Kaunas

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Kaunas
Coat of Arms Flag
City motto: Kaunas yra Kaunas (Kaunas is Kaunas)
Location
Basic Information
County: Kaunas County
Municipality: Kaunas city municipality
Area: 157 km²
Population: 364.083
(2005.01.01, ranked 2nd)
Population density: 2.319 residents/km²
Elevation: 47 m above sea level
Latitude
Longitude:
54°54' N
23°56' E
Time zone:
 - in summer
EET (UTC+2)
EEST (UTC+3)
Area code: 37
Obsolete license plate infix: K
Airport: Kaunas International Airport (KUN)
Website: www.kaunas.lt
Ethnic groups (2001):
  1. Lithuanians 92,9%
  2. Russians 4,4%
  3. Ukrainians 0,5%
  4. Poles 0,4%
  5. Others 1,8%
Politics
Mayor: Arvydas Garbaravičius (LiCS)

Kaunas (approximate English transcription [ˈkəʊ.nəs], simplified Lithuanian transcription [kaŭnas]; German: Kauen; Polish: Kowno, often anglicized as Kovno; Russian Каунас, formerly Ковно), is the second largest city in Lithuania.

Basic information

The city is situated on the main freeway "Via Baltica" (E 67) Warsaw-Riga-Helsinki. Geographically Kaunas is located by Kaunas lagoon (largest water body in Lithuania), at the junction of the two largest Lithuanian rivers, the Neman and the Neris.

With almost 93 percent citizens being ethnic Lithuanians, Kaunas is one of the most Lithuanian cities of the country. By the number of people of local nationality, Kaunas is the largest city in Baltic States: it has larger number of Lithuanians than Vilnius, larger number of Lithuanians than Riga has Latvians or Tallinn has Estonians.

Coat of Arms

In 1993.06.30 the current historical emblem of Kaunas city was established by a special Presidential decree and approved as standard. It features a white aurochs (which is city's heraldic symbol) with a golden cross between his horns set against a deep red background. This emblem was the result of much hard work by the Lithuanian Heraldry Commission, and finally realized by the artist Raimondas Miknevičius.

File:Kaunas Pazaislis Monastery.jpg
Church and Monastery of Pažaislis

History

File:Kowno SwMichal.jpg
St.Michael the Archangel Church

At the location of the current Kaunas old town, at the confluence of two large rivers, there was a settlement as far back as the tenth century BC. According to legend, the town was founded in 1030, but it is first mentioned in written sources in 1361. In the thirteenth century, a stone wall was built for protection from constant raids by the Teutonic Knights. In 1362, the town was captured by the Teutonic Knights, who destroyed the castle, but it was recaptured in 1404.

In 1408 the town was chartered with Magdeburg Rights by Vytautas the Great. The castle was rebuilt in the beginning of 15th century. Kaunas then started to grow as an important city at trade route intersections and a river port. In 1441 Kaunas joined the Hansa and Hansa merchant offices opened. Already in the 16th century Kaunas had a public school, a hospital, a drugstore and was one of the best formed towns in Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

The 17th and 18th centuries were unfortunate for Kaunas. In 1665 the Russian army attacked the city several times. In 1701 the city was occupied by the Swedish army, and also suffered from plagues in 1657 and 1708, and fires in 1731 and 1732. After the final partition of Polish-Lithuanian state in 1795 the city was occupied by Russia. In 1812 the Grand Army of Napoleon was crossing Neman, so the city was devastated two times that year.

During the Partitions it was one of the centres of the November Uprising (1830-1831) and the January Uprising (1863-1864). To prevent further problems with the local population, the Russian authorities have placed a huge military garrison in the town. The Russian military fortifications from that time still survive throughout the town.

In 1862 a railway connecting the Russian Empire and Germany was constructed, making Kaunas a significant railway hub. In 1898 the first power plant started operating. After Vilnius was occupied by Russian bolsheviks in 1919, the government of Republic of Lithuania established its main offices here. Later, when Vilnius was seized by Poland, Kaunas became the seat of Lithuanian government (officially styled temporary capital) until 1940, when the country was occupied by the Soviet Union and the capital was returned to Vilnius.

File:Bfc Kaunas panorama 01 2.jpg
Kaunas, panoramic view. Photo early 1900's. Boris Feldblyum Collection

Between the World Wars the Kaunas industry prospered, as it was the largest city in Lithuania. In 1940 it was annexed by the Soviet Union into Lithuanian SSR. During the World War II the city suffered heavy ravages under German occupation (1941-1944) with the establishment of the Kaunas Ghetto (also known as the Kauen concentration camp), which resulted in the deaths of more than 30.000 of the city's Jewish population. During the Soviet era it was restored and became the main industrial city of Lithuania - it produced about a quarter of Lithuanian industrial output in those days. Trolleybuses started to operate in 1966.

After the proclamation of Lithuanian independence in 1991, Soviet attempts to suppress the rebellion focused on the television and radio transmitters in Sitkūnai, which were the critical part of remaining free media. They were protected by the ordinary people, who were on duty to protect them, despite the risk of harm.

Historical population

YearNumber of inhabitants
172328.000
17968.500
18133.000
18255.000
18408.500
186023.300
189771.000
192392.000
1940154.000
1959214.000
1966275.000
1989418.087
2001378.943
2004366.652
2005364.083

Transportation

Kaunas has 16 trolleybus routes, 34 bus routes, wide maxicab carrier network, and it's also one of the biggest river ports in the Baltic States. City is located in the centre of Lithuania, it is very significant in logistics. Kaunas International Airport (KUN) is capable to handle 300.000 passengers and 100.000 tons of cargo per year.

Sports

Kaunas is home to the Žalgiris basketball club, one of Europe's strongest. The city is also the birthplace or childhood home of many of the country's top basketball stars, among them Arvydas Sabonis, Šarūnas Marčiulionis, Žydrūnas Ilgauskas and Šarūnas Jasikevičius. The main stadium of the city is "S.Dariaus ir S.Girėno Sporto Centras" (total capacity 9.000) which is also a home stadium for Lithuanian soccer champions FBK Kaunas.

Education

Kaunas is often called a "city of students" with over 25.000 students studying in the universities of Kaunas.

Famous people of Kaunas

Yearly events

Interesting Facts

References

External links

bg:Каунас da:Kaunas de:Kaunas es:Kaunas eo:Kaŭnaso fr:Kaunas ko:카우나스 he:קאונאס lv:Kauņa lt:Kaunas mk:Каунас nl:Kaunas nds:Kaunas ja:カウナス nb:Kaunas pl:Kowno ru:Каунас sv:Kaunas