The Act of Independence of Lithuania, February 16, 1918

The Act of Independence of Lithuania was signed by the Council of Lithuania on February 16, 1918, proclaiming the restoration of an independent State of Lithuania, governed by democratic principles, with Vilnius as its capital.

Members of Council of Lithuania. Jonas Basanavicius is sitting in the middle of the first row. On his left is Antanas Smetona, the first President of Lithuania.


The Act was signed by all twenty representatives, chaired by Jonas Basanavicius. The Act of February 16 was the end result of a series of resolutions on the issue, including one issued by the Vilnius Conference and the Act of January 8. The path to the Act was long and complex because the German Empire exerted pressure on the Council to form an alliance. The Council had to carefully maneuver between the Germans, whose troops were present in Lithuania, and the demands of the Lithuanian people.

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Dr. Jonas Basanavicius (1851-1927). The chairman of the Council of Lithuanian Independence Act.






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