Historical ethnographic regions
borders of modern Lithuania. Based on the map approved by Council
for the Protection of Ethnic Culture, a special council established
Lithuania can be divided into historical and cultural regions
(called ethnographic regions).
The exact borders are not fully clear, as the regions are not
official political or administrative units. They are delimited by
culture, such as country traditions, traditional lifestyle, songs,
tales, etc. To some extent regions correspond to the zones of
Lithuanian language dialects
This correspondence however is by no means strict. For example,
although the Dzūkian dialect
called South Aukštaitian, it does not mean that Dzūkija
is part of Aukštaitija
. In certain parts of some
regions, dialects of other regions are spoken, while for example in
Samogitia, there are three indigenous dialects (southern, northern
and western Samogitian
), some of
which are subdivided into subdialects.
Regions in politics
No region, except for Samogitia
, has ever
been a political or an administrative entity. However some work was
done recently to delimit their boundaries more clearly, as there is
a project to change the system of counties
in Lithuania into ethnographic regions, which would be called lands
(singular - žemė
, plural - žemės
). This project
is also supported by the fact that with the limited functions of
counties, 10 of them are not needed for Lithuania. Another
supporting argument is that in other countries historical
territories are being revived, while in Lithuania artificially made
counties exist. The project was supported by the former president
, yet now it is not
clear when or if the project will be completed at all. However,
quite recently adopted the coat
of arms and emblem which would be used in case the reform were to
be implemented. Alytus County, which lies almost entirely within Dzūkija, adopted
soon thereafter a coat of arms that is based on the Dzūkija coat of
has a flag and a
coat of arms dating from the time of the Duchy of Samogitia
; these symbols are
considerably older than the flag of
. Lithuania Minor
flag used since the 17th century, and an anthem originating from
the 19th century. However, if the reform were to be implemented,
most likely there would be just 4 lands, not 5, because most of
Lithuania minor is occupied by Russia and many Lithuanians were
expelled from there. The relatively small remaining part is also
populated mostly by relative newcomers, as much of the local
population died in the Second World
or was expelled. Therefore Lithuania minor would probably
be attached to Samogitia
Despite the fact that the regions are not political/administrative
entities, most regions have their "capitals" (cities which are
commonly considered to be capitals). These cities are not
necessarily the largest in the region.
List of regions
- Aukštaitija (Literally
Highlands). Region in northeastern Lithuania, also
includes some historical Lithuanian territories of southwestern
Latvia and northwestern Belarus.
Panevėžys, it is also largest city of region.
- Samogitia, (Žemaitija,
literally Lowlands). Region in western Lithuania.
city is Šiauliai.
- Dzūkija (Dzūkija or
Dainava (the latter name literally means "Land of
songs")). Region in the southeast of Lithuania, also
includes vast historically Lithuanian territories of Belarus, and some
territories of Poland.
Alytus, largest city is Vilnius.
- Suvalkija (Sūduva or
Suvalkija). Region in the southwest of Lithuania, the
smallest ethnographic region. Capital is Marijampolė, largest city - Kaunas.
- Lithuania Minor (Mažoji
Lietuva). Region at the Baltic sea coast, also includes
territories with large historical Lithuanian population of what is
Oblast and a bit of northern Poland.
city is Klaipėda.