Lithuania is an agrarian country, and has a slower pace of life than its Baltic neighbors. Lithuanians have a strong sense of national identity and are proud of their culture and history. They are friendly and hospitable, especially in rural areas.
Lithuania is a parliamentary democracy. The president, who is the head of state, is elected for a five-year term. Executive power rests with the prime minister, who is appointed by the president with the approval of parliament.
The prime minister and his cabinet take action subject to the approval of the president and parliament. Legislative authority rests with the 141-member parliament or Sheimas. Members are elected for terms of four years.
Lithuania is making good progress in privatizing and reorienting its economy since independence, although it has a larger agricultural and smaller industrial base than Estonia and Latvia. Lithuania must imports many raw materials, including fuel and metals.
The country is experiencing solid economic growth, however. Most industrial, housing and agricultural ventures have been privatized, but large utilities are making slower progress in that direction.
The Lithuanian government has strengthened ties with its neighbors and other partners. Lithuania became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU) in 2004.
The Baltic people regard their independence as opportunity. Free enterprise and democracy are looked upon as ways to prosperity, and Lithuania is eager to become a key player in the global marketplace.