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I am slightly confused with this situation and was wondering if Voyageur (other people are welcome too) to answer my question in that some of my atlases state that Kaunas is the capital? But Vilnius has been for many years now, but some sources say that Kaunas was the capital of Poland =S - is it a polish or Lithuanian city, and has it ever been demographically Polish? --Bezuidenhout (kontak) 16:00, 1 Junie 2009 (UTC)
- Sveikas, Ben! Polish troops occupied Vilnius on 9 October 1920, and the city was not handed back to Lithuania before October 1939. Between the two world wars, Kaunas was Lithuania's provisional capital and the seat of the Lithuanian parliament. To my knowledge, Kaunas has always been inhabited by a majority of Lithuanians. --Voyageur (kontak) 16:33, 1 Junie 2009 (UTC)
- Okay, and has Vilnius always had a Lithuanian majority (and how have other minorities in it changed through time)? I know the city currently has a large polish majority... but why? Belarus doesn't aquire many poles, so what are they doing so far deep into lithuania? --Bezuidenhout (kontak) 06:04, 2 Junie 2009 (UTC)
Vilnius had a Lithuanian majority through most of its history, but as Poland and Lithuania were united into one large empire, and because there are no clear ethnic boundaries in Eastern Europe, Lithuania has had a large Polish minority over the last centuries. Only after the Polish occupation in 1920, Vilnius was turned into a Polish-Jewish city with Polish street names and so on. After the Second World War, more than 200,000 Polish citizens, many of them from Vilnius, emigrated to Poland.
During the 20th century, the main shopping street in Vilnius, Gedimino prospektas, was renamed three times after foreign dictators who had occupied the city (Pilsudski of Poland, Hitler, and Stalin). Today, 58 percent of Vilniusians are of Lithuanian, 19 percent of Polish, 14 percent of Russian, and 4 percent of Byelo-Russian descent.
A short chronology of the demographic and economic development of Vilnius:
- 7th century - Several villages grow together, forming an early medieval town
- 9th - 13th century - Vilnius becomes an important medieval trade center
- 1323 - Immigrants from major European cities invited to settle in Vilnius; German immigration
- 1365-1402 - Several attacks by the Order of Teutonic Knights
- 1410 - Defeat of Teutonic Knights, trade links with other European cities
- 1419/1530 - Major fires
- 16th century - Second largest city of Eastern Europe behind Prague: 30,000 inhabitants. Vilnius is one of the largest and most important cities of Europe. Trade with Moscow, Kiev, Venice, Vienna, Krakow
- 1569 - Political union with Poland; decline, only third largest city in Poland-Lithuania behind Krakow and Warsaw
- 1604 - Expulsion of Calvinists
- 1610 - Major fire
- 1655-61 - Russian occupation
- 1700-21 - Swedish-Russian War, Vilnius sacked
- 1708-10 - Famine and epidemics, 30,000 lives lost
- 1737, 1748, 1749 - Major fires
- 1795 - Third Partition of Poland ends existence of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Russia obtains Vilnius
- 1811 - Vilnius is third largest Russian city behind Moscow and St. Petersburg, 56,000 inhabitants
- 1812 - Napoléon in Vilnius, 40,000 of his troops perished from hunger and cold
- 1860-69 - Railway line between Warsaw and St. Petersburg built
- 1897 - 154,000 inhabitants (including 64,000 Jews)
- 1919 - Jewish population totals 100,000
- 1896-1902 - Vilnius becomes center of Lithuanian national rebirth
- 1920 - Polish occupation
- 1939 - 209,000 inhabitants
- 1941-43 - Shoah, very few Jewish survivors, population shrunk to 110,000