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BITENAI, hamlet in western Lithuania, 11 km southeast of Pagegiai. In 1959 it had 289 inhabitants. The hamlet lies high up on the right bank of the Nemunas river and is surrounded by forest. Two streams, the Bite and Ziogys, flow through the hamlet into
the Nemunas. Bitenai is the birthplace of Martynas Jankus, a noted activist in the Lithuanian national renaissance of the 19th century. In 1892 he set up a printing press on his farmstead in Bitenai and published clandestine Lithuanian books and periodicals. Until the end of World War I Bitenai was part of East Prussia, where Lithuanian books could be freely printed. From East Prussia the publications were smuggled into Lithuania proper, part of the Russian empire, where Lithuanian books were banned from 1865-1905. Bitenai became a noted center of Lithuanian book smuggling. The neighboring hill of Rambynas, situated on the Nemunas, was the site of patriotic gatherings of young Lithuanians in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.