Lithuania profile

A chronology of key events

1915 - Lithuania occupied by German troops during World War I.

Capital: Vilnius

  • Vilnius became the capital in 1323
  • Captured or occupied over time by Russia, Sweden, France, Germany
  • Part of Soviet Union 1940-1991
  • Population: 542,000

1918 - Lithuania declares independence.

1920 - Soviet Russia recognises Lithuania's independence under Treaty of Moscow.

1926 - Nationalist Party leader Antanas Smetona seizes power in military coup after left wing wins elections.

1939 - The Soviet Union compels Lithuania to accept Soviet military bases.

Soviet invasion

1940 - Soviet army invades. Smetona flees. Lithuania incorporated into USSR.

1941 - Thousands of Lithuanians deported to Siberia. Nazis invade USSR and occupy Lithuania.

1944 - Red army returns, presaging further deportations and repression of resistance.

German troops land in Lithuania 1939 German troops disembark in Lithuania, which was later occupied by Russia

1988 - Group of writers and intellectuals sets up Lithuanian Movement for Reconstruction (Sajudis). Its leaders declare at a mass rally in the capital, Vilnius, that the USSR occupied Lithuania illegally.

Ringaudas Songaila dismissed as Lithuanian Communist Party chief. Replaced by Algirdas Brazauskas.

1989 - Parliament approves declaration of Lithuanian sovereignty, stating that Lithuanian laws take precedence over Soviet ones.

Pro-independence rally Soviet Union failed to halt independence moves

Lithuanian Communist Party breaks away from Soviet Communist Party and declares support for independence.

Independence struggle

1990 - Sajudis wins majority of seats in parliamentary elections. Its leader, Vytautas Landsbergis, is elected chairman of parliament which declares restoration of independence.

USSR imposes embargo, halting fuel supplies and causing severe economic difficulties. Lithuania agrees to suspend independence, pending talks.

1991 January - As no headway is made in talks with Moscow and the economy faces turmoil, Landsbergis ends suspension of declaration of independence.

Soviet troops fire on civilians outside television tower in Vilnius, killing 13 and injuring several hundred.

1991 February - Referendum sees overwhelming vote in favour of independence.

Independence
Border marker at Lithuania-Kaliningrad border Lithuania shares a border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad

1991 September - Following failed coup in Moscow the previous month, USSR recognises Lithuania's independence. Lithuania joins OSCE and UN.

1992 - New constitution introduces presidency. The former Communist Party, renamed Lithuanian Democratic Labour Party, wins more seats than Sajudis in general election. Coalition government formed.

1993 - Brazauskas elected president. Lithuania joins Council of Europe. New national currency, the litas, introduced. Soviet troops complete withdrawal.

1994 - Lithuania joins Nato Partnership for Peace programme. Treaty of friendship signed with Poland.

1995 - Lithuania's two largest commercial banks collapse. Political scandal ensues.

1996 - Prime Minister Slezevicius dismissed in the aftermath of banking crisis. General elections bring in centre-right coalition government.

1997 - President Brazauskas visits Russia. Border treaty, cooperation agreement signed.

1998 - Valdas Adamkus, a US citizen who spent nearly 50 years in exile, elected president.

1999 - Controversial contract signed selling a controlling share in Lithuanian state oil company to the American energy group, Williams International. Conservative PM Rolandas Paksas resigns. Andrius Kubilius becomes prime minister.

Independence hero

Vytautas Landsbergis

Independence figurehead Vytautas Landsbergis challenged Soviet power

2000 - General election returns another centre-right coalition government. Paksas reappointed prime minister, this time as a member of the Liberal Union.

2001 July - Brazauskas becomes prime minister following collapse of coalition in squabble over privatisation and other economic reforms. He pledges to work to speed up EU and Nato membership.

2002 November - Nato summit in Prague includes Lithuania on list of countries formally invited to join the alliance.

2002 December - EU summit in Copenhagen formally invites Lithuania to join in 2004.

2003 January - Rolandas Paksas elected president.

2003 May - Lithuanian referendum results in vote in favour of joining EU.

2003 November - Demonstrators demand resignation of President Paksas following allegations of links between his office and Russian organised crime.

2003 December - Impeachment proceedings begin against President Paksas after parliamentary inquiry concludes that alleged links between his office and Russian organised crime constitute threat to national security.

2004 March - Lithuania joins Nato.

2004 April - Parliament impeaches and dismisses Rolandas Paksas.

EU era begins

2004 May - Lithuania is one of 10 new states to join the EU.

2004 June - Valdas Adamkus re-elected president.

Veteran leader

Algirdas Brazauskas

Algirdas Brazauskas oversaw Nato, EU entry

2004 October - Algirdas Brazauskas carries on as prime minister in new coalition following general elections.

2004 November - Lithuania becomes first EU member state to ratify new EU constitution.

2004 December - Reactor one at Ignalina nuclear power station shuts down in line with EU entry requirements. Under the same agreement, the second reactor is to close by 2009.

2005 January - Foreign Minister Valionis admits that he was once an officer in the Soviet KGB reserves. A parliamentary inquiry is launched into his past and into similar allegations against two other senior officials.

2005 March - President Adamkus declines invitation to attend ceremony in Moscow in May marking end of World War II.

2005 June - Labour Party leader Viktor Uspaskich resigns as economics minister over allegations that his business dealings had breached ethics rules. His party carries on as part of ruling coalition.

2005 September-October - Russian fighter jet crashes on Lithuanian territory, raising diplomatic tension with Moscow. Situation defused when investigation finds technical and human error to blame.

2006 May-July - Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas resigns after the Labour Party pulls out of the ruling coalition. Parliament approves the president's second nominee for the post, Gediminas Kirkilas.

2008 May - Parliament ratifies EU Lisbon Treaty.

The EU Commission turns down Lithuania's application to join the euro zone on 1 January 2007, citing the country's inflation rate.

Ice plunge Bathers plunge from a snowy beach into icy Baltic waters at the Lithuanian resort of Palanga during an annual wellness celebration

2008 April-May - Lithuania threatens to derail EU-Russia partnership talks over energy concerns but drops veto under pressure from other member states.

2008 June - Parliament bans display of Soviet and Nazi symbols. The restrictions are the toughest of any former Soviet republic.

Economic crisis

2008 October - The conservative Homeland Union party becomes largest party after parliamentary elections, pushing Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas's Social Democrats into second place.

 Technicians stand opposite a nuclear reactor head at the Ignalina nuclear power plant in Visaginas, Lithuania, on December 18, 2009. Lithuania's Soviet-built Ignalina nuclear power station - of the same type as Chernobyl - was closed as a condition of EU membership

2008 November - Homeland Union leader Andrius Kubilius appointed prime minister at the head of a centre-right coalition government.

2009 April - National statistics office publishes figures showing that Lithuania's GDP plunged 12.6% in the first quarter of 2009, compared to the same period last year.

2009 May - EU budget commissioner Dalia Grybauskaite, standing as an independent, wins presidential election with more than 68% of the vote.

2009 December - The second reactor at the Ignalina nuclear power station is shut down, in line with Lithuania's EU entry requirements.

2011 July - Lithuania protests to Austria over the release of Mikhail Golovatov, a former Soviet officer wanted in Lithuania over the 1991 Soviet special forces attack on the Vilnius TV tower. Austria says the evidence provided was too vague to justify Golovatov's detention.

2012 December - Social Democrat leader Algirdas Butkevicius becomes prime minister after his party wins parliamentary elections in October. He forms a coalition with the Labour Party and two smaller parties.

2013 July - Lithuania assumes rotating six-month European Union presidency for first time since joining the EU, the first of the Baltic states to do so.

Tensions with Russia

2013 October - Russia halts all dairy imports from Lithuania, amid a row over the Lithuanian EU presidency's efforts to draw Ukraine closer to the EU.

2014 April - Nato steps up military presence in the Baltic states in response to tensions with Russia over the Ukraine crisis.

Lithuania suspends a Russian state TV channel's broadcasts on its territory, accusing it of propaganda.

2014 May - Incumbent Dalia Grybauskaite wins presidential election run-off, the first time in the country's history a president has been elected to two consecutive terms.

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