On the ethnic level, Lithuania is the most homogeneous of the three Baltic states: according to 1998 data, ethnic Lithuanians, mainly Catholic, make up 81 % of the population (which in total amounts to about 3.7 million residents), a slightly higher proportion than the 1989 Soviet census. Minorities are represented not only by Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian immigrants in the Soviet age (11 %, with a slight decrease compared to 1989 due to the return flows caused by the proclamation of Lithuanian independence) but also by a border minority, that of the Poles (7% of the total, stationary value compared to 1989), which have had a long common history with the Lithuanians. As in the other two Baltic republics – but with a certain delay, probably due to Catholic influence – also in Lithuania there was a progressive decrease in the birth rate and, during the 1990s, a phase of slight demographic regression began. For Lithuania 2001, please check naturegnosis.com.
Capital and main city of the Lithuania is Vilnius, located inland, near the Belarusian border, and yet with a typically Central European imprint. With its over 580. 000 residents looks good compared to the other Baltic capitals for absolute size but, unlike the Estonian and Latvian capital, coexists with other medium-sized cities like Kaunas, in the interior as well (almost 420. 000 residents), and the port city of Klaipeda (200. 000 residents), a subsidiary maritime outlet for the Russian Federation and especially to Belarus.
Lithuania is still a markedly agricultural country, and the population employed in agriculture, although clearly a minority as a whole, maintains non-negligible proportions. In the new privatized rural economy the production of cereals (especially barley, but also wheat), potatoes and sugar beets are really conspicuous compared to the modest size of the country; cattle and pig breeding is flourishing, and the same fishing, even if practiced on a small coast, makes a good contribution to the primary economy. The mineral resources, on the other hand, are limited to peat obtained from marshy lands and small quantities of oil extracted near Kretinga and the opposite continental shelf of the Baltic Sea (and which have been a cause of controversy with neighboring Latvia).1993- meets most of the country’s energy needs. The industrial activities – the privatization of which proceeded with some difficulty, amidst contradicting pressures – have long been oriented towards manufacturing specializations of a moderate technological level (electrical equipment, household appliances, televisions), mostly destined for export, but conceived for needs of the old COMECON market and therefore not suitable for satisfying the sophisticated demand of Western countries. This helps to explain both the fact that the great majority of Lithuanian trade still takes place with the Russian Federation, and the scarce consistency of Western countries’ direct investments in productive sectors.
Despite the strong expectations fueled by the prospect of independence, the detachment from the USSR (September 1991) presented the country with numerous difficulties: in particular, the economic situation was strongly affected by the disintegration of the Soviet market, with negative effects also on political stability. Furthermore, while the hope of a rapid integration of Lithuania in Western political, economic and military structures (in particular NATO and the EU) remained unfulfilled, the desire to escape the sphere of influence of Moscow clashed with the complexity of relations inherited from the Soviet era.
In the aftermath of independence, the most important issue was the withdrawal of the former Soviet troops, which had come under the control of the Russian Federation. It was completed in August 1993, but other difficulties continued to hinder relations with Moscow. The passage on Lithuanian territory of military supplies destined for the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad was the source of repeated disputes, which continued even after the signing of an agreement in November 1993that regulated the modalities, while the problem of the demarcation of the border between the Lithuania and the territory of Kaliningrad was submitted to a negotiation. With an ethnically more homogeneous population than the other two Baltic republics, which hosted sizeable Russian minorities, Lithuania was nevertheless affected by strong controversy after the passing of a citizenship law (November 1989), considered discriminatory towards Russian minorities (8, 4 % of the population) and Polish (7 %). Relations with Poland were also affected, initially hampered among other things by the aftermath of the old disputes (in particular in connection with the Polish occupation of Vilnius in 1920 – 39). However, relations with Warsaw recorded a progressive improvement, which led, in April 1994, to a treaty of friendship and cooperation, with which the two states undertook to recognize the rights of their respective minorities, and in June 1996 to the signing of a free trade agreement. Starting from 1992 an integration process with the other Baltic republics was also developed. Having worked to strengthen relations with Western European countries, Lithuania, a member of the Council of Baltic Sea States since 1992, signed an association agreement with the EU in June 1995, to which it applied for membership in December. of the same year. In1994 joined, together with other former Soviet states, the military cooperation program with NATO countries, called Partnership for peace, but the prospect of full membership in the alliance was hindered by the negative opinion expressed by the Russian Federation. Internally, after a new Constitution which introduced a parliamentary system was approved by referendum (October 1992), the first legislative elections were held in October-November 1992 after the separation from the USSR. The nationalist group, the Sajudis (Lithuanian Movement for Reconstruction), which had brought the country to independence, was defeated ; the latter, in coalition with a minor formation, obtained 30seats in the Parliament (composed of 141 deputies), compared to 74 that went to the Demokratinë darbo partija (Democratic Labor Party). The leader of the latter, A. Brazauskas, was elected president of parliament and provisional head of state and was confirmed as president of the republic in the elections (by direct suffrage) of February 1993. A. Slezevicius, who took over from Brazauskas at the head of the party in April, hired in March 1993the leadership of the executive. The new government found itself facing the continuing economic crisis and was implicated in several cases of corruption; moreover, the involvement in the bankruptcy of some credit institutions of members of the same government structure contributed to further undermine the consensus towards the Democratic Labor Party. The subsequent elections (October 1996) finally recorded a drastic defeat of the party, which obtained 12 seats, while 70 went to the Tëvynës sàjunga (Conservative party, heir of Sajudis), established in 1993 mainly on the initiative of V. Landsbergis. G. Vagnorius (former Prime Minister in 1991 -92) formed a center-right coalition government in December 1996, which pursued an expansion of the program of liberalization of the economy, already initiated by the previous administrations. In January 1998 the conservative V. Adamkus was elected President of the Republic, narrowly defeating the candidate of the Democratic Labor Party. In May 1999 Vagnorius, having come into conflict with the president, resigned and was replaced by R. Paskas of the Conservative party.