Lithuania in the news
23rd July, 2005
Lithuania Hosts 100th Anniversary World Esperanto Congress
The next World Esperanto Congress will be held in Vilnius, Lithuania, July 23-30, 2005, on the 100th anniversary of the first World Congress in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, in 1905. Esperanto is a constructed language, meant to be an international language to be used as a second language by everyone. Currently there are a few million people in some fifty countries claiming to be Esperanto speakers, with some 3,000 in Lithuania. It is expected that this will be the largest and longest international congress hosted by Lithuania to date. Some 3,000 delegates from almost 70 countries are expected to attend. The congress, together with related activities, will extend over three weeks.

Ludwig Zamenhof (1857-1917)
It is fitting that Lithuania was selected for hosting this anniversary congress, because of the strong associations the birth of Esperanto has had with Lithuania. The ophthalmologist Ludwig Zamenhof, who developed in Esperanto in 1887, was born in Bialystok in present day Poland in 1857 and died in Warsaw in 1917. In historic times Bialystok (Balstogė) was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania virtually from time immemorial, until Lithuanian lost its independence in 1795. ("Balstogė" in Lithuanian means "white roof"). When Zamenhof was born, Bialystock was then part of the Russian empire and was a truly multiethnic town, with Jews, Poles, Lithuanians, Byelorussians and Russians rubbing shoulders. Zamenhof himself was a Litvak, which is the name by which Lithuanian Jews proudly describe themselves.
Later in life Zamenhof lived in Veisiejai, in southern Lithuania, where he completed the first Esperanto textbook. Zamenhof’s wife Klara was born in Kaunas, Lithuania. The Lithuanian Esperanto Association is now housed in her old home on Zamenhofas Street. "Zamenhof is one of the most famous Litvaks", declared Povilas Jegerovas, head of the Lithuanian Esperanto Association.
There has always been a strong interest in Esperanto in Lithuania. An interesting fact is that before the World War II Lithuania used to have regular radio broadcasts in Esperanto on national radio. ( Maybe the only country in the world to do so?)

Further information: "Lithuania in the World" (,
Wikipedia encyclopedia (,