A W. Government Of Russia, in Lithuania, bordering en Kovno, Courland, Vitebsk, Minsk, Grodno, and Suwalki; area, 16,411 sq. m.; pop. in 1876, 1,087,705, comprising chiefly Lithuanians, who form the bulk of the peasantry, Jews, Poles (greatly reduced in numbers since the insurrection of 1863), and Russians. The surface is generally flat. The most important rivers are the Niemen and its tributary the Viliya or Wilia. Iron ore is the most valuable mineral production. The climate is severe in winter, but in summer it is warm and damp. Forests, moors, and morasses abound. The exports include grain, hemp, flax, timber, honey, wax, and spirits..
A City, capital of the government, beautifully situated in a hilly region on the Viliya, 400 m. S. W. of St. Petersburg; pop. in 1867, 79,265, comprising over 25,000 Jews. It has two suburbs, and is the seat of a Greek and a Catholic bishop. The Catholic cathedral has a marble chapel and the silver coffin of St. Casimir; there are about 22 other Catholic churches, including the immense St. John's and the magnificent St. Peter's, about a dozen Greek churches, places of worship for Reformed and Lutherans, several synagogues, a mosque, and many convents. There are two gymnasiums, religious seminaries, a museum with a public library, and a theatre. It carries on a considerable trade, mainly with the Russian and Prussian ports on the Baltic, with which it is connected by rail, but its manufactures are insignificant. The university, founded in 1570, was closed in 1832. Wilna dates from the 13th century, and was the capital of Lithuania. In the 16th century it had a population estimated at 1,000,000, but in 1835 it had declined to 35,000; lately it has rapidly increased, and railway traffic has produced additional commercial activity.