Klaipėda is a city of 280,000 inhabittants (over 300,000 with suburbs) in the Samogitia province of Lithuania. It is the capital of the Pajūris region of Samogitia province, and it is the Lithuania's only seaport. Klaipėda is the Lithuanian name for the city and the Skuodian name is similar; Venedic and German names are derived from Memel, the German name for a river which delta is some 50 kilometers south.
Klaipėda was established as Memelburg by the Teutonic order in the 13th century. It continued to be a predominantly German city for centuries, even though the surrounding villages were predominantly Lithuanian and Skuodian. The share of the Lithuanians and Skuodians in the city increased over the time. Lithuania had unsuccessfully attempted to get Klaipėda after the First Great War or make it a condominium with Germany. During the Second Great War, the city was added to the newly created state of Skuodia by the Russians on the premise of the idea that the area was inhabitted by the Skuodians before the establishment of the city (and as well the general SNORist pro-Slavic idea). This idea was disputed by the Lithuanians. After the Second Great War, the city became part of Lithuania as a compensation for the loss of the Rūkuvos Uostas port (part of Lithuania during the interwar), which became part of Skuodia. Thus, Klaipėda became the only port in Lithuania, and as such it expanded in the first years after the Second Great War. Dockworkers, largely Slavic or Lithuanian, immigrated and new shady neighborhoods were built. The port, however, was not doing well at competing with the Mac Rzegal port in Veneda (to some extent due to bad railway network in Samogitia and worse geographical position); thus government of Lithuania at first enacted certain protectionist policies to improve the situation of Klaipėda. In later 20th century there had been plans to emphasise more on the cruise ships and tourism.
- In 1923 Klaipėda had a population of 37,000
- In 1935 Klaipėda had a population of 42,000
- In 1943 Klaipėda had a population of 35,000
- In 1952 Klaipėda had a population of 47,000
- In 1962 Klaipėda had a population of 115,000
- In 1972 Klaipėda had a population of 178,000
- In 1982 Klaipėda had a population of 230,000
- In 1992 Klaipėda had a population of 265,000
- In 2002 Klaipėda had a population of 280,000
The city consists of two parts, one of them in Lithuania and another one - in the Prusi province of Veneda, on the Curonian spit. The parts are connected by a road tunnel and a rail bridge. The part in the Curonian spit is seen as more prestigious as there are beaches and no port there, while large shady dockworker districts in the mainland (Lithuanian) part are unsafe and less desirable. The downtown, however, is on the mainland and it is generally a safe area and a place where many city dwellers come for enterntainment. Only the mainland part is officially known as Klaipėda, while the part on the Curonian spit, despite being integrated, is considered to be a separate city of Smiltynė.
Architecture of Klaipėda downtown is largely of German style, reminding the German history of the city. Among the more impressive buildings there exist old port buildings. The recent modernisation campaign, promoted by the government of Samogitia, however promotes building of new modern buildings, and thus the face of the downtown is changing. Some people protests against these developments as they see it as destruction of the historical center. The shady neighborhoods of housing projects built for dockworkers are largely in the east of the city; the industry concentrates close to port, but recently there have been campaigns to relocate it eastwards. Smiltynė neighborhood on the northern Curonian Spit is largely comprising of private villas and smaller apartment buildings.
This page was created by Abdul-aziz.