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Vilnius (German: Vilna) is the capital city of Lithuania with a population of 588,412 (2021). The population of Vilnius's functional urban area, which stretches beyond the city limits, is estimated at 706,832 (as of 2019), while according to the Vilnius territorial health insurance fund, there were 732,421 permanent inhabitants as of October 2020 in Vilnius city and Vilnius district municipalities combined.[1] Vilnius is in southeastern Lithuania and is the second-largest city in the Baltic states. It is the seat of Lithuania's national government and the Vilnius District Municipality.

The historian Romas Batūra identifies the city with Voruta, one of the fortresses of Mindaugas, who was Grand Duke of Lithuania in 1253. During the reign of Grand Dukes Butvydas and Vytenis, a town began emerging from what was a small trading settlement. Following the adoption of Christianity by Lithuania, between 1387 and 1413, the first Franciscan Roman Catholic church was built here. Archeological findings also indicate that this city was the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. After Lithuania was forced into a confederation by Poland, Vilnius remained Lithuania's capital.[2]

The city was first mentioned in written sources in 1323 as Vilna,[3] when the letters of Grand Duke Gediminas were sent to German cities inviting Germans (including German Jews) to settle in the capital city, as well as to Pope John XXII. These letters contain the first unambiguous reference to Vilnius as the capital;[2] Old Trakai Castle had been the earlier seat of the court of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

In the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in March 1918 Lithuania regained her independence from the Russian Empire as a sovereign State. This independence was confirmed at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. However, the new resurrected Poland then invaded and annexed the province and city of Vilna.[4][5]


  1. Vilniaus teritorinė ligonių kasa - Prisirašiusių gyventojų skaičius (lt-LT).
  2. 2.0 2.1 Vilniaus istorija (lt).
  3. (2003) Chartularium Lithuaniae res gestas magni ducis Gedeminne illustrans – Gedimino laiškai. Vilnius: Leidykla Vaga. 
  4. The Decadence of Europe by Francesco S. Nitti, former Prime Minister of Italy, London, 1922, p.181.
  5. Embattled Borders by E. Alexander Powell, London, 1928, p.266-7.