capital of Lithuania: pop. 579,000
See Vilnius in American Heritage Dictionary 4
The capital and largest city of Lithuania, in the southeast part of the country. Founded in the 10th century, it was frequently devastated by plagues, fires, and invasions from the 15th to the 18th century. Vilnius passed to Russia in 1795 and became a provincial capital (1801-1815). A center of Jewish learning in the 18th and 19th centuries, the city was occupied by Soviet troops in 1939 and by German troops from 1941 to 1944, during which time it was heavily damaged and the Jewish population exterminated. It became the capital of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1944 and of independent Lithuania in 1991. Population: 543,000.