🇱🇹20 awesome things about Lithuania
In Taiwan’s hour of greatest need, Lithuania is gifting 20,000 doses of COVID vaccines to us. So let’s get to know our new Baltic friend ❤️
So yesterday the country of Lithuania announced it is donating 20,000 doses of COVID vaccines to Taiwan in our hour of need. The significance of this donation goes way beyond the (tremendous) practical need for the vaccines. Here’s a tweet from Lithuanian Minister for Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis.
That one quote “freedom-loving people should look out for each other!” demolishes the domestic criticism that Taiwan is somehow beholden or a “vaccine beggar” for receiving larger vaccine donations from strategic allies US and Japan. Well, here is a country all the way across the globe with no significant geopolitical interests in Taiwan, with a far smaller population than Taiwan at 2.79 million people, saying “we’ve got your back.” With friends like Lithuania, Taiwan is not alone in the world.
To celebrate this tremendous gift , here are 20 cool facts about Lithuania you might not know, one for every 1000 doses of Astra-Zeneca that will be making its way to Taiwan!
#1: Triggering China is a major Lithuanian hobby
It goes without saying that giving Taiwan a bunch of vaccines is a classic “move likely to anger China,” but Lithuanian honeybadgers don’t care. In fact, they enjoy trolling China so much they literally have a square in their capital city called “Tibet Square.” The Dalai Lama likes to drop by.
#2: They love Freedom so much they have 2 Independence Days
The first one, February 16th, is the Restoration of the State day, for when Lithuania declared independence from the Russians in 1918. However, those pesky Russians came back in WWII, necessitating March 11, the Restoration of Independence Day, for when they declared independence from the Soviets in 1990. BTW, who was the first world leader to call Lithuania to congratulate? The Dalaï Lama!
#3: Beautiful Vilnius is the only major city in Europe where you can fly a hot air balloon
The Lithuanians just kind of love to fly in general…it’s kind of their thing. All sorts of aerial vehicles, but most definitely hot air balloons. In fact, the have the #1 hot air balloon per capita figure in all of Europe. Which makes sense because you can fly hot air balloons in Vilnius, their capital!
#4: Lithuania was the last European pagan kingdom and stood up to the Mongols
So there were a bunch of Baltic tribes facing pressure from the Crusaders from the north and the west and the Slavs from the south and the east, so they banded together and formed a union around 1200 CE. It stood from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea! I’ll let Lithuanian @ingleeshh from Twitter take if from here:
#5 Took part in the largest peaceful protests in the world, the Baltic Way
Legendary. And the Baltic solidarity didn’t stop there! Two million people joined hands across three Baltic states: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, all considered part of of the Soviet Union at the time on 23 August 1989, to form a Chain of Freedom. All three are independent countries now. Hooray!
#6 There is a Lithuanian swing foundation
In addition to loving freedom, the Lithuanians are also apparently big fans of whimsy. In Vilnius there is apparently a stealth foundation that installs swings around the city, often changing their location.
#7 Incredibly badass choral tradition
As befits a country with a vital pagan heritage, the Lithuanians love them some good chanting, often while in robes and floral crowns. The above are from a Romuva ritual folk group "Kūlgrinda" performing chants to Lithuanian Gods at the Lithuanian Song festival in Vilnius. “Romuva,” by the way, is a pagan reconstructivist religion.
#8 One of the OG melting pots of Europe
HT @zsoltsandor from Twitter: “Traditional Lithuanian culture sits at the crossroads of Baltic, Teutonic, Polish, Hanseatic, East Slav, and Nordic influences, with a good amount of Jewish influence as well. This is very well reflected in their cuisine for example.”
More on Lithuania’s Jewish history from Twitter:
#9 Remains incredibly liberal and free to this day
Currently, the Lithuanians are enjoying one of the most culturally progressive government in years, and there are hopes of doing same-sex civil union before the next elections. Lithuania is also home to the Freedom Party, which literally has a clause “supporting full recognition of the ROC as the sole legitimate government of China rather than the PRC.” That’s right bitches, what the world calls China is just “West Taiwan” to the Freedom Party of Lithuania!
#10 One of the first European countries to give women the vote…and elect them
How it started:
“Ingrida Simonyte is not the country's first female prime minister. But she is one of three women - representing each of the coalition parties - pulling the strings of government. That in itself is highly unusual.”
#11 The world’s best WiFi
According to Newsweek magazine, Lithuania has the world’s best public Wifi.
Lithuania, you may be surprised to learn, is No. 1 on a ranking from the telecommunications company Ooma of the top 20 countries for fastest public Wi-Fi, measured by average download speeds in megabites per second. While the U.S. is at No. 20, averaging 6.89 Mbps, the speed in Lithuania averages 15.4 Mbps.
#12 Lithuanians love beer
In fact, I’ve been told Lithuanians can throw down with all sorts of alcoholic beverages. Respect. But they are particularly proud of their beer, some of which is imported to Taiwan (and apparently already sold out all over Taipei yesterday on the vaccine donation news along with Lithuanian chocolates.)
#13 Incredibly ancient language that they fought to preserve
Lithuanians are proud of their super old language, which was suppressed under Soviet rule. So they fought to preserve it through badass book smugglers’ societies and kept their language alive!
#14 Dealt Soviet Union death blow
The cost of decades of stubborn resistance was high, but Lithuanians were instrumental in bringing the end to the Soviet Union. Again, I don’t think I can say it better than @ingleeeshh:
#15 Lithuania is awesome at Basketball
Getting towards the end here so let’s review: The Lithuanians sure love their freedom, their whimsy, singing, drinking, hot air balloons, pagan revivals. But the national religion is actually arguably basketball. For such a small country, the Lithuanian basketball team keeps punching above its weight, including a 2004 Olympic win against the USA, 2010 Bronze in European Championship, and 2003 Eurobasket Gold against Spain!
#16 They have their own tiny Republic of Freedom within their capital
Yo dawg! I heard you love Freedom-loving Republics so they put a Freedom-loving Republic in a Freedom-loving Republic so you can like LOVE FREEDOM SQUARED!
I’m talking about the tiny, self-declared Republic of Užupis, located within the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius. It really started more like an art project and kinda still is, but you can go there and admire their constitution, carved on a mirror:
Note number 12: A dog has a right to be a dog! Every year, on April 1st, travellers can get their passports stamped as they cross the bridge into Užupis. National love of freedom and whimsy successfully combined!
#17 Lithuania is lit
Literally. As in, they still love their pagan shit so, y’a know…come equinox time, they just like to get together with their fellow Baltic folks and burn shit.
#18 They have a national smell, and it sounds lovely
There goes that Lithuanian whimsy again! Lithuania created the first national perfume in the world in 2011, including notes of bergamot, wild berries, amber (also a Thing in Lithuania), local flowers, ginger, grapefruit, tree moss and smoke.
And it can be yours for 26.90 Euros! And they’ve also branched out into some very classy-sounding scented candles too. I would personally love to figure out how to ship “The Kingdom” candle to Taiwan:
The scent has a majestic Cypress, and gentle, sweet Rose, Jasmine, Labdanum and Cinnamon chord. The Frankincense smoke of Gothic cathedrals recalls glamour and luxury, while Oud and Cedar reveal authority and power. The composition is completed with notes of Musk, Amber, Vanilla and Cistus Oil.
Wow! That sounds majestic AF!
#19 Next-level Easter eggs!
In Lithuania the Easter Egg is the responsibility of the Easter Granny (“Velykų Bobute”). Don’t worry, the buns are still involved, but only to help her decorate the eggs and load up the carts, which she then “has a sunbeam whip to hurry her small pony with, as she delivers the eggs early in the mornings when the children are still asleep.”
#20 Lithuania is beautiful
We’ve already discussed many things about Lithuania that is beautiful, from love of freedom, whimsy, music, language, perfume, architecture (OK we kind of skipped that but just take my word for it) and people (again, kind of skipped but we all have eyes.) But the country of Lithuania itself is beautiful because so much of it is breathtaking nature, treasured and preserved. Lithuanians love their nature, and hopefully this the beauty of Lithuania’s nature will be a heritage for the whole world to enjoy forever!
At long last, THANK YOU AGAIN to the country of Lithuania from the country of Taiwan. Sending you love and gratitude from the other side of the planet and hoping one day to visit your beautiful and unique country! ❤️🇹🇼🇱🇹