Kaunas (Polish: Kowno, often anglicized as Kovno; Russian Каунас, formerly Ковно), is the second largest town in Lithuania with 400,000 inhabitants. Kaunas is famous for its historic city centre. The town is situated on the main highway "Via Baltica" (E 67) Warsaw-Riga-Helsinki. Geographically Kaunas is situated at the junction of the two largest Lithuanian rivers - Neman and Neris.
At the place of the current Kaunas old town, at the confluence of two large rivers, there was a settlement as far back as 10th century BC. According to a legend the town was founded in 1030, but firstly mentioned in written sources only in 1361. In 1362 the town was captured by the Teutonic Knights, but was recaptured in 1404. In the 13th century a stone wall was built for protection from constant Teutonic Knights raids.
In 1408 the town was chartered with Magdeburg Rights by Vytautas the Great. Kaunas then started to grow as an important city at trade route intersections and a river port. In 1441 Kaunas joined the Hansa and Hansa merchant offices opened. Already in the 16th century Kaunas had a public school, a hospital, a drugstore and was one of the best formed towns in Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
The 17th and 18th centuries were unfortunate for Kaunas. In 1665 the Russian army attacked the city several times. In 1701 the city was occupied by the Swedish army, and also suffered from plagues in 1657 and 1708, and fires in 1731 and 1732. After the final partition of Polish-Lithuanian state in 1795 the city was occupied by Russia. In 1812 the Grand Army of Napoleon was crossing Neman, so the city was devastated two times in this year.
During the Partitions it was one of the centres of the November Uprising (1830-1831) and the January Uprising (1863-1864). To prevent further problems with the local population, the Russian authorities have placed a huge military garrison in the town.
In 1862 a railway connecting the Russian Empire and Germany was constructed, making Kaunas a significant railway hub. In 1898 the first power plant started operating. After Vilnius was occupied by Russian bolsheviks in 1919, the government of Republic of Lithuania established its main offices here. Later Vilnius was annexed by Poland and Kaunas became the temporary capital of Lithuania.
Between the World Wars the Kaunas industry prospered, as it was the largest city in Lithuania. In 1940 it was annexed by the Soviet Union into Lithuanian SSR. During the Second World War the city suffered heavy ravages under German occupation (1941-1944). During the Soviet era it was restored and became the main industrial city of Lithuania - it produced about a quarter of Lithuanian industrial output in those days. Trolleybuses started to operate in 1966.
After regaining Lithuanian independence in 1991 the TV and radio transmitters in Sitkunai during Soviet aggression were the critical part of remaining free media and the people were on duty to protect them, willing to sacrifice their lives.
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- Total City Area : 157 km²
- Inhabitants : 368.917
- Ethnic groups:
Kaunas has 16 trolleybus and 34 bus lines,and it's also one of the biggest river ports in the Baltic States.City is located in the centre of Lithuania,and it's very significant in transportation.Kaunas international airport is capable to handle 300 000 passengers and 100 000 tons of cargo per year.
Kaunas is home of basketball club Zalgiris.The main stadium of the city is "S.Dariaus ir S.Gireno Sporto Centras" (capacity 9.000) which is also a home stadium for Lithuanian football champions FBK Kaunas.
Kaunas is often called "city of students" with over 25.000 students studying in the universities of Kaunas.
- Kaunas University Of Medicine
- Kaunas University Of Technology
- Vytautas the Great University
- Lithuanian University Of Agriculture
- Lithuanian Academy Of Physical Education
- Lithuanian Veterinary Academy
- Kaunas Business College