Lithuania lies in the Eastern Europe, on the coast of the Baltic Sea. In the north Lithuania borders with Latvia, in the east and south with Byelorussia, in the south-west with Poland and with the Kaliningrad region of the Russian Federation.
The state flag of the Republic of Lithuania is cloth consisting of three horizontal stripes: yellow (the upper), green (the middle) and red (the lower). The colours of the flag arise from various aspects of nature and Lithuanian values. The ratio of the width and length of the flag is 1 to 2.
The rich culture of Lithuania goes back thousands of years. Lithuanians are a branch of the Balts whose settlement dates back to around 200 B.C. Lithuanian is one of the oldest languages in Europe. The first written mention of Lithuania was in the Annales Quedlinburgenses in 1009 A.D.
The first Lithuanian state was established by the Grand Duke Mindaugas in 1230. He converted to Christianity briefly and was crowned king of Lithuania in 1252. The Grand Duke Gediminas, who reigned from 1316 to 1341, is credited with founding Vilnius at the confluence of Neris and Vilnia rivers - and a dynasty that united Lithuania and Poland from 1386 until 1795. Lithuania reached its height under the Grand Duke Vytautas the Great, who ruled from 1392 to 1430.
The Lithuanian language is the state language of the Republic of Lithuania. It is the oldest of the living Baltic tongues and belongs to the family of Indo-European languages. Having formed in the 5th century A.D., Lithuanian is rich in dialects and regional accents. Lithuanian is spoken by some three million people in Lithuania and by about a million people living in other countries (Australia, Brasil, Byelorussia, Canada, Latvia, Poland, Russia, USA and etc.)
Lithuanian immigrants have been coming to America since the mid-eighteen hundreds. They came for various reasons, but all found a home here and established lives for themselves and their families. Their culture and traditions combined with America's to add even more flavor to the great American melting pot.
Between the late nineteenth and early twentieth century an estimated 300,000 Lithuanians journeyed to America. During this time with the combined effects of World War I, United States immigration restriction policies, and Lithuanian independence in 1918, all halted immigration to the United States. The actual number of Lithuanian immigrants is hard to follow because at these times Lithuanian independence hadn't been recognized yet, therefore they were recognized as either Russian, Polish, or Jewish.
There were several factors that accounted for the start of this migration. The most prominent was the abolition of serfdom in 1860, thus giving the Lithuanian peasants a sense of freedom they had never before experienced. Secondly, there was a railroad boom sponsored by the state in the late fifties that continued to contribute to the ease of travel. The final push was harsh famines in the late 1860ís that encouraged still further the peasants to move around in search of money and food. Most immigrants left only on a temporary basis and used their increased income to supplement their farms and land holdings, and also as a basis for paying old debts. These immigrants tended to travel all over Europe and saw the United States as merely another place to earn their money.
The above Lithuanian history was taken from the links I have provided with this article. I have included some links that I hope will help you in your Lithuanian genealogical research:
- Lithuania Forum
- LitvakSIG's "All Lithuania" Database (ALD)
- Lithuanian Global >genealogical Society
- Lithuania Queries
- History of the noble Konstantynowicz family from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania