Results of the 2021 Population and Housing Census of the Republic of Lithuania
Nationality, native language and religion
Statistics Lithuania conducted the 2021 Population and Housing Census on the basis of administrative data, using data from state registers and information systems. Data on the population by mother tongue, command of other languages and religion are not collected or stored in state registers. In order to meet the needs of users and to have comparable statistical information on the ethnocultural characteristics of the population, a statistical survey of the nationality, mother tongue and professed religion of the population was conducted. The statistical questionnaire of the survey was filled in by 56 thousand household population, interviewers surveyed 115 thousand household population. Mathematical methods were also used to determine the population according to ethnocultural characteristics. The results of the statistical survey are published with the statistical information of the census.
Ethnic composition of the population
Results of the censuses conducted in the years of restoration of independence show that Lithuania is a homogeneous state in terms of ethnic composition – Lithuanians make up more than 80 per cent of the entire population of the country. According to the data of the 2021 Population and Housing Census of the Republic of Lithuania (hereinafter – the Census), 2 million 378 thousand (84.6 per cent of the total population) Lithuanians, 183.4 thousand (6.5 per cent) Poles, 141.1 thousand (5 per cent) Russians, 28.2 thousand (1 per cent) Belarusians, 14.2 thousand (0.5 per cent) Ukrainians, 16.2 thousand (0.6 per cent) people of other ethnicities lived in Lithuania (Fig. 1).
Fig. 1. Ethnic composition of the population in 2021, per cent
Comparing the 2001 and 2021 censuses data, the share of the population of the largest national minorities in Lithuania was decreasing. Over the last twenty years, the share of the Russian ethnicity has decreased the most (from 6.3 per cent to 5 per cent), the proportion of Poles decreased slightly less (from 6.7 per cent to 6.5 per cent per cent), Belarusians (from 1.2 per cent to 1 per cent), Ukrainians (from 0.7 to 0.5 per cent) (Fig. 2).
The 2021 Census data show that the share of Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians in the urban population is higher than among the rural population, and conversely, the share of Lithuanians and Poles is higher among the rural population than among the urban population. In rural areas, Lithuanians accounted for 87.1 per cent of the total rural population, in urban areas – 83.4 per cent of the total urban population, Poles – 7.9 per cent and 5.8 per cent respectively.
Fig. 2. The largest ethnical minorities in Lithuania, 2001–2021, per cent
The proportion of the population of Lithuanian ethnicity is the highest (90 per cent) among the youngest – 0–9 years, and the lowest (80.8 per cent) among those aged 60–69 (Fig. 3). The share of the Polish population is the highest (7.2 per cent) among those aged 50–59, the lowest (5.3 per cent) – among the youngest population, aged 0–9 years. The share of Russians is the highest (7.8 per cent) among those aged 60–69, and the lowest (2.7 per cent) among the population aged 20–29.
Fig. 3. Population by age group and ethnicity, per cent
According to the data of the 2021 Statistical Survey on Ethnicity, Native Language and Religion (hereinafter – the Statistical Survey), some Lithuanians classified themselves as Samogitians (579), Semigallians (56), Curonians (19), Prussians, Aukštaitians, Dzuks and Suwalki residents (less than 10 each).
As in 2011, Šilalė district municipality is the most Lithuanian municipality in Lithuania. 98.8 per cent of its population consisted of Lithuanians. A similar proportion of Lithuanians (98 per cent and more) was in Pakruojis, Pasvalys, Plungė, Raseiniai, Skuodas and Šakiai districts, as well as Kalvarija and Rietavas municipalities. The smallest share of the Lithuanian population was in Šalčininkai district (12.6 per cent), Visaginas (20.1 per cent) and Vilnius district (38.5 per cent) municipalities. Census data show that the share of Lithuanians in these municipalities is increasing: twenty years ago, Lithuanians accounted for 10.4 per cent in Šalčininkai district municipality, 15 per cent in Visaginas municipality, and 22.4 per cent in Vilnius district municipality.
The largest proportion of the Polish population was in Šalčininkai (76.3 per cent) and Vilnius (46.8 per cent) district municipalities, the Russian population – in Visaginas (47.4 per cent), Zarasai district (17.2 per cent) and Klaipėda city (16 per cent) municipalities.
Among the largest cities, the most Lithuanian cities were Panevėžys (97.4 per cent), Kaunas (96.2 per cent) and Šiauliai (96 per cent). The proportion of Lithuanians in Vilnius and Klaipėda was much smaller – 70.4 per cent, and 80 per cent respectively.
Population by religion
According to the data of the 2021 Statistical Survey, 80.2 per cent of the Lithuanian population attributed themselves to religious communities and associations. Roman Catholics accounted for 74.2 per cent of the total population of the country (2 million 85 thousand). The second most abundant religious community is the Orthodox, which made up 3.8 per cent (105.6 thousand) of the country’s population. Less than 1 per cent of Lithuanian population attributed themselves to other religions each (Fig. 4).
Fig.4. Population by religious community to which they attributed themselves, per cent
171.8 thousand residents (6.1 per cent) did not attribute themselves to any faith. 384.1 thousand persons (13.7 per cent) did not indicate their religion.
The share of those who attributed themselves to Roman Catholics, against the total population, in municipalities, varies from 24.7 to 91.5 per cent. Larger than 90 per cent share of Roman Catholics was recorded in Šilalė district, Lazdijai district, Kalvarija and Rietavas municipalities. In ethnically more diverse municipalities, the share of those who attributed themselves to Roman Catholics is lower: in Visaginas – 24.7 per cent of the total population of the municipality, Klaipeda city – 52.9 per cent. Orthodox lived mostly in Visaginas (49.1 per cent), Klaipėda city (13.1 per cent) and Vilnius city (8.1 per cent) municipalities, while Old Believers lived in Zarasai district (12.1 per cent) and Švenčionys district (5 per cent) municipalities.
According to the data of the 2021 Census, 85.2 per cent of Poles, 78.8 per cent of Lithuanians, 44 per cent of Belarusians, 15.3 per cent of Ukrainians attributed themselves to Roman Catholic community, 50.3 per cent of Russians, 49.3 per cent of Ukrainians, 29.8 per cent of Belarusians attributed themselves to Orthodox community, 10.6 per cent of Russians – Old Believers community.
Other religious communities were indicated by residents of various ethnicities, but their proportions were low compared to the total number of residents of other ethnicities, except for the Sunni Muslim community, which was indicated by 52.7 per cent of the Tatar and Judaist communities, which was indicated by 27.3 per cent of Jews.
The age structure of the population that has attributed themselves to religious communities was diverse. One in five Roman Catholics, Baptists, and Seventh-day Adventists were under the age of 19. More than 40 per cent of Orthodox and Old Believers and more than 50 per cent of Jews were residents 60 and older.
In 2021, new religious communities, such as deists, Gaudiya Vaisnavas, witches, rastafarians, theosophists, were recorded.
Population by mother tongue
During the 2021 Statistical Survey, residents could indicate two native languages.
One mother tongue was indicated by 98.3 per cent of the population. Most residents indicated the tongue of their ethnicity as their mother tongue: 99.4 per cent of Lithuanians, 91.8 per cent of Russians and 78.7 per cent of Poles. Residents of smaller ethnic groups more often indicated their mother tongue other than the language of their nationality.
Over ten years between the censuses, the number of people who spoke two mother tongues has increased 2.8 times. Two mother tongues were indicated by 1.7 per cent (49.1 thousand) of population (in 2011, 0.6 per cent, or 17.2 thousand), most often indicated Lithuanian and Polish, Polish and Russian, Lithuanian and Russian.
Two mother tongues were most rarely mentioned by the youngest and oldest residents. Among those who have indicated two languages, the share of the population under the age of 4 is 3.2 per cent. In each age group of 70-74, 75-79, 80-84 and 85 years and older, less than 4 per cent indicated two mother tongues. Persons aged 70 and over account for 9.1 per cent of all those who have indicated two mother tongues.
Population by command of languages
In 2021, 76.5 per cent of the population spoke one or more foreign languages (in 2001 and 2011, 70.6 per cent and 78.5 per cent respectively) of which 39.8 per cent had a command of one language, 29.1 per cent of the inhabitants spoke two languages, 7.6 per cent – three and more. Compared to the results of the 2001 Census, the number of such population increased: twenty years ago, they accounted for 39.6 per cent, 25.1 per cent and 5.8 per cent respectively.
In 2021, almost every third Lithuanian citizen had a command of English. Compared to the data of the 2001 Census, over the decade, the proportion of the English-speaking population has increased from 16.9 to 31.1 per cent. In 2021, more than half of the total population (60.6 per cent) had a command of Russian (60.6 per cent), Polish – 7.9 per cent, German – 8 per cent and French – 1.9 per cent. English, German and French remain the most popular among the 15–44 age group (Figure 5). One in three residents who had a command of Russian and Polish, and one in four residents spoke Lithuanian, belonged to the 45–59 age group.
Fig. 5. Population by command of other languages (other than mother tongue) and age groups, per cent
Those having a command of two languages (other than the mother tongue) were mostly Russians (70 per cent) and Poles (68.5 per cent), Russian – Poles (79 per cent), Latvians (71 per cent) and Lithuanians (63.4 per cent), English – Jews (42 per cent) and Lithuanians (32.6 per cent), Polish – Tatars (37.1 per cent) and Belarusians (32.5 per cent).
More information on the issue is available in the Database of Indicators.