Biržai district municipality

  Administrative centre – Biržai
  Area – 1476 km² (18.7 % of the county’s area)
  Population – 33 011 (11.6 % of the county’s population)
  Wards – Biržai town, Nemunėlio Radviliškis, Pabiržė, Pačeriaukštė, Papilys,   Parovėja, Širvėna, Vabalninkas

Biržai district municipality is the farthest to the north municipality of Lithuania, situated in Panevėžys county, at the border with Latvia. The territory is crossed by the Nemunėlis with a tributary the Apaščia and a tributary of the Mūša – the Tatula. There are 17 lakes (the largest whereof – Širvėna – the oldest artificial lake in Lithuania, formed in the 16th century, after the Apaščia and Agluona rivers had been dammed at their confluence), 2 ponds. The main protected areas – Biržai Regional Park, Biržai wood and Latveliai botanical, Nemunėlis-Apaščia geological, Guodžiai geomorphological reserves, Likėnai resort. The largest forests – those of Biržai, Vabalninkas, Salamiestis, Šilai. 4.5 % of the territory is occupied by peat bogs, the largest whereof – Purvai-Butniūnai. Biržai region is famed for its dolines (about 9000) and dolomite outcrops of the Nemunėlis and Apaščia river scarps. Agricultural land makes up 64.4 %, forests – 26.3 %, roads – 1.3 %, built-up area – 2 %, water bodies – 2.1 %, other land – 3.8 % of the municipality.

There are two towns – Biržai (municipal centre) and Vabalninkas, and four townships – Kupreliškis, Nemunėlio Radviliškis, Pabiržė and Papilys. Biržai was for the first time mentioned in 1450, when Mikalojus I Radvila (Mikolaj Radziwiłł) granted forests, belonging to Biržai manor, to Nemelis, living in Biržai. The history of the town is related to the family of the noblemen Radvila (Radziwiłł), which owned the area from the middle of the 15th century up to the year 1811. In 1586, the family of Radvila had started building a castle in Biržai, the construction whereof was finished around the year 1589. In the same year Kristupas I Radvila Perkūnas (Krzysztof Mikołaj Radziwiłł, nicknamed The Thunderbolt) provisioned Biržai with Magdeburg rights. In the 16th–18th centuries, there was a strong centre of Evangelical Reformed believers. At the beginning of the 19th century, Biržai (as a reimbursement for debts) went to the Counts Tiškevičius (Tyszkiewicz). In 1861–1950, Biržai was a district (valsčius), in 1915–1919 and 1924–1950 – county centre.

Agriculture (organic farming) is developed; Tatula programme (the first complex environmental programme in Lithuania, focused on organic farming and implemented in the northern regions of Lithuania) is introduced. The highest number of industrial enterprises (mostly flax yarn and linen, beer production, wood processing enterprises, bakeries) is concentrated in Biržai.

Biržai may be called a resort town, whereas it is rich in vegetation, crossed by two rivers, there are two lakes. The most important architectural and cultural monuments include a bastion fortress, built by the Dukes Radvila, today – a museum, the church of St John the Baptist and Evangelical Reformed church in Biržai. A 525 m long pedestrian bridge leads to the Astravas manor, built by the Counts Tiškevičius (Tyszkiewicz), surrounded with a cosy park. Homeland of B. Dauguvietis, B. Sruoga, A. and J. Mekas and other famous people is worth visiting.

Useful links
Biržai district municipality