vials to Afghanistan to distribute to Lithuanian soldiers. If you still haven’t had your fill, you may pick yourself a fragrant candle and a set of tea lights.
3. Lithuania is rich in culture
Lithuania is a country steeped in history, from dairy products to theater and art museums to architecture. Consider this: one of the Intangible Cultural Heritages, according to UNESCO, is the traditional Lithuanian folk dance, which is performed once every four years as a highlight performance.
You don’t have to be a native of Lithuania to participate in this dance; the country welcomes visitors from all over the world. Everything they do, from their festivities to the meals they eat, is based on ancient culture because what worked for their forefathers continues to work for them.
In 1994, the old town of Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital, was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. The first thing you’ll notice when visiting Lithuania is Vilnius’ old town plaza, which is the largest of its sort in Eastern Europe. You can spend hours admiring the architecture, both sacred and secular, many of which date back to the Middle Ages. Kaunas, like Klaipeda, has a charming Old Town, which is known for its brightly colored windows and facades.
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4. Lithuania is a land of nature
Nature abounds in Lithuania. Forests encompass about a third of the country, including many protected areas, natural reserves, and national parks. Their national bird is the stork, and Lithuania is known as “the land of storks.” The Stelmuze Oak, which stands 23 meters tall and is almost 1,500 years old, is Europe’s oldest oak tree. Just hugging its trunk demands 8-9 persons.
In addition, one of Europe’s largest moving sand dunes is located in the country. This must be included in every Lithuanian vacation! The Curonian Spit is a unique, endangered, sandy cultural landscape sculpted by the sea, wind, and some human activity. The Spit is a seaside location with a few attractions.
5. Lithuanians love hot air balloons
Lithuania’s national love affair with hot air balloons is one of the unique characteristics of its culture. With the highest number of hot air balloons per person, Lithuania is known as the world’s hot air balloon capitol.
Hot air balloons are so prevalent in Lithuania that a renowned national dish called Cepillin is named after them. The meatball-sized dumplings blended with potatoes and cheese in these zeppelin-inspired recipes are for the curious.
6. Lithuanians love food
Food that is full, hearty, and keeps you warm is a favorite among Lithuanians. Root vegetables (potatoes and beetroot), meat, and dairy products are the most common ingredients in Lithuanian cuisine, all of which can be farmed in the cold climate.
Cepelinai, or zeppelins, is Lithuania’s national dish and the first dish that all tourists should sample when they arrive. The meal is constructed of a mixture of raw and cooked potato dough packed with pork and served with sour cream and bacon sauce and was named for its resemblance to the zeppelin airship.
Cheese curds or mushrooms can be used in place of the beef filling if you’re a vegetarian. Dumplings offered in Austria, Belarus, Germany, and Poland are comparable to this dish. Consider it a combination of dumplings and pierogi.
Without its own beer and wine, Lithuania wouldn’t be Lithuania. Their beer tradition is totally unique to us, with a thriving craft beer scene. Homebrewing is ingrained in Lithuanian culture, yet commercial brewers abound, with Lithuanians making some of the world’s best beers.
Lithuania’s charms are eccentric, unforgettable, and frequently extremely beautiful: a 60-kilometer stretch of lonesome sand dunes, a towering mound of wooden crosses that defies belief, and an eclectic, electrifying capital city that appears to have been created in the 17th century. This southernmost of the three Baltic republics – together with Latvia and Estonia – deserves to be on more tourists’ bucket lists.