Geography: Lithuania is situated on the eastern Baltic coast and borders Latvia in the north, the Kaliningrad region of the Russian Federation and Poland in the southwest and Belarus in the southwest and east. The geometrical centre of Europe lies in eastern Lithuania near the village of Bernotai, 25km (16 miles) north of Vilnius. The landscape alternates between lowland plains and hilly uplands and has a dense, intricate network of rivers, including the Nemunas and the Neris. 1.5 per cent of the country's territory is made up of lakes, of which there are over 2800. The majority of these lie in the east of the country and include Lake Druksiai and Lake Tauragnas.

Government: Republic. Gained independence from Russia/Germany 1918-1936, and then from the Soviet Union in 1990. Head of State: President Valdas Adamkus since 1998. Head of Government: Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas since 2000.

Language: Lithuanian is the official language. Lithuanian has a large number of dialects for such a small territory, including High Lithuanian (Aukstaiciai) and Low Lithuanian (Zemaiciai).

Religion: Predominantly Roman Catholic with Evangelical Lutheran, Evangelical Reformist, Russian Orthodox, Baptist, Muslim and Jewish minorities.

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