The culture of Lithuania, like all countries, has been greatly influenced by their turbulent past. Lithuania has endured long periods of occupation by outside forces, but this has contributed to the construction of their modern country. Nowadays, Lithuania is a parliamentary democracy which was influenced by the injustice of their past occupiers.
Approximately 84% of people identify themselves as ethnic Lithuanians. The remaining populations are Poles, Russians and Belarusians. During World War II, the vast majority of the Jewish population were killed and the most recent census counted only 4007 Jews.
As a result of their loss of freedom to outside forces, the Catholic Church was instrumental in both unifying the Lithuanian people, protecting their identity and resisting their aggressors. Some of the most powerful leaders in the Lithuanian resistance of the Soviet Union were Catholic Priests. As a consequence, 79% of Lithuania are Roman Catholic, and this is reflected in the number of Churches and their national Feast days. Probably one of the most famous symbols of their anti-communists resistance is the Hill of Crosses.
Lithuania has its own unique language and it is spoken by the vast majority of Lithuanians. The Russians attempted to suppress their language from the late 19th Century until World War I, imposing strict and unjust punishments on anyone in breach of their law, but it was to no avail.
The Lithuanian climate is mostly cool and moist, with warm summers, so this influences the range of crops they grow, which in turn influences their national cuisine. Somewhat similar to Ireland, their main produce are barley, potatoes, rye, beets, greens, berries, and mushrooms and also dairy products. But their cuisine also has outside influences. The Germans introduced pork and potato dishes and there are popular Jewish dishes also and even a dish called “Torte Napoleon” which was introduced when Napoleon was passing through Lithuania.
Lithuania also has a great tradition of artistic works and there are many theaters, cinemas and museums throughout Lithuania which tells the story of Lithuanian history. They have their own traditional folk music which is extremely popular and is made using special Lithuanian instruments. Art is greatly encouraged in Lithuania and there is a strong tradition of dramas created by their talented writers, actors and playwrights.
Lithuania also has a strong tradition of sport where basketball is the most popular game. They also have a strong tradition of participating in the Olympic Games and there are many Sports Federations established to support Lithuania’s athletes.