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|Why the Baltic Region?|
Here is a trip that perhaps you have always dreamed of but never had time to take: exploring the Baltic states, the Amber Countries!
The Baltic Region is one of the most dynamic regions in the world. The unique diversity of the region offers a huge market potential and dynamic business opportunities. In terms of economic standards, industrial structure, cost levels, technological progress, labour access, skills and wages. With a population of some 100 million, the Baltic Sea Region is one of very few areas in the world that offer expanding consumer markets. The Baltic Region is also an attractive tourism area with long sandy beaches, local food traditions, medieval as well as modern cities with a vibrant night life.
The Baltic States refer to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, all of which were controlled by the Soviet Union during 1940–1941 and 1944/1945–1991.
From a linguistic standpoint, only the Latvians and the Lithuanians are "Baltic" peoples properly speaking, as the Estonians speak an unrelated Finnic language. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have been members of the European Union and NATO since 2004. Today the three countries are liberal democracies and their market economies have in recent years undergone rapid expansion.
In the Cold War context, the three countries were considered a part of Eastern Europe and were generally treated as a cohesive cultural and historical entity. However, today it is often stressed that Latvia, Lithuania, and particularly Estonia have little else in common other than geographic proximity, similar small size, and a shared history of Soviet occupation.
Culturally and historically, it is more appropriate to view Estonia, which is Lutheran and Finnic-speaking, as belonging in the Northern European cultural sphere. Indeed, Estonians consider themselves a Nordic people rather than Balts, because of strong cultural, historical and linguistic ties with the Nordic countries. Since regaining independence, Estonia has shown a strong desire to identify itself as Nordic, as expressed in a speech by former foreign minister and current president Toomas Hendrik Ilves entitled, "Estonia as a Nordic Country".
To a lesser degree, northern parts of Latvia have also been influenced by Lutheran and Northern European traditions. The rest of the country, in particular the southeast, along with its southern neighbor, Lithuania, are predominantly Catholic and culturally situated in Central Europe. In Lithuania and most of Latvia, the historical impact of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Russian Empire, and the German Empire have been of crucial importance. In Estonia and northern parts of Latvia, historical connections to the Teutonic Order, to the Hanseatic League, and to the Swedish and Danish Empires have left an important historical imprint.
Lithuania is the largest and southernmost of the Baltic states. Lithuania is bordering with Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south as well as with Poland and Russian Federation to the south and southwest. Forests spread through almost 30 percent of the country and rivers, streams and more than 3000 lakes shape the land.
Five national and 30 regional parks preserve this paradise for boating, fishing, hunting, bird watching or horseback riding. The largest river, Nemunas, flows into the Curonian Lagoon separated from the Baltic Sea by the Curonian Spit. This 98 km long bank of sand, dunes and pine trees stretches from Kaliningrad in the south to the seaport of Klaipeda in the north. The Curonian Spit, recognized by UNESCO as a part of the world heritage, is one of the most unspoiled natural spots in the whole Baltic Region. Lithuania is also known as the amber coast, for the precious amber that was washed onto this shore for many centuries ago.
Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania is one of the most beautiful towns in Eastern Europe. In 2009 Lithuania is celebrating the Millennium of the State with Vilnius being a Cultural Capital of Europe for 2009. It is situated where the Neris and Vilnele rivers meet and is surrounded by picturesque wooded hills. Founded in 1323, its unique character and architecture reflects its history at crossroads of the Roman, Byzantine and Eurasian worlds. Many churches and towers, fortifications, secluded medieval courtyards and narrow streets of Vilnius are a mix of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Classical styles. Vilnius like all bigger Lithuanian cities has a wide selection of restaurants, hotels, convention hotels and meeting venues. Lithuanian beer is widely considered to be one of the best in the world. Drink it with tasty local bread and cheese or national dishes like "zeppelins", balloon-shaped potato cakes filled with meat, or potato sausages and pancakes.
Did you also know that according to the National Geography Institute of France, the real and the only one Geographical Centre of Europe is exactly 26 km away from Vilnius?
Have you ever thought of making your conference or incentive travel in the Centre of Europe?
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