News2019.12.16 11:09

Lithuanian ranks 9th among 200 languages spoken in Estonia

LRT.lt 2019.12.16 11:09

In Estonia, a country of 1.3 million people, over 200 languages are spoken. Over two-thirds of the population are native Estonian-speakers, according to data published by the TV channel ETV+, but around 1,000 speak Lithuanian, making it the ninth most-spoken language in Estonia.

Vaidas Matulaitis, the president of the Lithuanian community in Estonia, says the figure is the closest indication of how big the community is.

“Up until now, it has been difficult to say unambiguously how many Lithuanians live in Estonia,” Matulaitis said in a press release, explaining that a number of people with Lithuanian ancestry have used the opportunity to claim Lithuanian citizenship, without necessarily identifying as Lithuanian.

Estonia's centre of registers gives the number as 3,000, Matulaitis says, but 1,000 Lithuanian speakers is a closer indication of the size of the Lithuanian community in the northern-most Baltic country.

Three Estonian regions are particularly linguistically diverse, according to ETV+: 180 languages are spoken in the northern Harjumaa area, which includes the capital city Tallinn, the south-eastern Tartumaa boasts some 120 languages, and Ida-Virumaa in eastern Estonia, 80.

The most widely spoken languages in Estonia are, in order of prevalence: Estonian, Russian, Ukrainian, Finnish, English, Latvian, Belarusian, German, Lithuanian.

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