Welcome to NATO Summit in Vilnius 2023We created this guide for media representatives coming to Lithuania for the NATO
Summit in Vilnius 2023. Here you will find all the necessary information not only about
the Summit, but also facts about Lithuania, special media tours, recommendations,
24/7 help and more.
Vilnius summit facts
Vilnius summit facts
Vilnius summit facts
- Lithuania has been a member of NATO since 2004.
- 89% of Lithuania’s residents support the country’s NATO membership.
- 90% of residents support the presence of NATO allies in Lithuania.
- Lithuania’s defence budget made up 2.46% of GDP in 2022.
- 80% of Lithuanians see the Vilnius NATO Summit as an important event for the country.
- Vilnius 700 years young – Vilnius NATO summit takes place during the birthday of the century. Vilnius is celebrating its 700th birthday and it’s kind of a big deal. A year full of exclusive performances, art, music, and entertainment awaits.
- Civil society – Ukraine is our sister nation so we are extremely proud to be hosts of the Vilnius NATO Summit. We already put Putin behind bars (check out the Lukiškės Prison), we collected millions of euros for Ukraine’s armed forces, and we are a fierce ally of Ukraine.
- Walkable Vilnius – the most walkable NATO Summit ever. Vilnius is super walkable and among top 5 European cities for commuting.
- Super Green NATO Summit – One of the top European capitals in terms of air quality, Vilnius is also one of Europe’s greenest capitals.
- Lithuania was the first republic to declare independence from the USSR in 1990, with Iceland being the first country to recognize it.
- In 2022, Lithuania was the first EU country to become fully independent from Russian gas.
- Lithuania currently boasts the 4th highest internet speed in Europe, and 30th highest in the world (out of 192 countries).
- Lithuania ranks 8th in the world by Economic Freedom (Frazer Institute’s Annual Report for 2021).
- Lithuanian is the oldest surviving Indo-European language.
- Lithuania was the largest 15th century European country.
- Basketball is the #1 sport in Lithuania – its national teams won multiple European championships, and many players were drafted into the NBA.
The first Indo-European Baltic settlers arrived in what is now Lithuania in 12,000-2,500 BC, and established their own state at some time before the 11th century – the name “Lithuania” first showed up in the annals of Quedlinburg Abbey (Germany) in 1009.
In the 13th century, all the Baltic tribes came together under the umbrella of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (GDL), which became Europe’s largest country in the 15th century. After officially converting to Christiniaty in 1387 – the last to do so in Europe – and defeating the Teutonic Order in the Battle of Žalgiris (Grunwald) in 1410, it became a highly diverse, multi-ethnic and multi-confessional state. Thanks to this diversity, Vilnius came to be known as both the Athens and the Jerusalem of the North.
The idiosyncratic political system of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, established in 1569 and succeeding the GDL, was a precursor to the modern concepts of democracy in Europe. Its 1791 constitution was the first one in Europe (preceding the French Constitution) and the second in the world.
After the 3rd Partition of the Commonwealth in 1795, it ceased to exist, being divided among Prussia, Austria, and Russia. What is now Lithuania fell under Tsarist control. After the Russian Empire tried to ban the use of Lithuanian language in print in the 19th century, the phenomenon of book smuggling emerged. Conducted by peasants and intellectuals, it became the cornerstone of the Lithuanian national movement that paved the way to restored independence in 1918.
The interwar period was one of prosperity – further European integration, economic growth, and cultural expansion. During this time, Kaunas – the capital of that time – became widely known for its Modernist architecture, and the pilots Steponas Darius and Stasys Girėnas became among the first to fly over the Atlantic in 1933.
Lithuania was one of the many countries affected by the turmoil of the Second World War. In 1940, it was occupied by the Soviets, in 1941 – by Nazi Germany and then, in 1945, by the Soviets again. With a strong national spirit and desire for independence, however, Lithuanians withstood both occupations. Resistance took place at the cultural, religious, civic, and military levels, with the period of guerrilla war being among the most tragic and dramatic in the country’s history.
The Lithuanian Reform Movement (Sąjudis) was instrumental to the fall of the Soviet Union. Started in the 1980s, it united the country in a series of peaceful protests. One of the most notable ones was the Baltic Chain of 1989, which had people join hands to form a human chain stretching 650 km across Vilnius, Riga, and Tallinn. In 1990, Lithuania declared independence and a year after that – in final bout to regain power – Soviet authorities sent military paratroopers to Vilnius, but peaceful resistance prevailed.
In 2004, Lithuania joined the EU and NATO, finally reuniting with its European family.
The Chronicles of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (first edition 1420s) marks the beginning of national literature in Lithuania, with religious texts being the most prominent during the Middle Ages overall. The Catechism (1547) by Martynas Mažvydas is the most representative example, and the first printed Lithuanian book.
Literature increased in popularity between the 16th and 18th centuries, becoming increasingly secular over time. The outstanding achievement of this period is The Seasons by Kristijonas Donelaitis, written around 1765-1775 – the first classic Lithuanian poem dealing with the everyday trials and tribulation of peasants.
In the 20th century, Lithuanian art, especially prose and poetry, was characterised by symbolism, romanticism, existentialism, and the struggle for national independence. During WWII and the dual occupation by Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, many artists emigrated and became successful abroad.
Examples of 20th century Lithuanian art include the tragicomic concentration camp memoir Forest of the Gods (1945) by Balys Sruoga; the existentialist novel White Shroud (1958) by Antanas Škėma; the works of Jurgis Mačiūnas, co-founder of the now-global art movement Fluxus; and the films of Jonas Mekas, sometimes called “the godfather of American avant-garde cinema”, and the internationallyacclaimed film director Šarūnas Bartas.
Today, Lithuania has a vibrant cultural scene across the artistic spectrum. Lithuanian theatre directors, such as Oskaras Koršunovas and Eimuntas Nekrošius, and their theatre productions are known around the globe, and the country has 13 state theatres and countless local and private ones. There’s also 100+ museums on every possible subject, including such off-kilter projects as the Museum of Ethnocosmology.
For visual art connoisseurs, Lithuania offers a large number of galleries and contemporary art spaces like the Contemporary Art Centre and MO museum. On display are works by both foreign and local artists, from Lithuanian classics like Jacques Lipchitz and M. K. Čiurlionis to modern creators like Evaldas Jansas. Street art is also prominent in the country, as even a quick Google search will turn up countless pictures of entire walls and building façades covered in the most imaginative and colourful artworks.
Having started to use bricks for building already in the 13th century, Lithuania is littered with examples of both very old and modern architecture. From Renaissance and Baroque structures in the Vilnius Old Town to the Modernist architecture of Kaunas, and Gothic and Classicist manors, castles, and churches across the country.
Lithuania is also the host of many international film festivals: Kino Pavasaris (Cinema Spring), the Kaunas International Film Festival, and Scanorama. In recent years, the country also became a go-to filming location for Netflix and HBO series like Chernobyl (2009) and Stranger Things (2016–present).
- 6th globally in the National Cyber Security Index.
- 1st in EU for GDP per capita growth (2000–2020).
- 12th freest economy in the world.
- 58% of 25–34-yearolds have tertiary education (7th in the OECD).
- It takes 1–3 days to launch a business in Lithuania online.
- 1 in 7 students in Lithuania choose engineering.
- Lithuania has the highest share (52%) of women scientists and engineers in the EU.
- 85% of young professionals are proficient in English.
- 96% of Lithuanians are fluent in at least one foreign language.
- With two unicorns and more than 760 active startups, Lithuania is a hotbed for developing, testing and scaling cutting-edge innovation.
- Lithuania is a top-ranking Fintech location with the highest number of licenced Fintech companies in the EU. Lithuania is home to Revolut, Curve and other innovators.
- 90% of public sector services are digitized.
- 97% of businesses use digital public services.
- The Open Data in Lithuania portal publishes all open data in one place and collects requests for data to be opened. Open data sets are available in traffic, public transport, satellite imagery, public procurement, legal cases and other areas. All public bodies have an Open Data Coordinator
- Since 2022, the Lithuanian-Polish gas pipeline GIPL has been connecting Lithuania and the Klaipėda LNG terminal to the EU’s single gas network. 100% of Lithuania’s gas demand can be satisfied via the Liquefied Natural Gas terminal in Klaipėda.
- In 2022, Lithuania was the first EU country to become fully independent from Russian gas.
A city that is 700 years young
Let us take a guess – you probably don’t know much about Vilnius. But one thing that we can vouch for – Vilnius is unexpectedly amazing. And here is why.
Vilnius Old Town is UNESCO-listed because of its “outstanding universal value.” Many of its original architecture is preserved, with beautiful examples of the Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical styles all coexisting in a medieval layout that’s splendidly green and alive. The city is celebrating its 700-year anniversary, and it’s showing that its bones are still young by organizing many different events and sharing its treasured historic value.
More about Vilnius: https://www.govilnius.lt
Free guided tours
Learn about our burgeoning city and all of its 700-year-old secrets in free guided tours that cover the UNESCO-listed Old Town and a bohemian Užupis District. Find out more about the local gastro gems in culinary workshops. Join an invigorating jogging tour. Participation is free, no need to register in advance.
Check tour timing and meeting locations on our website: govilnius.lt/nato-summit
- Vilnius is 700 years young
61% of Vilnius is covered in green. Vilnius is one of the greenest capitals in Europe (Hugsi, 2023).
Vilnius is the number one dynamically developing city in CEE region.
- Vilnius ranks second in Europe for economic potential (fDi ranking 2023)
Witness how art takes over the city
During summer and until mid-autumn, several street festivals take over the city, offering free performances and tons of activities. On different days during the season, Vilnius transforms into a big stage where hundreds of musicians and actors perform freely, all around the city. Venues also open their doors to the general public, offering concerts and art for every taste. And when the art is not on the streets, you can still find it in the many venues the city has to offer – from jazz bars and live music pubs to opera and ballet at the National Theatre. The city can also be found on the silver screen and has been used as the backdrop for HBO hits like Chernobyl and Catherine the Great. Guests can now take themed tours of the sets to learn more about the films and TV shows that have come together in Lithuania’s capital.
Party in a former prison? Why not!
The notorious prison in the centre of Vilnius has been reborn as Cultural Hub. Although the building complex stopped functioning as a prison in 2019, it is now a hub for 250 artists and has been repurposed for artistic and cultural events such as “Lukiškės Prison 2.0” to host concerts, festivals, and exclusive tours. The daytime tour highlights the prison’s history, architecture, and daily life of inmates, including political prisoners. For instance, the prison held some of the famous 20th-century Lithuanian authors, and even Menachem Begin, Israel's Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who was imprisoned in Lukiškės for a year in 1940. The nighttime tour displays the unseen side of the century-old buildings illuminated by the beam of a flashlight.
You’ll find more shades of green than shades of grey
While most cities are an explosion of concrete sparsely dotted with a few green spaces, Vilnius feels like it’s part of a huge green forest. You will soon find yourself crossing a sudden meadow, or slaloming through some old trees to reach your next destination. Jogging through the endless Vingis Park, going for a walk around Bernardine Garden, or contemplating the beauty of Vilnius University’s Botanical Garden are just some of the perks of visiting one of Europe’s greenest capitals.
We’re not allergic to any kind of history nut
No matter which period of history you prefer, Vilnius has something for you. Are you a fan of all things medieval? Visit the spectacular Trakai Island Castle, located in the middle of a calm lake. If you’re more into the now, the Contemporary Art Centre and recently built MO Museum offer impressive collections and exhibitions featuring renowned local artists. If you like a bit of everything, the Kazys Varnelis House-Museum, in addition to its mesmerizing and well-known collection of optical art compositions, also has examples of antique graphic arts, Western European sculptures, historic furniture, and even Asian works of art, all coexisting under the same roof. Or maybe you prefer something radically different and want to look into one of the darker sides of our past? Then the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights, located in the former KGB headquarters, won’t disappoint. Our history is long and complex, and it has something for everyone.
Because foodies gonna food
If you’re a fresh-oysters-with-champagne kind of person, then this is your city. If you’re more of a pulled pork sandwich with cold beer type, then this is your city, too. And if you’re vegetarian or vegan… yes, you guessed right – this is also your city. Vilnius’ vibrant food culture will satisfy any palate. Of course, no visit is complete without trying our local food, whichever you prefer: Šaltibarščiai, Cepelinai, Balandėliai…you name it (if you can). You can also bring some edible souvenirs back for your friends (or keep them for yourself), like honey, bread, cheese, mead, teas, and many other local treats. And if you’re feeling a bit hipster, you should visit one of our markets, where you will find the most eclectic variety of small restaurants mixed with stands selling high-quality and fresh goodies for a perfect picnic at the park. Every stomach deserves to be happy in Vilnius.
Do business and invest in Vilnius
With a world-class ICT infrastructure, flexible multilingual talent, and a close-knit business community, Vilnius is a great place to start and grow your business. Vilnius ranks second (fDi ranking 2023) in Europe for economic potential, third for business friendliness, and overall second among medium-sized cities in the 2023 fDi Cities of the future rating. And it is little wonder – Vilnius metropolitan area is the fastest growing region in the CEE, Vilnius has a thriving TechFusion ecosystem that’s been engineered to help you level up your operations with minimum fuss and maximum results. From office space to connectivity to R&D, Vilnius has the right infrastructure for modern business. Vilnius not only grew 3 unicorns but also saw its startup ecosystem increase 16 times in the last 5 years.
You can walk the city back and forth
Getting to most places in Vilnius is just a matter of walking for a few minutes. That’s why locals prefer walking, even though there are many different ways to get around the city. And we must agree with them because beyond being able to reach every main attraction, walking also give you the chance to discover one of the most secret features of Vilnius – its courtyards. Hidden behind the main streets, and charming as hell, they provide the perfect location for an intimate picnic or some calm and well-deserved me-time.
If you don’t like to walk, you can fly
This city is beautiful from every point of view, but if we had to choose one, we’d prefer to see it from above. Vilnius is one of the few capitals in the world that allows hot-air balloons to take off in the very centre of the city and fly over it, so if you’re looking for the coolest alternative to walking, this one is unbeatable. And if you’re afraid of heights, looking at those colourful beauties floating along the city’s skyline will probably still make your day.
We love the way you move
No matter which of the 35 ways of moving around the city you prefer, we love them all. And you’ll love them, too. Bus, trolleybus, various taxi applications, shared cars, electric scooters, and bicycle systems…even Uperis, a floating platform to cross the river. And if none of these are for you, you can always test your balance on the long trails of Vingis Park with your skateboard or rollerblades, or just go for a walk or run. There’s also an impressive 100-km trail circling Vilnius, especially for you, but no need to show off – you can cover it in parts.
Vilnius marks the 2023 NATO Summit
Local landmarks in Vilnius have been decorated with distinctive symbols to mark the 2023 NATO Summit.
33,000 Ukrainian flags
Understanding the scale and importance of this meeting in the context of global political events and the opportunity to draw even greater global attention to the situation in Ukraine, 33,000 Ukrainian flags will be raised at various locations in Vilnius on residential buildings.
City’s public transport
The City of Vilnius is proud to be welcoming NATO Summit participants and journalists in Vilnius. On the occasion of this triumphant celebration, you will see many NATO flags while you commute around the city as they will be used to decorate city’s public transport.
The Vilnius TV Tower, the tallest building in the country, which can be seen at the radius of 50 km, will be lit up in NATO colours.
Vilnius bridges over the Neris River, namely, the Baltasis Bridge (coordinates: 54.692760, 25.272546), Karaliaus Mindaugo Bridge (54.688918, 25.288222), Žaliasis Bridge (54.691447, 25.279949), and the Žvėrynas Bridge (54.690470, 25.258829), will have special illumination.