Border: Latvia-LithuaniaDate(s) of establishment: 1918 (current demarcation in 1991)
Length of border: 453 km
Regions concerned: Latvia - Kurzeme, Zemgale, Latgale; Lithuania - Samogitia, Aukštaitija
- "Latvia-Lithuania" operational programme
Website of the programme
The programme on the Inforegio website
The Latvia-Lithuania border is 453km long. It begins at the crossing between the borders of Belarus, Latvia and Lithuania, on Lake Drūkšiai near the town of Visaginas (Lithuania), and ends in the Baltic Sea. Running from east to west, a 30-kilometre portion is formed by the river Sventoji (Baltic). The border region is relatively sparsely populated, containing around 3 million inhabitants.
The existence of the border dates back to the Middle Ages with the delimitation of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1529. In 1918, Latvia and Lithuania gained independence and several provinces found themselves on the other side of the border, as this new border differed slightly from the one established in 1529. In 1927, following the occupation by the Polish army (in the region of Vilnius) the border was once again changed. During the Second World War, the USSR annexed the two countries, thus erasing the border. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the two Baltic States regained their sovereignty and the 1918 border was re-established.
The two Baltic Republics jointly participate in the Interreg IV A “Latvia-Lithuania” programme, whose objective is to promote the sustainable socio-economic development of the cross-border region.
This region is characterised by the divide between its large conurbations and its smaller more rural towns, which have difficulties in attracting infrastructure and investments, and where living standards are diminishing.
The region is mostly agricultural, but has a great potential for tourism that could be exploited in a cross-border collaboration. Accordingly, the European programme recommends promoting and enhancing tourist attractions and improving access to the region.
Cross-border cooperation between Latvia and Lithuania is also developing in another field – defence. The idea of creating a “Baltic Entente” in the field of defence dates back to the 1920s. Scuppered by the integration of the two countries within the Warsaw Pact, cross-border cooperation became a reality in 1993 with the creation of a tri-national battalion (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania). Today, defence cooperation between the Baltic States is intensifying, notably with the Visegrad Group.
The Euroregions “Country of Lakes” and “Bartova”, which cover the east and west of the border respectively, are equally symbolic of the cooperation between the two countries.
Photo copyright: Laima Gūtmane