Between 1991 and 2019, the population of Lithuania
decreased by 900,000 residents, from 3.7 million to 2.8
million. Since 1994, birth rates have been negative, and
according to official figures, about 130,000 residents
disappeared through the net migration in 2004-10.
The population density is 43 residents per km2.
About two-thirds of the residents are city dwellers, of whom
536 700 live in the capital Vilnius (2018). Other cities
include Kaunas (288,500 residents) and Klaipėda (149,000).
The Second World War and the Soviet occupation led to an
extensive wave of refugees, which is why many Lithuanians
are today found outside the country's borders. At the same
time, the Jewish population was severely decimated. Instead,
a move to Lithuania followed from the inner parts of the
Soviet Union. However, immigration to Lithuania during the
post-war period has been less than in Latvia and Estonia,
which means that Lithuania's minority groups are not as
large. The years after independence mainly emigrated to
Slavic speaking, while mainly Lithuanians emigrated in
recent years. Lithuanians' share of the population has
increased from about 80 percent at independence to an
estimated 84 percent in 2011. The most important minority
groups are Poles (6.6 percent), Russians (5.4 percent) and
Belarusians (1.3 percent).
Countryaah, the state language in Lithuania is Lithuanian. About 3.5
million people in Lithuania and about 600,000 outside
Lithuania have Lithuanian as their mother tongue.
When Lithuania became independent in 1918, Lithuanian was
adopted as the official state language. A number of
minorities, who cared for their language and culture, were
living in Lithuania during this time; the largest minority
groups were Poles, Russians, Belarusians, Jews and Germans.
After World War II, Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet
Union, and Russian became the official language. Soviet
language policy was based on the idea of an international
language (Russian), and it was necessary for all residents
of the Soviet Union to master it since all administrative
activities took place in Russian. However, the individual
republics had to retain their language, but as a local
language. Lithuanian was reintroduced as the official state
language when the country regained its independence in 1991.
A generational shift is underway, and bilingualism in
Lithuania is increasingly shifting from Lithuanian and
Russian to Lithuanian and English. The largest minorities
are Russians and Poles.
The Lithuanians were one of the last people groups in
Europe to be Christianized. It was not until 1251, when the
great prince Mindaugas was baptized, that Lithuania joined
Christian Europe. A Lithuanian diocese was set up,
subordinate to the Holy See. However, with Mindauga's death
in 1263, contacts were broken and did not resume until the
second half of the 1300s. The residents of the western part
of Lithuania were not Christianized until the beginning of
the 15th century. Lithuania consisted of two dioceses during
the 15th century: Vilnius and Medininkai. During the 16th
century, most of Lithuania's noble families transitioned to
Protestantism. However, most of the population remained
Roman Catholics. In the struggle between Catholics and
Protestants, the Jesuits played an important role. They came
to Vilnius in 1569 and already in 1570 opened a college
which nine years later was transformed into the first
university of North-East Europe.
When the Polish-Lithuanian Union disbanded in 1795 and
Lithuania was annexed by Russia, the Roman Catholic Church
was subjected to severe pressure, and in 1798 the
administrative structure of the church was transformed.
Between 1864 and 1904 it was forbidden to use alphabets
other than the Cyrillic. During the interwar period
(1918–40), the Roman Catholic Church underwent further
structural changes. Since the Vilnius region belonged to
Poland, Kauna became the seat of Lithuania's church
province. After the Second World War, the Roman Catholic
Church was intensely persecuted by the Communist regime.
Through strong foreground figures,
Estimates of religious affiliation show that about 85% of
Lithuania's population profess to Roman and Greek