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Red dots mark the locations of fires burning in countries south and east of the Baltic Sea in this early April image. The scattered fires were probably set to clear land for agricultural purposes. The Scandinavian countries, Norway and Sweden, and Finland to the north of the Sea, are still blanketed in snow. From the left, the countries lining the Baltic on the south are Denmark, Germany, Poland, Russia (Kaliningrad), Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Russia. Belarus forms the lower right corner of the image. Photo courtesy of NASA.
Lithuania’s Hill of Crosses is located 12 km (7.4 mi) north of the city of Šiauliai, in northern Lithuania. The tradition of leaving crosses on the hill is believed to have started after the 1831 uprising at a fort on the site, when citizens erected crosses to honor the rebels whose bodies could not be found.  With an estimated 100,000 crosses -- as well as statues of the Virgin Mary, tiny effigies, and rosaries -- the Hill of Crosses symbolizes the peaceful endurance of the Lithuanian people despite the threats they faced throughout history. During the Soviet occupation (1944-1990), the hill signified the public’s opposition to the ruling country and its religious suppression.  Today it is a Catholic pilgrimage site, and UNESCO recognizes cross-making as part of the cultural heritage of Lithuania.