Lithuanians are neither Slavic nor Germanic, although the union with Poland, German and Russian colonization and settlement left cultural and religious influences. This highly literate society places strong emphasis upon education, which is free and compulsory until age 16. Most Lithuanians and ethnic Poles belong to the Roman Catholic Church; Eastern Orthodoxy is the largest non-Catholic denomination.
Enduring several border changes, Soviet deportations, a massacre of its Jewish population, and German and Polish repatriations during and after World War II, Lithuania has maintained a fairly stable percentage of ethnic Lithuanians (from 79.3% in 1959 to 83.5% in 2002). Lithuania's citizenship law and the Constitution meet international and OSCE standards, guaranteeing universal human and civil rights.
Among the Baltic states, Lithuania has the most homogeneous population. According to the census conducted in 2001, 83.45% of the population identified themselves as Lithuanians, 6.74% as Poles, 6.31% as Russians, 1.23% as Belarusians, and 2.27% as members of other ethnic groups.
Poles are concentrated in the Vilnius region, the area controlled by Poland in the interwar period. Especially large communities of Polish minority in Lithuania are in Vilnius district municipality (61.3% of the population) and Šalčininkai district municipality (79.5%). Such concentration allows Election Action of Lithuania's Poles, an ethnic minority-based political party, to exert political influence. This party has held 1-2 seats in the parliament of Lithuania for the past decade. The party is more active in local politics and controls several municipal councils.
Russians, even though they are almost as numerous as Poles, are much more evenly scattered and lack a strong political party. The most prominent community lives in Visaginas city municipality (52%). Most of them are scientists who moved with their families from the Russian SFSR to work at the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant. Lithuania is noted for its success in limiting Russian immigration during the Soviet period (1945-1990), in comparison to Latvia and Estonia. A number of ethnic Russians (mostly military) left Lithuania after the declaration of independence in 1990.
In the past, the ethnic composition of Lithuania has undergone dramatic changes. The most prominent change is the extermination of the Jewish population during the Holocaust. Before World War II about 7.5% of the population was Jewish; they were concentrated in cities and towns and had a significant influence on crafts and business. They were called Litvaks and had a strong culture. The population of Vilnius, sometimes nicknamed Northern Jerusalem, was about 30% Jewish. Almost all of these Jews were killed during the Nazi Germany occupation, or later emigrated to the United States and Israel. Now there are only about 4,000 Jews living in Lithuania.
The Lithuanian Constitutional Court has ruled in November 2006 that a number of provisions of the Law of the Republic of Lithuania on Citizenship are in conflict with the Lithuanian Constitution. In particular, the Constitutional Court has ruled that a number of current provisions of the Citizenship Law implicitly or explicitly allowing dual citizenship are in conflict with the Constitution; such provisions complemented to unconstitutional practice of making dual citizenship a common phenomenon rather than a rare exception. The provisions of the Citizenship Law announced unconstitutional are no longer valid and applicable to the extent stated by the Constitutional Court.
The Lithuanian Parliament amended the Citizenship Law substantially as a result of the above-mentioned ruling of the Constitutional Court, allowing double Citizenship for children of at least one Lithuanian parent that are born abroad, yet preventing Lithuanians from keeping their Lithuanian citizenship after obtaining citizenship of another country.
Population: 3.361 million (2008 est.)
0–14 years: 15.5% (male 284,888; female 270,458)
15–64 years: 69.1% (male 1,210,557; female 1,265,542)
65 years and over: 15.5% (male 190,496; female 363,965) (2006 est.)
Population growth rate: −0.30% (2006 est.)
Birth rate: 8.75 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate: 10.98 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.71 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.52 male(s)/female
total population: 0.89 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 6.78 deaths/1,000 live births male: 8.12 deaths/1,000 live births female: 5.37 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 64.87 years
male: 69.2 years
female: 77.20 years (2007)
Total fertility rate: 1.2 children born/woman (2006 est.)
About 30,600 pupils started their 2003 school year in schools where the entire curriculum is conducted in Russian (down from 76,000 in 1991), and about 20,500 enrolled in Polish schools (up from 11,400 in 1991). There are also schools in the Belarusian language; these enrolled about 160 students in 2003.
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