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LITHUANIA


 

 

In-depth Business Intelligence

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 18,213 13,796 12,000 74
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 4,490 3,660 3,350 74
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Lithuania

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km)
65,200 

Population 
3,607,899 

Principal 
ethnic groups 
Lithuanians 81.3%
Russians 8.4%
Poles 7.0%

Capital
Vilnius 

Currency 
Litas

President
Valdas Adamkus


  

Update No: 289 - (27/01/05)

The Lithuanian Dubcek-cum-Gorbachev 
The political landscape in Lithuania is strewn with the figurative corpses of those who underestimated Algirdas Brazauskas. He has been communist president and prime minister and then ex-communist president and now prime minister again.
Yet more bodies litter the ground after the ex-president and one-time communist recently manoeuvred himself into none other than the prime minister's chair. As a former ranking communist, the 68-year-old certainly doesn't seem to have the credentials to lead a nation that is as devoutly anti-communist as it is devoutly Catholic. But he has proven consistently throughout his career that he has uncanny political instincts-a remarkable ability to quickly determine which way the winds are blowing, and to adapt accordingly. 
In 1989, he was the Dubcek of the Baltic, leading a Baltic Spring, far more likely to outlast the short-lived Prague Spring of his Czech predecessor. He led the Lithuanian Communist Party when it formally cut ties with Moscow, a bold move at the time that appeared to anticipate the very collapse of the Soviet Union. While Brazauskas started positioning himself early for the inevitable break-up, it took most other Soviet-era leaders-not least of all Mikhail Gorbachev-years to grasp what was happening then. (Some are still trying.) 

Brazauskas recidivus
The window of opportunity opened for Brazauskas again when the centrist government of Rolandas Paksas suddenly collapsed in July of 2001 after the centre-left New Union, citing differences over economic policy, withdrew its support and formed an alliance with Brazauskas's Social Democrats. In a speech following his approval by parliament, Prime Minister Brazauskas promised to continue the country's pro-EU, pro-NATO course while also doing more to help the poor. "We will seek to channel Lithuania's progress and growth towards a socially oriented market," he said. 
In contrast to typically weak-kneed ex-communists and in spite of his track record as an opportunist, the burly, white-haired Brazauskas has at times shown surprising political backbone. Over the grumbling of some of his countrymen, for instance, he travelled to Israel when he was Lithuanian president to apologize on Lithuania's behalf for the role some of his countrymen played in murdering Jews during the Nazi occupation. When one Holocaust survivor stopped Brazauskas on an Israeli street explaining that his family was massacred by Lithuanian collaborators, he leaned over, kissed the man, and asked him for forgiveness.
Brazauskas was president as a member of the Democratic Labour Party, made up of reform-minded ex-communists, until 1998. Afterwards, he spent much of his time on hunting trips and many believed he'd stay in the political background; convinced of that themselves, local journalists dubbed him "Lithuanian Pensioner No. 1." Before elections last year, though, he stormed back, helping the Social Democrats win more legislative seats than any other party. He expressed anger when his party was locked out of power by the centrist Liberal Union-New Union coalition.
Many average Lithuanians see Brazauskas as affable and down-to-earth. But some businessmen worry that he'll raise taxes and delay what they say is a badly needed war on bureaucracy. Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus is thought to prefer centre-right parties; but reluctantly nominated Brazauskas when it became clear he was the only candidate capable of winning parliamentary approval. But Adamkus said he would be watching and wouldn't hesitate to criticize the new administration. 

Continuity in foreign and domestic policy
Brazauskas intends to maintain the continuity of the country's foreign policy, he said after his candidacy for the post of head of government had been submitted by President Adamkus. According to Brazauskas, the government's main aims would remain the country's membership of NATO and the European Union and friendly relations with neighbours. 
As for domestic policy, Brazauskas noted, it should be more socially-oriented. In a socially-oriented free market the initiative and competition should be agreed with social justice. For a country which has unemployed and poverty social justice is especially important, the premier believes. According to preliminary data, Brazauskas has the support of more than 80 members in a 141-seat parliament.

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AVIATION

Passenger flows up at Lithuanian airports in 2004

Passenger flows and the number of flights at three Lithuanian airports - Vilnius, Kaunas and Palanga - increased last year but the volumes of freight declined, Delfi web site.
The country's airports handled 1,097,000 passengers last year - up by 41 per cent from 2003 (778,060) and had 33,760 flights, which was 21.3 per cent more than in 2003 (27,840). The same period saw a 26.3 per cent decline in freight volumes from 11,910 tonnes to 8,770 tonnes, Mindaugas Inavauskas, the general manager of Vilnius international airport said.
Vilnius airport alone handled 994,160 passengers last year - 38.1 per cent more than in 2003 (719,850). The number of flights rose by 29 per cent to 23,660 while freight flows declined by 0.6 per cent to 5,180 tonnes. Last year, the number of flights at Kaunas airport rose by 18.4 per cent to 4,830, the number of passengers by 25.6 per cent to 27,070, but the volume of freight dropped by 51.6 per cent to 3,230 tonnes.
Palanga airport posted worse results in 2004. It had 5,270 flights last year, which was 2.8 per cent less than in 2003, the passenger flow decreased by 63.3 per cent to 76,200 and the freight volumes halved and stood at 62 tonnes.

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INDUSTRY

Lithuanian industry up 11.5%

Lithuanian industry grew 11.4% in the first 11 months of 2004 compared with the same period in 2003, the country's Statistics Department said recently, New Europe reported.
Excluding oil products, overall industrial sales for the 11-month period increased 7.5% year-on-year. In November sales were up by 6.3% year-on-year and down by 4.5% month-on-month. The total volume of livestock and poultry (live weight) bought from farms rose by 10.5% in the 11-month period, while raw milk purchase volumes went up by 11.8%. The purchase volumes grew by 28.3% and 14.1%, respectively, in November 2004 from the year-earlier figure.

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TOURISM

Rural tourism grows 19% as Lithuania attracts visitors

Lithuanian country houses offering rural tourism services attracted a total of 176,700 visitors in the first 11 months of 2004, up 19.4% from 148,000 visitors in the same period of 2003, the Lithuanian Rural Tourism Association reported recently. In November alone, the number of visitors rose 16% year-on-year to 12,300. The Aukstaitija region, in central and eastern Lithuania, attracted the largest number of holidaymakers, namely 5,300 in November, followed by the Samogitia region, in the western part of the country, with 4,600 visitors, and Dzukija in the southeastern part, with 2,400 visitors. Around 700 sites are currently offering rural tourism services in Lithuania, of which approximately 30% are open all year round. The Rural Tourism Association groups together run over 350 country houses. The total number of visitors is forecast to reach about 200,000 in the year 2004.

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