(LT) Suvalkija and Dzūkija – understanding the region

The second study trip took place in Lithuania in the Dzūkija region. Project participants visited Kaunas, Vilkija, Alytus, Druskininkai and Vilnius.

Dzūkija (Dainava) region:

Dzūkija or Dainava is one of five ethnographic regions of Lithuania.

The provisory territory of Dzūkija ethnographic region lies between the Neris and the Nemunas Rivers in south-eastern part of Lithuania. Around the 13th century the land of Dainava (literally the Land of Songs) lied there; later it was incorporated into the Duchy of Trakai and the beautiful name was forgotten. Dzūkija is situated southeastern Lithuania and consists of Alytus County and southern Vilnius County. Historically, the extended into northeastern Poland (Podlaskie Voivodeship) and western Belarus. Dzūkija is a cultural region defined by traditional lifestyles and dialects of the local Lithuanian population (mostly rural farmers) and has never been defined as a political or administrative unit. Traditionally, Alytus is regarded as the capital of the region, although it is not the largest city in Dzūkija.

 

Based on the English version of the websites:

–       http://www.travel.lt/index.php/dzukijadainava/4194

–       http://www.travel.lt/index.php/regions/4189

–       http://www.travel.lt/turizmas/selectPage.do?docLocator=3AEF592E6D4B11DABBDB746164617373&docType=CMN&pathId=&searchText=dzukija&inlanguage=en&categoryId=

 

The city of Kaunas

Kaunas – is the administrative centre of the county. The county includes the districts of Kaunas, Kėdainiai, Kaišiadorys, Jonava, Prienai and Raseiniai, the city of Kaunas and the resort town of Birštonas. Kaunas County is situated in the centre of Lithuania. It is surrounded by 6 counties–Alytus, Vilnius, Panevėžys, Šiauliai, Tauragė and Marijampolė. (Population – 685.7 thousand.

Total area – 8060 sq.km.)

Kaunas (pop 364.1 hausand), the the second largest city of the country, is situated on the confluence of the Nemunas and the Neris. The city originated in the 13th century when the first brick castle in Lithuania, the biggest defence fortress then, was built. In the 16th century Kaunas was one of the best developed cities in the Lithuanian Grand Duchy. From 1920 to 1940 Kaunas was the provisional capital of Lithuania. Certainly, this had a positive influence on the city’s development. This period also witnessed the formation Laisvės Avenue, presently a pedestrian boulevard, the only non-smoking area in the whole of Europe.

Kaunas city municipality council is the governing body of the Kaunas city municipality. It is responsible for municipality laws. The council is composed of 41 member elected for four-year terms. The council is the member of The Association of Local Authorities in Lithuania.

Kauna city municipality area 157 km2 (61 sq mi)

Kaunas is divided into 12 elderates.

Ethnic composition in 2001, out of a total of 378,943:[57]

  1. Lithuanians 352,051 – 92.9%
  2. Russians 16,622 – 4.34%
  3. Ukrainians 1,906 – 0.5%
  4. Poles 1,600 – 0.42%
  5. Other – 6,764%

 

Based on the English version of the website:

–       http://www.travel.lt/index.php/kaunas/4199

–       http://visit.kaunas.lt/W3/apie?lang=en

 

The town of Vilkija:

Vilkija is situated in the Kaunas district municipality. It is located 25 km (16 mi) north-west of Kaunas. It’s right on the north side of the river Nemunas, the most important river in Lithuania.

 

The town of Birštonas:

Birštonas is a balneological resort and a spa town in Lithuania situated 30 km (19 mi) south of Kaunas on the right bank of the Nemunas River. Birštonas received its city rights 1529, and was appointed a city in 1966.

 

The city of Alytus:

Alytus – is the administrative centre of the county. The county in situated in the south of Lithuania and covers the towns of Alytus and Druskininkai and the districts of Alytus, Lazdijai and Varėna. It borders on Belarus and Poland, and within the country it shares borders with the counties of Marijampolė, Kaunas and Vilnius. (Population – 202.2 thousand, Total area – 5425 sq. km.)

The origination of the city (pop. 69.9 thousand), also called the capital (the historical centre) city of the Dzūkija ethnographic region, dates back to the 14th century when Alytus was just a fortress standing on a hill on the confluence of the Nemunas and the Alytupis. In 1581, Alytus was granted the rights of a town. Now Alytus, is a city with municipal rights in southern Lithuania. The distance from Alytus to Kaunas is 70 km (43 mi); the distance from Alytus to Vilnius is 105 km (65 mi).

 

Based on the English version of the website:

–       http://www.travel.lt/index.php/alytus/4203

–       http://www.alytus-tourism.lt/en

 

 The town of Druskininkai:

Druskininkai is a spa town on the Neman River in southern Lithuania, close to the borders of Belarus and Poland. The city of Druskininkai has a population of 18,233 and dates back as a spa resort to the 19th century.

 

The capital city Vilnius:

Vilnius – is the administrative centre of the county. The county includes the city of Vilnius and the districts of Šalčininkai, Širvintos, Švenčionys, Trakai, Ukmergė, Elektrėnai and Vilnius; it is situated in the eastern part of Lithuania and borders on the Republic of Belarus, and within the country–the counties of Alytus, Kaunas, Panevėžys and Utena.m (Total area – 9650 sq.km(around 15%  of the country’s territory).

Vilnius is the largest city, with a population of 554,060 (838, 852 together with Vilnius County). It is the seat of the Vilnius city municipality and of the Vilnius district municipality. It is also the capital of Vilnius County. The first known written record of Vilnius as the Lithuanian capital is known from Gediminas‘ letters in 1323. Vilnius is classified as a Gamma global city according to GaWC studies.

According to the 2001 census by the Vilnius Regional Statistical Office, there were 542,287 inhabitants in the Vilnius city municipality, of which 57.8% were Lithuanians, 18.7%Poles, 14% Russians, 4.0% Belarusians, 1.3% Ukrainians and 0.5% Jews; the remainder indicated other nationalities or refused to answer.

The city is governed by the Vilnius City Municipality, which includes the nearby town of Grigiškės, three villages, and some rural areas. A 51-member council is elected to four-year terms; the candidates are nominated by registered political parties. As of the 2011 elections, independent candidates also were permitted. The Council elects a mayor, four deputy mayors, and a city clerk at its first meeting.

 

Based on the English version of the websites:

–       http://www.travel.lt/index.php/vilnius/4198

–       http://www.vilnius-tourism.lt/en/

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