Terrain shapes and bedrock
According to 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 Heights.
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 leached.
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.
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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 blue-collar.
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.