Joniškis district municipality

  Administrative centre – Joniškis
  Area – 1152 km² (13.5 % of the county’s area)
  Population – 30 123 (8.6 % of the county’s population)
  Wards – Gaižaičiai, Gataučiai, Joniškis, Kepaliai, Kriukai, Rudiškės,   Satkūnai, Saugėlaukis, Skaistgirys, Žagarė

Joniškis district municipality is a situated in Northern Lithuania, at the border with Latvia. The largest part of the region is located on the Žiemgala Lowland. The territory is crossed by the rivers of Mūša, Platonis, Vilkija, Audruvis, Sidabra, Švėtė. Important objects of environmental protection – Pabaliai botanical, Vilkija hydrographical, Mūša tyrelis telmological  reserves, Žagarė Regional and Skaistgirys parks. There are 28 ponds (the largest thereof – those of Žvelgaičiai, Ramoškiai, Beržėnai). The largest forests – those of Tyrelis, Žagarė, Reibiniai, Satkūnai, Didmiškis. Agricultural land makes up as much as 72.2 %, forests – 19.9 %, roads – 1.7 %, built-up area – 2.3 %, water bodies – 2 %, other land – 1.9 % of the territory.

There are two towns – Joniškis and Žagarė, and two townships – Kriukai and Skaistgirys. In the sources dating back to the 13th century, describing the battles between the Semigallians (žemgaliai) and the Livonian Order, settlements of Joniškis region are mentioned: Žagarė land – in 1254, Žagarė castle – in 1271, Raktė castle – in 1289, Sidabrė castle – in 1289–1290. The year 1523, when the bishop of Vilnius Jonas, while visiting peripheral regions of Šiauliai district (valsčius), learned that their residents were still pagans, is considered to be the year of foundation of the administrative centre of the municipality, Joniškis. The bishop then prescribed to establish parishes in several settlements, one of which was called Joniškis. In 1616, the governor of Poland and of Lithuania Sigismund III Vasa (Zigmantas III Vaza) granted Joniškis a Magdeburg privilege. In 1836–1858, a Riga–Tilsit (Tilžė) highway was built through Joniškis, which stimulated the growth of the town. At the end of the 19th–beginning of the 20th century, national revival became prominent in Joniškis. Famous personages of the said period – Dr Vaineikis, M. Slančiauskas, priest L. Šiaučiūnas. In 1911, a big private K. Petrauskas’ bookshop with a library was opened. In 1915–1917 and 1945–1950, Joniškis was a county centre.

The municipality is crossed by an important international highway Riga–Kryžkalnis–Kaliningrad, a railway line Tallinn–Warsaw. It is one of the most important agricultural regions of Lithuania. It also stands out among other regions with its peat bogs and resources of dolomites. It is an important centre of processing of agricultural products.

There are castle mounds (those of Žvelgaitis, Raktuvė, Kalnelis), monuments to the memory of dead partisans (in the forests of Tyrelis, Montoriškiai and others), artistic monuments. Important architectural and cultural monuments of the 18th–19th centuries – the churches of St George in Skaistgirys, Sts Peter and Paul in Žagarė, St John the Baptist in Juodeikiai, a church of the Assumption in Joniškis; a mansion and a stud farm in Žagarė, Jakiškiai mansion.

Useful links
Joniškis district municipality
Jonas Avyžius public library of Joniškis district municipality