About the district
Zarasai district – located in the North-eastern part of the Republic of Lithuania, in Utena county, in Aukstaiciai highland of the Baltic ridge, its area is 1339 sq.km. In the North there is a frontier border with the Republic of Latvia, in the East – with the Republic of Belarus. Zarasai region was formed on 20 June 1950 from 24 parishes of the former Zarasai county. Today there are 10 elderships in the district. The administrative centre of the district is Zarasai town. According to the data of Department of Statistics a little bit less than 20 thousand citizens lived in the district at the beginning of 2010.
The oldest crystalline basement in the depth of more than 700 metre was formed several billion years ago. During geological processes of the Earth the present territory of the district several times appeared at the bottom of the sea and several times arose above it. However, the relief of Zarasai region not common to Lithuania finally formed only during the last ice-age, app. 10 thousand years ago. It is at that time that the majority of the district’s lakes, the total water surface area of which makes up even one tenth of the total area of the region, were formed by melting glaciers in the valleys and hollows made by glaciers.
After glaciers receded, the first nomadic people, who were engaged in fishing, hunting and in gathering berries, mushrooms and other resources, came to Lithuania and to Zarasai region as well. Archaeologists date the first settlements of the Baltic tribes usually founded near rivers or lakes to the II-I centuries B.C. The Baltic tribe Selonians began to spread more actively in the present territory of Daugavpils and Zarasai during the first centuries A.D. The culture of the ancient Selonians was very similar to the ancient Latgalians. Clothing and ornamentations basically did not differ from the Latgalians ones. The Selonians spoke in their language, which is called the Selonian language, approximately until the 15th century. This language belongs to the family of the Indo-European languages, to the group of the Baltic languages. Traces of this language have remained in the dialects of the former Selonian territories. It should be noted that the name of Zarasai district and Zarasai town, as well as such place-names as Antazave, Zalve and other place-names are of Selonian origin. It is supposed that the oldest hill forts in Zarasai region are Velikuske, Vosgeliai, Maniuliske, Sisponiske. It is supposed that the majority of the hill forts were built app. in the 9-12th centuries and one of their main purposes was defence from the Livonian Brothers of the Sword who then lived in the present territory of Latvia and from other enemies.
Today Zarasai district is characterized by the wonderful, pure and picturesque nature and by flora and fauna rarely seen elsewhere. Hence, it is not surprising that in the district there are even two regional parks: Grazute and Sartai. Zarasai district is one of the districts in Lithuania that has so many lakes; there are over 300 lakes and small lakes of various sizes. Although the largest Lithuanian lake - Druksciai Lake - as well as Sartai Lake, Luodis Lake and Avilis Lake that are included into the top ten of the largest lakes of Lithuania are situated in the territory of the district, small, up to 10 ha, water bodies prevail in the district. 8 rivers, one of which is Sventoji, cross the district. Despite the wonderful water resources, the district is special for its flora. Forests, mostly pinewoods, cover app. 30% of the territory. The plenty of natural resources create extremely favourable conditions for developing tourism and wellness services, thus, Zarasai has been famous as a territory perfectly suitable for relaxation and recreation for a long time. In 2008 Zarasai town was awarded a status of the resort territory. In 2010 Zarasai district declared as the EDEN destination in Lithuania for aquatic tourism.
Tourism – one of the most attractive fields of business and investment trends in Zarasai district. Such situation is presupposed not only by the extremely favourable natural conditions and the picturesque landscapes but also by the plenty of objects of interest (including Stelmuze oak, one of the oldest trees in Europe, Dusetos art gallery and many other objects), spectacular cultural events and the well-known cultural heritage. In the recent years the increase of tourism services, developers of the resources and guests from Lithuania and abroad is seen.
Currently the project-based activities which aim at creating more favourable environment for the local people and the guests are being extremely developed in Zarasai district. Zarasai becomes a district open to investments and sustainable development. The local public institutions actively develop international relations; at the moment the partnership relations are maintained with Ballan-Mire (France), Daugavpils (Latvia), Zdunska Wola (Poland), Mottafollone (Italy), L-Isla (Malta).
When talking about the district, the distinctive cultural surrounding and the distinctive cultural life have to be mentioned. The fact that the culture has a special place in the life of Zarasai district is proved by the name of the first Lithuanian capital of culture awarded to Zarasai in 2008. Hardly could we find someone who has not heard about the traditional republican harness horserace, which reminds of the ancient traditions of the Baltic people, and which takes place in Sartai on the first Saturday of February. Didzioji Island of Zarasas Lake – unconventional space for culture – has become a place where many traditional summer events for people of various likings and viewpoints take place. Not only the unique events but also a gallery of professional art where works of the most famous Lithuanian artists are exhibited that attract more and more people to Dusetos and Zarasai every year simply cannot be leaved unmentioned. And all this is only a part of all, bigger and smaller, cultural and sport events that take place in the district.
You will find all this and much more, if you visit Zarasai district – one of the most interesting, beautiful and attractive districts to live, rest and invest in the whole Lithuania. You are welcome in Zarasai!
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