Lithuanian is a Baltic language related to Latvian and Old Prussian with about 3.2 million speakers in Lithuania. There are also Lithuanian speakers in Poland, the USA, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, the UK and Uruguay.
Lithuanian first appeared in print in the form of a catechism in 1547. The first Lithuanian dictionary was printed during the 17th century. Between 1864 and 1904 the printing and teaching of Lithuanian was banned – Russian, Polish, Belarusian or Latin had to be used instead. After this ban was lifted in 1904, there was a resurgence of Lithuanian literature.
From 1918 to 1940 Lithuania was independent and over 7,000 books in Lithuanian were published. During the Soviet period (1940-1991), literature in Lithuania tended to follow the socialist realist model, while Lithuanian ex-pats wrote mainly about the culture and traditions of Lithuania. Since 1991, when Lithuania once more gained its independence, a large number of publications in Lithuanian has appeared, including newspapers, magazines and scientific and technical works.
Lithuanian is the state language of Lithuania and one of the official languages of the European Union (EU). It is also recognized as a minority language in Poland.