|Capital of||Visaginas municipality|
|Granted city rights||1995|
|• Total||58 km2 (22 sq mi)|
|Time zone||EET (UTC+2)|
|• Summer (DST)||EEST (UTC+3)|
Visaginas ( pronunciation (help·info)) is a city in north-eastern Lithuania, the administrative centre of the Visaginas municipality, situated near the country's biggest lake, Drūkšiai. Its administrative boundaries are in the process of being defined. The Vilnius–Daugavpils railway runs alongside the town, providing convenient communication with Vilnius and Daugavpils. Motorways connect the town with all other cities in the Republic.
The town grew up in a pine forest by Lake Visaginas. Tourism is currently an area of great potential.
In the distant past, the surroundings of Visaginas were once inhabited by the Selonians. Historical annals first mention the location in 1526, when it was presented by the nobleman Vaitiekus Goštautas to the Naujasis (New) Daugėliškis parish. In the 14th–19th centuries the region was invaded by Livonian, Swedish, Russian and French troops.
The settlement was founded in 1975 as Sniečkus, a town for workers in the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant on the shores of Lake Visaginas. It was founded in place of four villages, which were demolished, and the largest of those villages was known as Visaginas. The new town was named after Antanas Sniečkus, a former first secretary of the Lithuanian Communist Party. In 1977 it was granted the status of an urban-type settlement, and received city rights in 1995.23 It is governed by a town council, which elects the mayor. In 1996, the city's coat of arms was confirmed by a decree of the President of the Republic.
The settlement was developed in complexes, with construction designed to create an infrastructure for the cultural and everyday life of the residents. All effort was made to preserve the natural surroundings as much as possible.
In 1996, the population was 33,100, of which 55.68% were Russians, 15.88% Lithuanians, 10.29% Belarusians, 9.13% Poles, 5.69% Ukrainians and 0.95% Tatars. Orthodox Christians represented 40.42% of total population, Roman Catholics 27.29%, Non-affiliated 27.29%, Old Believers 2.89% and Muslims 0.46%.citation needed In 2001, the population was 52,43% Russian, 14,96% Lithuanian and 32,61% other.4 This creates a distinctive cultural ambiance in the town. In 2011, the population was 26,804.
Power was the main branch of industry: the country's only nuclear power plant, one of the world's most powerful, is situated near Visaginas, it ceased operations in December 2009 over safety concerns, and is currently being decommissioned. Over 5,000 people were employed in the plant. There are opportunities for developing the construction industry in order to utilize the present industrial potential (concrete, ferroconcrete, and wood), and also the electronics industry, polish and paint, and clothing. There are over 1,500 companies in the town active in light industry, trade, and services.
The town has a polytechnic school, six secondary schools, an elementary school, eight nursery schools, music and acrobatics colleges, a sports centre and other institutions engaged in organizing educational and leisure-time activities, including 11 sports clubs with more than 1,600 members. Professional training is available in soccer, Greco-Roman wrestling, and skiing. The annual country music festival "Visaginas' Country" is held there.
Visaginas is twinned with:
- Demographic Yearbook stat.gov.lt
- (Lithuanian) Brief history of the Visaginas municipality visaginas.lt
- (Lithuanian) Visaginas municipality lrvalstybe.lt
- Rasa Baločkaitė. "Post-Soviet Transitions of the Planned Socialist Towns: Visaginas, Lithuania." Studies of Transition States and Societies. Vol. 2/Issue 2 (November 2010). p. 68.
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