Seventh United Nations Conference on the
Standardization of Geographical Names

New York, 13-22 January 1998
Addendum to the Report of the Baltic Division

Standardization of geographical names in Lithuania*

National standardization; names authorities

Standardization of geographical names is the responsibility of the Government. The State Committee of the Lithuanian Language at Seimas (parliament) of Lithuania functions as the names authority. A consultative subcommittee has been set up to deal with geographical names, it comprises of linguists, cartographers as well as representatives of various government agencies. The subcommittee reviews all naming proposals, name lists, spelling rules, etc. prior to their approval by the State Committee. The committee's decision is legally binding, adherence to the standards is supervised by a language inspection.

The Law on Local Government Units and Their Boundaries stipulates that names of populated places, applied by local governments, will be approved by the Government, after having considered the proposals of local inhabitants. Name applications, before their approval, should be accompanied by a written statement of the Onomastics Department, Institute of Lithuanian Language. Local governments are responsible for naming streets, squares and other local features within their boundaries.

Field collection of place names and mapping programmes

The field collection of Lithuanian place names was started in 1935 and is now almost complete with about 700,000 names in the card index at the Institute of Lithuanian Language. Each name record indicates localisation of the named feature (district, apilinka or parish, settlement), pronunciation of the name (often in the local dialect), year of collection, etc. Another source of names are lists of various standardized toponyms in compilation of which extensive field work was also carried out.

The national mapping authority, recently reorganized National Service of Geodesy and Cartography at the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, in entering geographical names on maps, relies mainly on published sources and the collections of place names at the Institute of Lithuanian Language. All maps will be checked at the Onomastics Department of the Institute of Lithuanian Language.

In 1995 the topographical map of Lithuania (1 : 200,000) on 24 sheets was published, also several tens of sheets of maps on scale 1 : 10,000 have been printed, as well as two nautical charts 22006-L and 82001 (1 : 200,000). Production of a topographical map according to the NATO standards of 1 : 50,000 has started, several sheets have been printed. An administrative map of Lithuania (1 : 600,000) was produced in 1992.

Registers, gazetteers and toponymic data files

Apart from the collections of place names at the Institute of Lithuanian Language the following published sources of standardized names could be mentioned: Lietuvos TSR administracinio-teritorinio suskirstymo z^inynas, I dalis. Vilnius 1974, II dalis, Vilnius 1976 (names of populated places, officially reaffirmed in 1991); Lietuvos TSR upiu« ir ez^eru« vardynas. Vilnius 1963 (names of rivers and lakes of Lithuania).

In 1992-1997 the following gazetteers were published:
1) Lietuvos mis^ku« vardynas. I (Names of Lithuanian forests, an alphabetical index of 8,000 forests). Kaunas 1994
2) Lietuvos durpynu« kadastras. I-II. (Names of Lithuanian peat bogs, 7,000 names). Vilnius 1995
3) Vietovardz^iu« kirc^iavimo z^odynas (Pronunciation dictionary of Lithuanian place names, compiled by M. Razmukaite· and V. Vitkauskas. Vilnius 1994)
4) Lietuvos miestu« vardai (Names of Lithuanian towns by Aleksandras Vanagas, edited by V. Maciejauskiene·. Vilnius, Mokslo ir enciklopediju« leidykla, 1996)

A comprehensive dictionary of Lithuanian place names "Lietuvos vietovardz^iu« z^odynas" is planned, currently compiling instructions are being prepared.

At the National Service of Geodesy and Cartography digital mapping (1 : 50,000) on the basis of satellite pictures will be completed by the end of 1997. The LTDBK 50000-V database comprises of 135 sheets, geographical names on each sheet are available in a digital format. In the GIS Centre the georeference database at scale 1 : 200,000 (GDB 200) is available.

Various other government agencies are maintaining registers or cadastres on different geographical and other features: administrative units and populated places; lakes and reservoires; streets; roads; forests; preserved areas; rivers; physio-geographical features for GIS applications; territories and countries of the world (on the basis of the ISO 3166 standard).


The principles of writing foreign place names are undergoing a period of transition at present. For place names the traditional practice has been transcription and this was reflected in the instruction for writing non-Lithuanian names in the Lithuanian encyclopædia (1986). In compiling the map of 1 : 200,00 of Lithuania the first attempt was made to use the original spellings or transliterations of names. Transliteration rules for Russian and Byelorussian names were adopted in 1990-1991. In 1991 the State Committee of the Lithuanian Language allowed the use of original, i.e. non-transcribed name forms in scientific and other special texts, however recommending that traditional transcriptions be preserved in educational literature. Rooted exonyms like Lenkija 'Poland', Vokietija 'Germany', Paryz^ius 'Paris', Viena 'Wien', etc. will be maintained.

A special category of exonyms are authentic Lithuanian place names of adjoining territories that reflect historical relationship of Lithuania with the places. Another problematic area that needs special attention and historical reevaluation is the Kaliningrad region of the Russian Federation. In August 1997 the State Committee of the Lithuanian Language approved a list of 500 traditional Lithuanian names of the Kaliningrad region, prepared by M. Razmukaite·.

The State Committee of the Lithuanian Language approved in January 1995 the list of names of countries (short and long forms of names in Lithuanian, published in "Gimtoji kalba" 1995 No 3) and in May 1996 the list of capital names. The Committee also adopted in February 1996 the Lithuanian equivalent to the international system for the romanization of Chinese names (pinyin), and in 1997 the Lithuanian equivalent to the romanization system of Japanese names.


Lieutuviu« kalbos institutas (Institute of Lithuanian Language)
Antakalnio 6, 2055 Vilnius, Lithuania
Fax: +370-2-226573
Tel: +370-2-226358 (Ms. Vitalija Maciejauskiene·, Ms. Marija Razmukaite·)
Tel: +370-2-226053 (Mr. Vidas Garliauskas)

Valstybine· geodezijos ir kartografijos tarnyba prie Lietuvos Respublikos Vyriausibe·s
(National Service of Geodesy and Cartography, Government of the Republic of Lithuania)
Ukmerge·s 41, 2600 Vilnius, Lithuania
Fax: +370-2-725791
Tel: +370-2-724629, -724018 (Ms. Danute· Mardosiene·, Mr. Tomas Duksa)
(new address above since 5 December 1997)

Notes to the HTML document above:
Characters with diacritics not present in the Latin 1 code page are marked as follows:
^ denotes caron, a V-like diacritic on top of characters (c^, s^, z^).
· (middot) stands for a dot above a character (e·).
« denotes ogonek, a small reversed comma below a character (u«).

* Information to the report was provided by the Institute of Lithuanian Language and the National Service of Geodesy and Cartography