Lithuania’s cool, compact capital is one of the driving forces behind the country’s booming tourism industry. Boasting the largest medieval old town in central and eastern Europe, Vilnius is increasingly popular for its warming sense of history, bewitching architectural heritage and bustling cafe culture.
Trakai Castle, located on an island in Lake Galve.
This small country was once a powerful empire that dominated much of eastern Europe in the 14th–16th centuries before becoming part of the Polish-Lithuanian confederation for the next two centuries.
Aside from a brief period of independence from 1918 to 1940, the country was occupied by Russia beginning in 1795, was controlled by Germany for a brief period during World War II, and was incorporated into the U.S.S.R. in 1944 as one of its constituent republics.
On March 11, 1990, independence was declared by a unanimous vote of its newly elected parliament. The new Soviet parliament acknowledged the countries independence on September 6, 1991 before being was admitted into the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in 2004.