Thursday, December 31, 2009

Celebrating The Baltic Way in 2009

Hello and Happy New Year!

At the close of 2009, I would like to remember that this year was the 20th Anniversary of the 1989 Eastern European independence movement known as 'The Baltic Way.' It was also the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. A topic that interests me in geography is the cultural landscape made up of  people living in physical space,  but are restrained in one way or another by artificial boundaries.

The Baltic Way was a peaceful poltical demonstration that took place on August 23rd, 1989. Beginning in Lithuania, a human chain of some 2 million protestors stretched from Vilnius, through Riga, Latvia and ended in Tallin, Estonia. In an effort to promote their independence, the chain connected the capital cities of the then Soviet Socialist Republics that were occupied by the Soviet Union since 1940. On a side note, I am interested in geographic datums- which are brass reference plates that are often placed infront of Cathedrals as a marker to measure relative distances. This marker, 'Stebuklas' (Miracle) was placed at the Cathedral Square in Vilnius that marked the beginning of the Baltic Way human chain.

This was a very significant event in Baltic history, and is geographically relevant as it connected three countries over space with a common idea- a peaceful movement toward independence. The Baltic national identities were brought together in this effort, and just six months later, Lithuania was the first to declare their independence!

Happy New Year!

By: Frankie Harrison

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