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Lithuania named one of the world's top ten ethical destinations

Lithuania has recently been awarded the title of one of the World's Top Ten Ethical Destinations by the Ethical Traveler for the second year in a row. The prestigious accolade rewards the country for its strong environmental and human rights records while creating a thriving community based tourism industry.

Lithuania's protected sites cover 15.3 per cent of the country, one third of Lithuanian territory is covered by forests. As well as approximately 6,000 lakes of natural origin in Lithuania, the country also has some of the largest underground fresh water reserves in the world. Lithuania's coastline has had Blue Flag status awarded to three of its beaches, Nida, Juodkrante and Birutes Parkas beach in the seaside town of Palanga.

Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania, is one of the greenest cities in the world and in terms of air quality surpasses all other capital cities in Europe. The city ranks 13th in the European Green City Index making it the best performing city in Eastern Europe. Vilnius has taken the initiative in several areas to improve policies and invest in environmental infrastructure, city bikes and park and ride options.

Lithuania certainly has a lot to offer to the green traveller. From Vilnius launching its take on the Boris bike, locally known as Orange bikes, in the summer to a vast network of cycling route available in coastal area, there are many options to explore the country in an eco-friendly manner.

On 18 December, Vilnius hosted the Second World Amber Road Conference gathering leading experts on Amber and bringing countries and communities together to exchange information, knowhow and experience. This was also the opportunity for Amber producing countries including Russia, Latvia, Poland, Ukraine, Austria, Belarus, Hungary, Georgia, and Turkey to discuss further developments of the Virtual Amber Road including its use as a tourism product thus providing local communities with a sustainable and unique tourism products.

Lithuania's green credentials are tipped to further boost the country's already thriving tourism industry. During the first nine months of 2013, Lithuania registered almost 1 million foreign visitors, which is an increase of 7.1% compared with the same period in 2012. The UK market has been particularly buoyant with an increase of 19% in the number of visitors during last year's first nine months.

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