Lithuania is in northern Europe, on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea. The landscape consists of gently rolling plains and extensive forests. Beginning at about the same time as movements in the other Baltic republics of Estonia and Latvia, Lithuania quickly surged ahead. In March 1990 democratically elected representatives voted for independence, lost in 1940 with annexation by the Soviet Union. Lithuania, embracing market reform since independence, joined both the European Union and NATO in 2004.