Lithuania's population was 3.8 million in 1991, 69% of which lived
in cities. The average amount of people per sq km is 58, which is
slightly less than the European mean.
This is mostly due to the fact that population growth was halted
in the first half of the 20th century during the World Wars. From
1940 to 1958 Lithuania lost 1 million people through emigration,
deportation or death; only in 1969 did the population once again
reach pre-war levels.
In 1958-59 267,000 people, mostly Russians or Russian speakers,
immigrated into Lithuania. This influx accounted for 26% of those
years' population growth.
Lithuanians constitute a majority of the country's inhabitants
( about 3 million in 1989). Most of them consider Lithuanian their
first language. Modern day Lithuania is somewhat smaller than it
had been historically.
As a result, many ethnic Lithuanians now reside in neighboring countries
including Poland, Byelorussia, and the Kaliningrad District. Russians
make up Lithuania's second largest ethnic group.
They number 344,500, 90% of whom live in urban areas. Poles are
the third largest ethnic group numbering 258,000 most of whom reside
in Vilnius and southeastern Lithuania. People of other ethnic backgrounds
The state language is Lithuanian. This language belongs to the Baltic
branch of the IndoEuropean family of languages and is akin
to Sanskrit. Lithuanian has retained more of the old vocalic system
and more morphological features than any other living IndoEuropean
Todays Lithuanian language began to take shape in the mid century.
The scholar regarded as having initiated its standardisation was
Martynas Mazvydas, author of the first Lithuanian book, which was
published in Karaliaucius in 1547.
The majority of Lithuanian religious believers are Roman Catholics.
There are also large numbers of Russian Orthodox, Evangelical Lutherans
and Baptists, as well adherents of Islam and Judaism.
The followers of all religious denominations are held equal before
the law. All schools offer religious studies as an optional subject.