Vilnius. Demographic Crisis.
Historically, Vilnius was one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse cities in the north European region – a cultural kaleidoscope, home to Poles, Lithuanians, Germans, Ruthenians, Jews and Tatars, who worshipped in various churches, synagogues, and mosques. Today the major ethnic groups are the Lithuanians, Poles, and Russians, and while Lithuania has fairly liberal laws around immigration and minorities, a policy of Lithuanization since the 1990s has guided the establishment of a highly centralized and unitary state. Ethnic populations are encouraged to pursue their religious, cultural, and linguistic differences in the private sphere rather than through public institutions, yet the state drives its identity from an ethnically controlled position. Recently, Lithuania has faced a concerning population outflow reducing its total citizens by over 1 million. In light of this crisis, increasing immigration is of great importance to the small state.
Photo Credit: E. Genys/LRT