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LITHUANIA
Population

Cities in LITHUANIA

Vilnius

Population

The population of Lithuania in July 2017 was 2,823,859. This means that there are approximately 43 people living there per km2.

Lithuania has been a multinational and multicultural society since the Middle Ages, although its ethnic profile sometimes changed dramatically over time. Today, about 84% of the population is of Lithuanian origin, that is, descended from the ancient Baltic tribes. It is striking that the two other Baltic States, Estonia and Latvia, are much less homogenous than Lithuania. In those countries, about half of the population is autochthonous. There are more than 100 nationalities living in Lithuania.

An important ethnic minority are the Russians with about 250,000 people, which is about 6% of the population. Many Russians live in the capital Vilnius, the harbour city Klaipeda and in Visaginas where Russians are even in the majority. The Poles are another important minority, comprising about 87% of the population. Most of them live in Vilnius and in the southeast, an area that was occupied by Poland between the two world wars. An important group were the Jews, 300,000 of whom lived in Lithuania at the end of the 19th century. During German rule from 1941 to 1944, about 90% of Lithuanian Jews were murdered in concentration camps. Today, about 0.3% of the population is Jewish. Other minorities include Germans, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Tatars and a very small group of English speakers.

The Lithuanian diaspora is the largest among the Baltic States due to emigration for political and economic reasons in the 19th century, at the beginning of the 20th century and as a result of the Second World War. Between 1940 and 1958, Lithuania lost around 1 million inhabitants through violence, deportation and emigration. More than 3 million Lithuanians live abroad, about 800 000 of them in the United States, especially in Chicago, which is also called the largest 'Lithuanian' city. Other large Lithuanian communities are in Canada, South America, England and Australia.

The 1991 Citizenship Law stipulated that anyone living in Lithuania before 3 November 1989 automatically acquired Lithuanian citizenship. People who settled in Lithuania after that date could only apply for Lithuanian citizenship after 10 years.

Today, about 68% of the population lives in the cities. In 1939 it was only 32%! Lithuania has five cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants: Vilnius with approximately 536,000 inhabitants, Kaunas, Klaipeda, Siauliai and Panevezys.

Population growth has been negative for several years: in 2017 -1.08%. The Lithuanian population lives to be 75 years old on average.


Sources

Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania : country studies
Federal Research Division, Library of Congress

McLachlan, G. / Lithuania
Bradt Publications

Williams, N. / Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania
Lonely Planet,

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated February 2024
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