Lithuania lies on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. In the north, the country borders on Latvia (588 km), in the east – on Belarus (660 km), in the south – on Poland (103 km) and Kaliningrad Region of the Russian Federation (273 km). Lithuania holds a 90 kilometre long area of the Baltic Sea coast. As the National Geographic Institute of France confirmed in 1989, the geographic centre of Europe lies just 24 kilometres northwest of Vilnius.
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, and its largest city. It is located in the southeast of the country.Vilnius has always been a multinational, multilingual, and multicultural European city. Trying to position itself as an informal political leader of the Baltic countries, Lithuania shares its own experiences in democratic developments with other countries of post-soviet block and takes active participation in the EU renewal processes. In April 2005, Vilnius hosted the meeting of 26 NATO foreign ministers.
Regional differences of Lithuanian culture reflect complicated historical development of our country. Since the 13th century five ethnographic areas, or regions, have historically formed in the current territory of Lithuania: Aukštaitija (literally Highlands, northeastern and eastern region), Žemaitija (Samogitia, literally Lowlands, north-western region), Dzūkija or Dainava (south-eastern region), Sūduva (Sudovia) or Suvalkija (southern and south-western region) and Lithuania Minor (sea-coast region). These ethnographic regions even today differ by dialects, ways of life and behaviour styles, while until the turn of the last century there were pronounced differences in dress and homestead styles as well as village planning.
Lithuania is justly proud of its unfailing treasures of folklore: colourful clothing, meandering songs, an abundance of tales and stories, sonorous dialects and voluble language. This ethnographic heritage is nourished by ethnographic and folklore companies and barn theatres. Recent years have witnessed the revival of ethnographic crafts and culinary traditions. Folk craft fairs and live craft days are organized during many events and festivals.
The most beautiful and valuable with regard to nature and culture places of Lithuania bear the status of protected areas. Even 12 percent of country’s area is covered by 5 national and 30 regional parks, 254 reserves, 2 cultural and 3 nature reserves and 1 biosphere reserve, as well as over 400 features of nature heritage. Presently, the establishment of a network of protected areas important on the EU scale, Natura 2000, is continued.
There are 4 resorts in Lithuania: two of them are located at the seaside, the other two–in the southern part of Lithuania. The seaside resorts are very different: Palanga is considered to be the lively capital of summer; whereas Neringa is regarded as the area of unique nature and quietness.