From AFP: The Baltic nation of Lithuania is bracing for a nationwide party as it prepares to mark its symbolic 1 000th birthday and give itself some respite from a daily fare of economic crisis headlines.

Lithuania’s woes – the economy is expected to shrink around 18% this year – have cast a shadow over its capital Vilnius’ year-long status as a European Capital of Culture.

That has left the country of 3.4 million people determined to put on a show on Monday, when it marks its national day with a combination street partying and official ceremonies with guests such as the monarchs of Denmark, Norway and Sweden plus the presidents of neighbouring republics . . .

“Today, thanks to our membership of the EU and Nato, we have more than 30 allies. We’ve never had so many. We’re starting off our second millennium better than ever,” said [Lithuanian historian Alfredas] Bumbliauskas. (via