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Örjan Martinsson

Population of the Baltic States

The Baltic states did not become independent until after the First World War, before then had they been ruled by Russia, Sweden, Poland and the Teutonic Order. A problem with the Baltic States population history is that their borders have changed considerably during just the last century. The historic province of Estonia consisted only of the northern half of the modern republic. Latvia was before the independence three different provinces, Courland, Latgallia and Livonia, the latter also included the southern half of modern Estonia. Lithuania was a powerful state during the middle age and its territory stretched from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. It remained a large territory even as a Russian province and it was not divided into smaller provinces until the middle of the 19th century, two of these can be considered to be the predecessors to the modern republic of Lithuania. But border changes have also occurred after the independence. Observe that the population statistics below always show how many millions of inhabitants the Baltic states had.

Estonia

1200

< 0.200

1897

0.413

1550

0.250

1914

0.507

1570-1629

0.07-0.1

1922

1.1

before 1710

> 0.160

1931

1.1

1710

0.160

1939

1.1

1747

0.350

1960

1.2

1811

0.263

1970

1.4

1838

0.282

1979

1.5

1851

0.290

1990

1.6

1863

0.313

2000

1.4

1885

0.387

2010 1.3

Estonia has been tormented by many wars of which the Livonian war 1558-1583, the Swedish-Polish war 1600-1629 and the Great Northern War 1700-1721 struck the country particularly hard. The figure for the year 1747 refers to Estonia within its modern borders and not the historic province. The World Wars also left their mark on Estonia’s population but it does not show in the statistics because of border changes and the Russian immigration after 1945.

Latvia

1811

1.2

1925

1.8

1838

1.2

1931

1.9

1851

1.4

1939

1.9

1863

1.5

1960

2.1

1885

1.9

1979

2.5

1897

2.0

1990

2.7

1914

2.5

2000

2.3

2010 2.2

The first column refers to the three historic provinces of Courland, Lattgallia and Livonia while the second refers to the present republic of Latvia, which is a smaller territory than the three historic provinces. Latvia experienced a reduction of its population during the First World War but it was not so great as these statistics imply.

Lithuania

1811

5.1

1923

2.0

1838

5.0

1931

2.3

1851

5.0

1939

2.4

1863

0.9

1960

2.7

1885

1.3

1979

3.4

1897

1.6

1990

3.7

1914

2.1

2000

3.6

2010 3.3

These figures should be used with caution. The first three figures refers to an area that also included most of Belarus. But the borders of the historic region and the modern republic of Lithuania have changed several times after 1863 as well.