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View from Ladakalnis hill, Aukštaitija National Park
View from Ladakalnis hill, Aukštaitija National Park
Flag of Aukštaitija
Coat of arms of Aukštaitija
Patriam tuam mundum existima
Map indicating the location of Aukštaitija within Lithuania
Location of Aukštaitija within Lithuania
Largest cityKaunas
 • Total28,000 km2 (11,000 sq mi)
 • Total900,000
 • Density32/km2 (83/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC2 (CET (GMT +2))

Aukštaitija (Lithuanian pronunciation: [ɐukʃˈtɐǐːtʲɪjɐ]; literally in Lithuanian: Upper lands) is the name of one of five ethnographic regions of Lithuania.[1][2] The name comes from lands being in upper basin of Nemunas River or being relative to Lowlands up to Šiauliai.


Aukštaitija is in the northeast part of Lithuania and also encompasses a small part of Latvia and Belarus. The largest city located entirely within this region, Panevėžys, is considered to be the capital, though not in a strict political sense. Lithuania's second-largest city of Kaunas is bisected by the Nemunas River, placing the northern part of the city in this region and the southern part in Suvalkija. The largest cities by population are:

The region has many lakes, mainly on the eastern side.


"We do not know on whose merits or guilt such a decision was made, or with what we have offended Your Lordship so much that Your Lordship has deservedly been directed against us, creating hardship for us everywhere. First of all, you made and announced a decision about the land of Samogitia, which is our inheritance and our homeland from the legal succession of the ancestors and elders. We still own it, it is and has always been the same Lithuanian land, because there is one language and the same inhabitants. But since the land of Samogitia is located lower than the land of Lithuania, it is called as Samogitia, because in Lithuanian it is called lower land [ Žemaitija ]. And the Samogitians call Lithuania as Aukštaitija, that is, from the Samogitian point of view, a higher land. Also, the people of Samogitia have long called themselves as Lithuanians and never as Samogitians, and because of such identity (sic) we do not write about Samogitia in our letter, because everything is one: one country and the same inhabitants."

Vytautas the Great, excerpt from his 11 March 1420 Latin letter sent to Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor, in which he described the core of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, composed from Žemaitija (lowlands) and Aukštaitija (highlands).[3][4] Term Aukštaitija has been known since the 13th century.[5]

Historically Aukštaitija had been correspondent to the Duchy of Lithuania up to the 13th century. Its initial capital most likely was Kernavė. In the treaty of Gediminas of 1322, Aukštaitija is named terra Eustoythen (land of Aukštaitians).[6] Some German sources also titled Grand Duke Gediminas, after whom the Gediminids dynasty is named after, as Rex de Owsteiten (English: King of Aukštaitija).[7] Aukštaitija was mentioned as Austechia in Chronicon terrae Prussiae written around 1326.[6] Politically, since the end of the 13th century, it comprised the Duchy of Vilnius/Lithuania and Duchy of Trakai, and perhaps was employed to refer to them both taken together. Since the 15th century, corresponding Trakai Voivodeship and Vilnius Voivodeship made up Aukštaitija, as a political and ethnically based unit, also known as Lithuania proper.


Local people mainly speak the Aukštaitian dialect of Lithuanian. Under the new classification of dialects Lithuanian is divided into just two dialects, Aukštaitian and Samogitian with all previous dialects being classified as subdialects. The Sudovian and Dzūkian dialects are also considered subdialects of Aukštaitian now, therefore the specific subdialect spoken in Aukštaitija is known as East Aukštaitian.

The region has Russian and Belarusian minorities in the east, sub-dialects there use more loan words from those languages. However the usage of dialects, as in Lithuania in general, is decreasing.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Highlands (Aukštaitija)". Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  2. ^ "Regions of Lithuania: What to See | True Lithuania". Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  3. ^ Vytautas the Great; Valkūnas, Leonas (translation from Latin). Vytauto laiškai [ Letters of Vytautas the Great ] (PDF) (in Lithuanian). Vilnius University, Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore. p. 6. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  4. ^ "Lietuvos etnografiniai regionai – ar pažįstate juos visus?". DELFI (in Lithuanian). Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  5. ^ "Aukštaitija". (in Lithuanian). Etninės kultūros globos taryba (Council for the Protection of Ethnic Culture). Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  6. ^ a b Zinkevičius, Zigmas. "Etnonimas aukštaičiai amžių bėgyje". Žiemgalos leidykla. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  7. ^ Rowell, Stephen Christopher (1994). Lithuania Ascending: A Pagan Empire Within East-Central Europe, 1295-1345. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 50. ISBN 978-1-107-65876-9. Retrieved 12 July 2021.