Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania and its largest city, with a population of 542,664 as of 2015. Vilnius is located in the southeast part of Lithuania and is the second largest city in the Baltic states. Vilnius is the seat of the main government institutions of Lithuania as well as of the Vilnius District Municipality. Vilnius is classified as a Gamma global city according to GaWC studies, and is known for the architecture in its Old Town, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. Its Jewish influence until the 20th century has led to it being described as the "Jerusalem of Lithuania" and Napoleon named it "the Jerusalem of the North" as he was passing through in 1812. In 2009, Vilnius was the European Capital of Culture, together with the Austrian city of Linz.
Vilnius is situated in south-eastern Lithuania (54°41′N 25°17′E) at the confluence of the Vilnia and Neris Rivers. Lying close to Vilnius is a site some claim to be the Geographical Centre of Europe.
Vilnius lies 312 km (194 mi) from the Baltic Sea and Klaipėda, the chief Lithuanian seaport. Vilnius is connected by highways to other major Lithuanian cities, such as Kaunas (102 km or 63 mi away), Šiauliai (214 km or 133 mi away) and Panevėžys (135 km or 84 mi away). The city's off-centre location can be attributed to the changing shape of the nation's borders through the centuries; Vilnius was once not only culturally but also geographically at the centre of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
The current area of Vilnius is 402 square kilometres (155 sq mi). Buildings occupy 29.1% of the city; green spaces occupy 68.8%; and waters occupy 2.1%.
The climate of Vilnius is humid continental (Köppen climate classification Dfb). Temperature records have been kept since 1777. The average annual temperature is 6.1 °C (43 °F); in January the average temperature is −4.9 °C (23 °F), in July it is 17.0 °C (63 °F). The average precipitation is about 661 millimetres (26.02 in) per year. Average annual temperatures in the city have increased significantly during the last 30 years, a change which the Lithuanian Hydrometeorological Service attributes to global warming induced by human activities.
Summer days are pleasantly warm and sometimes hot, especially in July and August, with temperatures above 30 °C (86 °F) throughout the day during periodic heat waves. Night-life in Vilnius is in full swing at this time of year, and outdoor bars, restaurants and cafés become very popular during the daytime.
Winters can be very cold, with temperatures rarely reaching above freezing – temperatures below −25 °C (−13 °F) are not unheard-of in January and February. Vilnius's rivers freeze over in particularly cold winters, and the lakes surrounding the city are almost always permanently frozen during this time of year. A popular pastime is ice-fishing.
Vilnius is the major economic centre of Lithuania and one of the largest financial centres of the Baltic states. Even though it is home to only 20% of Lithuania's population, it generates about one third of Lithuania's GDP. GDP per capita (nominal) in Vilnius county was USD 21,000 in 2015, making it the wealthiest region in Lithuania. The budget of Vilnius reached €0.51 billion in 2017. Vilnius contributed almost €3 billion to the national budget in 2008, making up about 40% of the budget. The average annual brutto salary in Vilnius city municipality was about €10,200/$11,300 as of 2015. In 2016, Vilnius merged two organisations to create Go Vilnius - an agency tasked with developing tourism and investment in the city.
The city has 12 primary schools, 19 progymnasiums and 42 gymnasiums.
The city has many universities. The largest and oldest is Vilnius University with 20,864 students. Its main premises are located in the Old Town. The university has been ranked among the top 500 universities in the world by QS World University Rankings. The University is participating in projects with UNESCO and NATO, among others. It features 15 Masters programs in English and 2 in Russian, as well as programs delivered in cooperation with universities all over Europe. The university is currently divided into 12 faculties, 7 institutes, and 4 study and research centres.
Other major universities include Mykolas Romeris University (17,739 students as of 2013), Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (10,500 students), and Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences (3,550 students). Specialized higher schools with university status include General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania, Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre and Vilnius Academy of Arts. The museum associated with the Vilnius Academy of Arts holds about 12,000 artworks.
There are also a few private universities such as ISM University of Management and Economics, European Humanities University and Kazimieras Simonavičius University.
Several colleges are also located in Vilnius including Vilnius College, Vilnius College of Technologies and Design, International School of Law and Business and others.