An Indo-European language and a member of the Baltic group of languages, spoken by c. 3.5 million speakers mainly in the Republic of Lithuania, where it is the official language, with sizeable immigrant communities in Canada, the USA, Australia, and elsewhere; the closest linguistic affiliation is with Latvian.
The earliest written literary texts date from the 16th century. Modern language is divided into two main dialects: Lower Lithuanian or žemait, spoken along the Baltic coast, and Upper (High) Lithuanian or aukšait. There are also further dialect subdivisions. Modern standard literary language is based on Upper Lithuanian.
Lithuanian is very complex both phonologically and morphologically retaining many archaic Indo-European forms. It was spelt in the Gothic alphabet until the 20th century, when the Roman script was introduced.
CLASSIFICATION = Indo-European family, SCRIPT = roman