8 Facts You Didn’t Know About the Baltics
In 2018, the Baltic States — Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania — are celebrating their 100th Anniversary!
Naturally, there are plenty of awesome events, concerts and festivals to take place in the capitals—Tallinn, Riga, Vilnius, as well as smaller towns like Klaipeda.
The Baltic States were first born in 1918, when they declared their independence as sovereign nations. Over the century, they were occupied first by Nazi Germany and then nearly 50 years by the Soviet Union. Declaring their independence in 1990, each country has gone through its own growing pains to become the fascinating and beautiful nations today in their own right.
1. Pope Francis will pay a visit
The charismatic and popular Pope Francis will drop by this September. The predominant Roman Catholics in the region are in Lithuania, with 77% belonging to the church as per a recent census.
2. It’s literally the Heart of Europe
According to theFrench National Geographic Institute, the one and only geographical central point of Europe is located in Lithuania, 26 km north of Vilnius.
3. Lithuanians are obsessed with Basketball
Okay, I lied—most Lithuanians’ religion is basketball. Where did it all begin? It all started when Lithuanian Americans launched the men’s national basketball team in the 1930s. When they won the EuroBasket tournaments in 1937 and 1939, this solidified the country’s devotion to the sport.
4. Due to the aforementioned history, all three states have two Independence Days.
The first day is the one declared after WWI. The second one was the day declared after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
5. Latvian Crocodile Dundee
Latvia has their own hero they claim as their favorite tried-and-true adventurer. Arvīds Blūmentāls was a Latvian explorer who allegedly killed more than 10,000 crocodiles.
6. The Baltic Way isn’t a road.
On August 23, 1989, around 2 million people joined hands in peaceful protest against Soviet occupation, in a line that extended from Lithuania all the way to Estonia. The Baltic Way was about 600 km (370 miles!)
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7. Sweet curd cheese & other goodies
There are many peculiar and tasty foods around the Baltics, but one often missed by tourists are the bars of Kurd smothered in chocolate, nuts, caramel, and fruit. Other favorites spied all around the Baltics are dark rye bread, blood sausage, kefir, and potato pancakes.
8. Estonia’s Beauties
Estonia is world-famous for its breathless natural beauty. After all, half the country is covered in woodland. Bogs and mires, primal forests with wolves and lynxes, and 2,000 islands offer up testimony to this reputation.
Join the Baltic States 100th Year Celebrations!
Check out the events programs here:
Events in the US here: