The Baltics’ Long March to Independence

After a long struggle, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are being recognized as states independent of the Soviet Union.

AD 1000 (approximately): Peoples of what now are Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are settled on the shores of the Baltic Sea. Organized into a number of small local units.

1193: Crusaders, mostly knights from the German kingdoms, invade Baltic region to impose Christianity.

13th to early 16th centuries: Period of German domination in most of the region.


1569: Poland and Lithuania form a joint monarchy but soon Poles dominate.

Late 16th and 17th centuries: Poles, Danes and Swedes alternate control.

1709: Peter the Great annexes Estonia and Latvia.

1795: Lithuania is added to Russian Empire.


1918: Revolutionary Soviet government cedes Baltic republics to Germany in closing days of World War I.

1918: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania declare independence with defeat of Germany.

1939: Hitler-Stalin pact secretly cedes Baltic states to Soviet Union.

1940: Baltic states forcefully incorporated into Soviet Union. United States does not recognize the incorporation.


March 11, 1990: Lithuania declares independence.

Jan. 13, 1991: Soviet troops storm Lithuania’s main television center and 14 people are killed.

Aug. 20, 1991: Estonia declares independence.

Aug. 21, 1991: Latvia declares independence.


Sources: Los Angeles Times, Europa World Year Book