Rural Community Organizations in Lithuania: Analysis of Teritorial Network

  • Simona Ščerbinskaitė
Keywords: rural community organizations, RCO, RCO network in Lithuania


Rural areas in Lithuania have been experiencing negative changes for some time now: over three decades, the rural population has decreased by 270 thousand; moreover, 2011 data shows that more than 4 rural settlements were no longer inhabited. Rural community organizations (RCO) are often identified as one of the effective tools that can slow down these negative changes and enable development of rural areas. Based on similar essential elements (social capital, identity, leader) RCO can be considered as an institutionalized form of community. They both depend on human resources and their relationships. In 2020, total of 1,887 rural community organizations were registered in Lithuania, their network consisted of 1,745 rural settlements. 118 of these had more than one RCO in their territory, as a result, rural community organizations were clustered in area. The estimated average distance between RCO was 3.7 kilometers. The analysis revealed that a statistically significant part of the RCO is concentrated near municipal administrative centers: at a distance of 10 kilometers from them (that is, 37.3% rural areas of the country), 45.2% of all rural community organizations are concentrated. Due to demographic trends, territorial disparities in representation occur: the smallest representation is in the suburban municipalities near the big cities, and the highest one is in the sparsely populated municipalities of South-Eastern and Northern Lithuania.