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For more information on Germans inhabitating the shores of the Baltic Sea see Baltic Germans
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The Baltic Sea

The Balts or Baltic peoples were a group of Indo-European tribes settling the area between lower Vistula and upper Dvina and Dneper. Because of geographical isolation, the Baltic peoples retained much of their original languages and were not part of the great migrations of 1st millenium. Among the Baltic peoples are modern Lithuanians and Latvians as well as the Prussians, Yotvingians and Kuronians, extinct in the Middle Ages.

Balts speak Baltic languages which belong to the Baltic language group of the Indo-European language family and are neither Germanic or Slavic.



The historical cradle of the Baltic peoples was most probably the area of upper and middle Dneper river in modern Ukraine. According to some theories that area was settled by a hypotetical Balto-Slavic community, that is a group of not recognized ancestors of modern Balts and Slavs. In early 1st millenium BC several groups of people migrated from the area to the shores of the Baltic Sea, where they settled between the river Pasłęka and Neman. It is probable that this migration gave birth to the Baltic tribes.

In the first centuries of 1st millenium, the Baltic tribes settled the area between Vistula and Dvina. Their culture is easily recognizable and most probably they were the ancestors of the tribes of Western Balts (Prussians, Yotvingians and Galindians), as well as Eastern Balts (Lithuanians, Kuronians and Latvians), notable during the Middle Ages. In 98 AD Tacitus described one of the tribes leaving near the Baltic Sea (Mare Svebicum) as Aestiorum gentes, or amber gatherers. It is believed that these peoples were inhabitants of the Sambian peninsula, although no other contemporary sources exist.

The Baltic culture that remained in the Dneper area, although bore significant resemblance to its Baltic counterpart, was also similar to culture of other peoples inhabitating the forests of Eastern Europe and became almost completely Slavicised between 7th and 10th centuries.

In 12th and 13th centuries internal struggles, as well as invasions of Ruthenians and Poles and later the expansion of the Teutonic Order resulted in almost complete annihilation of the Galindians, Kuronians and Yotvingians. The last of the Prussians became germanized some time in 16th century, after the Reformation in Prussia. Remaining cultures of Lithuanians and Latvians survived and became the ancestors of modern countries of Latvia and Lithuania.

Baltic peoples and tribes

External link


lt:Baltai lv:Balti no:Baltiske folkegruppe pl:Bałtowie


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