Regions of Lithuania: Introduction | True Lithuania
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Regions of Lithuania: Introduction

Regions of Lithuania. ©Augustinas Žemaitis. ©National Geographic.

Traditionally, Lithuania is divided in five ethnographic regions: Dzūkija, Samogitia, Aukštaitija, Sudovia and the Lithuania Minor. This is not reflected in the administrative division of the country despite many calls to create administrative units based on these lands.

Rather, the regions are based on differences in culture, history and the prevalent dialects of the Lithuanian language. They are used in this website to divide the many interesting sites. Click on the region’s category bellow the posts in order to see all the articles associated with that region. It is useful if you plan to visit only a certain part of Lithuania.

In the map above you may see the extent of different traditional regions. As the regions are more closely related to the Lithuanian ethnicity than the Lithuanian state, parts of them now fall outside the Republic.

The capital city Vilnius is technically a part of Dzūkija whereas Kaunas is divided between Aukštaitija and Sudovia. However due to their size and attracting people from many different areas these cities are usually not considered to be part of any traditional regions.

Article written by Augustinas Žemaitis

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  1. Hello;
    I am looking for a town (or region) in Lithuania called Sodzei. This was a town written in a 1913 US ship’s manifest where my grandfather Boleslavas Lideika (Lidaka) had been visiting his mother Rydzarda. The town was listed as Sodzei, Russia, but I imagine it is Lithuania today.

    Thank you for any help you can provide.

    • Sodzei is likely to be Sodžiai in Suviekas elderate, Zarasai district (a hamlet with 0 current inhabitants, 1 in 2001, 2 in 1989). Sodzei would be a back-transliteration from Cyrillic Соджяи.

      As there may be more than one relatively similarly named villages the more precise the area one tells the easier they are to locate. Therefore if you know a more precise area and it is not in that particular zone, you can tell.

      • Augustinas;
        Thank you for your helpful reply.

        I am told that the family had a large farm outside of Vilnius, but the area you mention is not that close to Vilnius, correct? Sodžiai is in the Aukštaitija region in the map above, yes?

        His residence on his first trip in 1900 was listed as Nuky. Is that possibly near Vilnius?

        I was hoping to contact the Catholic Church in the area to ask about records that they might have on the family. If I were to contact them by letter in English, would this be appropriate?

        Thank you again for your help.

        • Yes, the one I specified is in Aukštaitija, some 150-200 km from Vilnius.

          „Sodžiai“ actually means „Farmsteads“ in Lithuania. While I can find 2 so-named villages online (the other one of them in the formerly German-ruled part of Lithuania, therefore irrelevant) it may be so that there were more in the past as this is a very generic name (not all villages survived, there was a campaign to encourage moving from villages to free-standing farmsteads in the interwar period for example and also rapid urbanization).

          Another idea is that the village may have changed the name ending. In this case „Sodybos“ in Vilnius district municipality (near Belarusian border, pop. 16 in 2001) is a possibility („Sodybos“ is a synonym of „Sodžiai“, using the same root). Then again, there are more villages with such root, so it is always a guess.

          Nuky doesn‘t ring much bell to me. This would probably be Russified form of „Nukai“ (as „y“ in Russian signifies plural just as „ai“ in Lithuanian), but I could not find so-named village. In some cases however the Russification of placenames was more throughout with root also altered.

          Contacting the church in English may not necessarily work as fluency in English is far from widespread in Lithuanian countryside.
          Perhaps contacting state archives would be easier / more useful, they have documents from many churches all over Lithuania. Then again, it useful to collect as much information / stories as possible beforehand.

          We provide services of contacting archives (for a fee), if needed.

          • Again, thank you for the helpful information. Can you contact me by my email so we can discuss the type of information you would need?

            In the meantime, I will see what other information I can gather from other relatives.

            Thank you.

          • can you contact me about researching archives in Lithuania.

          • We’ll send you an e-mail

  2. Lookin for a small town Rudimin on map of Lithuania. Can anyone point me in the right direction e,.g. nearest big town.
    It is birth place of mother-in-law who fled from Lithuania during WW2

    • You are likely talking about Rudamina. There are two of them. One in Vilnius district municipality south of Vilnius (population 4000). Another one in Lazdijai district municipality north of Lazdijai (population 300).

  3. I am looking for my Grandmother’s family. I have no paperwork at all except for her marriage certificate. On that, her maiden name is given as “Andrejauskas”. I’m not sure if this was really her last name or if it was the name she used to gain entry to the USA in 1913 or 1914.
    My Grandmother came her illegally. Her family bought her ticket from another family who’s daughter had died. The were about the same age, give or take a few years.
    I know this story to be true as my Grandmother cried and worried about being deported every time her Alien Registration forms came due.
    I was very young when she told the story and unfortunately, all of the relatives that would be able to give me answers has also died.
    I an wondering if there is a particular region that the surname she used might have history.

  4. I did forget to mention one additional piece of information.
    My aunt married a man who’s name was Mildred Polunus. Her family was known to this woman she could read and write. She kept in touch with her Lithuanian family and her family also knew my Grandmother’s family. Hopefully, this information will be more helpful.
    Again, my thanks

    Susan Shultz. RE: Mary Andrejauskas

    • Indeed, in Lithuania, it is quite common that some surnames are more prevalent in some regions as, prior to the 20th century, there used to be relatively little internal migration. Even the genes used to be somewhat different in the different regions of Lithuania, despite Lithuania being so small.

      The search of particular surnames and their popularity across the regions could be done using the archive system. I could go there to check the records available for these surnames (although the search system is mostly for post-1918 records, the surname prevalence did not change so quickly). If you are interested, we’ll send you an offer by e-mail.

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