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Lithuania

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Welcome to Lithuania

Lithuania

The Republic of Lithuania, on the east coast of the Baltic Sea, boldly became the first of the Soviet republics to declare its independence in 1990. With a restructured economy it joined the EU in the spring of 2004, and the gates of this fascinating ancient country are now wide open for western tourists and pleasure-seekers.

Relatively small, with only 62 miles (100km) of Baltic coastline, and hemmed in by Latvia, Belarus, Poland and part of the Russian Federation, Lithuania has a big heart and wide variety of offerings for visitors, including around 2,500 lakes, 18 sizeable meandering rivers, and forests covering a third of its territory. The country can also boast of being officially the centre of Europe: the National Geographic Institute of France proclaimed a point (now a popular tourist attraction) 15 miles (24km) northwest of the capital, Vilnius, as the geographic centre of the continent in 1989.

Vilnius itself is an atmospheric historic city founded in 1323, with a beautiful old quarter that has been declared a UNESCO Heritage Site and is undergoing tasteful renovations. Just a few miles from Vilnius lies Trakai, capital of Lithuania in the Middle Ages, on the shore of the scenic Lake Galve, and a little further west visitors revel in the peaceful Birstonas mineral water spa resort. Lithuania's second largest city, Kaunas, is a cultural centre boasting numerous museums and three theatres among its attractions. On its Baltic coastline Lithuania boasts seaside resorts, such as Palanga, with unspoilt white sandy beaches backed by pine forests.

An increasing number of travellers are savouring the delights of this re-discovered Baltic State, which is easily accessible from the main centres of Europe by air and road, and whose people are ready, willing and proud to show off its attributes.


Information & Facts

Business

Business in Lithuania is usually conducted formally, though the younger generation is less conservative. Face-to-face meetings are key, with good eye contact and a firm handshake upon greeting. Business cards are usually exchanged and it is important to be punctual. Use titles and surnames, unless otherwise indicated. Suits and ties are the norm. Lithuanians are hospitable and friendly and any invitation should be accepted, as this is a good opportunity to forge better business relations and build trust. Meetings tend to start with some small talk and can sometimes end with a summary of the discussions, though decision making and results can be slow. Business hours are usually from 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 6pm Monday to Friday.

Climate

Lithuania has a climate mid-way between maritime and continental. The weather is changeable, with mild, wet summers and cold winters. Winter temperatures are usually below freezing. Rainfall is spread throughout the year, but more rain tends to fall on the coast. Summer is the wettest season and cloudy skies are common.

Communications

The international dialling code for Lithuania is +370. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the UK) and the country has three-digit area codes. Vilnius has six different area codes: 521 and 523-527. Local calls can be dialled without the area codes. There are three major mobile GSM network service providers and connections are excellent. The Internet is well established in Lithuania and cities teem with Internet cafes. Small towns and villages have public Internet access points in libraries, post offices and tourist information centres.

Duty Free

Duty free allowances for travellers to Lithuania include 200 cigarettes or 250g of tobacco; 1 litre spirits, 2 litres wine or 5 litres beer; perfume for personal use.

Electricity
European style two-pin sockets at 220 volts AC, 50Hz.
Health

The only health risks associated with visiting Lithuania are for those intending to visit forested areas, who are advised to take the necessary precautions against tick-borne encephalitis. EU citizens are entitled to emergency medical treatment if they have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from their country of origin. Medical facilities are fair and there are plenty of doctors, but equipment and resources are lacking. There are a few private clinics of high standard. Doctors and hospitals usually expect immediate cash payment for services. Travel medical insurance is highly recommended.

Language
Lithuanian is the official language, but Russian and English are widely spoken.
Money

The official currency is the Litas (LTL), which is linked to the euro at a fixed rate of 3.4528 Lt to EUR1. ATMs are found in Vilnius on the Cirrus and Visa networks, but are rare in smaller towns. Most retailers, hotels, restaurants and the like accept credit cards, and banks and hotels will cash travellers cheques.

Passport Visa

The borderless region known as the Schengen Area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option, and which allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all the aforementioned countries. Additionally, non-EEA foreign passengers to Lithuania must hold (i) return/onward tickets, (ii) the necessary travel documentation for their next destination, (iii) sufficient funds to cover their expenses while in the country, and (iv) valid health and travel insurance, to cover any medical expenses incurred while in Lithuania. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Safety

Safety in Lithuania is not a major issue for travellers, the country is devoid of civil unrest and the terrorism threat is low. Car theft is rife, and there is a risk of mugging, pick-pocketing and bag snatching especially on public transport. Visitors should exercise due care and avoid carrying valuables. It is advisable to carry a copy of your passport for identification purposes. Traffic accidents are common, so extra vigilance is required for driving, especially at night.

Tipping

Tipping is not required as a matter of course, but is appreciated for exceptionally good service. Rounding up the bill to avoid accumulating small change is customary.

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