Sat on the Baltic Sea, surrounded by Belarus, Latvia, Poland and Russia, Lithuania is truly a gem of Eastern Europe and the Baltics. Famous for its ancient history, interesting pagan roots and archaic language, there’s lots to love about it. Which is why we summed up some of the most interesting facts about Lithuania to show you just how incredible the ancient Baltic nation really is.
7 Interesting Facts About Lithuania
1. Lithuania is a hotbed for linguists
With Lithuanian being the oldest surviving indo-european language, the country is a hotbed for linguists. The earliest use of Lithuatioan can be traced back over 5,000 years. And while only 3 million people speak Lithuanian today, one of the least spoken languages in Europe; its long history is what makes it so fascinating.
2. Around a third of the country is forestland
Lithuanians are famous for their fondness of nature, and it’s not hard to see why. Afterall, more than 30% of Lithuania is forest. And not only that, but the majority of them are protected regions, nature reserves or national parks.
3. There’s a popular dish named after a German airship
One of the most popular Lithuanian dishes is cepelinai. They are potato and meat dumplings that derived their name from the infamous Zepplin airships in World War One. Be sure to wash it down with a Lithuanian beer.
4. Lithuania has a national scent
One of the things Lithuania is famous for, is being the only country on the planet with an official scent. Yep, it’s The Scent of Lithuania. The fragrance is made up of wild flowers, raspberry, ginger, sandalwood and musk aromas.
5. Basketball is a very popular sport
It may surprise you to find that Lithuania has an incredibly skilled national basketball team, which has bagged three bronze medals at the Olympics. Not only that, but many Lithuanians have made it to the NBA’s Hall of Fame. Undoubtedly the most notable being Arvydas Sabonis who is famous for being one of the best European basketball players of all time.
6. Lithuania was the last country in Europe to convert to Christianity
Lithuania was the last nation in Europe to adopt Christianity in 1387. Prior to that time, Lithuanians primarily practiced Romuva, an indigenous pagan religion. Today an overwhelming amount of Lithuania identifies as Christian, however many pagan traditions are still in place with many younger Lithuanians looking to revive their roots.
7. It was once the largest country in Europe
It’s true, by the end of the 14th century, Lithuania was the largest country in all of Europe and one of the continents most powerful empires. This was because present day Belarus and Ukraine, in addition to large swaths of Russia and Poland, were part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Nowadays Lithuania takes up around the same space as West Virginia, USA, however its history and culture through the ages still shine.