Races in Lithuania | True Lithuania
True Lithuania

Ethnicities in Lithuania: Introduction

The majority ethnicity in Lithuania is Lithuanians, who make up 85,08% of the population and are the country's original inhabitants.

Poles come second (6,65%), mostly concentrated in Southeast Lithuania, including Vilnius. Russians are third at 5,88% with their liveliest communities in cities.

The fourth largest ethnicity in Lithuania was the Belarusians (1,2%), though by now they are certainly surpassed by Ukrainians (0,55% before the Russo-Ukrainian war, likely ~3% today). Together with the other ethnicities of the former Soviet Union, these two are concentrated primarily in the cities.

Other traditional minorities in Lithuania are the Jews, Germans, Tatars, Latvians, Karaims and Gypsies, each of them dating to 14th-15th centuries but consisting of 0,1% or less population today.

Inter-ethnic relations are generally good in Lithuania. Unlike in many European nations, Lithuania’s largest ethnic minorities enjoy public schools where the language of instruction is their native one rather than the official Lithuanian language. However, other points of language policy raised discussions recently, such as the legality of Polish street names in Polish-dominated municipalities.

Inter-ethnic marriages used to be shunned by peers while under the Soviet occupation (as the offspring were then likely to assimilate into the Russophone culture, threatening the long-term existence of the Lithuanian nation) but are now generally a non-issue if both spouses belong to the traditional communities.

Like elsewhere in Eastern Europe the concept of nation is more associated with ethnicity than citizenship, therefore using the term "Lithuanian" for ethnic minorities may be controversial (both among the minority in question and the rest of the population). Conversations about one's ethnicity are generally welcome.

All the traditional communities (well over 99% of the population) are White. Races are thus seen as an external issue used to describe global (rather than local) diversity.

Ethnic map of Lithuania. The minorities are largely concentrated in the east. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

See also - History of ethnic relations in Lithuania

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  1. Hmm, seems like a low-key nazi sympathizer wrote this article. No mention of Nazi occupation, both for Lithuania and specifically Klaipeda in their German population section (yeah bro, I wonder why the German population in Klaipeda got smaller in 1940s). No mention of Lithuanians, sadly, collaborating with Nazi’s in the Holocaust, while the article mentions Jewish people collaborating with Soviets (which was caused by Lithuanians rejecting them and helping Nazi’s.). Calling the Holocaust “the German genocide”. Calling Romani people “Gypsies” and only talking about the issues in their community. Saying that non-white refugees caused a significant increase in crime in Lithuania, which is just untrue. Most crime is still perpetuated by locals (Lithuanians, Russians, Poles and other former-soviet states citizens). Biased article.

    • I have revamped the article now. The original article was written ~10 years ago (in 2013) and thus some of the things were dated. However, some other issues you mention are not correct. The explanations of the corrections done are here:

      1.Firstly, take note that this is a short article with just the key data that differentiates the various ethnic groups of Lithuania or are seminal in the formation and self-identification of these groups – it cannot list everything. There is a longer article on the Ethnic relations of Lithuania in this website. There is a lot more information there, including about the collaboration of various ethnicities with the Nazis, the relations between the German communities of Lithuania and the Nazi Germany, etc. – so, all that is available here too.

      2.I have now explained more about the Germans (that they were destroyed due to WW2 rather than simply advancement of the Soviet army, with also mentioning the Nazi Germany).

      3.I changed “German genocide” to “Holocaust” in that single mention, as, indeed, the term “German genocide” could have been misunderstood as genocide against Germans. However, in that context, it was clear that it is about the Holocaust as Holocaust was mentioned in the previous sentences.

      4.I have changed “Gypsy” to “Romani people” in more places now. When the article was written in 2013, indeed, “Gypsy” was more used in English than it is today, and so I have changed it. Both terms remain in the article, however, in order to facilitate searches on Google as “Gypsy” is still used as a generic non-slur word as well in many localities. Various issues need to be mentioned though as they explain various attitudes and discussions, the understanding of which is needed in order to understand the situation of Romani people. I have added one additional positive fact that Romanis retained their language the best compared to other historic communities now.

      5.The reasons why Soviet-Jewish relations are mentioned in this “main article” is because of their huge influence on the Lithuania’s Jewish community itself, replacing Yiddish language by Russian and almost destroying the faith, “divorcing” the notion of being a Jew-by-ethnicity from that of being Jew-by-faith (in contrast to the faith-based Jewish communities elsewhere). Such (re)formative influence goes far beyond ethnic relations; where similar influence existed among other ethnic groups, it is mentioned “in the main articles” as well (e.g. in the articles about Ukrainians or Belarusians). BTW, just a sidenote (related more to the ethnic relations article than this one) – unlike what you claim, the most controversial episodes of the Jewish-Soviet collaboration happened before the Nazi occupation of Lithuania or the collaboration with the Nazis.

      6.You haven’t mentioned that, but I also removed many of the references lumping Belarusians, Ukrainians and other non-Russian ethnicities from the former Soviet Union as “Russophones”. While this was still common and logical at the time the article was written (~2013), it became incorrect after the recent events, especially the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which increased the numbers of Ukrainians (and to a lesser extent Belarusians) in Lithuania who strongly identify with their own culture and distanced themselves from the Russian one, reversing the trend of Russification among those communities. In fact, many of the new immigrants came precisely because seeking to avoid Russian cultural influence in their homelands. I now use “Eastern European”.

      7.The claim that “non-white refugees caused a significant increase in crime in Lithuania” was not ever written anywhere in the article… I have been unable to find anything in the articles that would have claimed even anything close to that.

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