Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Aukštaitija (or the Highlands) is the name of historical region in Lithuania, close to borders with Latvia and Belarus. Aukštaitija is the cradle of the Lithuanian state and nation. Historically, it refers to the territory of the most dominant of the original Lithuanian tribes, incorporating central Lithuania, the eastern part of the Vilnius region and Dzūkija. However, in the more modern narrower sense, it refers geographically to northeastern part of Lithuania, comprising the modern counties of Utena and Panevėžys, as well as small parts of the counties of Vilnius and Šiauliai. The inhabitants of the region are called Aukštaičiai (literally "Highlanders"). This term is often used as a synonym for Lithuanians and vice versa.
All Lithuania's most important cultural and political centers are (or have been) in this region:
- Vilnius - the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Republic of Lithuania.
- Kaunas - the provisional Lithuanian capital in 1919-1940.
- Kernave - regarded as the first permanent capital of Lithuania (13th century).
- Trakai - the capital of Lithuania rivaling with Vilnius throughout the 14th and the 15th centuries.
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