Terrain shapes and bedrock
COUNTRYAAH, Lithuania is mainly a low lying plain, covered with a
thick moraine layer. The bedrock consists of sedimentary
rocks and has very little significance for the design of the
topography. It is the inland ice that mainly forms the
surface, and in the lowlands, ice lakes and other
fine-grained soils dominate in a marked north-south strip. A
narrow plain in the southeast has been formed from a glacial
valley filled with sand, gravel and blocks. The sand has
blown together in large places into large dunes.
Through the eastern and southeastern parts of Lithuania
extends a northeastern branch of the Baltic moraine ridge.
The terrain is fun and extremely rich in sinks and lakes.
The altitude reaches the highest point in Lithuania,
Juozapinė (292 meters above sea level) in the Ašmenos
The western part of Lithuania, Žemaitija, is also met by
a small hilly moraine landscape that continues north into
Latvia and has altitudes between 100 and 235 m above sea
level. The soil is of a pod type, most of which is heavily
Among the rivers, Nemunas with tributaries is the
largest. The coast is low and lined with cushions. The
shallow beach lake Kurisches Haff (Kuršių marios) at the far
south lies with its northern part in Lithuania.
In climatic terms, Lithuania is a transitional area
between a milder, maritime-stressed climate in the west and
a more continental and cold-tempered east. However, air
masses from the Atlantic dominate.
The annual average temperature is just over 7 °C in the
west and just under 6 °C in the east. In January, the
average temperature is −5 °C, while July is 17 °C. The
rainfall amounts to over 800 mm per year in a zone just
inside the coastal band coast but decreases inland to below
600 mm in the central and most eastern parts. The
precipitation falls mainly during the summer and autumn with
a maximum in July. Most sunshine hours during the year fall
in the coastal band with a decreasing number to the east.
Plant-and animal life
Of the three Baltic countries, Lithuania is the most
densely populated and cultivated with the least nature.
Forests occupy about one-third of the area but are strongly
influenced by forestry and other human activities, old
forests are rare.
In northeast Lithuania lies the national park Aukštaitija
with many smaller lakes in a forest landscape dominated by
pine. Among the plants are the orchids, forest lady and
blood keys, walnut flowers, dwarf birch, checkerboard (Botrychium
matricariifolium) and large locks (Botrychium
virginianum). The beetle fauna is well documented and
contains several rare species in Europe. Among the many fish
species are whitefish, zig-zag, grayling, brook trout and
Norwegian. Frog, sea frog and onion frogare not uncommon.
The birds include larch, black-tailed dolphin, black stork,
osprey, smaller screech eagle, stone falcon, tar, dwarf
gull, double beech, blue-collar and pearl owl. Among the
less common mammals are pond bats, bush mice, forest sharks,
moose, lice and wolves.
In southeast Lithuania there are several interesting
nature areas. Most famous is the country's largest national
park Dzūkija on the border with Belarus with a
forest-dominated landscape traversed by several streams and
bird species such as boar, tar, pearl owl, gray speck and
Adjacent to the national park is Čepkeliai nature reserve
with Lithuania's largest high bog, smaller lakes, dunes and
pine forests with birds such as heather piper, crane, double
beech and three-pointed woodpecker.
Near the border with Poland, the Žuvintas biosphere
reserve has been set aside with mosses, marshes, forests,
meadows and a larger semi-overgrown bird lake, which gave
the name of the entire reserve. Among the most important
bird species are water singers.
One of Lithuania's most renowned natural areas is the
Nemuna Delta. Nemunas, which is the country's largest river,
flows into western Belarus and flows into the Kuriska lake
in the southwestern part of the Baltic Sea. Participation is
shared between Lithuania and Russian Kaliningrad. Each
spring is flooded up to 400 km2 by the delta,
which creates ideal conditions for many plants and animals,
including white water lily, sea gold (Nymphoides peltata),
otters, the rare fish slam whiskers and birds such as the
water singer, black stork, pipe drum, meadow hawk, sea
eagle, barley, smaller marsh,cutting spot, marshland,
brushane, dwarf gull, black tern and earth owl. For many
geese, swans and ducks, the Nemuna delta is an important
resting area during autumn and spring.
To the west, the Kuriska lake is bounded by the Kuriska
nose, a 10-kilometer-long, narrow land tongue of sand
stretching from Lithuania to Kaliningrad. The sand dunes up
to 60 meters high are among the highest in Europe. Among the
birds are field squid, tree larch and sea eagle. Each
year, between 10 million and 20 million birds are estimated
to utilize the nose for their migration. Because of its
natural, historical and cultural qualities, the Curonian
nose has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.