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Lithuania is a country in the Baltic region of Europe. It is the southernmost and largest of the three Baltic States. Its capital and largest city is Vilnius; other major cities are Kaunas and Klaipėda.

Because of its location, Lithuania has changed hands many times between Imperial and Soviet Russia, Napoleonic France, Imperial and Nazi Germany, Poland and Lithuania. Being at the crossroads of many different empires and armies, Lithuania has a dramatic history.

Lithuania had a powerful empire that dominated much of Eastern Europe in the 14th–16th centuries before becoming part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth for the next two centuries. The Commonwealth lasted until Lithuania was occupied by Russia in 1795.

After a brief period of independence from 1918 to 1940, Lithuania was controlled by Germany for a brief period during the Second World War and was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1944 as one of its constituent republics.

In 1989, in a famous display of peaceful human demonstration, 2 million people joined hands to form a 600km human chain linking three Baltic States from Vilnius to Riga to Tallinn. Seven months after the protest, Lithuania became the first Soviet republic to declare independence.