Transportation and Telecommunications
Lithuania's transportation system has great potential, and transit traffic by rail, road, and ship represents an important part of Lithuania's future development (see fig. 14). There were about 2,000 kilometers of railroads (1,524-millimeter gauge) in 1994, of which 122 kilometers were electrified.
There were 55,603 kilometers of roads in 1994, of which 42,209 kilometers were asphalted. The road system is good. The country is crossed by a route from Klaipeda to Minsk via Kaunas and Vilnius. A new international highway, Via Baltica, will stretch from Tallinn to Warsaw via Riga and Kaunas.
Lithuania has struggled, however, to develop its national airline, Lithuanian Airlines. Although an agreement has been reached with American Airlines, it may not be possible to restructure the company into a profitable operation because there is excess capacity in the region. Lithuanian Airlines had one B-737 and sixty-three Soviet-made aircraft in 1993. The main international airport is in Vilnius. A second international airport was opened at Siauliai in 1993. In addition to Lithuanian Airlines, service is provided by Aeroflot, Austrian Airlines, Drakk Air Lines, Hamburg Airlines, LOT (Polish Airlines), Lufthansa, MalÚv, SAS (Scandinavian Airlines), and Swissair. Destinations include Amsterdam, London, Paris, Copenhagen, Berlin, Frankfurt, and forty-three cities throughout the former Soviet Union.
Klaipeda is the major coastal point, and Kaunas is the major inland port. Some 600 kilometers of inland waterways are navigable year round. Lithuania's merchant fleet consists of forty-four ships, totaling about 323,505 deadweight tons, including twenty-nine cargo vessel, three railcar carrier vessels, one roll-on/roll-off vessel, and eleven combination vessels.
Lithuania has begun to modernize its telecommunications industry. A law deregulating certain aspects of telecommunications went into effect in January 1992. Private investors now have the right to offer long-distance service to the public, but restrictions on the participation of foreign capital have slowed this type of activity. Both telecommunications and transportation will require large investments to modernize the infrastructure and to reform the enterprises. This sector is plagued with inefficiencies. Nevertheless, Lithuania's telephone service is among the most advanced in the former Soviet republics. There were 240 telephone lines serving 1,000 persons in the early 1990s. International connections exist via satellite from Vilnius through Oslo or from Kaunas through Copenhagen.
Lithuania has two television companies and five radio companies. In 1993 some 1.4 million television sets and more than 1.4 million radios were in use, or one per 2.7 persons. Two national radio programs are broadcast by the state-owned Leituvos Radijas ir Televizija. Radio Vilnius broadcasts in Lithuanian and English. There are national, regional, and minority language television programs.
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