The territory inhabited by the ethnic Lithuanians has shrunk over centuries; once Lithuanians made up a majority of the population not only in what is now Lithuania, but also in northwestern Belarus, in large areas of the territory of the modern Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia, and in some parts of modern Latvia and Poland.
However, there is a current argument that the Lithuanian language was considered non-prestigious enough by some elements in Lithuanian society, and a preference for the Polish language in certain territories of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, as well as a preference for the German language in territories of the former East Prussia (now Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia) caused the number of Lithuanian speakers to decrease.
Some indigenous Lithuanians still remain in Belarus and the Kaliningrad Oblast, but their number is small compared to what they used to be.
Lithuania regained its independence in 1990, and was recognized by most countries in 1991.
According to the census conducted in 2001, 83.45% of the population of Lithuania identified themselves as Lithuanians, 6.74% as Poles, 6.31% as Russians, 1.23% as Belarusians, and 2.27% as members of other ethnic groups.It became a member of the European Union on May 1, 2004.Among the Baltic states, Lithuania has the most homogeneous population.Over the centuries, and especially under the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, some of these tribes consolidated into the Lithuanian nation, mainly as a defence against the marauding Teutonic Order and Eastern Slavs.The last Pagan peoples in Europe, they were eventually converted to Christianity in 1387.