Lithuania is a Baltic state along the Southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea. It is a country of roughly 2.8 million people. The country has the most homogeneous population of the Baltic states. Native Lithuanians make up the largest portion of the population, accounting for about 83.5%. Poles (6.74%) and Russians (6.31%) are the major minority groups while other minorities in the country consist of Belarusians, Jews, Estonians, Scandinavians, Latvians, Tatars, Ukrainians, Crimean Karaites, and Scandinavians.
The ethnic composition of the country has changed dramatically in the past; during the Holocaust, the Jew population dropped from 7.5% to nearly 1%. During the Holocaust, it is estimated that 30% of Vilnius' Jewish population were killed while others fled to Israel and the United States.
The only official language in the country is the Lithuanian language. It is the first language of the native Lithuanians and the second language of about 300,000 non-Lithuanians. During the Soviet era, the government imposed the Russian language on the population, and so most adults in the country speak Russian as a secondary language. The younger generation prefers English as a second language, while 37% of the total population speaks at least one foreign language.
Catholicism has been the primary religion of Lithuania since the country was Christianized in the late 14th century. About 77% of the population is Catholic. During the Soviet era, Christians were persecuted as part of the Soviet policy of anti-religious campaigns. Most of the native Russians are members of the Orthodox Church while there are 4,000 Jews in the country.
There are thousands of Native Lithuanians living outside the country, especially Europe and North America. Many Lithuanians live in neighboring states, but the largest diaspora population is located in the United States. More than a million Americans trace their ancestry to Lithuania. Migration to the United States peaked in the 19th century, but the Soviet occupation interrupted the flow by restricting movement outside the country. In the 20th century, Lithuanians also migrated to Mexico and Central America, but these destinations are no longer popular due to declining economic conditions.