Global True Lithuania Encyclopedia of Lithuanian heritage worldwide

Similarities between Lithuanians and other nations

The world is diverse, but different peoples have similarities as well. Here is an interesting list of similarities between Lithuanians and many other nations of the world. Maybe your nation as well?

Some of these similarities are merely coincidental, others happened due to close historical ties. In any case, knowing about them may help to understand that a person from a different culture may have at least a few similar cultural experiences.

Lithuanians, just like Africans, were colonized by major European empires in the 18th-20th centuries (Lithuania was partitioned by Russia and Germany while Africa was partitioned mostly by England, France, Germany, Portugal and Belgium). In both Lithuania and Africa local cultures were held to be inferior by colonists who were settling the lands and had a share of 2%-20% by ~1914. Lithuanian flag is yellow-green-red tricolor, which are also considered "African colors". While there is also a fourth "African color" (black) many African flags use just the same three colors as the Lithuanian one, albeit arranged differently (flags of Burkina Faso, Benin, Guinea, Cameroon, Congo, Mali, Senegal).

Flags of Lithuania (center) and various African countries.

Lithuanians, just like African Americans, were forced to labour for their masters until the 19th century. For Lithuanians this was known as serfdom but was similar to African American slavery as in both cases the one had to serve his master without wage and masters used to beat their "property" (slaves in America were mostly fed however, while Lithuanian serfs even lacked food). Lithuanian serfdom was abolished in 1861 while African American slavery was abolished merely 4 years later (1865). Just like the African American slaves, Lithuanian serfs used to be "owned" mostly by people of different descent: most masters in the USA were White Americans while most masters in Lithuania were Russians and Poles. Another similarity is that both African Americans and Lithuanians have basketball as the top-tier team sport they excell at the most.

Lithuanians, just like the Arabs, have suffered centuries of attacks by Christian crusaders. After unsuccesful crusades against Arabs in the Middle East some crusaders have been transfered to attack Lithuanians in the so-called Baltic crusades (13th-15th centuries). Lithuanians were still pagan at the time, and thus, just like muslim Arabs, they were a "legitimate target" for the medieval Christian world. Lithuanians eventually converted to Christianity but were the final European nation to abandon paganism.

Lithuanian nation, just like the Armenian nation, once consisted of two distinct parts, one of which has been lost under a World War-related genocide. The "second half" of Lithuanian nation, the Lithuania Minor, was massacred or forced to flee by Soviet Russians during the World War 2 and soon afterwards (1944-1949). These once-Lithuanian territories now form the Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia and have Russian majority. The "second half" of Armenian nation, the Western Armenia, was massacred or forced to flee by the Turks during World War 1 (~1915). These once-Armenian territories now are a part of Turkey and have Turkish majority. Moreover, both Armenians and Lithuanians have their arts of cross-crafting recognized as UNESCO immaterial heritage (however, Lithuanian crosses are wooden while Armenians use stone for their so-called khachkars).

Armenian Khachkars (left) and Lithuanian wooden crosses (right).

Lithuanians, just like the Australians, granted women suffrage especially early. Australians did this in 1902 while Lithuanians followed suit in 1905 in the elections of the Great Seimas of Vilnius. At the time the only other women able to vote in the world were New Zealanders and those in a few minor isles. Note: as Lithuania was not yet independent in 1905, the Great Seimas of Vilnius had mostly symbollic powers. The first post-independence (1918) parliament of Lithuania, however, had a female MP presiding over its first session.

Lithuanians, just like the Azeris, had their "January events", that is the deadly attacks by Soviet troops on the pro-freedom civilians in capital city. The Vilnius, Lithuania massacre took place in 1991 while the Baku massacre happened a year earlier (1990). Both massacres injured up to 1000 people but Baku one has been ten times more deadly, with ~135 dead. The Baku massacre further expanded anti-Soviet feelings in Lithuania and Lithuanians delegates walked out of the Soviet People's Assembly in protest.

Lithuanians, just like the Belarusians, use Vytis as their coat of arms (because Vytis was the emblem of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania which covered the territories of both moder nations). However after 1994 only the opposition uses this coat of arms in Belarus, with the old Soviet coat of arms restored. However the white stork (ciconia ciconia) remains both a Lithuanian and a Belarusian national bird.

Lithuanians, just like the Burmans (Myanmar), use a yellow-green-red horizontal tricolor as their flag. However the Burman flag additionally has a white star in the center.

Lithuanians, just like the Czechs, use letters Č, Š and Ž in their alphabet. This is because Lithuanian alphabet creators took inspiration in the Czech alphabet.

Lithuanians has a similar 1795-1990 history to Estonians: a long Russian Imperial occupation before 1918, 1918-1940 independence, 1940-1990. Soviet occupation. Lithuanians, Estonians and Latvians are the three Baltic countries.

Baltic way - the 600 km long human chain of some 2 million people that connected Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn (total population of the Baltic States was 7,5 milion). It demonstrated the unity of the Batic States and the determination to achieve freedom. The idea of this protest form was later copied by political movements as far away as in Israel and Taiwan, but neither the size nor the lenght of the human chain was ever surpassed.

Lithuanians have an especially similar pre-1940 history to the Finns. Both Lithuanians and Finns were peasant nations, with the elite of Lithuania being Polish-speaking and German-speaking while the elite in Finland was Swedish-speaking. To this day there are approximately similar shares of Polish-speakers in Lithuania and Swedish-speakers in Finland (~5%) although the number declines. Both Lithuania and Finland were conquered by the Russian Empir ein the 18th century, both became independent after WW1 and had especially similar population and economic conditions in years 1918-1939. However in 1940 Lithuanians were invaded and occupied by the Soviet Union while Finland successfully defended itself thus remaining capitalist and not enduring the Soviet genocide. Therefore Finland is today both richer and nearly double as populous as Lithuania.

Lithuanians, just like the Greeks, have many of their (male) surnames ending with letters "is". Another common Lithuanian surname ending is "as", similar to Greek "os". For this reason foreigners sometimes take Lithuanians for Greeks or vice-versa.

Lithuanians have a concept of "Lituanity" (Lietuvybė) comparable to the Gipsy (Romani) concept of "Romanipen". Both mean the totality of ethnic spirit, culture, traditions and activities; each person can either have and cherish it or not (i.e. assimilate). Such concept is only useful for minority populations, so its development is likely a direct consequence of having a massive diaspora.

Lituanity room in Detroit St. Anthony parish. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Lithuanians, just like the Irish, have been gradually losing their language in the 17th-19th centuries replacing it by a "prestigious" foreign one. In that period more and more Lithuanians switched to Polish language and more and more Irish people switched to English language. However after Lithuanians became independent in 1918 they managed restore Lithuanian language to prime status. This has been much more difficult for the Irish after their 1922 independence and the majority of them speaks English natively even today.

Lithuanians, just like Jews, lost much of their nation in the totalitarian genocides of mid-20th century. ~30% of world's Jews have been murdered, expelled of forced to flee during the 1941-1945 Hitlerist genocide (Holocaust). A similar fate was endured by ~30% of world's Lithuanians under Stalinist Soviet Genocide of 1940-1941 and 1944-1953.

Lithuanians, just like Koreans, have especially high suicide rates, competing for the Top 1 place in the world in the recent decades (of course, this is only a South Korean stat as the North Korean stats are unavailable).

Lithuanians, just like Latin Americans, applaud the pilots and crew after their plane touches down on a runway.

Lithuanians, just like Latvians, speak a Baltic language - this once major subgroup of Indoeuropean languages now have only these two living languages left. Both nations also share a post-1795 history: a long Russian Imperial occupation before 1918, 1918-1940 independence, 1940-1990. Soviet occupation. Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians are thus called the three Baltic countries (even though Estonians don't speak a Baltic language).

The decline of other Baltic languages over the centuries, stemmed by Lithuanian and Latvian national revivals and independence. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Lithuanians, just like Mexicans, especially care for their family graves and celebrate the Day of the Dead. While souls are considered to visit the world of the living in both Mexican Dia de los muertos and Lithuanian Vėlinės that falls on the same day (November 2) the Mexican celebration is much more colorful while Lithuanian one is quite somber. Moreover, Lithuanians and Mexicans share the two earliest church-recognized Maryan visions. Virgin Mary appeared in Mexico in 1531 (known as Our Lady of Guadalupe) and in Šiluva, Lithuania in 1608 (2nd earliest vision in the world and the earliest in Europe). Both Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of Šiluva are seen by the local faithful as important bonds between their country and Christianity.

Lithuanians, just like Mongolians, amassed a massive continental Empire in medieval era, which they subsequently lost in the following centuries. Modern-day Lithuania controls merely 7% of the medieval Grand Duchy of Lithuania lands whereas modern-day Mongolia controls even less (5%) of the medieval Mongol Empire.

Lithuanians, just like Philippinians, have basketball as their most popular sport (also called "second religion" in Lithuania). The first religion in both countries is Catholicism: The Philippines is the easternmost Catholic country whereas Lithuania is the second easternmost.

Lithuanians, just like Poles, use letters with ogoneks Ą and Ę (and also Ų which is not used in Polish). This is so because the Lithuanian variant of Latin script has veen influenced by the Polish variant, both nations having spent centuries together in the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth. Moreover Poles share with Lithuanians many 15th-19th centuries historical personalities which each of the nations considers to be "their own" (back in the era it was not impossible to consider oneself both Polish and Lithuanian).

Lithuanians, just like the Sami, were the Europe's final pagan ethnicities to christianise. Samis did this in the 18th century but Lithuanians are usually known as the "last pagans" because they had the last independent country with a pagan leader (Lithuanians - and their last pagan Grand Duke - christianised in the 14th century).