Latvia

Latvia Destinations Travel Guide

 

 

Flag of Latvia

Language: Latvian

Currency: Lats (LVL)

Calling Code: +371

Latvian History

 

Description of Latvia

Latvia, officially the Republic of Latvia, is a sovereign country member of the European Union, with capital in Riga, covering 64 589 km² of surface and has a total population of 2 070 371 inhabitants. This republic, which is located in northern Europe, it is one of the Baltic countries and borders Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, Russia and Belarus to the east, and the Baltic Sea to the west, a country of low plains with extensive forests.

Latvia became independent again after 1991, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, since that year it is part of the United Nations Organization (UN), since 2004 of the European Union (EU) and of NATO, and since 2016 is a member of the OECD. Currently the country is a parliamentary democratic republic divided into 120 municipalities (90 municipalities and 30 cities).

The country adopted the euro as the official currency on January 1, 2014. From that day the euro gradually replaced the LatA as the currency of Latvia, there being a two-week double circulation period during which the two currencies circulated, with the in order to allow a progressive withdrawal of the Latvian currency. When a payment was received in lats, the change was offered in euros.

 

Travel Destinations in Latvia

Riga region

Riga
Sigulda
Jūrmala
Salacgrīva
Saulkrasti
Tukums
Salaspils
Jaunpils Castle
Ķemeri National Park
Turaida Castle

Vidzeme

Cēsis
Ligatne
Madona
Seda
Valmiera
Alūksne
Gulbene
Strenči
Valka
Smiltene
Gauja National Park
North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve

 

Kurzeme

Liepāja
Ventspils
Kuldīga
Saldus
Talsi
Aizpute
Roja
Pāvilosta
Slītere National Park

 

Zemgale

Jelgava
Bauska
Dobele
Bauska Castle
Dobele Castle
Mežotne Palace
Rundale Palace
Tervete Nature Park

 

Latgale

Daugavpils
Rēzekne
Aglona
Ludza
Rāzna National Park

 

Etymology

The name "Latvia" came to the Latvian language from Lithuanian, in which it was formed from the ethnonym of the Latvians - latviai (lit. latviai). The term "Latvia" was introduced into Latvian literature by the poet Auseklis.

For the first time, a similar name in the form of Lettia (Lettia, Letthia, Leththia) is found in the “Chronicle” of Henry of Latvia (1209), when describing the military actions of the German knights against the Jersik prince Vsevolod (Visvaldis), originally to designate the territories inhabited by the Latgalians (Gersik and Kukenois principalities) . In 1211, when these lands were divided between the Archbishop of Riga and the Livonian Order, all these lands began to be called Letthia. This name was first mentioned in a papal bull dated October 20, 1210 and subsequently appeared regularly in documents until the 14th century, and in the 15th century it was finally supplanted by the name "Livonia" (Middle German Lyflant, Ifland).

The word "Latvia" for the name of all Latvian territories was first used by the Viljandi priest Dionysius Fabricius in his chronicle "Livonicae historiae compediosa series", completed in 1611. Then the term “land of Latvians” was mentioned by priests: Georg Manzel (latviešu zeme, Lettus, 1638), Jakob Lange (latviska zeme, Lexicon, 1777), Senior Stender mentioned the phrase Latvju zeme (Lexicon, 1789).

The term came into wide use after the abolition of serfdom in the provinces of Livonia and Courland, when among the Latvian-speaking peasants began to form national identity as a people occupying the territory from Palanga to Aluksne. Juris Alunans in 1857 suggested using the name "Latva", and then, by analogy with the Lithuanian language, added the suffix and endings -ija to it. The Latvians who fell under the influence of the Germans at first used the term "Baltic", derived from the neologism Baltenland, which replaced the oldest concept of Ostseeprovinzen. In the solemn song of Karlis Baumanis "God bless Latvia!" Initially, it was not about Latvia, but about the Baltics. Also, the Baltics appeared on a par with Latvia in Andrey Pumpur's epic "Lachplesis".

The term “Latvia” acquired political significance during the revolution of 1905, and then it became popular abroad through the efforts of emigrants (Rainis, K. Skalbe). It finally established itself during the First World War, in connection with the formation of Latvian riflemen units and the battles for independence.

 

History

Around the 3rd millennium BC Finno-Ugric tribes of pit-comb ceramics (whose linguistic descendants were historical livings) came to the territory of modern Latvia. Not later than the 1st millennium BC.  the Baltic tribes of the culture of hatched ceramics settled here.

During the period of feudal fragmentation in Russia and the emergence of destinies, the Livonian lands in the Western Dvina were dependent on the Principality of Polotsk, to which they were subordinate to the reign of Prince Vseslav Bryachislavich (1044–1101). According to the chroniclers, the Livs paid tribute to the princes of Polotsk, the Curonians paid tribute to the kings of Sweden.

In 1184, the Catholic missionary Maynard von Segeberg, with the permission of Prince Vladimir Polotsky, began to preach Christianity in his vassal lands - near the Livs. After 2 years, the Bremen Archbishop Hartwig II elevated Maynard to the rank of bishop and created the first diocese in Livonia under his leadership. On October 1, 1188, Pope Clement III approved Maynard in the episcopal rank, and gave the created bishopric to submission to Bremen. However, the Livs were not very willing to convert to Christianity and rebelled against the authority of the bishop, killing Maynard's successor, Bishop Bertold.

XIII — XV centuries
In 1201, Bishop Albert Buxgewden founded the city of Riga. To strengthen his power, he founded the Order of the Sword-Bearers (after the defeat at the Battle of Saul - the Livonian Order as part of the Teutonic Order), which later became an independent political and economic force; the order and the bishop fought each other for political hegemony in Livonia. In 1209, the bishop and order agreed to divide the controlled lands among themselves. On the map of Europe appeared the state formation of the German crusader knights - Livonia (according to the name of the local ethnos - Livs). It includes the territories in which Estonia and Latvia are located today. The control of the Principality of Polotsk over its former inheritances in the territory of Latvia (Kukenojs and Gersike) was lost.

In 1254, a new division of Livonian lands took place - under an agreement between the Riga Archbishopric, its cathedral chapter and the Livonian Order. Many Livonian cities later became members of the flourishing North European Trade Union - the Hansa.

XVI century
The first printed text in Latvian appears in the Catholic church reference book - in the book “Agenda” (1507, Leipzig).

Riga residents also actively participated in the Reformation, already in 1517 the preacher of ideas of Luther Andreas Knopken arrived in Riga. In 1530, Nikolaus Ramm first translated Bible passages into Latvian. After some conflicts (including armed ones) in 1554, the Master of the Livonian Order, Walter von Plettenberg, declared freedom of religion in Livonia.

At the same time, Moscow Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible announced his claims to Livonia. As an excuse, a protest was filed against the non-payment of tribute from St. George, established after the Russo-Livonian war of 1480-1481 and the Russo-Livonian treaty of 1503, as well as the oppression of Russian merchants. The Baltic Germans initially asked to cancel the tribute, and at the negotiations in December 1557 they agreed to pay off the debt in the amount of 30 thousand Hungarian gold (which amounted to 45 thousand thalers or 18 thousand rubles), in the future to pay one thousand Hungarian gold per year, however promises are not kept. This was the reason for the outbreak of war. Having invaded the territory of Livonia in 1558, already in August 1560, Ivan the Terrible defeated the fragmented forces of the order at the battle of Ergem. The Livonian War, which lasted 25 years, ended in 1583 with the Plyus Armistice. As a result, the Livonian Order ceased to exist, and its territory was divided between the Polish-Lithuanian state, Sweden (the north of present-day Estonia) and Denmark (it got the island of Ezel). The lands of the Livonian Order north of the Western Dvina became the Zadvina Duchy directly controlled by Poland, and the lands to the south became the vassal state of the Commonwealth - the Duchy of Courland.

XVII century
As a result of the Polish-Swedish wars, the Zadvinsk Duchy ceased to exist. Most of it fell under Sweden's control (Swedish Livonia), and the southeastern part was transformed into the Inflantian Voivodeship of the Commonwealth.

In the XVII century, as a result of the consolidation of Latgals, villages, Zemgals, Curns and Livs, the formation of the Latvian nation took place.

 

In 1638, Georg Manselius compiled the first Latvian dictionary Lettus, and in 1649 Paul Einhorn published the Historia Lettica (Latvian History). In 1683, the first alphabet of the Latvian language was published. In 1685, a textbook of the Latvian language appeared under the authorship of Heinrich Adolfius. Until now, differences between the dialects of the Latvian language remain, and some linguists consider the deep dialects of the Upper Latysh dialect to be a separate Latgalian language.

In 1684, a local blacksmith Zviedris Johanson was sentenced to be burned at the stake in Priekule. From 1670 to 1684, he spent several flights with an aircraft of his own design (like a hang glider). For dispersal I used towers of castles and churches. He flew 2 km to the neighboring estates, broke his leg, and later already knew how to circle in the air.

XVIII century
After the victory of the Russian kingdom over the Swedish Empire on August 30 (September 10), 1721, the Nishtadt Peace Treaty was signed. Sweden recognized the accession of Livonia, Estonia, Ingermanland, part of Karelia and other territories to Russia, for which Russia paid Sweden compensation of 2 million yefimk (1.3 million rubles).

1757 - the Kraslava Catholic Theological Seminary was opened.
1772 - during the first partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Latgale (Polish Inflants) also departs to Russia.
1775 - Academia Petrina was opened in Courland by the Duke Peter Biron.
1785 - in Courland, the Latvian mechanic Ernst Johann Binemann launched the first balloon.
1795 - during the third division of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Duchy of Courland departs from the Russian Empire.

XIX century
1812 - the war with Napoleon partially affected the territory of modern Latvia.
1817 - the abolition of serfdom in the Courland province.
1819 - the abolition of serfdom in the Livonia province.
1822 - the first newspaper in Latvian “Latviešu Avīzes” (“Latvian Newspaper”) begins to be published in Jelgava.
1861 - the first railway in the territory of modern Latvia, Riga - Dinaburg, came into operation.
1862 - Riga Polytechnic Institute was opened.
Since the middle of the XIX century - the growth of national identity, the movement of young boys.

The end of the XIX century - the rapid development of industry. The Russian-Baltic Carriage Works, the Phoenix Carriage Building Plant, the Conductor Rubber Products Plant began to operate, and the first cars and bicycles in Russia were produced. The leading industries are engineering and metalworking.

May 1899 - workers ’performances (the so-called Riga riot).

XX century
1905 - revolutionary events in the Livonia province.

1915 - German occupation of Courland during the First World War, the evacuation of industry from Latvian cities, the great destruction in Dvinsk (now Daugavpils), the creation of Latvian rifle units.

November 18, 1918 - The People’s Council of Latvia proclaimed the Republic of Latvia as an independent and independent state, thus completing the preparation of the statehood of Latvia.

December 22, 1918 - V. Lenin signs a decree of the Council of People's Commissars recognizing the independence of the Soviet Republic of Latvia.

1918-1920 - the struggle for the independence of Latvia. Pro-German and pro-Soviet armed groups were forced to retreat, which created the prerequisites for international recognition of Latvia.

August 11, 1920 - in Riga, a peace treaty was signed between the RSFSR and Latvia, which recognizes the independence of the Republic of Latvia. On the basis of legal norms of that time, this de jure led to the emergence of the Republic of Latvia as a subject of international law.

January 26, 1921 - recognition by the Entente of Latvia as an independent state de jure.

September 22, 1921 - Latvia joined the League of Nations.

February 15, 1922 - The Constituent Assembly adopts the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia - Satversme.

May 15, 1934 - coup d'etat, absolute power in the country is concentrated in the hands of K. Ulmanis.

June 7, 1939 - Latvia signs a non-aggression pact with Germany, in a hidden clause containing an obligation to take “all necessary military security measures in relation to Soviet Russia”.

August 23, 1939 - Germany and the Soviet Union sign a non-aggression pact (also known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact). The agreement was accompanied by a secret additional protocol on the division of Eastern European countries into spheres of German and Soviet interests (Latvia fell into the sphere of influence of the USSR).

 

October 29 - according to the Mutual Assistance Pact between the USSR and Latvia, signed after the surrender of Poland, parts of the 2nd separate rifle corps and the 18th aviation brigade of the Red Army arrive in Latvia, in which there were 21,559 people.

June 15, 1940 - attack on the Latvian border guards in Maslenki.

June 16 - at 14:00, the Soviet People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs V. Molotov read to the Ambassador of Latvia F. Kocins the ultimatum of the USSR government, which required the resignation of the Latvian government and the introduction of an unlimited contingent of Soviet armed forces in Latvia, supplementing it if before 23:00 no response will be received from the government of Latvia, the armed forces of the USSR will enter the territory of Latvia and suppress any resistance. The government of K. Ulmanis decided to accept an ultimatum and resign on the evening of June 16. The Cabinet of Ministers rejected military resistance, as it believed that it would cause bloodshed, but would not save the Latvian state.

June 17 - additional units of the Red Army enter Latvia.

July 14-15, 1940 - the elections to the People’s Diet are held in Latvia. Only one was admitted to the elections - a list of candidates nominated by the "Bloc of Working People". All other alternative lists were rejected. It was officially reported that 97.5% of the vote was cast for the list.

July 21, 1940 - The People’s Diet proclaims Latvia as the Soviet Republic (the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic) and on August 5, 1940 - the Supreme Soviet of the USSR accepts Latvia into the USSR.

1941 - a wave of repression - in accordance with the Decree of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks and the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR of May 16, 1941 "On measures to clean the Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian SSR from the anti-Soviet, criminal and socially dangerous elements" were arrested and deported to remote areas USSR members of anti-Soviet nationalist organizations, former law enforcement officials and military personnel of bourgeois Latvia and the White Army (subject to compromising documents), large manufacturers, landowners, merchants and high-ranking civil servants of Latvia yskoy Republic of criminals who continue to engage in illegal activities - those whom the authorities considered dangerous to the Soviet regime on the eve of the war.

According to the documents of the State Archives of Latvia, on June 14, 1941, 15 424 people were deported from Latvia, of which 5263 were arrested. Of those arrested, 700 were shot, 3441 people died in custody; that is, one fifth of those arrested survived. Among the rest deported to places of special settlement, 1,900 people died. According to the KGB of the USSR, which was analyzed by historian A. Dyukov, the total number of deceased victims of deportation amounted to 4884 people (34% of the total), while before 1953, 2000 people returned home. According to A. Dyukov, 81.27% of the deportees were Latvians, 11.70% Jews, 5.29% Russians.

June 22, 1941 - Nazi Germany attacked the USSR. By mid-July, the entire territory of Latvia was occupied by German troops. The formation of police battalions has begun on a voluntary basis, subsequently united in the Latvian Volunteer SS Legion.

According to Soviet data, during the years of Nazi occupation by the Nazis and their accomplices, 313,798 Soviet citizens (including 39,835 children) and 330,000 Soviet prisoners of war were killed in Latvia.

October 13, 1944 - units of the Red Army enter Riga.

1949 - during the second wave of repressions, about 50,000 people were deported from Latvia.

1940-1956 - the movement of "national partisans" (the so-called "forest brothers").

1940-1991 - Latvian SSR as part of the USSR. Industry is developing in the republic (enterprises of the WEF, Radiotechnika, RAF, and Lyme). During this period, some party leaders of Soviet Latvia were promoted to leading posts in Moscow, among them A. Pelshe, member of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee, B. Pugo, head of the KGB of Latvia, etc.

In modern Latvian historiography, the period when the country was part of the USSR is considered to be Soviet occupation. In 2016, the damage from it was estimated at € 185 billion.

On May 4, 1990, the Supreme Council of the Latvian SSR adopted the “Declaration on the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia”. According to this document, the constitution of independent Latvia of 1922 was resumed and a de facto transitional period was established before the convocation of the Seimas.

On August 21, 1991, the Supreme Council of Latvia confirmed the independence of the republic by adopting the Constitutional Law “On the State Status of the Republic of Latvia”.

On September 6, 1991, Latvia's independence was recognized by the USSR State Council.

 

September 17, 1991 the Republic of Latvia became a member of the UN.

February 10, 1995 the Republic of Latvia becomes a member of the Council of Europe.

On February 10, 1999, the Republic of Latvia became a member of the World Trade Organization.

XXI Century
In February 2004, 19 NATO member states ratified the protocols on Latvia’s accession to the North Atlantic Alliance; in May of the same year, the country was admitted to the European Union.

Latvia became a part of December 21, 2007, and since March 30, 2008 fully applies the rules of the Schengen zone. On January 1, 2014, Latvia became the 18th member of the Eurozone.

In the first half of 2015, Latvia presided over the Council of the European Union.

On June 2, 2016, Latvia became the 35th member of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

 

State structure

In Latvia, with amendments, the constitution of 1922 is in force.

Latvia is a parliamentary republic. The legislative body is the Saeima, elected by full-fledged citizens of Latvia who have reached the age of 18 by the election day, for a term of 4 years.

The highest representation is exercised by the President of the State, elected by the Seimas for a term of 4 years;

The executive body is the cabinet of ministers, consisting of the prime minister and ministers. The Cabinet of Ministers forms the person called for this by the President. The coalition parties of the Saeima of Latvia propose to the President of the Republic the candidature of the Prime Minister (President of Ministers). The approved prime minister forms a new cabinet of ministers.

 

Political parties

Latvia has a multi-party system, parties have the opportunity to form coalition governments.

The last parliamentary elections in Latvia took place on October 6, 2018. Of the 1,548,673 citizens eligible to vote, 844,925, or 54.55%, participated in the elections.

As a result of the elections, all parties represented in the parliament lost their votes, thanks to which it was updated by two-thirds. The first place was retained by the Harmony party; the second, third and fourth places were taken by newcomers: KPV LV, the New Conservative Party and Development/For!

Unions
The largest trade union center is the Union of Free Trade Unions of Latvia.

 

State symbols, public holidays

The state symbols of Latvia are regulated by the constitution and current legislation (Law on the State Flag, State Language, State Emblem and State Anthem).

The flag of Latvia is a rectangular panel consisting of three horizontal stripes in the ratio 2:1:2 - two carmine-red stripes separated by a white one in the middle.

In the German Rhymed Chronicle, under the year 1279, the banner of the Landeswehr detachment (militia) of Wenden Castle (on the territory of the modern city of Cesis) is mentioned - red with a white stripe.

Anthem of Latvia "Dievs, svētī Latviju!" (“God bless Latvia!”) was written by the Latvian composer K. Baumanis in the second half of the 19th century, was first performed in 1873 and became an anthem in 1921.

The coat of arms of Latvia is a shield with a rising sun on a blue background in the upper part, a red lion on a silver background on the lower left and a silver griffin on a red background on the lower right.

January 1 New Year's Day Jaungada diena
Good Friday Good Friday Lielā piektdiena
Easter First and second day of Easter Pirmās un Otrās Lieldienas
May 1 Labor Day, Day of convocation of the Constituent Assembly of the Republic of Latvia Darba svētki. Latvijas Republikas Satversmes sapulces sasaukšanas diena
May 4 Day of Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia Latvijas Republikas Neatkarības atjaunošanas diena
Second Sunday in May Mother's Day Mātes diena
Trinity Holy Trinity Day Vasarsvētki
June 23 Ligo Day Ligo diena
June 24 Jāņu day (summer solstice) Jāņu diena
18 November Proclamation Day of the Republic of Latvia Latvijas Republikas Proklamēšanas diena
December 24–26 Christmas (winter solstice) Ziemassvētki
31 December Old Year's Day Vecgada diena

Orthodox, Old Believers and believers of other confessions celebrate Easter, Trinity and Christmas on the days established by these confessions.
If the holidays - May 4 and November 18 - fall on Saturday or Sunday, the next working day is set as a holiday

 

January 20 Barricade Defenders Memorial Day 1991 1991
January 26 International Recognition Day (de jure) of the Republic of Latvia Latvijas Republikas starptautiskās (de jure) atzīšanas diena
March 8 International Women's Day Starptautiskā sieviešu diena
May 8 is the Day of the Defeat of Nazism and the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of World War II Nacisma sagrāves diena. Otrā pasaules kara upuru piemiņas diena
May 9 Europe Day Eiropas diena
May 15 International Family Day Starptautiskā ģimenes diena
June 1 International Children's Day Starptautiskā bērnu aizsardzības diena
June 14 Commemoration Day for the Victims of the Communist Genocide Komunistiskā genocīda upuru piemiņas diena In memory of the victims of the 1941 deportation
June 22 Heroes' Memorial Day (Cesis Battle Memorial Day) Varoņu piemiņas diena (Cēsu kaujas atceres diena)
July 4 Day of Remembrance for the victims of the genocide against the Jewish people Ebreju tautas genocīda upuru piemiņas diena
Second Saturday of July Maritime Holidays Day Jūras svētku diena
11 August Day of Remembrance of Latvian Freedom Fighters
21 August The Day of Adoption of the Constitutional Law “On the State Status of the Republic of Latvia” Konstitucionālā likuma “Par Latvijas Republikas valstisko statusu” pieņemšanas diena
August 23 Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Stalinism and Nazism Staļinisma un nacisma upuru atceres diena
September 1 Knowledge Day Zinību diena
Second Sunday in September Father's Day Tēva diena
September 22 Balt Unity Day Baltu vienības diena In memory of the victory in the Battle of Saule (1236)
October 1 International Day of Older Persons/ Starptautiskā veco ļaužu diena
First Sunday of October Teacher's Day/ Skolotāju diena
November 11 Lachplesis Day/ Lāčplēša diena
The first Sunday of December Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Genocide of the Totalitarian Communist Regime against the Latvian People

 

Foreign policy

On August 24, 1991, the RSFSR (then part of the USSR) recognized the fact of the restoration of the independence of the Republic of Latvia, and on October 4, Latvia and Russia resumed diplomatic relations. On September 6, 1991, the independence of Latvia was recognized by the USSR.

Latvia has been a member of the UN since September 17, 1991, and is also a member of the EU, NATO, Council of Europe, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, IMF, WTO, Council of the Baltic Sea States and Nordic Investment Bank. She was a member of the League of Nations (1921-1940).

Latvia has established diplomatic relations with 160 countries and maintains embassies in 35 countries. 37 countries have embassies in the capital of Latvia - Riga.

Latvia in its foreign policy focuses on the European Union and NATO. On May 1, 2004 Latvia joined the European Union. Member of NATO since March 29, 2004. On December 21, 2007, Latvia entered the Schengen zone, control was maintained at airports until March 30, 2008.

In May 2005 and in November 2006, during the NATO summit, US President George W. Bush visited the country.

From December 19 to 22, 2010, for the first time in 16 years, the official visit of the President of Latvia V. Zatlers to Russia took place. During the visit, V. Zatlers met with President of the Russian Federation D. Medvedev and Prime Minister V. Putin.

In the first half of 2015, Latvia was the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

EU accession process
On October 27, 1995, the Latvian government submitted an official application to the Spanish presidency of the EU to join the EU.

In 1997, the European Commission gave the first opinions on the start of negotiations of the candidate countries for accession to the EU. Latvia did not receive an invitation to the talks.

In 1999, in Helsinki, Latvia was invited to the EU accession negotiations, which began in February 2000.

On December 13, 2002, in Copenhagen, Latvia and nine other candidate countries completed negotiations on EU accession.

On April 16, 2003, an accession agreement was signed in Athens. Latvia, like 9 other countries, has moved from the status of a candidate to the status of a future member state.

In a referendum on September 20, 2003, 66.97% of Latvian citizens voted for Latvia's accession to the EU. 32.26% voted against.

On October 30, 2003 the Saeima of Latvia ratified the agreement on Latvia's accession to the EU.

On May 1, 2004, Latvia, together with 9 other countries: Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Malta and the Republic of Cyprus, became a full member of the European Union.

On December 21, 2007, Latvia joined, and from March 30, 2008 fully applies the rules of the Schengen zone, which imply the elimination of border controls at the internal borders between the states that entered the zone, and at the same time the strengthening of border controls with third states bordering the zone.

 

Armed forces

The National Armed Forces of Latvia is a set of Latvian troops designed to protect the freedom, independence and territorial integrity of the state. In 2004, Latvia joined NATO, and on January 1, 2007, it switched to a professional army.

Latvia participates in international peacekeeping and security operations. Latvian specialists also contributed to civilian missions.

The number of the army is 5,500 soldiers, the reserve is 10,000 people. The army has been reduced to 2 infantry battalions and 18 battalions of the Home Guard, a volunteer paramilitary unit that is part of the Ministry of Defense.

Since 1996, more than 3,600 military personnel have taken part in international operations, 7 of them have died.

The NAF reserve is made up of Latvian citizens who have completed military service.

The leadership of the National Armed Forces of Latvia is carried out by the Minister of Defense, on the proposals of the Commander of the Armed Forces.

 

Administrative division

Latvia is a unitary state, administratively divided into 36 regions (Latvian novadi, singular novads) and 7 cities of republican subordination (Riga, Daugavpils, Liepaja, Jelgava, Jurmala, Ventspils, Rezekne). The krais are territorially divided into volosts and krai cities or have no internal division at all.

From 2009 to 2021, Latvia was divided into 110 regions and 9 cities of republican subordination.

Until 2009, there were two levels of local governments in Latvia:
26 districts and 7 republican cities;
several hundred volosts and regional cities, as well as a number of territories created as part of the reform.

According to the constitution, Latvia consists of four historical and cultural regions - Vidzeme, Latgale, Kurzeme, Zemgale - which, however, are not administrative-territorial units.

For statistical purposes, in 2004 statistical regions were created - Riga, Pririzhie, Vidzeme, Latgale, Kurzeme, Zemgale. In order to plan regional development and cooperation between local governments, planning regions were also created in 2006 - Vidzeme, Zemgale, Kurzeme, Latgale and Riga (the borders of which differ from the statistical regions by the union of Pririzhie with Riga).

Big cities
In Latvia, the status of a city has been assigned to 76 settlements, of which 7 have the status of republican cities. Republican cities are in bold.

The table lists the largest cities in the country with a population of more than 10,000 (as of January 1, 2015).

 

Physical and geographical characteristics

Geographical position
The territory of Latvia is 64,589 km² (122nd largest country in the world). The total length of the borders is 1150 km. It is washed by the Baltic Sea (the length of the coast is 531 km) and the Gulf of Riga in the west, it borders on Estonia in the north (343 km), Lithuania in the south (588 km), Russia (246 km) and Belarus (161 km) in the east.

The relief is flat, highlands interspersed with lowlands.
Vidzeme Upland (highest point - Gaizinkalns hill, 312 m);
Latgale Upland (the highest point is Lielais Liepukalns hill, 289 m);
Aluksne Upland (the highest point is Delinkalns hill, 272 m);
Curonian Upland (the highest point is Krievukalns Hill (Russian Mountain), 189 m);
Augshzem Upland (highest point - Eglukalns hill, 220 m);

The longest lowland is Primorskaya.

The deepest lake is Dridzis (65.1 m).

In total, there are 2585 rivers and 2288 lakes in Latvia.

Main natural resources: sand, gravel, peat, dolomite, limestone, clay, gypsum, water resources, timber. Exploration of oil fields on the shelf of the Baltic Sea and test production of oil in the Kurzeme region are underway. A small amount of amber is sometimes found on the coast of Latvia.

 

Climate

The climate has a transitional character from maritime to continental, which is softened by proximity to the Baltic Sea. The prevailing southwestern winds bring a significant amount of precipitation from the Atlantic - 500-800 mm per year. The sky is often covered with clouds, the number of sunny days is only 30-40 per year. The sunniest and driest month is May.

Summers are often cool and rainy, with temperatures above freezing 125-155 days a year. The average July temperature is +15…+17 °C, sometimes there are anomalies (up to +32 °C), as in the mid-1990s. Winter lasts from mid-December to mid-March. In January, the average temperature is from -3 to -7 °C, occasionally falling to -20 °C.

 

Flora and fauna

Flora in Latvia developed approximately 10-15 thousand years after the last ice age.

The fields were formed due to deforestation, constant mowing or grazing. Natural fields make up only one percent of the territory of Latvia. 360 species of higher plants are described in the fields, but only 60 species are found frequently.

Wetlands occupy 10% of the territory. Most of them are located in the Coastal Lowland and Eastern Latvia. The swamps began to form already at the end of the ice age, however, most of them formed after the ice age. They continue to develop to this day, turning into reservoirs or dry land.

In Latvia, 1304 native plant species and 633 imported species have been described.

The fauna of Latvia is typical of Northern Europe. There are 62 species of mammals, where 19 of them can accidentally wander into the territory of Latvia, for example: common or spotted seal, common porpoise and common shrew. Approximately 300 species of birds are found in Latvia, some of which are rare in other countries, such as the white-tailed eagle, short-toed eagle, black stork. There are 29 species of fish in total. Approximately 17,500 species of invertebrates are known, but another 12,000 species may be found in Latvia. The number of species of reptiles and amphibians, due to unsuitable climatic conditions for their life, is small - only 20 species (13 species of amphibians and 7 - reptiles).

Ecology
The nature of Latvia is quite diverse, the amount of natural resources per capita exceeds the European average. There is 10 times more land per inhabitant than in the Netherlands, 10 times more renewable water resources than the world average. There are hundreds of times more forests per person than in many European countries. The temperate climate and balanced geological conditions protect the territory from cataclysms.

In general, the environmental situation is favorable, regular environmental monitoring is carried out. In 2012, Latvia ranked 2nd in the world (after Switzerland) in terms of environmental performance index.

 

Population

Number and settlement
As of August 1, 2016, the population of Latvia was 1,958,800 people.

According to the results of the national census conducted in March-June 2011, the population of Latvia amounted to 2,067,887 people, and according to estimates derived from the calculation of the existing population growth rates, by August 2015 its number had decreased to 1,978,300 people.

Population density - 30.5 people / km². In 2010, 68% of the population lived in cities.

According to the CSO data, there were 2,261,000 people in Latvia in 2008, which is 9,600 people less than in 2007. The population decline rate was 0.42%.

As a result of the natural decline in the population, when the death rate exceeds the birth rate, the total number of inhabitants decreased by 7.1 thousand people, and as a result of migration, the number decreased by another 2.5 thousand people.

The number of inhabitants of the country continues to decrease, despite the increase in the birth rate, which amounted to 4% in 2008 and became the highest in the last 15 years.

The largest number of Latvian citizens who have left are Ireland and Great Britain.

As of 2019, according to UN estimates, 237,266 immigrants lived in Latvia, or 12.4% of the country's population.

Despite social, economic and political changes since the times of the USSR, as of 2022 in Latvia and neighboring Estonia, the largest, in percentage terms, the Russian ethnic minority lives (in Latvia - 24.22%, in Estonia - 23.67% of the total population), among all countries of the world.

Citizens of Latvia
At the beginning of 2022, 1,630,747 citizens lived in Latvia, making up 86.9% of the country's inhabitants. As of 2022, Latvian citizens can visit a total of 181 states and territories without a visa, making the Latvian passport 11th in the world in terms of freedom of movement according to the Passport Index.

Non-citizens of Latvia
Non-citizens at the beginning of 2022 amounted to 182,375 people, or 9.7% of the country's inhabitants. From a legal point of view - the subjects of the law of April 12, 1995 "On the status of citizens of the former USSR who do not have citizenship of Latvia or another state" - persons who are not and have not been citizens of any state other than the USSR.

Sex and age characteristics of the population
According to the 2000 census data, 1,093,305 men and 1,282,034 women permanently reside in Latvia. The average age of the population is 37.9 years (men - 35, women - 40.4). Between the 1989 and 2000 censuses, the population of Latvia has clearly aged. The proportion of those under the age of 15 decreased from 21.4% to 17.9%, while the proportion of those aged 60 and over increased from 17.4% to 21.1%.

 

Language

The official language is Latvian. Although Russian is not an official language, 34% of the population speaks it: in all large cities and in most of Latgale, it will not be difficult to communicate in Russian. As in most countries of the former Soviet Union, the older generation is more likely to communicate in Russian, while the younger generation - in English.

Latgale is also spoken in Latgale. The Livs are recognized as a national minority, but the number of speakers of the Livonian language is extremely small.

 

Religious composition
According to the data of the Department of Religious Affairs, there are 14 registered religious associations in Latvia, including 719 communities and parishes (2006). There is no state religion in Latvia, but most of the Russian-speakers profess Orthodoxy, the predominant number of believers among the Latvians of the west and the center of the country are Lutherans, and Catholicism is widespread in the east of the country. There is also a large community of Old Believers in Latvia, mainly in Latgale. In general, society is tolerant of various religious movements, and the church does not have a significant impact on public life.

In 2006, there were 769 buildings of religious and religious significance in Latvia.

According to a 2012 Department of Justice report, the number of parishioners in the largest religious organizations (more than 350 people) was as follows:

Lutherans, 714,758 in the LELB, 876 in small independent groups (German Lutherans and Augsburg Lutherans);
Orthodox - 370,000; from non-canonical organizations 240;
Catholics - the exact data is unknown, in 2008, 500,000 believers were indicated on the page of the Catholic Cathedral;
Old Believers - 51,330; officially called the number of members of parishes with the right to vote - 2345;
Baptists - 7029;
Evangelical Christians - 4720 (two organizations);
Seventh-day Adventists, 4,034;
Pentecostals - 3200;
"New generation" - 3020;
New Apostles - 1273;
Muslims - estimated up to 1000; officially 340;
Mormons, 815;
Methodists, 760;
dievturi - 670;
Jehovah's Witnesses - 461;
Salvation Army - 391;
Jews - 378.

 

Economy

Membership in the European Union allowed Latvia to significantly expand trade relations with European countries, especially with Germany, Sweden and the UK. From January 1, 2021, the minimum wage (before taxes, gross) remains unchanged at 500 euros per month and 2.93 euros per hour, but increases in net equivalent, with the increase in the tax-free minimum from 300 euros to 350 euros , 418 euros (net, in 2021) and 428 euros (net, from 01/01/2022 to 06/30/2022), and from 350 euros to 500 euros, 447.50 euros (net, from 07/01/2022). From 2022, the minimum wage for doctors is €1,555 (gross) and €1,132.23 (net), and for nurses and paramedics €1,032 (gross) and €797.99 (net). In general, since 2022, the average salary of doctors is €1,963 (gross) and €1,396.63 (net), while healthcare workers and carers are €1,183 (gross) and €894.49 (net). As of June 2022, the average wage in Latvia was €1,383 (gross) and €1,012 (net), while 27.16% of employees received less than €700 (gross) and €586 (net). The Keitz index (the ratio of the minimum wage to the average salary) as of the 3rd quarter of 2018 is about 43%. As of December 2021, the average salary in Latvia is €1435 (gross) and €1050 (net).

Advantages: in recent years, 70% of GDP has been formed by the service sector. The country has relatively successfully passed through shock therapy to a stable market economy. Inflation was lowered before the changeover to the euro due to the Maastricht criteria and remains low (less than 1% in 2018). The national currency, lats, was abolished with the adoption of the euro (2014). The country is a member of the EU single market, has relatively high economic growth rates (above the EU average) and low public debt (below the EU average). It has a relatively cheap and well-educated workforce compared to EU countries. With the unemployment rate falling and the labor shortage increasing, wage growth as of 2019 is not constrained by the economic slowdown.

Weaknesses: energy supply depends on imported oil products, gas and electricity. Poor resource base. The biggest problem (as in other countries - new EU members) is the ever-increasing shortage of able-bodied labor force and the growth in the number of pensioners in the population structure due to low birth rates and high emigration of the population to richer EU countries, which in turn forces employers to pay more to staff, thereby artificially raising salaries and increasing the imbalance between productivity and wages. The main export commodities of Latvia (2011): electrical machinery and equipment - 6.9%, machines and mechanisms - 5.4%, iron and non-alloyed steel - 5.2%, sawn timber - 4.8%, pharmaceutical products - 4.1 %, iron and steel products - 3.2%, primary iron and steel products (granulated and powdered products) - 2.8%, round timber - 2.6%, knitwear and textiles - 2.5%, non-ferrous metals and their products - 2.5%.

Latvia has signed an agreement with Lithuania and Estonia on the establishment of a customs union, and therefore the volume of trade between these countries is quite large.

History of the economy
In the years since the restoration of independence, Latvia has carried out serious economic reforms, restored its own currency lats in circulation in 1992, carried out privatization and returned multi-apartment residential buildings to their former owners (denationalization).

The economy grew steadily by 5-7% per year (in 2006 - 12.6%, 2007 - 10.3%) before the start of the economic crisis.

Based on the results of 2007, Latvia was in third place in the post-Soviet space in terms of GDP growth rates. Only Azerbaijan and Armenia were ahead of Latvia among the countries of the post-Soviet space.

Latvia has been a member of the World Trade Organization since 1999 and a member of the European Union since 2004. On January 1, 2014, Latvia switched from the national currency lats to the euro. On June 2, 2016, Latvia became the 35th member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. According to statistics at the end of 2013, 45% of the population supported the introduction of the euro, and 52% opposed it. Following the introduction of the euro, Eurobarometer polls in January 2014 showed support for the euro at around 53%, close to the European average. Since 2000, Latvia has had one of the highest GDP growth rates in Europe. However, growth driven mainly by consumption in Latvia led to a collapse in Latvian GDP in late 2008 and early 2009, exacerbated by the global economic crisis, a lack of credit, and the huge cash flow used to bail out Parex. Latvia's GDP declined by 18% in the first 3 months of 2009, the largest decline in the European Union.

 

The economic crisis of 2009 confirmed earlier assumptions that the booming economy was heading towards the collapse of the economic bubble, as it was driven mainly by increased domestic consumption financed by a massive increase in private debt, as well as a negative external trade balance. Property prices, which for some time rose by about 5% per month, have long been considered too high for an economy that mainly produces goods and raw materials at a low cost.

Privatization in Latvia is almost completed. Virtually all formerly state-owned small and medium-sized companies have been privatized, leaving only a small number of politically sensitive large state-owned companies. The private sector in 2000 accounted for about 68% of the country's GDP.

Foreign investment in Latvia is still modest compared to levels in north-central Europe. A law expanding the possibilities of selling land, including to foreigners, was adopted in 1997. Representing 10.2% of Latvia's total FDI, US companies invested $127 million in 1999. In the same year, the United States exported $58.2 million worth of goods and services to Latvia and imported $87.9 million. In an effort to join Western economic institutions such as the World Trade Organization, the OECD and the European Union, Latvia signed the European Agreement with the EU in 1995, with a 4-year transition period. Latvia and the United States signed agreements on investment, trade and protection of intellectual property and on the avoidance of double taxation.

Economic recession and recovery (2008–2012)
The rapid growth of prices in the real estate market, associated with easy obtaining of mortgage loans in Latvian banks and very active speculation in the market, was one of the inflation growth factors that provoked a collapse in the Latvian real estate market. Housing prices in Latvia in the second quarter of 2008 compared to the corresponding period of 2007 fell by 24.1%. The Latvian economy entered a phase of fiscal contraction in the second half of 2008 after a long period of credit-based speculation and unrealistic growth in real estate values. For example, the national account deficit for 2007 was over 22% of GDP for the year, while inflation was 10%.

The unemployment rate in Latvia rose sharply during this period from 5.4% in November 2007 to over 22% in April 2010. Latvia had the highest unemployment rate in the EU at 22.5%, ahead of Spain which had 19.7%. .

P. Krugman, winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Economics, wrote in his New York Times column on December 15, 2008:

The most acute problems are on the periphery of Europe, where many small economies are experiencing crises that strongly resemble past crises in Latin America and Asia: Latvia is the new Argentina

However, by 2010, economists noted signs of stabilization in the Latvian economy. Rating agency Standard & Poor's raised the outlook for Latvia's debt from negative to stable. Latvia's current account, which had a deficit of 27% at the end of 2006, was in surplus in February 2010. Kenneth Orchard, Senior Analyst at Moody's Investors Service*, argued that:

The strengthening of the regional economy is supporting Latvia's production and exports, while the sharp swing in the current account suggests that the country's "internal devaluation" is working.

As a result of anti-crisis measures in the first quarter of 2012, the increase in gross domestic product (GDP) according to the Central Statistical Bureau compared to the same period in 2011 amounted to 6.8%. In 2012, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released the first surveillance report since the end of Latvia's financial assistance program, which noted that the Latvian economy has been recovering rapidly since 2010, after a deep recession in 2008-2009.

Real GDP growth of 5.5% in 2011 was driven by rising exports and a recovery in domestic demand. Growth continued in 2012 and 2013 despite worsening external conditions, and the economy is expected to grow by 4.1% in 2014. The unemployment rate dropped from its peak of over 20% in 2010 to about 9.3% in 2014.

 

Large enterprises
airBaltic is the Latvian national airline. Awarded the Golden Award "Airline of the Year 2009/2010" and other awards.
Aldaris is a Latvian beer and soft drink company.
Grindex is the second largest pharmaceutical company in the Baltic States.
Laima is a Latvian chocolate company owned by the Norwegian concern Orkla (2015).
Latvijas dzelzceļš - state railway concern; is one of the largest in the country: more than 12 thousand people.
Latvijas Finieris is a large woodworking company.
Latvijas Gāze is the only operator in Latvia for the transportation (transmission), storage, distribution and sale of natural gas (before market liberalization in 2017).
Latvijas Pasts is the national postal operator of Latvia.
Lattelecom is the leader in the provision of electronic communication services in Latvia.
Latvenergo is the largest electricity supplier in Latvia.
MikroTik is a manufacturer of network equipment.
Olainfarm is the largest pharmaceutical company in the Baltic States.
Rīgas piena kombināts is an enterprise for processing milk into dairy products.
Rīgas Miesnieks is a Latvian company producing meat products.
Spilva is a fruit and vegetable processing company. The company produces ketchups, sauces, jams, mayonnaises, etc.

Infrastructure
The car code of Latvia is LV.

The transport sector accounts for about 14% of the gross domestic product. Transit between Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, as well as other Western and Eastern countries.

There are 8 seaports in Latvia, of which the three largest are the Freeport of Ventspils, the Freeport of Riga and the Port of Liepaja. The majority of transit traffic is crude oil and petroleum products. Ventspils port is the busiest port in the Baltic States. In addition to roads and railways, Ventspils was also an important link in the export of Russian oil through the Baltic Sea. According to experts, even with an increase in the transshipment of Russian cargo through Russian ports, Latvian ports will not remain without work.

Riga International Airport is the largest airport in the Baltic States in terms of cargo and passenger traffic. Riga International Airport serves almost half (49%) of all passengers in the Baltic capitals. For comparison, in 2016 Tallinn Airport (Estonia) served 21% of all passengers and Vilnius Airport (Lithuania) served 30%. The airport has direct flights to more than 80 destinations in 30 countries. AirBaltic is the Latvian national airline. In recent years, the state joint-stock company Riga International Airport has become one of the fastest growing airports in Europe. Thus, in 2016, 5.4 million passengers were served at the airport, and 7.8 million in 2019. The Latvian national airline AirBaltic has been recognized as the most punctual air carrier in the world for 4 years in a row. The Air Transport Research Society has recognized Riga International Airport as the most competitive airport in Europe based on cost and fare structure per passenger.

The main network of Latvian Railways consists of 1860 km, of which 1826 km is 1520 mm Russian gauge railway, of which 251 km is electrified, making it the longest railway network in the Baltic States. The Latvian railway network is currently incompatible with the European standard gauge. However, the Rail Baltica railway linking Helsinki-Tallinn-Riga-Kaunas-Warsaw is under construction and should be completed by 2026.

The national road network in Latvia comprises 1675 km of main roads, 5448 km of regional roads and 12880 km of local roads. Municipal roads in Latvia have 29975 km of roads and 8271 km of streets. The most famous are the A1 roads (European route E67) connecting Warsaw and Tallinn, as well as the European route E22 connecting Ventspils and Terechowa. In 2019, 727,164 vehicles were registered in Latvia.

Latvia has three large hydroelectric power plants: Pļaviņa HPP (825 MW), Riga HPP (402 MW) and Ķegums HPP (192 MW). In recent years, several dozen wind farms have been built, as well as power plants of various sizes, powered by biogas or biomass.

Inčukalns gas storage facility is located in Latvia, one of the largest underground gas storage facilities in Europe and the only one in the Baltic States. The unique geological conditions at Incukalns are particularly suitable for underground gas storage.

Connection
There are 4 mobile operators in Latvia: LMT, Tele2, Bite and Triatel.

 

Education

Latvian society is characterized by a high level of education. If we exclude children who are only students at school, then as of 2000, only 2.8% of the population of Latvia have an education level below grade 4. The highest proportion of people with higher education is in Riga (20.1%), Jurmala (14.5%) and Jelgava (13.5%).

There are public schools in the country that teach a number of subjects in the languages ​​of the national minorities of Latvia.

Higher education institutions
University of Latvia;
Riga Technical University;
Riga Stradins University;
Latvian Academy of Arts;
Latvian Agricultural University;
Daugavpils University;
Jazeps Vitols Latvian Academy of Music;
Latvian Maritime Academy;
Latvian Academy of Culture;
Latvian Sports Pedagogical Academy;
Liepaja University;
Riga Institute of Air Navigation;
Riga Pedagogical Academy (joined with LU in 2017);
Baltic International Academy;
Institute of Transport and Communications;
RISEBA;
Latvian Christian Academy;
Institute of Information Systems Management;
Higher School of Economics and Culture;
Graduate School of Psychology;
Business school "Turiba".

 

Culture and art

After regaining independence in 1991, Latvia faced the problem of reintegrating the three layers of Latvian culture. The first layer is Latvian literature and traditions before the Soviet times.

An example of criticism of Latvian literature in the USSR, from the TSB:
Latvian literature relied on the rich traditions of native folklore - folk songs, fairy tales, legends. The most complete first edition of the Latvian folk songs "Latvian Dainas" (vols. 1-6, 1894-1915) was compiled by the Latvian folklorist Kr. Baron (1835-1923). "Songs" (1856) by Yu. A. Alunan (1832-64) marked the beginning of the Latvian national written poetry. Creativity of representatives of the so-called. folk romanticism - Auseklis (M. Krogzemis, 1850-1879) and A. Pumpura (1841-1902), the author of the epic "Lachplesis" (1888), - had a pronounced anti-feudal character. It reflected the ideas of the national liberation movement. The first significant achievements of Latvian prose are the novel The Times of Surveyors (1879) by the brothers Matis (1848–1926) and Reinis (1839–1920) Kaudzit and the stories of Apsisu Jekabs (J. Jaunzemis, 1858–1929) about village life. The work of Latvian writers was influenced by Russian realism. A. Alunan (1848-1912) laid the foundation for Latvian dramaturgy in the 1870s-1880s.

The second layer of Latvian culture was formed after 1945 outside Latvia among about 120 thousand emigrants who created Latvian communities in Sweden, Germany, the USA, Canada and Australia. Lively cultural activity of the Latvians, including the publication of literature, continued in all these countries. The third layer was the cultural life in Latvia after 1945.

Until the 19th century, the urban culture of Latvia was for the most part the product of the German-speaking political and social elite. The Latvian peasantry had original oral traditions in their own language, which consisted mainly of folk songs and epics. A notable achievement of national culture was the publication by E. Gluck in 1694 of the Latvian translation of the Bible. Another important milestone was the founding in 1822 of the first periodical in the Latvian language, Latviesu Avizes (Latvian Newspaper).

The relationship between urban and peasant cultures changed radically in the middle of the 19th century, when university-educated Latvians such as Atis Kronvalds (1837–1875) demanded equality of languages ​​and called for the creation of a full-fledged Latvian literature. By the beginning of the 20th century, such literature had appeared; it felt the influence of Scandinavian, German and Russian literature. Poets such as Rainis (1865-1929) and Aspazija (Elsa Rozenberga, 1865-1943) gained recognition.

The inclusion of Latvia into the Soviet Union led to the sovietization of all spheres of cultural life, including the education system. New generations of Latvians were brought up in the belief that Soviet Latvian culture represented the highest stage of national cultural development. The officially approved trend was socialist realism in literature and fine arts.

In the Soviet Union, planned and purposeful work was carried out to integrate all national cultures. An integral part of this work was the translations of national writers into the languages ​​of other peoples of the USSR, primarily into Russian. Thanks to this work, the inhabitants of the USSR had the opportunity to get acquainted with the national Latvian literature and other achievements of the Latvian culture in translation. Books by Latvian writers: Latsis, Upita, Griva, Sudrabkaln, Kempe, Ziedonis, Grigulis, Skuin, Vatsietis and others have been translated into the languages ​​of the peoples of the USSR: Estonian, Lithuanian, Belarusian, Turkmen, Uzbek, Ukrainian, Georgian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, etc. as well as in foreign languages. The total circulation of the works of Latsis in Russian amounted to about 10 million copies, and the works of Upit - more than 3 million copies.

Radical changes took place in the second half of the 1980s. With the advent of glasnost, publishers and writers threw away the old restrictions and began to publish forbidden works. By 1989, the prestige of writers and journalists had grown significantly thanks to the mass media. One of the initiators of the creation of the Popular Front of Latvia were cultural figures such as J. Peters, who for some time was the Latvian ambassador to Russia, and V. Avotinsh.

 

Food

Latvian national cuisine is little known outside Latvia. The most typical dishes are gray peas with bacon, bacon pies, bread soup (dessert, served with whipped cream).

Fast food is widespread (the Lithuanian pizza chain Chili Pizza, McDonald's, Hesburger and others).

As typical Latvian products from Latvia, you can bring Janov's cheese with caraway seeds (since ancient times it was prepared for the summer solstice - Ligo - in a round shape symbolizing the sun), black bread with caraway seeds / dried fruits / nuts, sweet and sour bread, "Black balsam" (“Melnais balzams”), infused with herbs and sold in clay bottles with a wax seal (often served with coffee). There are many locally produced beers (including fruit flavored beers), several brands of cider.

 

Night life

Most developed in the capital of Latvia Riga (many nightclubs and discos for every taste and budget). In addition, there are good music and drinking establishments in Jurmala, Liepaja, Ventspils, Daugavpils. In most provincial Latvian cities, after 20 hours, life freezes.

 

Where to stay

In all cities of Latvia you can find hotels of different stars. Hotels of the highest category - in Riga (Reval Hotel chain, SAS Radisson, etc.). In addition, you can get the addresses of guest houses for FREE from the city information bureaus. In recent years, accommodation in rural Viesu nams (guest houses), located in picturesque natural places, has become popular, as a rule, with their own recreational opportunities (baths, fishing, hiking and horseback riding, etc.). A number of old baronial estates and at least one castle (Jaunciems) have been turned into hotels.

Precautions
Rescue phone 112

 

Mass media

News agencies:
LETA;
BNS (Baltic News Service).

Print mass-media
Periodicals began to appear in Latvia at the beginning of the 18th century, one of the founders of periodicals was pastor Johann Trey.

Newspapers:
Diana;
Neatkarīgā Rīta Avīze;
Dienas Business;
Business & Baltic;
Latvian Avīze;
The Baltic Times;
Today;
MK Latvia;
News;
Sporta avīze;
Baltic Rundschau.

Magazines:
IR (magazine);
Open City;
Business Class (magazine);
Telegraph (newspaper and magazine);
Baltic Course (magazine and portal);
clubs;
Lilith;
Cartridge;
pastaiga;
Kas Jauns (magazine and portal).

Electronic media
National Council for Electronic Media (NCESMI).

Sport
Ice hockey is considered the most popular sport in Latvia. Such hockey players as H. Balderis, A. Irbe, S. Ozoliņš, S. Zholtok, K. Skrastiņš and others played for the Latvian national team. Dinamo Riga is the strongest hockey club in the country and plays in the Continental Hockey League. In 2006 and 2021, the Ice Hockey World Championships were held in Riga.

Basketball is the second most popular sport in the country. The most famous Latvian basketball player is K. Porzingis, who plays in the NBA.

Other popular sports in Latvia are football, volleyball, tennis, cycling, bobsleigh, luge and weightlifting.

The highest achievement of the Latvian national football team is reaching the finals of the 2004 European Championship, where they were able to draw with Germany and almost created a sensation in the match against the Czech Republic. At the club level, one can note the now defunct 14-time national champion Skonto and Ventspils from the city of the same name, which entered the UEFA Europa League group stage in the 2009/10 season.

Speedway is also popular, in which the Latvian national team in 2013 reached the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time. Speedway club "Lokomotiv" is located in the city of Daugavpils.

Latvia participates in the Winter and Summer Olympic Games. The most successful Olympic athlete in the history of independent Latvia is M. Strombergs, who became a two-time Olympic champion in 2008 and 2012 in the BMX competition.

According to the Latvian Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (LFBS), Latvian athletes have climbed the podium 250 times in luge. This is the best indicator in the sports history of Latvia.