The region of Lithuania Minor covers the land of Klaipėda (the Curonian Spit, Šilutė and Klaipėda Districts, and southern part of Tauragė County). In the 16th century through 1918 the current Kaliningrad region (Russian Federation) was also named Lithuania Minor, which, according to historians, represented the lands of ancient Balts. This part of Lithuania Minor is the birthplace of Lithuanian written works: the first Lithuanian book, the first Lithuanian grammar, and the first book of collected songs were printed here. The first Lithuanian group of regional studies was also established here. Its prime task was to collect Lithuanian folklore and research into the Lithuanian language. The first Lithuanian schools were opened here.
Established in 1544, Königsberg University opened the first Department of Lithuanian Language (1718). When the ban on the Lithuanian press was imposed by the tsarist authorities in 1864-1904, Lithuanian books were printed in Tilžė (Tilsit), Bitėnai and Ragainė (Ragnit) and hundreds of book carriers (Lith. knygnešiai) would smuggle the books into the country. The first periodical publications, inspiring the reestablishment of independent Lithuanian state, also appeared here in late 19th century.
The first Lithuanian Song Festival was held on the Rambynas Hill (in Rambynas National Park) in 1895 by the initiative of the prominent cultural figure of Lithuania Minor, choir leader and writer Vydūnas.
Lithuania Minor boasts diverse nature of unique beauty and an abundance of fascinating places. The region includes one of the most beautiful landscapes of Europe–UNESCO heritage site–the Curonian Spit (the Curonian Spit National Park), charming by the harmony of sands, forests and waters. Other unique sites include the Nemunas delta with a plenitude of islands, an old Rusnė town, and Minija (Mingė) village having a river instead of a central street, a seaside settlement Kintai, and Ventės Ragas with an ornithological station as the great bird migration path goes through these areas. The old lighthouses of Uostadvaris and Ventės Ragas look like soldiers on guard.
The most archaic part of the land’s heritage is represented by wooden folk architecture. Houses, porches and barns are distinguished by impressive decorations including ornamentally carved weathervanes crowned with pairs of small horses (Lith. žirgeliai) or some other lėkiai (Lith. sg. lėkis– a decorative carved board). In ancient times people used to believe that lėkis protects against the evil. Weathercocks somewhat resembling lėkiai were attached to the mast tops of kurėnas (an ancient fishermen’s boat) and would indicate the belonging of the ship to some particular village. The burial places of ancient seaside residents are enshrined by original old krikštai (sg. krikštas, ancient grave markers made of one board).
Klaipėda is the largest city of Lithuania Minor. It holds a museum with several branches intended for this land offering extensive expositions to its visitors.