Samogitia was an independent administrative unit in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and a duchy. At present it is one of the four regions of Lithuania.
The area of Samogitia is about 21,000 km², encompassing Klaipeda, Telsiai, Mazeikiai, part of the Siauliai, Taurage and Kaunas districts. The borders of the Samogitian region coincide only approximately with the borders of the Samogitian dialect.
Within the greater part of this territory the inhabitants speak the Samogitian language (dialect). They have preserved their traditional way of life and customs.
The Samogitians are an ethnic Lithuanian group which speaks the Samogitian language. The inhabitants of Samogitia are referred to as northwestern Lithuanians.
From a linguistic point of view Samogitia can be divided into three parts: northern, western and southern.
The inhabitants of Skuodas, Mazeikiai, Akmene, Kretinga, Palanga, Plunge and Telsiai are considered northern Samogitians; the inhabitants of Kursenai, Varniai, Silale, Kelme, Taurage and Raseiniai are considered southern Samogitians; and the inhabitants of Klaipeda, Priekule and Silute are western Samogitians.
Historians claim that the Samogitians began from a Baltic tribe that lived in the center of present day Samogitia from the 5th to the 8th centuries. When the Lithuanian state was created all Lithuanians living to the west of the River Nevezis were called Samogitians.
The name of Samogitia was mentioned in historical sources from the 13th century (the Voluine chronicle, the Ipatyev annals).
In the late 12th century and the 13th century the Samogitians settled on the lands earlier inhabited by Kursiai (Kurshes), another Baltic tribe.