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History of Lithuania

The territory of the present Lithuania has been inhabited since the tenth millennium BC, after the last glaciers retreated and human settlements were founded. The territory wasn't occupied by the Roman Empire, but the tribes did maintain a trade contact with Rome on the famous Amber Road. The history of Lithuania begins in the 11th century when the Lithuanians formed an early statehood, which later developed into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

In the 14th century the country entered a union with Poland, which lasted until the very end of the 18th century. The union was one of the strongest states in Europe, but the ruling Jagiellon dynasty was losing control over the more and more determined nobles. Poland had a very strong influence on Lithuania in these centuries, and the two countries grew very close. After the death of the last Jagiellon kin gin 1569, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth became an elective monarchy, a quasi-democratised state in the era of the absolute monarchies all around Europe.

The once powerful state gradually lost competitiveness against the stronger neighbours in the 17th and 18th century, and was partitioned by Prussia and Russia. The idea of Lithuanian independence was kept alive through the 19th century.

Poland regained it's independence after the First World War, but had to fight for freedom against Russia and Poland. After only four years of democratic governments an authoritarian regime took control of the country in a military coup. In the years of the Second World War Lithuania became a battlefield of the German and Soviet forces, until the victory of the latter. After the Second World War Lithuania became a part of the Soviet Union, under communist regime.

Lithuania became independent from the collapsing USSR in 1991, the Soviet Troops left the country in 1994. The democratic government denationalized the state property, liberated the market and successfully reoriented the country to the Western states. Lithuania has been a member of the European Union and the NATO since 2004.

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