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Lithuania Minor (Mažoji Lietuva) is a northern edge of a former East Prussia (German: Ostpreussen), a German state that during history had different names, different teritory and different political status. The population in its north-eastern part was predominantly Lithuanian-speaking, while maintaining loyalty to the German administration. The administrative divisions and terms of this area varied during history, however the names Preußisch-Litauen (Prussian-Lithuania) and Kleinlitauen (Little Lithuania) were used and are still in use in everyday language to distinguish the area inhabited by Lithuanians under the German administration from the territory of Lithuania Major - Lithuanian state itself. After the WWII East Prussia ceased to exist, territory was ethnically cleansed of the native German-speaking population. The most of its territory now is divided between Poland in the south and Kaliningrad Oblast of Russian Federation in the north. The narrow strip north of Nemunas river belong to Republic of Lithuania. It stretches between Smalininkai village in the east (almost touching Tauragė city north of Smalininkai) and Klaipėda city in the west, almost up to Palanga in the very north-west corner.
Predominat ethnicity of population in Kaliningrad Oblast is Russian, predominat ethnicity of population in Lithuania Minor region of Lithuania is Lithuanian. Given the long period of time that has passed since the war, these historical changes are accepted by local people as a fact, no ethnic or national tensions, let alone scandals, were ever reported. Scarse remains of both German and Baltic cultural and historical heritage are more or less preserved, however one should have in mind that the Second World War literally washed everything away from the ground. Several decades of decay were not merciful either. What the visitor can expect is a calm and peaceful countryside whith its everyday life, and the scenery that here and there resembles pre-war Eastern Prussia. All historical, cultural and other objects of interest are scattered across the region and requires advance preparation to locate or visit them.
However the two main attractions are associated not with the countryside but with the sea: it’s a seaport of Klaipėda, and a narrow peninsula, called Curonian Spit, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, that stretches from Klaipėda on Lithuanian half, up to Zelenogradsk on Kaliningrad Oblast half.
Lithuanian dialect of this region is closest to the official Standard Lithuanian, as most of the scholars who developed the language were either from Lithuania Minor or from Sūduva region which linguistically was close. During certain period both regions were under the reign of Kingdom of Prussia. At the time of ban of lithuanian language in Russian Empire during 19th century, Lithuania Minor was a centre where Lithuanian-language books and periodicals were published and then smuggled into Lithuania, then part of Russia.
At present time the influence and presence of Samogitian dialect, especially in Klaipėda and its surroundings, is noticeable.
Most commonly used foreign languages are Russian, German, English and Polish.
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Most convenient transport is a car, though public transport (suburban and regular intercity buses) is also available. The land is flat, suitable for bicycling. Within Nemunas delta and Curonian Lagoon the motorboat is a common mode of transport.
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