Lithuania is the largest and most southerly of the three Baltic republics.
Not much more than a decade after it regained its independence during the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, Lithuania was welcomed as a Nato member in late March 2004.
The move came just weeks before a second historic shift for the country in establishing its place in the Western family of nations as it joined the EU in May 2004.
Russia's Kaliningrad exclave hosts the headquarters of the Russian Navy's Baltic Fleet, and shares a major border with Lithuania.
President: Gitanas Nauseda
Gitanas Nauseda was elected in the second round of the presidential election in June 2019 with 66.5% of the vote, beating the initial front-runner, former finance minister Ingrida Simonyte.
Mr Nauseda had a career in commercial banking before going into politics in 2018, and has promised to seek cross-party deals to reduce the social and regional inequalities.
Prime Minister: Ingrida Simonyte
Ms Simonyte took office in November 2020 at the head of a coalition between the conservative Homeland Union - Lithuanian Christian Democrats, which won the October parliamentary election, and two centrist groups, the Freedom Party and Liberal Movement. A former finance minister and conservative presidential candidate, Ingrida Simonyte's coalition replaces a government of the centrist Peasant and Green Union, which had won a surprise victory in the 2016 elections.
Lithuania's private TV and radio stations compete with public networks run by Lithuanian National Radio and Television (LRT).
The media are free and operate independently of the state. There are no government-owned newspapers.
Some key dates in Lithuania's modern history:
1915 - Lithuania, under Russian rule since the late 18th century, is occupied by German troops during the First World War.
1918 - Lithuania declares independence.
1920 - Soviet Russia recognises Lithuania's independence.
1939 - The Soviet Union compels Lithuania to accept Soviet military bases.
1940 - Soviet Army invades. President Antanas Smetona flees. Lithuania incorporated into Soviet Union.
1941 - Thousands of Lithuanians deported to Siberia. Nazi Germany invades Soviet Union and occupy Lithuania.
1944 - Soviet Army returns, presaging further deportations and repression of resistance.
1989 - Parliament approves declaration of Lithuanian sovereignty, stating that Lithuanian laws take precedence over Soviet ones.
1991 - Following failed coup in Moscow the previous month, the Soviet Union recognises Lithuania's independence. Lithuania joins the UN.
1992 - New constitution introduces presidency.
2004 - Lithuania is one of 10 new states to join the EU. Lithuania also joins Nato.