Tourist Guide
 Lithuanian History
  A Brief Chronology


An Introduction

Getting Oriented
 -  Taxis
 -  Info Points
 -  Money
 -  Time
 -  Emergencies
 -  Medical Help
 -  Tips

What's to Drink


 High End
 -  Mid Range   
-   Airport
 -  Bed&Breakfast
 -  Low Budget
On the Cheap
 - Apartment Rental
Real Estate
 - Lithuania

 - Rave/Dance Music

-   Argentinean  
-   Caucasian

 -  Chinese  
 -  French 
 -  International 
-   Greek
 -  Italian 
 -  Japanese 
 -  Lithuanian    
 -  Ukrainian  
 -  Vegetarian

-  Fast Food/Delivery
-   Klaipeda
What's New
What's On
Yellow Pages

Other Lithuanian-related 
tourist articles: 
Letter from Little Lithuania
The Stalin World Theme Park 
Magical Curonion Spit

Zappamania in Lithuania
Jewish Vilnius
Ghosts and Goblins
Lithuanian Jazz
Wine: A Baltic Guide
What's in a name?
The Anyksciai Grove


Estonian Guide

Latvian Guide







For a more detailed chronology, including comments from historians and journalists on different eras in Baltic history last century, see CITY PAPER's 20th Century Timeline.

2000 B.C. Lithuanian ancestors settle along the Baltic coast.

1009 A.D. Lithuania is first mentioned in chronicles. Lithuanians already have a reputation as fierce warriors.

1200 While much of Europe has already converted to Christianity, Lithuania is still pagan and will remain so for several hundred more years. Lithuanians believed fire embodies the divine. A sacred flame is kept at a Vilnius temple tended to by vestal virgins. If they break their vows of chastity or the flame goes out, the penalty is death.

1236 Lithuania is united by Mindaugas and later crowned king. Unification helps Lithuania fend off German crusaders.

1323 Vilnius founded by Grand Duke Gediminas.

1386 To keep the Germans at bay, the Lithuanian Grand Duke and Polish Queen wed, creating a monarchial union. This leads to Lithuania's final conversion to Christianity. The first act of faith is felling sacred trees and statues to pagan gods.

1392-1430 Lithuania-Poland stretches to the Black Sea. In 1410, Lithuanians and allies crush the Teutonic Knights, ending the Teutonic Knight's military might in the region for good.

1400s Jews begin to settle in Lithuania. In time, Vilnius becomes a center of Jewish culture and learning in the world.

1569 Weakening Lithuania enters a formal Commonwealth with Poland.

1657 The plague strikes and half the Vilnius’ residents die.

1795 The Commonwealth is cut up by the partitions; Lithuania ends up in Russia.

1860-1885 Lithuanian uprisings; Czar outlaws public use of Lithuanian.

1900 Lithuanians begin emigrating en mass to escape Czarist persecution. The émigrés spread their influence far and wide. Among those who are either from Lithuania themselves or whose parents were: British actor Sir John Gielgud, singer Al Jolson, actor Charles Bronson, the Three Stooges, and American composer Aaron Copland. The father of former Israeli premier Ehud Barak was from Lithuania. Today, some 800,000 Americans claim Lithuanian heritage.

1918 Lithuania declares independence.

1920 After battling Russia and other powers, Lithuania secures independence. Poles occupy Vilnius; Kaunas becomes Lithuania’s provisional capital. Catholic Lithuania breaks relations with the Vatican after Rome recognizes Polish rule over Vilnius.

1939 In March, a long-running dispute between Lithuania and Germany over the jurisdiction of Klaipeda comes to a head when Berlin demands that Lithuania give up the coastal city, or face a Nazi invasion. Lithuania, figuring it couldn’t depend on support from either Russia or any Western powers, gives in to the ultimatum. On March 22, Hitler arrives in Klaipeda.

1939 In August, Hitler and Stalin carve up Europe, with the Baltics in the Soviet sphere. Before, the Baltics were able to play Germany and Russia off each other, but they’re now virtually within U.S.S.R. occupies Lithuania; mass deportations to Siberia begin. Moscow hands Vilnius back to Lithuania.

1941 Nazis occupy Lithuania. Most of Lithuania’s 240,000 Jews are killed.

1944 Soviets occupy Lithuania again. Over 500,000 Lithuanians are either deported, forced into exile, jailed or shot.

1987 First open protests against Soviets.

1989 Lithuanian Communists vote to break with the Soviet Party, a daring, even dangerous move at the time.

1990 Lithuania declares independence, the first Soviet republic to do so. Earlier, Soviet leader Gorbachev visited Lithuania hoping to talk Lithuanians into sticking with Moscow.

1991 Soviet crackdown kills 13 civilians in Vilnius; in August, after a failed Kremlin coup, Lithuania wins independence.

March 29, 2004 Lithuania is accepted into NATO.

May 1, 2004 Lithuania joins the European Union. 

Also see CITY PAPER's 20th Century Timeline.

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