A refugee camp is a temporary settlement built to receive refugees and people in refugee-like situations. Refugee camps accommodate displaced persons who have fled their home country, but there are camps for internally displaced persons. Refugees seek asylum after they've escaped war in their home countries, but some camps house environmental- and economic migrants. Camps with over a hundred thousand people are common, but as of 2012, the average-sized camp housed around 11,400, they are built and run by a government, the United Nations, international organizations, or NGOs. There are unofficial refugee camps, like Idomeni in Greece or the Calais jungle in France, where refugees are left without support of governments or international organizations. Refugee camps develop in an impromptu fashion with the aim of meeting basic human needs for only a short time. Facilities that make a camp look or feel more permanent are prohibited by host country governments. If the return of refugees is prevented, a humanitarian crisis can continue.
According to UNHCR, the majority of refugees worldwide do not live in refugee camps. At the end of 2015, some 67 percent of refugees around the world lived in individual, private accommodations; this can be explained by the high number of Syrian refugees renting apartments in urban agglomerations across the Middle East. Worldwide over a quarter of refugees were reported to be living in managed camps. At the end of 2015, about 56 percent of the total refugee population in rural locations resided in a managed camp, compared to the 2 percent who resided in individual accommodation. In urban locations, the overwhelming majority of refugees lived in individual accommodations, compared with less than 1 percent who lived in a managed camp. A small percentage of refugees live in collective centers, transit camps and in self-settled camps. In spite of the fact that 74 percent of refugees are in urban areas, the service delivery model of international humanitarian aid agencies remains focused on the establishment and operation of refugee camps.
The average camp size is recommended by UNHCR to be 45 square metres per person of accessible camp area. Within this area the following facilities can be found: An administrative headquarters to coordinate services. Sleeping accommodations are tents, prefabricated huts, or dwellings constructed of locally available materials. UNHCR recommends a minimum of 3.5 sqm of covered living area per person. There should be at least 2m between shelters. Gardens attached to the family plot. UNHCR recommends a plot size of 15 sqm per person. Hygiene facilities, such as washing areas, toilets. UNHCR recommends one communal latrine per 20 persons. Distance for the latter should be no not closer than 6m. Hygiene facilities should be separated by gender. Places for water collection: either water tanks where water is off-loaded from trucks, or water tap stands that are connected to boreholes. UNHCR recommends 20 litres of water per person and one tap stand per 80 persons that should be no farther than 200m away from households.
Clinics and immunization centres: UNHCR recommends one health centre per 20,000 persons and one referral hospital per 200,000 persons. Food distribution and therapeutic feeding centres: UNHCR recommends one food distribution centre per 5,000 persons and one feeding centre per 20,000 persons. Communication equipment; some long-standing camps have their own radio stations. Security, including protection from banditry and peacekeeping troops to prevent armed violence. Police stations may be outside the actual camp. Schools and training centers: UNHCR recommends one school per 5,000 persons. Markets and shops: UNHCR recommends one market place per 20,000 persons. Schools and markets may be prohibited by the host country government in order to discourage refugees from settling permanently in camps. Many refugee camps have: Cemeteries or crematoria Locations for solid waste disposal. One 100 litre rubbish container should be provided per 50 persons and one refuse pit per 500 persons. Reception or transit centre where refugees arrive and register before they are allowed into the camp.
Reception centres may be outside the camps and closer to the border of the country where refugees enter. Churches or other religious centers or places of worshipIn order to understand and monitor an emergency over a period of time, the development and organisation of the camps can be tracked by satellite and analyzed via GIS. Most new arrivals travel distances of up to 500 km by foot; the journey can be dangerous, e.g. wild animals, armed bandits or militias, or landmines. Some refugees are supported by IOM, some use smugglers. Many new arrivals suffer from acute dehydration. There can be long queues outside the reception centres and waiting times of up to two months are possible. People outside the camp are not entitled to official support; some locals make large profits with it. It is not uncommon, they stay in the reception centre until their refugee status is approved and the degree of vulnerability assessed. This takes two weeks, they are taken by bus, to the camp. New arrivals are registered and interviewed by the host country government and the UNHCR.
Lithuanian Riflemen's Union
The Lithuanian Riflemen's Union or LRU referred to as šauliai, is a paramilitary non-profit organisation supported by the State. The activities are in three main areas: military training and culture; the Lithuanian Riflemen's Union was established in Kaunas on 27 June 1919 as a shooting section within the Lithuanian Sport Union. Several historic events determined the establishment of the Union – the Lithuanian State had just declared independence and was asserting it in the wars against the Bolsheviks, the Western Russian Volunteer Army and the Polish forces. Vladas Putvinskis and Matas Šalčius were the most important activists behind the idea to form a Union, Putvinskis became the first Commander of the LRU and its main ideologue. Both of them came up with the idea to form a paramilitary group at the same time, but the scope that they envisioned was different. In 1919 Matas Šalčius together with Antanas Vienuolis-Žukauskas, Faustas Kirša and other employees at the Press Office decided to form an organisation that would be able to protect Kaunas city.
At the same time another initiative was launched by a group headed by Putvinskis, they prepared a statute for the organisation. Their aim was to support Lithuanian military in the entire Lithuanian territory. In June 1919, the Press Office employees invited Putvinskis to their meeting. Putvinskis joined the organisation, being created and became one of the most active members. There were many famous and important Lithuanians among the founders of the Union, including writers Antanas Vienuolis-Žukauskas, Juozas Tumas-Vaižgantas and Balys Sruoga, poet Faustas Kirša, painter Antanas Žmuidzinavičius, zoologist Tadas Ivanauskas and many others. In the beginning, only civilians participated in the LRU, but on soldiers and officers started to join its ranks; this reflects the main aim of the organisation – to unite civilians who want to support the military. The ideology and the guiding principles of the LRU were influenced by earlier similar organisations: Sokol in Czechoslovakia, Suojeluskunta in Finland, a paramilitary organisation of Switzerland.
Putvinskis stated that “the Riflemen's Union is an organisation of free citizens, who are volunteering their time and efforts for the sake of protecting their homeland.ˮ After its establishment in 1919, the LRU expanded throughout Lithuania. In the beginning, the organisation was divided into sections covering the entire Lithuanian territory, the sections had riflemen units. In 1925 an administrative reform was carried out, dividing the organisation into regiments, in line with the administrative division of Lithuania into districts. In 1936 a separate regiment was created for their family members; the LRU had three main areas of activities in 1919-1940 – culture and military training. The riflemen's units had orchestras, theatres and sport clubs; the union published weekly magazine Trimitas. The riflemen were required to participate in educating the society. To help with that they aimed at building riflemen centres in all cities and towns, where the union was active; the centres were to be dedicated to the needs of the nation.
Centres were built in Tauragė, Alytus and some other cities and towns. The centres served as meeting and training places for riflemen, as well as housing their clubs and administration and hosting cultural activities; the organisation received a unique legal basis, in 1921, 1924 and 1935 laws on the LRU were passed that defined the activities of the organisation and its functions in the State. The laws aimed at restricting the autonomy of the LRU and to tie it as as possible to the Ministry of Defence and the Military. In 1935 the LRU became directly subordinate to the Chief of Defence; the law abolished dual leadership – the organisation was led by the Chairman of the Central Board, elected by riflemen, by the LRU Commander, appointed by the Minister of Defence. Thus the riflemen were integrated in the defensive structure of the country, the district military commanders became the commanders of riflemen regiments. By 1940 the LRU had become one of the most popular and largest organizations in the country, with about 62,000 members.
Both men and women were active in the organisation. The LRU had units of university students, including student corporations Saja and Živilė. Many famous politicians and other members of the cultural elite, scientists were active in the union. Though the majority of members originated from the farmer class, the main principles of the Union were appealing to other classes. Members of the organization are registered in the journal On 15 June 1940, the Soviet Union occupied Lithuania, the riflemen, like the rest of the military, were ordered not to resist. Aleksandras Barauskas, a rifleman and a border guard, was killed by Red Army soldiers in the early morning of June 15; the new Soviet People's Government of Lithuania took steps to liquidate the union. Its commander, Colonel Pranas Saladžius, was dismissed on 19 June 1940, the Chief of Defence division General Vincas Vitkauskas, cooperating with the Soviets, ordered the riflemen to hand over their arms to the military on 25 June 1940. On 13 July 13, 1940 a Soviet order to liquidate the uni
Brazil the Federative Republic of Brazil, is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers and with over 208 million people, Brazil is the world's fifth-largest country by area and the fifth most populous. Its capital is Brasília, its most populated city is São Paulo; the federation is composed of the union of the 26 states, the Federal District, the 5,570 municipalities. It is the largest country to have Portuguese as an official language and the only one in the Americas. Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Brazil has a coastline of 7,491 kilometers, it borders all other South American countries except Ecuador and Chile and covers 47.3% of the continent's land area. Its Amazon River basin includes a vast tropical forest, home to diverse wildlife, a variety of ecological systems, extensive natural resources spanning numerous protected habitats; this unique environmental heritage makes Brazil one of 17 megadiverse countries, is the subject of significant global interest and debate regarding deforestation and environmental protection.
Brazil was inhabited by numerous tribal nations prior to the landing in 1500 of explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral, who claimed the area for the Portuguese Empire. Brazil remained a Portuguese colony until 1808, when the capital of the empire was transferred from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro. In 1815, the colony was elevated to the rank of kingdom upon the formation of the United Kingdom of Portugal and the Algarves. Independence was achieved in 1822 with the creation of the Empire of Brazil, a unitary state governed under a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system; the ratification of the first constitution in 1824 led to the formation of a bicameral legislature, now called the National Congress. The country became a presidential republic in 1889 following a military coup d'état. An authoritarian military junta came to power in 1964 and ruled until 1985, after which civilian governance resumed. Brazil's current constitution, formulated in 1988, defines it as a democratic federal republic. Due to its rich culture and history, the country ranks thirteenth in the world by number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Brazil is considered an advanced emerging economy. It has the ninth largest GDP in the world by nominal, eight and PPP measures, it is one of the world's major breadbaskets, being the largest producer of coffee for the last 150 years. It is classified as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank and a newly industrialized country, with the largest share of global wealth in Latin America. Brazil is a regional power and sometimes considered a great or a middle power in international affairs. On account of its international recognition and influence, the country is subsequently classified as an emerging power and a potential superpower by several analysts. Brazil is a founding member of the United Nations, the G20, BRICS, Union of South American Nations, Organization of American States, Organization of Ibero-American States and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, it is that the word "Brazil" comes from the Portuguese word for brazilwood, a tree that once grew plentifully along the Brazilian coast.
In Portuguese, brazilwood is called pau-brasil, with the word brasil given the etymology "red like an ember", formed from brasa and the suffix -il. As brazilwood produces a deep red dye, it was valued by the European textile industry and was the earliest commercially exploited product from Brazil. Throughout the 16th century, massive amounts of brazilwood were harvested by indigenous peoples along the Brazilian coast, who sold the timber to European traders in return for assorted European consumer goods; the official Portuguese name of the land, in original Portuguese records, was the "Land of the Holy Cross", but European sailors and merchants called it the "Land of Brazil" because of the brazilwood trade. The popular appellation eclipsed and supplanted the official Portuguese name; some early sailors called it the "Land of Parrots". In the Guarani language, an official language of Paraguay, Brazil is called "Pindorama"; this was the name the indigenous population gave to the region, meaning "land of the palm trees".
Some of the earliest human remains found in the Americas, Luzia Woman, were found in the area of Pedro Leopoldo, Minas Gerais and provide evidence of human habitation going back at least 11,000 years. The earliest pottery found in the Western Hemisphere was excavated in the Amazon basin of Brazil and radiocarbon dated to 8,000 years ago; the pottery was found near Santarém and provides evidence that the tropical forest region supported a complex prehistoric culture. The Marajoara culture flourished on Marajó in the Amazon delta from 800 CE to 1400 CE, developing sophisticated pottery, social stratification, large populations, mound building, complex social formations such as chiefdoms. Around the time of the Portuguese arrival, the territory of current day Brazil had an estimated indigenous population of 7 million people semi-nomadic who subsisted on hunting, fishing and migrant agriculture; the indigenous population of Brazil comprised several large indigenous ethnic groups. The Tupí people were subdivided into the Tupiniquins and Tupinambás, there were many subdivisions of the other gro
Columns of Gediminas
The Columns of Gediminas or Pillars of Gediminas are one of the earliest symbols of Lithuania and one of its historical coats of arms. They were used in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania as a rulers' personal insignia, a state symbol, as a part of heraldic signs of leading aristocracy. During the period between World War I and World War II they were used by the Lithuanian Republic as a minor state symbol, e. g. on Litas coins and military equipment. The symbol appears in the following form: Horizontal line at bottom, vertical lines extend up at both ends; the Square at the middle of the horizontal line is about half as tall as the vertical lines. Another vertical line rises from the top center of the square, giving an overall appearance, close to a trident; this form is the one seen in modern times drawn on walls and fences as protest against the Soviet occupation of Lithuania. It is notable that the ancient pre-Christian symbols of Lithuania did not follow the same strict rules of heraldry as their western counterparts.
Thus this symbol was used in Or and argent on the field gules, was depicted in various shapes on flags and shields. The Columns of Gediminas appears in the emblem of the Lithuanian land force, air force, Military Police and National Defence Volunteer Forces; the name "Columns of Gediminas" was given in the 19th century by historian Teodor Narbutt, who supposed that the symbol was Gediminas' insignia. The more exact name of the symbol is the Pillars of Gediminids, since there is no direct evidence of its connection with Grand Duke of Lithuania Gediminas. According to the historical and archaeological evidence, the Columns were used by Grand Duke of Lithuania and Duke of Trakai Kęstutis, they appear on the Lithuanian coins issued by him. The symbol was used by Vytautas as his personal insignia since 1397 and appeared on his seal and coins. According to the accounts of Jan Długosz, it was derived from a symbol or brand used to mark horses and other property; the Columns were adopted by descendants of Kęstutis as their family symbol, equivalent to a coat of arms.
Another user of the Columns of Gediminas was Grand Duke of Lithuania Sigismund Kęstutaitis. At first the Columns signified the family of Kęstutis, in contrast to the Vytis, used by Algirdas' descendants. On, as a symbol of a ruling dynasty, it was adopted by Jagiellons and the two symbols became state symbols of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania; the Columns of Gediminas are displayed on the left sleeve of Jogaila in one of his best-known portraits, painted by Jan Matejko, although Jogaila's personal insignia was a double cross. The Columns of Gediminas remained in use over the following centuries. After the annexation of Lithuania by the Soviet Union the symbol was banned. During the Singing Revolution in the late 80s, it became an important part of the icon of Sąjūdis, the reform movement; the Columns of Gediminas are featured on the Lithuanian Presidential award Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas, installed in 1928. The official logo of the EuroBasket 2011, that took place in Lithuania, is composed of the Columns overlaid on a basketball board.
Coat of arms of Lithuania Polish heraldry Gediminas' Tower House of Gediminas Tamga Valstybė. Iliustruota Lietuvos enciklopedija "Gediminas' Columns". Encyclopedia Lituanica II: 293.. Ed. Simas Sužiedėlis. Boston, Massachusetts: Juozas Kapočius. LCC 74-114275
History of Lithuania
The history of Lithuania dates back to settlements founded many thousands of years ago, but the first written record of the name for the country dates back to 1009 AD. Lithuanians, one of the Baltic peoples conquered neighboring lands and established the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 13th century; the Grand Duchy was a lasting warrior state. It was one of the last areas of Europe to adopt Christianity. A formidable power, it became the largest state in Europe in the 15th century through the conquest of large groups of East Slavs who resided in Ruthenia. In 1385, the Grand Duchy formed a dynastic union with Poland through the Union of Krewo; the Union of Lublin created the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth that lasted until 1795, when the last of the Partitions of Poland erased both Lithuania and Poland from the political map. Afterward, the Lithuanians lived under the rule of the Russian Empire until the 20th century. On February 16, 1918, Lithuania was re-established as a democratic state, it remained independent until the outset of World War II, when it was occupied by the Soviet Union under the terms of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.
Following a brief occupation by Nazi Germany after the Nazis waged war on the Soviet Union, Lithuania was again absorbed into the Soviet Union for nearly 50 years. In 1990–1991, Lithuania restored its sovereignty with the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania. Lithuania joined the NATO alliance in 2004 and the European Union as part of its enlargement in 2004; the first humans arrived on the territory of modern Lithuania in the 10th millennium BC after the glaciers receded at the end of the last glacial period. According to the historian Marija Gimbutas, these people came from two directions: the Jutland Peninsula and from present-day Poland, they brought two different cultures, as evidenced by the tools they used. They did not form stable settlements. In the 8th millennium BC, the climate became much warmer, forests developed; the inhabitants of what is now Lithuania traveled less and engaged in local hunting and fresh-water fishing. During the 6th–5th millennium BC, various animals were domesticated and dwellings became more sophisticated in order to shelter larger families.
Agriculture did not emerge until the 3rd millennium BC due to a harsh climate and terrain and a lack of suitable tools to cultivate the land. Crafts and trade started to form at this time. Speakers of North-Western Indo-European might have arrived with the Corded Ware culture around 3200/3100 BC; the first Lithuanian people were a branch of an ancient group known as the Balts. The main tribal divisions of the Balts were the West Baltic Old Prussians and Yotvingians, the East Baltic Lithuanians and Latvians; the Balts spoke forms of the Indo-European languages. Today, the only remaining Baltic nationalities are the Lithuanians and Latvians, but there were more Baltic groups or tribes in the past; some of these merged into Lithuanians and Latvians, while others no longer existed after they were conquered and assimilated by the State of the Teutonic Order. The Baltic tribes did not maintain close cultural or political contacts with the Roman Empire, but they did maintain trade contacts. Tacitus, in his study Germania, described the Aesti people, inhabitants of the south-eastern Baltic Sea shores who were Balts, around the year 97 AD.
The Western Balts became known to outside chroniclers first. Ptolemy in the 2nd century AD knew of the Galindians and Yotvingians, early medieval chroniclers mentioned Prussians and Semigallians. Lithuania, located along the lower and middle Neman River basin, comprised the culturally different regions of Samogitia, further east Aukštaitija, or Lithuania proper; the area was remote and unattractive to outsiders, including traders, which accounts for its separate linguistic and religious identity and delayed integration into general European patterns and trends. The Lithuanian language is considered to be conservative for its close connection to Indo-European roots, it is believed to have differentiated from the Latvian language, the most related existing language, around the 7th century. Traditional Lithuanian pagan customs and mythology, with many archaic elements, were long preserved. Rulers' bodies were cremated up until the conversion to Christianity: the descriptions of the cremation ceremonies of the grand dukes Algirdas and Kęstutis have survived.
The Lithuanian tribe is thought to have developed more recognizably toward the end of the first millennium. The first known reference to Lithuania as a nation comes from the Annals of the Quedlinburg monastery, dated March 9, 1009. In 1009, the missionary Bruno of Querfurt arrived in Lithuania and baptized the Lithuanian ruler "King Nethimer." From the 9th to the 11th centuries, coastal Balts were subjected to raids by the Vikings, the kings of Denmark collected tribute at times. During the 10–11th centuries, Lithuanian territories were among the lands paying tribute to Kievan Rus', Yaroslav the Wise was among the Ruthenian rulers who invaded Lithuania. From the mid-12th century, it was the Lithuanians. In 1183, Polotsk and Pskov were ravaged, the distant and powerful Novgorod Republic was threatened by the excursions from the emerging Lithuanian war machine toward the end of the 12th century. In the 12th c
Australia the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area; the neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea and East Timor to the north. The population of 25 million is urbanised and concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, its largest city is Sydney; the country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. Australia was inhabited by indigenous Australians for about 60,000 years before the first British settlement in the late 18th century, it is documented. After the European exploration of the continent by Dutch explorers in 1606, who named it New Holland, Australia's eastern half was claimed by Great Britain in 1770 and settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales from 26 January 1788, a date which became Australia's national day; the population grew in subsequent decades, by the 1850s most of the continent had been explored and an additional five self-governing crown colonies established.
On 1 January 1901, the six colonies federated. Australia has since maintained a stable liberal democratic political system that functions as a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy, comprising six states and ten territories. Being the oldest and driest inhabited continent, with the least fertile soils, Australia has a landmass of 7,617,930 square kilometres. A megadiverse country, its size gives it a wide variety of landscapes, with deserts in the centre, tropical rainforests in the north-east and mountain ranges in the south-east. A gold rush began in Australia in the early 1850s, its population density, 2.8 inhabitants per square kilometre, remains among the lowest in the world. Australia generates its income from various sources including mining-related exports, telecommunications and manufacturing. Indigenous Australian rock art is the oldest and richest in the world, dating as far back as 60,000 years and spread across hundreds of thousands of sites. Australia is a developed country, with the world's 14th-largest economy.
It has a high-income economy, with the world's tenth-highest per capita income. It is a regional power, has the world's 13th-highest military expenditure. Australia has the world's ninth-largest immigrant population, with immigrants accounting for 26% of the population. Having the third-highest human development index and the eighth-highest ranked democracy globally, the country ranks in quality of life, education, economic freedom, civil liberties and political rights, with all its major cities faring well in global comparative livability surveys. Australia is a member of the United Nations, G20, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, World Trade Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Pacific Islands Forum and the ASEAN Plus Six mechanism; the name Australia is derived from the Latin Terra Australis, a name used for a hypothetical continent in the Southern Hemisphere since ancient times. When Europeans first began visiting and mapping Australia in the 17th century, the name Terra Australis was applied to the new territories.
Until the early 19th century, Australia was best known as "New Holland", a name first applied by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1644 and subsequently anglicised. Terra Australis still saw occasional usage, such as in scientific texts; the name Australia was popularised by the explorer Matthew Flinders, who said it was "more agreeable to the ear, an assimilation to the names of the other great portions of the earth". The first time that Australia appears to have been used was in April 1817, when Governor Lachlan Macquarie acknowledged the receipt of Flinders' charts of Australia from Lord Bathurst. In December 1817, Macquarie recommended to the Colonial Office. In 1824, the Admiralty agreed that the continent should be known by that name; the first official published use of the new name came with the publication in 1830 of The Australia Directory by the Hydrographic Office. Colloquial names for Australia include "Oz" and "the Land Down Under". Other epithets include "the Great Southern Land", "the Lucky Country", "the Sunburnt Country", "the Wide Brown Land".
The latter two both derive from Dorothea Mackellar's 1908 poem "My Country". Human habitation of the Australian continent is estimated to have begun around 65,000 to 70,000 years ago, with the migration of people by land bridges and short sea-crossings from what is now Southeast Asia; these first inhabitants were the ancestors of modern Indigenous Australians. Aboriginal Australian culture is one of the oldest continual civilisations on earth. At the time of first European contact, most Indigenous Australians were hunter-gatherers with complex economies and societies. Recent archaeological finds suggest. Indigenous Australians have an oral culture with spiritual values based on reverence for the land and a belief in the Dreamtime; the Torres Strait Islanders, ethnically Melanesian, obtained their livelihood from seasonal horticulture and the resources of their reefs and seas. The northern coasts and waters of Australia were visited s
Alytus is a city with municipal rights in southern Lithuania. It is the capital of Alytus County, its population in 2013 was 57,281. Alytus is the historical centre of the Dzūkija region; the city lies on the banks of the Nemunas River. The major roads linking Vilnius, Kaunas and Hrodna in Belarus pass through Alytus. Divided onto two separate entities for centuries, it consists of two parts still referred to as Alytus I and Alytus II, the earlier being a smaller town and the latter forming the city centre with parks and industrial areas; the name is derived from the Lithuanian hydronym Alytupis. In other languages the names of the town include German: Aliten, Polish: Olita, Russian: Олита Olita, Belarusian: Аліта Alita, Yiddish: אליטע Alite; the first historical record of Alytus dates back to 1377, when it was mentioned in the Chronicles of Wigand of Marburg under the name of Aliten. According to the chronicle the spot was occupied by a small, wooden fortress guarding the Lithuanian frontier with the Teutonic Order.
The fort and the surrounding village grew, despite being a target of raids of both the Lithuanians and the Teutons. The Treaty of Lake Melno left the town on the Teutonic side of the border, but it was retaken soon afterwards. On 15 June 1581 Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland Stefan Batory granted the town the city rights based on the Magdeburg Law; the event is celebrated as the Alytus Day. Until the Partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth the town was a part of the Trakai Voivodeship of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and a notable center of commerce on the Nemunas River, serving as the main route for export goods from Lithuania proper; the town was important as the place where one of the royal economic offices was located. In the third partition of Poland and Lithuania, in 1795, the town was divided between the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. During the Napoleonic Wars, following the Treaty of Tilsit, the western part was ceded to the Duchy of Warsaw. After the Congress of Vienna it became part of the Kingdom of Poland.
Although the state was tied with a personal union with Russia, both parts of the town remained separate until the January Uprising of 1863. After that date, the autonomy of Poland was liquidated, but both parts of the town remained governed separately. In the late 19th century the town was incorporated into a chain of Russian fortified garrisons along the border with East Prussia, it was tied with the rest of the world by a new road. In addition, the tsarist authorities constructed an Orthodox church. However, despite the fortification effort by the Russians, during World War I the Central Powers managed to capture the town intact, without any major skirmish. In 1915 the town was incorporated into the so-called Ober Ost and both parts were once again united into a single administrative entity for the first time since 1795. Following the end of World War I the area remained contested by newly independent Poland and Lithuania, with the actual control held by the German army stationed in the area.
When the Germans withdrew in early 1919, the town was seized by the Red Army. On 12 February 1919, the town became a battlefield for the first skirmish between the Russians and the Lithuanian forces, which took control over it. Since the town has been a part of the Republic of Lithuania. Following the invasion of Poland a large prisoner of war camp for Polish soldiers was established in the city. Following the German occupation of the city in 1941, the camp was converted into a prison camp for Soviet soldiers. In the nearby forest of Vidzgiris the Nazis murdered 60,000 people Jews from nearby towns in Lithuania. In 2015 a HVDC back-to-back station for the realization of a power interconnection between Poland and Lithuania was inaugurated west of Alytus; the facility built by ABB has a transmission capacity of 500 MW at a voltage of ±70 kV. Alytus has a humid continental climate with quite large seasonal differences. Alytaus Naujienos is a local newspaper in Alytus. Alytus hosted the Art Strike Biennial between 18 and 24 August 2009 in response to Vilnius becoming European Capital of Culture for 2009.
This included a three sided football match. The universal indoor Alytus Arena hosted. In 2010 Alytus was awarded the Honourable Plate of the European Council. Alytus has a museum dedicated to veterans of both the Afghan wars. In Alytus, several Bonsai exhibitions were held with participants from European and other countries, such as Japan and the United States. Alytus has hosted an annual Tomato tasting since 2007. Participants offer a wide variety of tomatoes and discuss the various factors which help produce a rich crop of the fruit. Alytus has an industrial company named Snaigė. Alytus is twinned with: Alytus County Governor's Administration Alytus Municipality's site Alytus News Website Alytus Young Friend Interactive map of Alytus fortress The murder of the Jews of Alytus during World War II, at Yad Vashem website