It is now a full 27 years since Lithuania became the first Soviet republic to break from the disintegrating USSR – declaring itself independent via the "Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania" on March 11, 1990.
Today it boasts a thriving tourism industry. Last year, Lithuania experienced its largest boom in visitor numbers in its history, welcoming 1.5 million tourists.
Here, we round up why the Baltic nation is worth a visit:
1. It’s the dead centre of Europe
Admittedly several nations have laid claim to being bang in the middle of the continent – Belarus and Hungary to name two – but the spot near the village of Purnuškės has the backing of the scientific community. A monument marks the spot, while the nearby Europos Parkas hosts the world’s largest sculpture made of TV sets. What are you waiting for?
2. It’s as cheap as chips
Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, regularly ranks as one of the cheapest city breaks in Europe, with a pint likely to cost below €2.50. "Spend time wandering along the wonderfully atmospheric cobbled streets of the largest medieval old town in central and eastern Europe," says Telegraph Travel's Adrian Bridge. "Take in an architectural heritage that blends elements of baroque, gothic, renaissance and Russian, and join young locals in all-night party mode."
3. It’s one big film set
The BBC filmed much of its recent War and Peace drama in Lithuania and neighbouring Latvia. “Lithuania has been making films for years,” wrote John Gimlette, who travelled on the WAR AND PEACE TOUR IN LITHUANIA AND LATVIA for Telegraph Travel. “Usually it plays the role of Russia, although it has also been Tudor England (Elizabeth I) and even Sherwood Forest (Robin Hood)."
4. This hill of crosses is the stuff of nightmares
Just north of the city of Siauliai, the Hill of Crosses(Visit to the Hill of Crosses) is believed to have come into being after a battle in 1831 at the site. Since, crosses and crucifixes large and small, as well statues of the Virgin Mary and Lithuanian patriots, have been left by Catholic pilgrims. The hill is now home to some 100,000 crosses.
5. Not content with a hill of crosses?
There’s a hill of witches (Hill of Witches in Neringa and Lithuanian sea museum), too. A stone’s throw from the Curonian Spit (more on that later), this outdoor sculpture gallery near Juodkrante features about 80 wooden characters linked to Lithuanian folklore and pagan traditions.
6. Lithuania is mates with Iceland
And everyone loves Iceland. The country was the first to recognise Lithuania as an independent state in 1991. Islandijos Street (Iceland Street) near Vilnius city centre is a testament to a fraternity still held.
7. It boasts tremendous sand dunes
Lithuania shares half of the Curonian Spit, a 61-mile strip of sand dunes that keeps the Curonian from the Baltic Sea. A Unesco World Heritage Site, it is home to the highest moving sand dunes in Europe, with an average height of 35 metres and some stretching to 60 metres. Matthias Lüfkens visited for Telegraph Travel : “Pine trees carpet this slither of a sand dune – a rare natural wonder, preserved in an almost perfect state by the region's former Soviet rulers, who forbade any foreigner to set foot on it.”
8. There are three other World Heritage Sites, too
The other sites protected by Unesco are charming historic centre of Vilnius, the Kernave (Kernavė) Archaeological Site, which boasts a testimony to some 10,000 years of human settlement, and the Struve Geodetic Arc, a chain of monuments linking 10 countries across Europe.
9. It has almighty internet
Believe it or not, the Baltic state enjoys one of the fastest internet upload speeds in the world, owing to having the most fibre-optic broadband capacity in Europe.
10. Vilnius boasts this gorgeous cathedral
The neoclassical church was completed in 1783. CATHEDRAL square
11. Its university is equally impressive
It is one of the oldest such institutions in northern Europe, founded in 1579.
12. It was once the largest country in Europe
Another surprising fact given its modern day size, but Lithuania, as the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, was the largest nation in Europe, taking in parts of present-day Belarus, Ukraine, Poland and Russia.
13. It has monuments to its tumultuous past
Occupied by both Nazis and Soviets in the 20th century, the remarkably family-friendly Grūto parkas, near Druskininkai, is the final resting place of an array of USSR-era status and relics removed from around the country after it regained its independence in 1991. There is also an exhibition on life in Lithuania under the Soviet Union.
14. And if you’re into that kind of thing…
The decommissioned Soviet nuclear missile base found in Žemaitija National Park is another treat.
15. Its National Museum of Art is rather special
It's a blocky complex of striking modern architecture, filled with similarly up-to-the-minute works by Lithuanian artists. It's in Vilnius, of course – and you can find more about it at ndg.lt.
16. Vilnius has one of Europe's most unlikely statues
A figure of the legendary guitarist and Seventies musician, Frank Zappa, to be precise. This self-taught and deeply flamboyant American was born in Baltimore and died in Los Angeles. But he became viewed in Lithuania as a figure of freedom – and a bust of him was inaugurated in 1995 as "a symbol that would mark the end of communism, but at the same time express that it wasn't always doom and gloom." Fair enough. You can find it on the random residential street of K. Kalinausko Gatve.