Kaunas is the second biggest city in Lithuania. It has a population of about 450,000 and has an area of 121 square kilometres (data from the year 1978, so it's pretty old).
Kaunas used to be the biggest industrial city of Lithuania during Soviet era. Apparently it produced a quarter of Lithuania's industrial output during these years.
Kaunas is a university city. There are 5 universities in Kaunas: Kaunas Technology University, Kaunas University of Physical Education, Kaunas University of Medicine, Kaunas University of Agriculture and Kaunas Veterinary Academy.
People started to live in the area at around Xth century BC, but it is believed that Kaunas was founded at around V-VIth centuries near the rivers Nemunas and Neris. Kaunas is first mentioned in written sources in 1361 AD. Kaunas officially became a city with its own government in 1408. Apparently, in 1473 a first school in Kaunas was founded. During the middle ages, Kaunas was an important trade city because there were a couple of trade routes going through it. Two annual fairs were held in Kaunas, and Kaunas had a river port since 1440s. In 1648 Jesuit college opened up.
The city did not grow very fast during middle ages due to plagues (in 1657, 1709), fires (in 1670, 1732), wars (1655-61 Russian army stood in Kaunas, 1701 Swedish army). Again in 1812 Kaunas suffered from Napoleon army. In 1843 the first printing press opened. The industry started to grow since the middle of XIXth century. In 1887 Kaunas fort was built which made Kaunas into a city-fortress.
Kaunas' ethnic groups (percentage):
1897 1923 1970
Lithuanians 6.6 59.0 84.3
Russians 25.8 3.2 10.5
Polish 22.7 4.5 1.0
Jewish 35.2 27.1 1.4
German 4.7 3.5 ---
Kaunas started using electricity for street lighting in 1899. The first theatre was built in 1892.
Kaunas became a temporary capital city of Lithuania in 1919 (and stayed till 1940), because the real Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, was occupied by Polish. The bus service was started in 1924.
After the second world war, Kaunas became a part of Soviet Union. Trolleybuses began to operate in 1966.