The lively capital of Lithuania has a population of 554,000. Lithuania was the first state to part from the Soviet Union, becoming independent in 1991. Due to this history, other nationalities such as Poles, Russians and Belarusians are widely represented in Vilnius.
The city of Vilnius and its county produce 40% of Lithuania’s GDP. Several knowledge-based clusters have been established in the capital in the last few years, bringing together such high-tech industries as biotechnology, laser technology, telecommunications, electronics and precision mechanics, nanotechnology and medicine. Currently Vilnius boasts the fastest internet connection in the world. Its unemployment rate is 4%.
Vilnius has a unique Baroque city centre which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. Its Jewish influence until the 20th century led to the city being described as the ‘Jerusalem of the North’. In 2009 it was European Capital of Culture. The Lithuanian capital has one of the highest quality-of-life ratings among new EU member states, according to the International Living 2009 Quality of Life Index.
With its 22 universities and 23 colleges, Vilnius has one of the most multilingual populations in the EU—with one of the highest percentages of residents speaking at least one foreign language. Around 40% of the city population has been through tertiary education, making it a particularly attractive environment for investors. Vilnius was named by The New York Times as one of the Top 10 smart and well-managed cities of the world.