Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Baltic Countries


Price: $110 for OLLI Members    $135 for non-members

Dates & Time: Tuesday, Mar 5, 12, 19, 26, & April 2 & 9 1:00-3:00

Class Type: Online

Instructor: Asya Pereltsvaig

36 in stock

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Course Description

The three Baltic countries—Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia—are a beautiful and captivating, if often
overlooked, part of Europe. Thanks to their location on the shores of the Baltic Sea, the Baltic countries
have long enjoyed a mild climate and trade links with Western Europe and the Nordic countries. While
today they are often mentioned in the same breath, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia are historically,
culturally, ethnically, and linguistically very different from one another. Latvians and Lithuanians speak
Indo-European languages, distant cousins of English, while the Estonian language is very different from
familiar European languages like English and Spanish and related instead to Finnish and Hungarian. Yet,
Latvia and Lithuania, tied as they are by their related languages, have been divided for most of their
history by being in the spheres of influence of different countries: Lithuania was under the influence of
Poland whereas Latvia found itself in Germany’s sphere of influence, as did Estonia. As a result, Latvia
and Estonia emerged as Protestant lands, whereas Lithuania is a Catholic country. Yet, Lithuania has also
played an important role in Jewish history: since the late Middle Ages, it offered Jews a safe haven from
prosecution and became one of the most important centers of Ashkenazi Jewry, as well as of Karaite
Judaism, leading Napoleon call it “the Jerusalem of the North”. These differences in history, language,
and religion made each of the three Baltic countries unique in terms of architecture, traditions, and
even cuisine. The fortified walls of Tallinn (Estonia), the gothic cathedrals of Riga (Latvia), and the
Baroque churches of Vilnius (Lithuania), along with gorgeous castles in all three countries, are all sites to
behold. The Baltic countries’ more recent history, however, has united them in the struggle against
Soviet domination: having been annexed by the USSR in 1940, the three republics joined forces in
fighting for independence, and their struggle has been instrumental in bringing down the Soviet Union.
In the 30 years since the dissolution of the USSR, the Baltic countries have experienced economic
growth (economists even speak of the “Baltic Tiger”) and cultural revival, attracting more tourists than
ever. Join us for a fascinating virtual trip to the three Baltic countries!


Additional information

Course Term


Day of the Week



Asya Pereltsvaig, PhD, McGill University, BA, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Stanford University, Linguistics

Event Type


Event Details

Date: 2024-03-05

Start time: 01:00 p.m. PST

End time: 03:00 p.m. PST

Venue: Online


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