Samogitians

Samogitians (Žemaitē)
Total population
c. 0.5 million in Lithuania (estimated)
Regions with significant populations
Lithuania
Languages
Samogitian dialect, Standard Lithuanian language
Religion
Catholicism
Related ethnic groups
Aukštaitians, Curonians

Samogitians (Samogitian: Žemaitē, Lithuanian: Žemaičiai, Latvian: Žemaiši, Sl. Zhmud) are a subgroup of Lithuanians that inhabit the region of Samogitia in Lithuania. Many speak the Samogitian language, sometimes regarded as a dialect of the Lithuanian language.

Even though Samogitians are politically not considered to be an ethnic group, 2,169 people declared their ethnicity as Samogitian during the Lithuanian census of 2011, of whom 53.9% live in Telšiai County.[1]

History

Samogitians lived in western Lithuania and were closely related to Semigallians and Curonians. In 1413, they became the last group of Europeans to convert to Christianity. Samogitians were one of the three main nations of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Ruthenia, and Samogitia. In 1857, there were 418,824 people of Samogitian roots and 444,921 persons declared the Samogitian dialect as their mother tongue in 1897 in Kovno Governorate.[2] Currently Lithuania does not allow for declaration of Samogitian nationality in passports as it is not a recognized ethnicity.[3] In list of ethnic groups of Russia there is one person who declared himself with "Zhemaijty".[4]