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Population, territory, climate.

Lithuania
Lithuanian population: 3.5 million; 80% Lithuanian; 9.5% Russian-speaking; 
7% Polish. 
Vilnius population: 580,000
Other large cities: Kaunas 414,000; Klaipeda, 203,000, Siauliai 147,000. 

Total Lithuanian territory: 65,300 sq. km., about twice the size of Belgium. 

Climate: July and August are the warmest months, with temperatures usually just under 20C (68F); the coldest months are January and February, with 24F).

 
Latvia
Latvian population: 2.5 million; 57% Latvian; 40% Russian-speaking; 2% Lithuanian; 1% Polish. 
Riga population: 850,000
Other large cities: Daugavpils 125,000; Liepaja, 100,000. 

Total Latvian territory: 64,600 sq. km., a little smaller than Ireland. 

Climate: July is the warmest month, with temperatures near 20C (68F); the coldest month is February, with temperatures around 0C (32F).


Estonia
Estonian population: 1.4 million; 
65% Estonian, 32% Russian-speaking. 
Tallinn population: 430,000.
Other large cities: Tartu,105,000; Narva, 80,000; Kohtla-Jrve, 70,000; Prnu, 50,000.

Total Estonian territory: 45,227 sq. km., roughly the size of the Netherlands.

Climate: July is the warmest month, when temperatures hover around 20C (68F); in February, temperatures average -5C (23F).




Economic Quotables

It is easy to turn an aquarium into cold fish soup. It is more difficult to turn cold fish soup back into an aquarium.
—A Polish diplomat after the Soviet collapse on the difficulties of reviving an economy after it had been so thoroughly changed and ruined by communist rule.



“They could attach rotors to Lenin's head and feet, and he'd generate a Chernobyl's-worth of power for the new Russia as he's spinning in his grave.”
 Bruce Sterling of Wired online magazine on the extent of the transformation of the Soviet Union and what the Soviet founder might have made of it.



Tick off the countries which keep to the shadows: chances are they will be making the kind of steady progress which attracts investors while boring journalists. 
Business Eastern Europe in 1997 praising Latvia last year for quietly sticking to tough reforms. The publication contrasted Latvia with the basket cases of Europe, like Albania, Belarus and Bulgaria.



It is the biggest, most complicated and most promising piece of the new Europe. 
—from The Economist, April 28, 1998, in an article entitled The Baltic Revolution: Sea of Dreams, about generally rosy economic prospects for the Baltics and the whole of the Baltic Sea region.



“Estonia’s like an Eskimo’s kayak and can turn on the spot. Bigger countries are like a supertanker that needs 16 nautical miles (to make a turn).” 
Estonian President Lennart Meri in 1999 arguing that Estonia's small size enabled it to turn the economy around after the collapse of the Russian market the year before.  



If someone had predicted right after independence that the Baltic states would soon experience rapid growth and a rise in living standards, the guy would surely have been strapped into a white coat and carted off to the nearest funny farm. But alas, that’s exactly what has happened. 
CITY PAPER No. 24, August/October, 2000.



“The second Hansa.”
—What many investors are calling increasingly strong economic ties between the three Baltic countries and the Nordics—reminiscent of the powerful Hanseatic trading league in the Middle Ages. Trade volumes and Nordic investment into the Baltics have increased dramatically in recent years. 



“It's certain that in the 10 years since the fall of communism, we have lost the illusions we had that someone was waiting for us with open arms. Our marriage with Western Europe is above all based today on economic reasons. What the marriage lacks is a bit more love.”
Hungarian President Arpad Goencz, during a meeting of Eastern European presidents— including Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus. Goencz—on the apparent lack of enthusiasm in integrating ex-Soviet bloc nations



“The next parliament has to figure out what Estonia should be known for around the world. Every country has to have its face...Estonia has to have its Nokia.”
Estonian President Lennart Meri  saying in 1999 that Estonia needed to developm new industries which the country could be known for around the world.  


Baltic Economic 
Indicators

Growth, GDP per capita, Inflation, Unemployment,  Wages, Trade, Investment

Annual GDP Growth
Around the time of the Soviet collapse, Baltic economies were in free-fall. In 1992, all three were registering breathtakingly dismal growth figures of between -15 to -30 percent. But thanks to impressive pro-reform policies, all three were seeing positive growth within just three years. The 1998 Russian crisis cut into the strong GDP rates, but by early 2000 Baltic growth was back in positive territory. As of 2003, the three countries were posting some of the highest growth figures in Europe. In the first quarter of 2003, Lithuanian officials said the economy expanded by a whopping 9 percent; Latvia and Estonia were anticipating 2003 growth to be around 5 percent.


Lithuanian GDP growth

2002  7 percent
2001  5 percent  
2000  2 percent 
1999  –4.1 percent
1998  5.1 percent
1997  7.3 percent 
1996  4.7 percent 
1995  3.3 percent
1994  –9.8 percent
1993  –16.2 percent 
1992  –21.3 percent

Latvian GDP growth
2002  6 percent
2001  7 percent 
2000  5.5 percent 
1999  0.1 percent 
1998  3.9 percent
1997  8.6 percent
1996  3.3 percent
1995  –0.8 percent
1994  0.6 percent 
1993  –14.9 percent
1992  –34.9 percent

Estonian GDP growth
2002  5.5 percent
2001  5 percent  
2000  6 percent 
1999  –1 percent
1998  4.7 percent
1997  10.6 percent
1996  3.9 percent
1995  4.3 percent
1994  –2.0 percent
1993  –9.0 percent
1992  –14.2 percent


GDP per capita 
Lithuanian GDP per capita (dollars)
2002  4,674
2001  4,396
2000  3,886
1999  2,884
1998  2,901
1997  2,588
1996  2,129
1995  1,623
1994  1,143 
1993  716
1992  374

Latvian GDP per capita (dollars)
2002  3,496
2001  3,233
2000  3,032
1999  2,581
1998  2,485
1997  2,291
1996  2,099 
1995  1,777 
1994  1,440
1993  847
1992  576 

Estonian GDP per capita (dollars)
2002  4,923
2001  4,050
2000  3,751 
1999  3,532 
1998  3,607
1997  3,187
1996  2,982
1995  2,405
1994  1,530
1993  1,084
1992  707


Annual Inflation Rates
In the early 1990s, while the Baltic states were still in the Soviet ruble zone, inflation soared to over 1000 percent. As they began introducing their own currencies in 1992-1993, inflation quickly fell to double and then single digits. 

Lithuanian inflation
2002 -1 percent
2001  1 percent 
2000  1 percent 
1999  0.8 percent
1998  5.1 percent
1997  8.9 percent
1996   24.6 percent
1995  39.6 percent
1994  72.1 percent 
1993  410.4 percent
1992  1,020.5 percent

Latvian inflation
2002  2 percent
2001  2 percent 
2000  3  percent 
1999  2.4 percent
1998  4.7 percent
1997  8.4 percent
1996  17.6 percent
1995  25.0 percent
1994  35.9 percent
1993  109.2 percent
1992  951.2 percent

Estonian inflation
2002  4 percent
2001  5 percent  
2000  4  percent 
1999  3.3 percent
1998  8.2 percent
1997  11.2 percent
1996  23.1 percent
1995  29.0 percent
1994  47.7 percent
1993  89.8 percent
1992  1,076 percent


Unemployment Rates
Jobs created by free-market reforms helped prevent rampant unemployment immediately following the restoration of Baltic independence. The more recent collapse of the Russian market prompted greater job losses, as industries exporting to Russia were forced to lay off workers. Unemployment has tended to be higher in the countryside than in the major Baltic cities. 

Lithuanian unemployment
2002  11 percent
2001  12 percent
2000  12 percent 
1999  10 percent 
1998  7 percent 
1997  6 percent 
1996  7 percent

Latvian unemployment
2002  7 percent
2001  7 percent
2000  8 percent 
1999  10 percent
1998  9 percent
1997  7 percent 
1996  7 percent

Estonian unemployment 
2002  11 percent
2001  12 percent
2000  12 percent 
1999  5 percent 
1998  2.5 percent 
1997  2 percent 
1996  2 percent


Average Monthly Wage
Average monthly are a little hard to gauge because there is so much variation depending on which sector you're talking about. In some sectors, like banking, advertising or Internet technology, salaries are closer to Western levels. Manual laborers and any public service employees are paid much less on average than their counterparts in the West.  

Lithuanian Average Monthly Wage 
2001  270 dollars

Latvian Average Monthly Wage
2001  250 dollars 

Estonian Average Monthly Wage

2001  330 dollars


Top Five Export Markets 
Prior to 1991, over 90 percent of all Baltic trade went to Russia and the rest of the Soviet Union. Thanks to their pro-West, pro-reform policies that changed dramatically within years. Now, the vast majority of trade is with Western Europe. The 1998 crisis in Russia forced even more Baltic producers to find non-Russian markets.

Lithuania's Top Five Export Markets (percent of total exports, 1999
1. Germany  15.0 percent
2. Latvia  12.7 percent
3. Russia  6.8 percent
4. Denmark  6.3 percent
5. Belarus  5.9 percent 

Latvia's Top Five Export Markets (percent of total exports, 1999
1. Germany  16.9 percent
2. Great Britain  16.4 percent
3. Sweden  10.7 percent 
4. Lithuania  7.5 percent
5. Russia  6.6 percent 

Estonia's Top Five Export Markets (percent of total exports, 1999)
1. Finland 19.4 percent
2. Sweden 18.8 percent 
3. Russia 9.2 percent 
4. Latvia 8.7 percent
5. Germany 7.5 percent


Top Five Investors 
Lithuania's Top Five Investors
(1992-2002 cumulatively
1. Sweden 
2. Denmark
3. Estonia
4. Germany
5. United States

Latvia's Top Five Investors
(by country as of 1999
1. Denmark 
2. United States
3. Sweden
4. Germany
5. Russia

Estonia's Top Five Investors
(1992-2002 cumulatively
1. Sweden 
2. Finland 
3. United States 
4. The Netherlands
5. Norway
Sources: Mostly EBRD; Baltic statistics departments/surveys for unemployment rates, wages, investors, export markets. 

Among other business articles on this site:
The Insider, what they didn't teach you about at Harvard Business School about doing business in the Baltics; Mazeikiai Oil, about Lithuania's giant oil concern; Power Play, about Americans' purchase of Estonia's main energy plants; Gene Bank, about Estonia's bid to join the biotech bigtime; The Good Invasion, Nordic investors buy in to virtually ever economic sector in the Baltic states;  Out of the Doldrums, the future of Baltic stock markets, Talking Taxes and more. Also see daily news on this site for business reports. 

                —CITY PAPER-The Baltic States



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