Which countries are mono-ethnic

Country Profiles Migration: Data - History - Politics

Lithuania regards itself as a multi-ethnic state; Lithuanian citizens can profess themselves to different ethnic groups. Both citizenship and ethnicity are asked in the census.

According to the 2001 census, Lithuanians make up the ethnic majority with 83.5%. With a share of 6.7% of the total population, Poles are the largest of the minority groups, followed by Russians (6.3%), Belarusians (1.2%), and Ukrainians (0.7%). Jews, Germans, Tatars, Latvians and Roma, Armenians and 'others' together made up 0.7% of the population. A total of 0.9% of the population gave no information on ethnicity. Lithuanians have an overall positive relationship with their national minorities, even if discrimination cannot be ruled out. Integration measures are aimed at foreign nationals and ethnic minorities alike. [1]

With a share of around 83.5% ethnic Lithuanians, Lithuania is the Baltic country in which the ethnic Baltic population is most clearly in the majority. For comparison, Estonia has 68% ethnic Estonians, Latvia 59% ethnic Latvians. The proportions of ethnic Russians are significantly higher in both countries. A specialty are the eastern Lithuanian areas, in which the Lithuanians only make up around half of the population, followed by the autochthonous Poles there, who make up a third of the population. In some areas near the Polish border, ethnic Poles are clearly in the majority. In contrast, the group of Russians, while concentrated in a few areas in Lithuania, does not constitute a majority anywhere.

In contrast to the neighboring Baltic countries, the Russian minority is not perceived by the population as a threat. On the one hand, this has to do with the fact that comparatively few Russians and other Slavs were resettled to Lithuania during the Soviet period. On the eve of regaining independence, Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians only made up 12.3% of the population, whereas their proportions were significantly higher in Latvian (42.3%) and Estonian territory (35.2%). On the other hand, Russians were better integrated in Lithuania than was the case in Latvia and Estonia. According to the 1989 census, 37.8% of ethnic Russians in Lithuania spoke the national language, which was also significantly higher than the proportions in Estonia (15.2%) and Latvia (22.4%). Nevertheless, the good cultural infrastructure of the ethnic Russians who remained in the country, with their Russian-language newspapers and a wide range of cultural activities and literature in their mother tongue, mean that learning the Lithuanian language is not a priority for many.

With regard to the Russian and Polish minorities in Lithuania, the government issued new regulations for school teaching in 2002. For the first time, it was anchored here that the language of the minority may also be the language of instruction and that children from national minorities may complete school in their language as long as the Lithuanian language is taught in parallel. Of the 2,058 schools in Lithuania, 56 are Russian-speaking and a further 49 have Russian-speaking classes. According to this, 5.9% of the total of 567,453 students are taught in Russian. In contrast, 83% of students are taught in Lithuanian. Other languages ​​of instruction are Polish and Ukrainian. Numerically relatively small ethnic minorities, such as Armenians, Belarusians and Estonians, who are also not locally concentrated, are offered the opportunity of Sunday schools to consolidate their culture, language and identity.

In absolute terms, the Roma are one of the smaller groups of the ethnic minorities with 3,000 members, but their integration is one of the most difficult, which is partly due to the fact that they often do not speak the Lithuanian language. This creates other problems such as high school dropouts (one fifth of Roma children drop out of school before graduation), unemployment, illiteracy and housing problems. In addition, Roma in particular and ethnic minorities in general are still victims of discrimination. The International Helsinki Federation of Human Rights reports on discrimination by the police, authorities and teachers in schools. The prevailing image of the Roma in the Lithuanian public is - reinforced by the media - rather negative. In 2001 the government passed an integration program tailored to the Roma minority, which in the same year led to the establishment of a Roma Public Center in Vilnius and which in the following years set priorities in the education sector in particular. For example, school books for Roma were published and, for the first time, pre-school classes were offered specifically for Roma children in 2002.

Measured in terms of interethnic relationships of a personal nature (e.g. with friends, acquaintances, relatives), the integration of minorities is to be regarded as more advanced, whereas mono-ethnic structures can be observed in the labor market, especially in smaller companies.

Compared to Lithuanians, there is an increase in unemployment among the ethnic minorities (2002: 18.5% to 12.8%). According to a report by the Ministry of Social Security, ethnic Poles and ethnic Russians are significantly more likely to be unemployed than the Lithuanian comparison group. This is attributed, among other things, to a lack of language skills.

A look at the level of education shows clear differences between the ethnic minorities. It is the Jewish minority, followed by Armenians, Ukrainians and Russians, who have the highest level of education overall. Poles and Roma have the lowest number of highly qualified people (university degrees). However, since Lithuanian must be mastered at the latest when entering the university, more and more ethnic minorities tend to attend schools in which the Lithuanian language is taught.

Although minorities make up around 17% of the population, in 2000 they were represented in the national parliament (Seimas) with a share of 10%. Minorities are also rarely to be found at the higher administrative levels and at government level. As far as political representation is concerned, there are the AWPL (Polish Election Action of Lithunia) and the Russian Union of Lithuania, which together have seven of the 51 seats in the Vilnius City Council. Another 14 MPs are from the "For Vilnius" group, which sees itself as a representative of the Lithuanian Poles. However, none of the three groups is currently represented in the Seimas.