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.
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.
Ludwig Zamenhof (1857-1917)
Later in life Zamenhof lived in Veisiejai, in southern Lithuania, where he completed the first Esperanto textbook.
Zamenhofs 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
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
Further information: "Lithuania in the World" (www.liw.lt), www.esperanto.lt
Wikipedia encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org), www.omni.lt