Lithuanians (Lithuanian: lietuviai, singular lietuvis/lietuvė) are the Baltic ethnic group native to Lithuania, where they number around 2,679,600 people. Another million or more make up the Lithuanian diaspora, largely found in countries such as the United States, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Russia, United Kingdom and Ireland. Their native language is Lithuanian, one of only two surviving members of the Baltic language family. According to the census conducted in 2001, 83.45% of the population of Lithuania proper identified themselves as Lithuanians, 6.74% as Poles, 6.31% as Russians, 1.23% as Belarusians, and 2.27% as members of other ethnic groups. Most Lithuanians belong to the Roman Catholic Church, while the Lietuvininkai who lived in the northern part of East Prussia prior to World War II, were mostly Evangelical Lutherans.
The territory of the Balts, including modern Lithuania, was once inhabited by several Baltic tribal entities (Aukštaitians, Sudovians, Old Lithuanians, Curonians, Semigallians, Selonians, Samogitians, Skalvians, Old Prussians (Nadruvians)), as attested by ancient sources and dating from prehistoric times. Over the centuries, and especially under the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, some of these tribes consolidated into the Lithuanian nation, mainly as a defence against the marauding Teutonic Order and Eastern Slavs. One of the last Pagan peoples in Europe, they were eventually converted to Christianity in 1387.