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Samogitians (Žemaitē)
Total population
c. 0.5 million in Lithuania (estimated)
Regions with significant populations
Samogitian dialect, Standard Lithuanian language
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]


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]


Samogitia in the 17th century

Samogitians call themselves Žemaitē, although exonyms are used in different languages.

Language Samogitia Samogitians
Samogitian Žemaitėjė žemaitē
Lithuanian Žemaitija žemaičiai
Belarusian Жамойць жамойць
Estonian Žemaitija Žemaidid
Dutch Samogitië Samogitiërs
French Samogitie samogitiens
German Schameiten Schameiten
Italian Samogizia samogizi
Latvian Žemaitija žemaiši
Polish Żmudź Żmudzini
Portuguese Samogícia samogícios
Russian Жемайтия жемайты
Spanish Samogitia samogitios
Swedish Samogitien Samogitier


  1. ^ Statistics (in Lithuania).
  2. ^ Petrulis, Valdas (2005). "Žemaitijos etninės savimonės regiono erdvinė struktūra" (PDF). Geografijos metraštis. 38: 163–175. ISSN 0132-3156. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-22.
  3. ^ (2007-06-04). "Žemaičio tautybė - vos porai dienų" (in Lithuanian). Retrieved 2007-11-23.
  4. ^ (in Russian)

External links[edit]