The earliest Lithuanian printed writings led to the formation of standard language. Back in the 16th-17th centuries, there were three sources where standard Lithuanian was being developed. The collapse of Lithuanian statehood and polonisation of Lithuanian nobility as well as predominance of the Polish language in the church all impeded the development of Lithuanian as a standard language. The prohibition on Lithuanian press in Latin characters passed in the second half of the 19th century threatened the very continuance of standard language development. Fortunately, the national movement sprung at the time provided conditions for its further evolution. Thus standard Lithuanian was formed by the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century and has since been based on the southern sub-dialect of the Western Highlanders' (aukštaičiai) dialect, nowadays also referred to as kauniškių or in common speech suvalkiečių.

Lithuanian is spoken by approximately 2,7 million people in Lithuania and 640,000 abroad. In Lithuania, more than 90 percent of non-Lithuanian speakers have fairly good Lithuanian language proficiency.