The guest speaker at the Rotary Club of Canterbury on Monday 17 June 2019 was Dana Levickis who is the Honary Lithuanian Consul General.

Dana began by giving some of her personal history.  She was born in Germany as her parents escaped from Lithuania under the threats of being either shot or sent to Siberia. Her parents had thoughts of one day returning to Lithuania but the lowering of the Iron Curtain prevented this.  In 1972 Dana and her husband were also advised not to visit Lithuania as there was a strong possibility that they would be held there until their parents returned.

Dana continued to give some interesting information about the culture, geography, economics and political situation  in current day Lithuania, becoming independent in 1990.

Lithuania is the geographical centre of Europe, it is about the area of Tasmania with approximately 3 million people living there. Dana Indicated that there are three and a half million expats.

A number of well known people in show business and politics have links with Lithuania such as Pink, The Three Stooges, Al Jolson and Boris Johnson.

The people of Lithuania are well educated with teachers requiring a Masters Degree and 40% of adults aged between 25-35 having degree.  Many of the young people get their education and then leave the country to work in places like Ireland or England.

According to Dana, Lithuania has the fastest growing economy in Europe. The government supports new businesses by having a 0% tax for the first 10 years - government expenditure  is financed through personal income tax. 

There are 3 branches of government. Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. The Presidential term is for 5 Years with a limit of 2 terms. Voting is not compulsory and is  ‘first past the post’ along as 50% of voters vote. If less than 50% vote then the 2 highest scoring candidates  run again.

The Lithuanian people joined in the singing of the National Anthem unison around the world. They also participated in the ‘Baltic Way’ which was a peaceful political demonstration in 1989 when approximately 2 million people joined hands forming a 600 km human chain through the Baltic countries demonstrating their unity in efforts towards  freedom. 

Dana spoke of some of the possible tourist sites in Lithuania. She mentioned the many beautiful churches in particular St Anne’s, the Hill of Crosses where there are about 100,000 crosses and the Hill of Witches where tree stumps have been whittled  into the images of different creatures and characters. This has added significance in that the felling of trees is illegal  making the stumps and trees that fell naturally highly sought after. Some of the UNESCO sites are as old as the 9th millennium BC.

We thanked Dana for giving us these insights into Lithuania and perhaps tempted some of us to make a visit there to see for ourselves.