CULTURE / Settlements / Population

The first wandering humans seem to come to the Curonian Spit area in the Early Stone Age (8th millennium BC) already, however the early settlements in the Spit can be dated to the middle of the 4the millennium BC.

With the start of the 3rd millennium BC (at the end of the Middle Stone Age) a new culture wave - the pan-European horizon of the Corded Ware and local Narva cultures - appeared. The Bay Coast culture, as a specific version of the above one, was formed in the East Baltic Sea area. This served as a basis for development of the Western Balts - the ancestors of Prussians, Yotvingians and Curonians.  The Curonian Spit inhabitants cultivated pottery, amber treatment, goat and horse breeding. Farming - barley and wheat growing - was started for the first time. Salt production by evaporating  the seawater became a new trade.

The rest of ages before the 13th century have been too little explored in the Curonian Spit yet. Mid-13th century is a kind of path-division in the Curonian Spit history. Its past is framed in the chronicles, ancient documents, contemporaries and maps.

Curonians and Sambians are presumed to live in the vicinity of Nida at that period.  The records as of the 14th - 16th centuries mention the Curonians and Germans residing here. Lithuanians (so called Lietuvinkai) were also mentioned along with them as of the 16th - 20th centuries. The inhabitants often suffered from epidemics and had to escape from natural disasters. In 1629 1635, many settlements got empty due to rampageous Swedish mercenaries.  Newcomers from the continent occupied the abandoned homesteads. In the 17th 18th centuries, descendants from Courland influenced the language of local Curonians, which gradually turned into New Curonian dialect of Latvian language. In the 19th 20th centuries, a kind of trilingual culture appeared in the Curonian Spit: German was used for daily communication at state authorities, Curonian - while fishing, Lithuanian - in church services. Since the end of the 19th century German language started gradually displacing Lithuanian one. This process accelerated after the First World War.

The Second World War has essentially changed an ethnic composition of the Curonian Spit residents. Majority did not return back after the autumn evacuation in 1944, a significant amount of population moved to Germany in 1958, and their place was filled by newcomers from the other districts of Lithuania or even from the Soviet Union.

Currently, the population of the Northern Curonian Spit consists of 4 thous. registered residents where 2.5 thous. are permanent residents. Lithuanians are dominant majority, and less than 1 % are the residents of Russian and German nationality.


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