Kaunas (Lithuanian: Kaunas, Russian: Kovno, German: Kauen, Polish: Kowno) is the second largest city in Lithuania, located in its central part. Between the two world wars, it was the capital of Lithuania. The city is the administrative center of the eponymous Kaunas district.
Kaunas has a population of 352,279 (2009).
Before Lithuanian independence, it was known as Kovno, which is the Slavic form of the city's name. The origin of the name of the city is most likely related to the personal name.
Kaunas is located almost in the "geographical center" of Lithuania. The city is 102 km west of the capital Vilnius, and 215 km southeast of the Lithuanian port in the Baltic and the third largest city in the country, the city of Klaipeda.
Relief: The city of Kaunas is located in a flat area, at approximately 30 m above sea level. The old town was formed on a strategically important hill above the mouth of the river.
Climate: Kaunas has a continental climate.
Waters: Kaunas is located at the confluence of two rivers important for Lithuania, the Neris and the Niemen. As these rivers are the borders between the historical Lithuanian provinces, Kaunas is partly in Jukia, partly in Suwalki and partly in Aukštaitija. Such a favorable position was a great advantage in peacetime, but during the wars it caused the devastation of this strategically well-placed city.
According to legend, the city was founded in 1030, but was first mentioned in written sources in 1361. In the 13th century, walls were built as protection against the constant incursions of the Teutonic Knights. The Teutonic Knights conquered Kaunas in 1362 and destroyed Kaunas Castle. Vytautas the Great gave him the rights in 1408. Kaunas gained importance because it was a crossroads of trade routes, and it was a river port. He became a member of the Hanseatic League in 1441. Until the 16th century, he had a public school, a hospital.
They were not so happy for Kaunas in the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1665, the Russian army attacked the city several times, and in 1701. The Swedes occupied it. The plague ravaged the city in 1657 and 1708, and part of Kaunas was destroyed in fires in 1731 and 1732. After the final division of the Polish-Lithuanian state in 1795. Kaunas belonged to the Russian Empire. In 1812, Napoleon twice passed through Kaunas, destroying it. In 1862, the railway connected Russia with Germany, and Kaunas became an important railway hub.