Exchanges with foreign countries for the scarce resources of the country and for the great sobriety of the residents (connected in part with the inexistence of city life) are rather limited. In recent years, the exchanges have broken even or are slightly advantageous for Lithuania.
If we take into account that the balance becomes even more active for emigrants’ remittances (on average 35 million litas each year) and that a large part of the surplus money is used in the fields, it is possible to consider the economic viability of the Lithuania.
Among the exported goods, agricultural, forestry and livestock products prevail; wood and flax, which were in the top positions immediately after the war (1920: 40 and 34% of exports), were progressively replaced with animal products. In 1931-32 we find pork meat in the first three places (especially lard: 81.6 and 56.8 million litas), butter (47.2 and 41.8 million) and cellulose (12.1 and 19, 4 million); followed by pigs, eggs, flax, wood in boards. As for imports, processed goods are by far the first place, consisting of threads and yarns of all kinds, woolen and cotton fabrics, rubber, machines and appliances; even raw materials such as iron, coal (for railways), fertilizers, cement, mineral essences enter for a considerable portion, while the need for food products is limited to sugar, herring, animal fats and oils and sometimes (in bad years) to some cereals. In 1931-32 we find fabrics (for 40.8 and 19.1 million litas), cars and cars (22.5 and 11.6 million), coal (13.3 and 9.9 million) in the first four places., yarns and packaging (12.4 and 10.7 million); followed by fertilizers, naphtha, sugar and iron.
In the first places among the buying countries of Lithuanian products are Germany (45.9% of the value in 1931 and 39.1 in 1932) and Great Britain (respectively 33.1 and 41.4) and then at a distance Latvia (5.4 and 2.3), Belgium, the USSR Among the supplying countries, Germany also ranks first (47% of the value in 1931 and 40.2 in 1932), then Great Britain (7.0 and 10), Czechoslovakia (7.0 and 7.5), the USSR (6.0 and 6.1) and then Latvia and Holland. An Italo-Lithuanian trade treaty was signed on August 17, 1927. In 1932 Italy bought for 674 thousand litas (especially cellulose and meat) and sold for 3.9 million (fabrics, yarns, rice, legumes).
About one third of exports and two fifths of imports pass through the port of Memel, located at an opening which connects the Baltic’s Kursches Haff at its northern end at the mouth of the small river Dange. Before the war the port was closed behind the Russian border and was mainly used for the export of timber, which arrived there by river from the Nemunas basin to supply the Lithuanian hinterland (1910-1913: average annual import 338 thousand tons. and export 387 thousand); after the war, after the Memel territory passed to Lithuania, the port acquired considerable importance, especially for the supply of raw materials.
The increase in exports in 1932 largely depends on the progressive development of Russian exports. In 1923 652 staggering ships 211 thousand tons had entered the port, in 1930 960 with 499.800 tons, in 1932 1113 with 519.700 tons. For 40% of the traffic is carried out by German ships, then Swedish, English, Danish, Dutch. Among imports, coal 31 thousand tons is in first place. in 1932) which comes from Danzig and England and serves both the pulp factories of Memel and Tilsit, and the Lithuanian railways; then iron pyrite (41,000 tons), mainly imported from Sweden and Spain, fertilizers (28,000 tons), which come from Holland, Belgium and Germany, cement (61,000 tons) and then limestone, oil, gasoline, herring, sugar. Among the exported goods cellulose is in first place, mainly absorbed by Germany, England and Spain, then squared wood and then meat, butter, linen. By river and lagoon, 130,700 tons entered Memel in 1932. of goods.
Merchant marine. – The merchant marine inscribed in the 45 miles of the Lithuanian coast, reduced in 1920 to only 45 ships per 8015 tons, gradually approached the pre-war figures (1914: 333 ships per 8800 tons). The establishment, in 1924, of a regular weekly freight and passenger service London-Memel (via Liepāja or Danzig) by the British company United Baltic Corporation, stimulated even more the Lithuanian national sentiment, always inclined towards the establishment of a navy national merchant. In 1929 the Lietgar was formed (fleet: two steamers). In 1930 United Baltic gave all guarantees to the Lithuanian parastate entities regarding the transport of their meat products to the British market, so that Lithuania gave up the purchase of naval equipment. Cabotage is reserved for the flag; For Lithuania 2012, please check oxfordastronomy.com.
A sure improvement of agricultural conditions and a progressive development of exchanges will certainly be possible if internal communications they will be improved and transformed in the future. The current state of them is partly explained by the adverse natural conditions (scarce availability of pebbles; poorly regulated hydrography; soil moisture, especially after the thaw), partly by past political events. In fact, since Lithuania, when it depended on Russia, was a border province, the few artificial roads had been built for military purposes; moreover, as far as the railways are concerned, there has always been regard only to transit, without taking into account local needs. If we add that the center of the railway network was Vilna, it is easy to understand in what difficult situation Lithuania has found itself.
The railway network has now (1932) a total length of 2304 kilometers, of which 1812 are normal gauge (introduced in the country during the German occupation), the rest narrow gauge. It has been calculated that only a quarter of the state’s territory is less than 5km away. from the railway, while 18.6 per cent is from 5 to 10 km., 30.4 from 10 to 20 km., 17.1 from 20 to 30 km. and 12.1 over 30 km. An improvement took place with the aggregation of the Memel territory and above all with the construction of the Šiauliai-Telšiai-Kretinga line (Samogitian railway, 127 km long, inaugurated in 1932), which made the very serious inconvenience of forcing the traveler who wanted to travel by the shortest route from the capital to the maximum port of the country to pass through German (Tilsit) or Latvian (Priekule) territory, since the route is longer in the interior of the country (via Šiauliai- Pagěgiai). However, singular anomalies continue to exist in the network; thus, to go from Panevežys to Joniškelis, which are 40 km away as the crow flies, it is necessary to pass through Siauliai, covering a distance of 240 km., with the need for a stay away from home for two or three days; the same can be said of the communications between Ukmergė and Anykščiai, which involve a journey of 360 km., for a distance of only 70. However, this inconvenience has now been eliminated due to the rapid development assumed by the bus networks. The most important railway lines that also serve international transit traffic are the one that runs from the German border (Eydtkuhnen) through Kaunas and Šiauliai to the Latvian border, the Tilsit-Šiauliai line and the Šiauliai-Panevežys-Daugavpils line. However, the trains are slow; it is enough to remember that the Virbalis-Joniškis section (288 km; Berlin-Leningrad main line) takes 5 and a half hours. Although the number of cars is still very low (1932: 2092), attempts have been made to extend the network of car services as much as possible and Kaunas is linked by this vehicle to 40 localities in the surrounding area.
The artificially maintained ordinary roads are just 1695 km. (1928), which figure, however, is increasing as the 3000 km program is in progress. of new roads. In winter it is possible to travel around the town in any direction with sleds; the roads in the interior of the villages are very mediocre.
As for the waterways, the length is 491 km., Of which about 400 belong to the Nemunas, 45 to the Nėris, 21 to the Nevężis and 25 to the Guglielmo Canal which allows communications, through the Kurisches Haff, between the Nemunas delta and Memel; it should be added then that on 2200 km. floating wood is possible. A daily passenger service on the Nemunas operates in the summer months between Kaunas and Jurbarkas.
Kaunas is now touched by the Berlin-Moscow airline.