LATVIA

Date of establishment: November 18, 1918

Brief history:

  • Up to the 13th century: Settlement of the territory of Latvia by the Livonian Order and German knights.
  • 15th century: Latvia becomes part of the Polish-Lithuanian Union.
  • 18th century: Latvia becomes part of the Russian Empire after the partition of Poland.
  • 1918: The Republic of Latvia declares independence on November 18.
  • 1920: Latvia signs the Riga Peace Treaty with Russia, which recognizes its independence.
  • 1940: The Soviet Union occupies Latvia and incorporates it into the Soviet Union.
  • 1941-1944: Latvia is occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II.
  • 1944-1991: Soviet occupation of Latvia continues, and the country becomes the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic.
  • 1991: After an unsuccessful coup attempt in Moscow, Latvia declares independence from the Soviet Union.
  • 1991-1994: Period of political and economic changes and transition to a democratic system.
  • 2004: Latvia becomes a member of the European Union and NATO.

 

International abbreviation: LV

 

Currency: Euro (EUR)

Prior to the adoption of the euro, the Latvian currency was the Latvian lats (LVL). As part of the euro adoption process, the Latvian economy and banking system were adjusted, and the Latvian lats was gradually replaced by the euro.

 

Internet domain: .lv

 

Dialing code: +371

 

Time zone: GMT+2

 

Geography:

A country located on the Baltic Sea coast, with most of its territory being plains. It borders Estonia to the north, Russia to the east, Belarus to the southeast, and Lithuania to the south. It is bounded by the Baltic Sea to the west. The relief of Latvia is predominantly flat, with several hills and lowlands. Latvia is rich in lakes and rivers. The largest rivers include the Daugava, Gauja, Lielupe, and Venta. The Daugava is the most important river in the country, flowing through the capital city of Riga.

 

Highest peak: Gaiziņkalns at 312 meters (1024 feet) above sea level.

Although this elevation is relatively low compared to peaks in other countries, it is the highest point within Latvia.

 

Climate:

Latvia has cold winters and mild summers. Average annual temperatures are in the range 6-9°C (42-48°F). Latvia also has relatively high humidity, which affects the perception of temperature. Nature in Latvia offers a wealth of forests, lakes, and the Baltic Sea coast.

 

Fauna and flora:

Various species of animals can be found in Latvian nature. Typical mammals include deer, wild boars, foxes, badgers, hares, and various rodent species. Latvian forests are home to various bird species, such as storks, woodpeckers, owls, and eagles. The coastline of the Baltic Sea is inhabited by seagulls, sandpipers, and other seabirds. Various fish species, such as pike, trout, tench, and pike-perch, live in rivers and lakes.

Forests represent a significant part of the country’s natural wealth. Coniferous trees, including pines and spruces, dominate, along with deciduous trees such as oaks, birches, and alders. Forests also host diverse plant species, including berries, lichens, and various types of flowers such as lilies, orchids, buttercups, and yarrow.

 

Agriculture:

Various crops are grown in Latvia, including cereals (wheat, barley, and rye), potatoes, sugar beets, rapeseed, corn, legumes, and other crops. The country has a developed livestock industry, including cattle, pigs, sheep, and poultry. Milk, meat, and egg production are important sectors of agriculture. Latvia has a beautiful rural landscape that attracts tourists. Rural tourism offers opportunities for agrotourism, farm visits, tasting local products, and other experiences related to agriculture.

 

Natural resource extraction:

Latvia has limited natural resources, and its extraction of raw materials is relatively limited. Wood is grown and primarily used to produce wooden products and building materials. Peat is extracted in some areas of Latvia. Peat is used as fuel or for gardening substrates. Sand and gravel are also extracted and used in construction to produce concrete and as a building material.

 

Industry:

Latvia has food processing, timber processing, construction, chemical, electrical engineering, and a growing information technology sector. These constitute the main components of the industrial sector in Latvia.

 

Services and other areas of the economy: Information technology, banking, services, and tourism.

 

Natural and historical attractions:

The capital city Riga is a major attraction for tourists with its picturesque Old Town. There are also numerous museums and galleries where you can explore Latvian art and history. Beyond the city, you will find Latvia’s beautiful countryside. The Baltic region is generally known for its lovely forests and beaches, and Latvia is no exception. Gauja National Park is the largest and oldest in the country, with a variety of hiking trails, campsites, and historical landmarks. The beaches along the Baltic Sea coast, especially Jūrmala, are popular for their fine sand and pleasant atmosphere. Latvia is also known for its medieval castles, such as Turaida Castle.

 

Waterparks in Latvia:

 

Form of government: Parliamentary republic.

The head of state is the president. The president is directly elected by the citizens of Latvia for a four-year term. The role is primarily ceremonial and representative. The president has powers such as signing laws, appointing the government, and other state officials. Executive power is vested in the government, which is led by the prime minister. The prime minister is appointed by the president and is responsible for the management of state affairs. The government is accountable to parliament, and its members are selected from political party members represented in the parliament. Legislative power is vested in the unicameral parliament called the Saeima. The Saeima consists of 100 deputies who are elected by the citizens of Latvia for a four-year term. Their tasks include passing laws, approving the budget, and overseeing executive power. Judicial power is independent and ensures justice and adjudicates legal disputes. The supreme court is the highest instance of judicial power and is responsible for reviewing the constitutionality of laws and addressing other important legal issues.

 

Capital city: Riga

It is located on the western coast of the Baltic Sea and lies on the Daugava River. Riga is a historical city with a rich cultural and architectural heritage. Riga is also a center of culture and the arts. It offers a rich selection of museums, galleries, theaters, and concert halls. Prominent cultural institutions include the Latvian National Opera, the National Art Museum, and the Latvian National Museum. The city is vibrant and full of life. It offers numerous restaurants, cafes, shops, and nightlife. The seaside resort district of Jūrmala near Riga is a popular destination for summer recreation, thanks to its beautiful beaches, spa resorts, and sand dunes.

 

Area: 64 600 km² (24 942 square miles)

 

Population: 2 005 000 (2022)

It has slightly decreased in recent years due to low natural growth and emigration. Riga, the capital of Latvia, is the largest city in the country and has the highest share of the population. Other significant cities in Latvia include Daugavpils, Liepāja, Jelgava, and Jurmala. Latvia has a relatively low population density, although urbanization is gradually increasing. Latvian society is ethnically diverse, with most of the population identifying as Latvian, but also with minority populations of Russians, Belarusians, and others. The official language is Latvian, but Russian is also widely used.

 

UNESCO World Heritage Sites: 2

 

  1. The Historic Centre of Riga (1997) – The Old Town of Riga is located on the left bank of the Daugava and is full of picturesque streets, medieval buildings, and historical landmarks. The city’s dominant feature is Riga Cathedral, a Gothic building from the 13th century that towers over the panorama of the Old Town. Other significant landmarks include the House of the Blackheads, a Renaissance palace with a characteristic facade adorned with sculptures and reliefs. Town Hall Square, with the Town Hall and Town Hall Tower, is the central point of the Old Town and offers a picturesque atmosphere and historical charm.
  2. The Struve Geodetic Arc (2005) – A technical and historical monument that spans ten European countries, including Latvia. It was created in the 19th century as an international geodetic project with the aim of measuring and mapping the Earth. The geodetic arc was designed and implemented by Swedish geodesist and astronomer Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve. Its purpose was to measure geographic longitude and verify the shape and size of the Earth.

 

National Parks: 4

 

1. Gauja National Park

2. Kemeri National Park

3. Razna National Park

4. Slitere National Park