At its Peak
While today Lithuania is one of the three small Baltic states in North Eastern Europe, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania once stretched from the Baltic to the Black sea.
|Lithuania dominating circa 1387|
Beginning in the 12th century the Lithuanian Dukes spread their empire southwards, claiming control of the area from the Grand Duchy of Moscow and the Mongolian Hordes. At it's peak the Duchy consisted of over 850,000 km2 with an estimated 4.25 million inhabitants, making it the largest country in Europe in the 14th century. In 1387 the state was Christianised, after prayer books were translated into Lithuanian.
The Grand Duchy of Moscow began to rise in the 16th century, putting pressure on Lithuania. In response Lithuania began to ally itself closely with Poland and the two countries united in 1569, forming the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. After the Napoleonic Wars, much of Lithuania was annexed by the Russian Empire. It was given independence at the end of World War I before being occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940.
Lithuania declared itself independent from the Soviet Union in 1990 and joined the European Union in 2004. Since the Global Financial Crises Lithuania has had one of the fastest growing economies in Europe and it is scheduled to hold the EU Presidency in the second half of 2013. Surely the future is once again bright for Lithuania.