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Ancient Selonian borders.

Selonia or Sēlija (Lithuanian: Sėla or Aukšzemė), also known as Augšzeme (the "Highland"), is a cultural region of Latvia encompassing the eastern part of the historical region of Semigallia (Latvian: Zemgale). Its main city and cultural center is Jēkabpils.

Not an administrative division in modern Latvia, Sēlija currently contains the municipalities of Aknīste, Ilūkste, Jaunjelgava, Jēkabpils, Nereta, Sala, and Viesīte, the city of Jēkabpils, plus the parts of Daugavpils municipality and Krāslava municipality on the left bank of the Daugava river.

The Selonian language has become extinct, though some of the inhabitants still speak a Latgalian dialect.

The subjugation and baptism of the Selonians started in 1208, when Albert of Buxhoeveden captured Sēlpils (Latin: castrum Selonum). The term "Selonians" is most probably the German adaptation of the Livonian name "Highlanders", which leads to the hypothesis that the Selonians and Aukštaitians belonged to the same ethnos. The Chronicle of Henry of Livonia describes the Selonians as allies of the Lithuanians. In 1218 the region formed a Selonian diocese, but in 1226 part of that diocese was joined to the Riga archbishopric and the Bishopric of Semigallia was formed.

The Lutheran church at Laši, Selonia.

Nowadays the region is mainly inhabited by Latvians, Russians and autochthonous Lithuanians.

Historic boundaries

Among historical documents, the Mindaugas’ Donation Act of 1261 is the one in which the Selonian lands are described in greatest detail.

Their boundary went from the Daugava at Naujene, near Daugavpils castle, running along Kopkelis to Luodis lake and northwards along the Duseta river to lake Sartai and towards the source of the Šventoji. It stretched further to the Latuva, Vašuoka and Viešinta rivers, along the Lėvuo river northwards to the Mūša (Mūsa) and downstream, to the mouth of the Babyte (Būga, 1961, p. 273–274).

Thus, the historical sources describing the Selonian boundaries in the second half of the 13th century are rather precise. The linguist K. Būga, basing himself on linguistic data alone, specifies the southern boundary of the Selonian territory as running approximately by the towns of Salakas, Tauragnai, Utena, Svėdasai, Subačius, Palėvenė, Pasvalys, and Saločiai.


  • Arveds Švābe, ed.: Latvju enciklopēdija. Stockholm: Trīs Zvaigznes, 1952-1953.
  • Edgars Andersons, ed.: Latvju enciklopēdija 1962-1982. Lincoln: American Latvian Association [1], 1983-1990. Entry "Sēlija" available at Retrieved 25. II. 2006.



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