Lithuania Geography Location & Topography The largest and most populous of the Baltic states, Lithuania is situated on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea in northeastern Europe. Slightly larger than the U.S. state of West Virginia, it is bordered by Latvia to the north, Belarus to the southeast, Poland to the southwest, and Kaliningrad, a territory of Russia, to the west. It has 60 miles of sandy coastline, of which only 24 miles face the open Baltic Sea. Lithuania's major warm- water port, Klaipeda, lies at the narrow mouth of Kursiu Gulf, a shallow lagoon extending south to Kaliningrad. The Nemunas River and some of its tributaries are used for internal shipping. Situated between the 54th and 56th latitudes and the 20th and 27th longitudes, Lithuania is glacially flat, except for the hills (of no more than [293] meters above sea level) in the western and eastern highlands. The terrain is marked by numerous small lakes and swamps, and a mixed forest zone covers 30% of the country. (Source:   Geology The Lithuanian landscape was sculpted by ice sheets during the last glaciation (Ice Age). As Earth’s climate warmed and the ice sheets receded northward 10,000 – 12,000 years ago, trapped sediments were released from the melting ice. A reminder of the last Ice Age is a 265 ton boulder - the second largest in Lithuania - known as the Puntukas stone  (pronounced Poon-too-cus). It rests just 6 km southwest of Anykščiai and from ancient times to the 14th century served as an altar for pagan rites. It was well-known to our Jewish ancestors when they lived in Anykščiai. Today the Puntukas stone is a popular tourist attraction. Waterways Because of the scouring and plucking action of the ice sheets during the last Ice Age and the glacial deposits left behind, Lithuania is dotted with over 4,400 lakes and ponds, the majority in the eastern part of the country. Only 9 km southeast of Anykšciai, Lake Rubik and its islands are renowned for their beauty and were also well known to our Anykščiai ancestors. Lithuania has 758 rivers longer than ten kilometers. The largest is the Nemunas (total length 917 km), which originates in Belarus. The other larger rivers are the Neris (510 km), Venta (346 km), and  the Šešupè (298 km). The Šventoji is a typical lowland river with a total length of 246 km. Its source is the Lake Sventas watershed near Salakas, Lithuania in the Rokiskis district, and it ends where it empties into the Neris near the town of Jonava (Yaneve). Anykščiai is situated in the Sventoji River Valley at an elevation of 75 meters (246 feet).   Climate Lithuania is a semi-humid country with a climate that is transitional between maritime and continental. Anykščiai in the northeast, experiences the greater temperature extremes common to continental weather regimes. Temperatures in February have been recorded from -42.9º C to 16.5º C (-45º F to +62º F) and +0.9º C to +37.5º C (+34º F to +100º F) in July. Annual precipitation in eastern Lithuania averages 600mm (23.6 inches), and snow occurs every year between October and April.   Forests Once a heavily forested land, Lithuania today consists only of 33 percent woodland -- primarily pine, spruce and birch forests – that are rich in mushrooms, berries and a wide variety of herbs and forbs. Hardwood forests of ash and oak, once common throughout the region, were heavily logged and are scarce today.  Many of our Anykščiai ancestors relied on the forests of the region and river transportation of lumber for their livelihoods. Lithuania’s famous poet, Bishop Antanas Baranauskas (1835-1902), a native of Anykščiai, both celebrated these beautiful woodlands and mourned their loss in his pastoral poem, Anykščiu šilelis (The Forest of Anykščiai).   Geography

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Visiting Puntukas Stone The Aniksht Yavneh School students visit the Puntukas stone in 1931. (Source: Nenusigręžk nuo savęs - Gyvieji tiltai   [Don’t Turn Away From Yourself - Living Bridges], by Rimantas Vanagas, Vyturys [Lark], Vilnius, 1995, 141 pp. [in Lithuanian], photos and photo reproductions of Jono Junevičiaus.)