COUNTRY DESCRIPTION ^
Lithuania is a country undergoing rapid economic transition. Tourist facilities in Vilnius, the capital, and to a lesser extent in Kaunas and Klaipeda, are similar to those available in a Western European city. In other parts of the country, however, some of the goods and services taken for granted in other countries may not be available.
SECURITY AND SAFETY ^
Civil unrest is not a problem in Lithuania and there have been no incidents of terrorism directed toward American interests. Incidents of anti-Americanism are rare.
Crimes against foreigners, while usually non-violent, are becoming more common. Pickpocketing and theft are problems, so personal belongings should be well protected at all times. Car thefts, carjackings, and theft from cars are increasingly commonplace. Drivers should be wary of persons indicating they should pull over or that something is wrong with their car. Often, a second car or person is following, and when the driver of the targeted car gets out to see if there is a problem, the person who has been following will either steal the driver�s belongings from the vehicle or get in and drive off with the car. Drivers should never get out of the car to check for damage without first turning off the ignition and taking the keys. Valuables also should not be left in plain sight in parked vehicles, as there have been increasing reports of car windows smashed and items stolen. Burglary of foreigners� homes is also prevalent; home alarm systems should be used whenever possible. American citizens should avoid walking alone or in small groups after dark. There have been cases of American citizens being drugged in bars and then taken elsewhere to be robbed. In any public area, one should always be alert to being surrounded by two or more people at once. Racially motivated verbal, and sometimes physical, harassment of American citizens of non-Caucasian ethnicity has been reported in major cities. Incidents of racially motivated attacks against foreigners have been reported in Klaipeda in particular.ated attacks against foreigners have been reported in Klaipeda in particular.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES ^
While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law in Lithuania can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Lithuanian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Lithuania are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Under the PROTECT Act of April 2003, it is a crime, prosecutable in the United States, for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18, whether or not the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident alien intended to engage in such illicit sexual conduct prior to going abroad. For purposes of the PROTECT Act, illicit sexual conduct includes any commercial sex act in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18. The law defines a commercial sex act as any sex act, on account of which anything of value is given to or received by a person under the age of 18.
Under the Protection of Children form Sexual Predators Act of 1998, it is a crime to use the mail or any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transmit information about a minor under the age of 16 for the criminal sexual purposes that include, among other things, the production of child pornography. This same law makes it a crime to use any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transport obscene material to minors under the age of 16.
MEDICAL FACILITIES ^
Medical care in Lithuania is improving but medical facilities do not always meet Western standards. There are a few private clinics with medical supplies and services that are nearly equal to Western European or U.S. standards. Most medical supplies are now widely available, including disposable needles, anesthetics, antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals. Lithuania has many highly trained medical professionals, but hospitals and clinics still suffer from a lack of equipment and resources. Western-quality dental care can be obtained in major cities. Elderly travelers who require medical care may face extreme difficulties. Most pharmaceuticals sold here are from Europe; travelers will not necessarily find the same brands that they use in the U.S. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars or more. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.
Tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme disease are widespread. Those intending to visit parks or forested areas in Lithuania are urged to speak with their health care practitioners about immunization. The Lithuanian Government does not require HIV testing for U.S. citizens. However, sexually transmitted diseases are a growing concern.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS ^
While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Lithuania is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Good (on major highways)
Roads in Lithuania range from well maintained two to four-lane highways connecting major cities, to small dirt roads traversing the countryside. Violation of traffic rules is common. It is not unusual to be overtaken by other automobiles traveling at high speeds, even in crowded urban areas. Driving at night, especially in the countryside, can be particularly hazardous. In the summer, older �seasonal� vehicles and inexperienced drivers are extra hazards. During the winter, most major roads are cleared of snow. Driving with caution is urged at all times. The speed limit is 60 km/hr in town and 90 km/hr out of town unless otherwise indicated. The phone number for roadside assistance is 8-800-0000 from a regular phone and 188 from a GSM mobile phone.
Seatbelts are mandatory for the driver and all passengers except children under the age of 12. Studded tires are not allowed from April 1st through November 1st. Headlights must be turned on at all times from September 1 st through 7th (the first week of school) and November 1st through March 1st. The police allow Americans to drive in Lithuania with an American driver�s license for up to 3 months. Public transportation may be slow, but is generally safe.
For specific information concerning Lithuanian driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Lithuanian State Department of Tourism at Vilniaus gatve 4/35, 2600 Vilnius, telephone: (370) 2-622-610, e-mail:
www.tourism.lt. See also road safety information from the Lithuanian Road Administration at
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT ^
As there is no direct commercial air service between the U.S. and Lithuania by local carriers at present, nor economic authority to operate such service, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Lithuania �s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA�s Internet website at
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.
Please also refer to the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement.
September 17, 2004