Population and Demographics


According to the State Data Agency, about 22,000 permanent residents emigrated from Lithuania last year, almost 50 percent more than in 2022, with the growth mostly due to departing Ukrainians and Belarusians. Nearly 12,000 foreign nationals and 10,000 Lithuanian nationals emigrated from Lithuania in 2023. The total number of emigrants surged by 44 percent, from 15,300 in 2022.

LRT.lt reports that Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Belarus, Norway, and Germany remained the main destinations for emigration. Lithuanian citizens went mainly to the UK, Norway, and Germany, and foreign nationals moved to Ukraine and Belarus. Last year, 8,000 permanent residents departed for Ukraine, and nearly 2,000 for Belarus, compared to 4,600 and 2,700, respectively, in 2022. Lithuania saw immigration decrease to 66,900 people in 2023, from 87,400 the previous year. Of all immigrants, 75 percent were foreign nationals and 25 percent were returning Lithuanian citizens.


Sociologist Daumantas Stumbrys says that immigration flows are not stable and are influenced by the geopolitical situation in countries to the east of Lithuania. “We do see increased immigration flows, but the question is how sustainable and long-term they are because we know that they are linked to the war in Ukraine and other processes in Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, and other post-Soviet countries,” he told a news conference.

Most of the foreign nationals came to Lithuania from Ukraine, Belarus, and other post-Soviet countries. The largest numbers of Lithuanians returned from the UK, Norway, and Germany.

The number of Lithuanian citizens who returned to their home country exceeded those leaving by 6,000 last year, down from 7,600 in 2022.

Stumbrys noted that the net international migration of Lithuanian citizens has been positive for several years now. “We have had more returning than departing Lithuanian citizens for several years in a row,” the sociologist said. “However, 10,000 [Lithuanians] still leave every year, which is a relatively high number given that 20,000 are born per year.” Lithuania had 2,886,500 permanent residents as of January 1, 2024, up by 29,000, or 1 percent, from a year ago.

Demographic data from 2023 shows that Lithuania is a rapidly aging society, in some regions more than in others. While women on average have 1.5 babies, the population remains stable due to migration.

Panevėžys is considered one of Lithuania’s five “big cities”, traditionally defined as towns with populations of over 100,000. The problem is that since the peak in 1991, when Panevėžys was home to 131,000 people, its population has steadily shrunk, falling below the 100,000 mark in 2011. It is also the centre of a county with the most aging population. Locals say they can tell there are more elderly people than youngsters, there are not enough young people, no serious higher education institutions.

The next two most aging counties are Utena and Alytus. The evolution of the population structure in Panevėžys resembles that of a periphery rather than a major city, explained Stumbrys. “I don’t really want to engage in guesswork whether it will disappear or not, but it happens that some towns, formerly cities of 100,000 people, shrink to 50,000, 70,000, or even less over a few decades.”

Lithuania as a whole is aging, with 20,000 babies born last year, 15,000 fewer than the number of deaths. “If you look at absolute numbers, we haven’t ever had such a low number of births. But I wouldn’t say it’s a record low if you look at it from the point of view of total fertility rates,” he adds.

The fertility rate – or the average number of babies a woman is expected to have during her lifetime – is less than 1.5, well below the so-called replacement rate of 2.1. However, the total population of Lithuania grew last year due to migration.