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Saturday, July 7, 2018

Lithuania Celebrates 100 Years Of Freedom With 100 Hot Air Balloons

One hundred hot air balloons floated over Lithuania's second city of Kaunas on Saturday to mark 100 years of the Baltic state's independence

Until World War I, Lithuania was a province of the Russian empire, which sought to crush nationalism and even banned the Lithuanian alphabet.

The Lithuanian council declared independence on February 16, 1918, when the country was still under German occupation.

Brief wars with Bolsheviks and Poles followed before Lithuania won international recognition in the following years.

Modern Lithuania was an independent nation between the two World Wars. Then the Soviet Union invaded in 1940, Nazi Germany invaded in 1941, and the Soviets returned in 1944.

Democracy campaigners launched an independence drive in the 1980s that eventually made it the first Soviet republic to declare independence in March 1990.

Lithuania finally won recognition from Moscow after the failed coup by hardliners in the Soviet capital in August 1991.

In 2004, Lithuania's pro-Western drive culminated with EU and NATO membership. In 2015, the Baltic state of 2.9 million people adopted the euro.

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