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LITHUANIA: MIGRATION OVEVIEW 

On 11th March 1990 Lithuania has restored its independence. Over the past 18 years (1990-2008) from Lithuania emigrated almost half a million people, it’s about 20 percent of working-age population. More precise numbers cannot be told yet, because not everyone leaving the country have informed the National migration dep. and those who have returned as well. The real situation should reveal on the year 2011 previewed population census.[1]

Lithuania is a relatively ethnically monolithic state. Ethnic composition of the population is as follows: Lithuanians - 83.5%, Poles - 6.7% (Vilnius region, related with Vilnius region occupation on years 1920 - 1939), Russians - 6.3% (spread to whole country, mostly concentrated in Vilnius, Klaipeda and Siauliai), Belarusians - 1.2%. Representatives of other nationalities compose 2.3% of Lithuanian population. In Lithuania we have 115 different nationalities.[2]

In Lithuania there is no state religion, but is the dominant one is the Roman Catholic. The other communities are of Orthodox, Evangelical Lutherans, Evangelical Reformed, Old Orthodox, Judaism, Islam and others.

When Lithuania has joined the Schengen area it is monitored by a number of new trends in illegal migration. The emergence of new countries (Georgia, India), with Lithuania in 2009 came mostly illegal immigrants. Some cases have attracted media attention, such as 14 Sri Lanka people, to whom in Lithuanian Embassy in Delhi were issued visas as Indian citizens with forged passports to transfer to Lithuania. Then Belgium authorities have transferred them back to Lithuania. The increase of Indian citizens seeking to obtain a Lithuanian visa and the number of state border violation cases, etc. all that fact shows the way of East countries population migration to the West.

So, geographically Russians living in Lithuania are spread across whole country. They represent a group of people whit different language, culture and religion. Lithuanian Russians have similar historical roots as well as Latvia and Estonia. However, Lithuania has more independent history than the other two Baltic countries. Thus, it is difficult to determine the precise number of Russian minorities, as most of them have Lithuanian citizenship, some of them not as according Lithuania Constitution only Lithuanian Citizenship does not allow having other ones with very few exceptions. According to statistics of year 1998 in Lithuania have lived 308 000 Russian speakers, who constituted 8.7 % country's population, then.

Lithuanian speaking society in respect of Russians still experience the negative attitude, which could can be explained by a recent history (the Soviet occupation, the bloody events of 1991), as well as the Cold War and today's follow-up demonstrating superneighbor country policy that smacks of insecurity. Bearing in mind the ambiguous public attitudes we often meet the Russia criticism regarding Russian minority rights in Lithuania, what deceptive maneuver in seeking to divert attention from human rights abuses in Russia itself.

Lithuanian Poles, mostly concentrated in Vilnius and region are very organized minority group, with strong communities and political representatives/party (Lithuanian Poles’ Electoral Action). Lithuanian Russians are not organized so well as Lithunian Poles, the communities are week and no political representatives/party created during the period of last 20 years of Lithuania independence. Lithuania Russians are mostly middle age or elderly people, not very much integrated into society life living their “personal life” in close relation with Russian culture and identity that is spread and “feeded” from near abroad. This is not the same for Lithuania Russians of second generation, whom natural integration is fluent. So, this is what the project is about – to give more initiatives and develop unused potentials of elderly migrants.

 


[1] www.balsas.lt, [žiūrėta 2010-12-08] http://www.balsas.lt/naujiena/368453/emigracijos-lyderiu-desimtmetis

[2] www.lietuva.lt, [žiūrėta 2010-12-08] http://lietuva.lt/lt/faktai_apie_lietuva