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Vilnius, Lithuania
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    (1323- )
    Capital and largest city of Lithuania
    Area: 401 km²
    Population: 554,553 (July 15, 2012)
    First mentioned as the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the letters of Gediminas (1323)
    Throughout much of its history, it was often the scene of wars and occupations.
    It was hotly contested between Lithuania and Poland, even getting annexed by the latter during the Interwar Period. (1919-1939)
    During that time period, it became the least Lithuanian of Lithuanian cities, with ethnic Lithuanians compromising only 1% of the population.
    It looks pretty small for a capital city.
    Gr¬ūtas Park, a sculpture garden 81 miles outside of the city, contained many Soviet-era sculptures.
    It’s a cosmopolitan city ever since the days of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, with a wide variety of languages being spoken as migrants moved into the city.
    Napoleon called it the ‘Jerusalem of the North’ because of its strong Jewish influence up the 20th Century.
    It has one of the highest internet speeds in the world.
    It has some of the cleanest and healthiest tap waters in Europe, as it has access to groundwater, thus avoiding the need to treat surface water with extensive chemicals.
    Its Old Town has a lot of fine Baroque architecture.
    The world’s first bronze statue of Frank Zappa was erected there. (1995)
    Many Belarusian institutions persecuted by Alexander Lukashenko have found refuge in the city.

Credit: Big Lenny

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