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State structure

According to the 1992 Constitution, legislative power rests with the Parliament of Lithuania, the Seimas. Elections in Lithuania are held according to a complex system. Seventy seats in parliament are distributed among national party lists. The remaining 71 MPs are elected on behalf of as many constituencies. In districts where no candidate has achieved an absolute majority, a second round is held in a fortnight' time. Before a party can take its seat in the Seimas, it must receive at least 4% of the vote. This does not apply to parties of ethnic minorities. Members of parliament are elected for four years and must be at least 25 years old.

The head of state is the president directly elected by the people for five years. Executive power rests with him and his government, headed by a prime minister. The parliament has to approve the candidate. The president also determines the country's foreign policy, can dissolve parliament and call new elections. He also appoints the commander of the joint forces. Candidates for the presidency must be at least 40 years old.

Lithuania is divided into 44 rural districts (rajones), 92 cities and 22 municipalities. In 1995, 10 larger administrative units were created, headed by a civil servant with the status of minister. For the current political situation, see the history section.


Primary and secondary education together last 12 years. There are three types of schools in Lithuania. There are schools that only teach grades 1 to 4, schools that teach grades 1 to 9 and schools that teach grades 1 to 12. Children attend school from the age of six. Since 1978 it has been compulsory to attend secondary school.

In 1993/1994 there were 2317 primary and secondary schools, 108 special schools and 15 higher education schools. There are still schools that teach in Russian or Polish.

There are seven universities in Lithuania. The flagship of Lithuanian education is Vilnius University (since 1579). Vyautas University in Kaunas is funded by the Lithuanian community in the United States and is therefore based on the American model. A relatively new university is that of Klaipeda.

Lithuania's first school was opened in 1397 in Vilnius Cathedral. Approximately 40% of students with a secondary education diploma pursue higher education. State school teachers earned $191 per month in 1997, which is 15% less than the average salary of all working people!


Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania : country studies
Federal Research Division, Library of Congress

McLachlan, G. / Lithuania
Bradt Publications

Williams, N. / Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania
Lonely Planet,

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated June 2024
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