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{{short description|Republic in Northeastern Europe}}{{about|the European country}}{{I|Latvia}}{{redirect|Latvian Republic}}{{pp-move|small=yes}}{{pp-move-indef}}{{Use dmy dates|date=January 2017}}

| image_flag = Flag of Latvia.svg| image_coat = Coat of Arms of Latvia.svgDievs, svētī Latviju!{{small>God Bless Latvia!}}(File:Latvian National Anthem.ogg|center)| image_map = EU-Latvia.svglocation_color=dark green region_color=dark grey European Union >subregion_color=green |legend=EU-Latvia.svg}}| capital = Riga56N6type:city}}| largest_city = capitalLatvian language>Latviana| ethnic_groups = {{unbulleted list
| 62.2% Latvians
| 25.2% Russians
| 3.2% Belarusians
| 2.2% Ukrainians
| 2.1% Poles
| 1.2% Lithuanians
| 0.3% Roma
| {{nowrap|3.6% Others{{}}Unspecified}}
URL=HTTP://DATA.CSB.GOV.LV/PXWEB/LV/SOCIALA/SOCIALA__IKGAD__IEDZ__IEDZSKAITS/IS0191.PX/TABLE/TABLEVIEWLAYOUT1/?RXID=992A0682-2C7D-4148-B242-7B48FF9FE0C2 ACCESSDATE=23 JULY 2018, | demonym = LatvianUnitary state>Unitary Parliamentary system Republic>constitutional republicPresident of Latvia>President| leader_name1 = Raimonds VējonisPrime Minister of Latvia>Prime MinisterArturs Krišjānis Kariņš>Krišjānis Kariņš| legislature = SaeimaHistory of Latvia>IndependenceOn the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia#Historical and juridical background>Declaredb| established_date1 = 18 November 1918On the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia#Historical and juridical background>Recognised| established_date2 = 26 January 1921Constitution of Latvia>Constitution adopted| established_date3 = 7 November 1922Occupation of the Baltic states>Soviet and Nazi occupations| established_date4 = 1940–1991Declaration On the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia>Announced independence| established_date5 = 4 May 1990Latvian SSR#1980s-1991>Restored independence1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt>21 August 1991State Council of the Soviet Union>Soviet Union| established_date7 = 6 September 1991United Nations Security Council Resolution 710>Admitted to the United Nations| established_date8 = 17 September 1991Joined the European Union}}| established_date9 = 1 May 2004| area_km2 = 64,589| area_rank = 122nd | area_sq_mi = 24,938 2}})DATE=NOV 2015ACCESSDATE=6 MAY 2014ARCHIVE-DATE=14 OCTOBER 2017DF=DMY-ALL, DATE=2 APRIL 2012ACCESSDATE=2 JUNE 2012, | population_estimate_year = 2018| population_estimate_rank = 148th| population_census_year = 2011| population_density_km2 = 34.3| population_density_sq_mi = 88.9 | population_density_rank = 166thPUBLISHER=IMF, | GDP_PPP_year = 2019| GDP_PPP_rank = | GDP_PPP_per_capita = $31,215| GDP_PPP_per_capita_rank = | GDP_nominal = $35.780 billion| GDP_nominal_year = 2019| GDP_nominal_rank = | GDP_nominal_per_capita = $18,458| GDP_nominal_per_capita_rank = | Gini = 35.6 | Gini_year = 2018| Gini_change = increase PUBLISHER=EUROSTAT ACCESS-DATE=7 MARCH 2019, | Gini_rank = | HDI = 0.847 | HDI_year = 2017| HDI_change = increaseYEAR=2017 PUBLISHER=UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME, | HDI_rank = 41stEuro (Euro sign>€)| currency_code = EUREastern European Time>EET| utc_offset = +2| utc_offset_DST = +3Eastern European Summer Time>EEST| drives_on = rightTelephone numbers in Latvia>+371| cctld = .lvcLatvian language>Latvian is the sole official language.HTTP://WWW.SAEIMA.LV/EN/LEGISLATION/CONSTITUTION>TITLE=THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF LATVIA, CHAPTER 1 (ARTICLE 4)ACCESSDATE=20 NOVEMBER 2013ARCHIVE-DATE=5 DECEMBER 2013DF=DMY-ALL, HTTP://WWW.VALODA.LV/EN/DOWNLOADDOC_436/MID_566 >TITLE=OFFICIAL LANGUAGE LAW, SECTION 3 (ARTICLE 1) ACCESSDATE=20 NOVEMBER 2013 ARCHIVEURL=HTTPS://WEB.ARCHIVE.ORG/WEB/20140104204308/HTTP://WWW.VALODA.LV/EN/DOWNLOADDOC_436/MID_566 Livonian language>Livonian is considered an indigenous language and has special legal status.HTTP://WWW.VALODA.LV/EN/DOWNLOADDOC_436/MID_566 >TITLE=OFFICIAL LANGUAGE LAW, SECTIONS 4, 5 AND 18 (ARTICLE 4) ACCESSDATE=20 NOVEMBER 2013 ARCHIVEURL=HTTPS://WEB.ARCHIVE.ORG/WEB/20140104204308/HTTP://WWW.VALODA.LV/EN/DOWNLOADDOC_436/MID_566 Latgalian language>Latgalian written language and Latvian Sign Language also have special legal status.HTTP://WWW.VALODA.LV/EN/DOWNLOADDOC_436/MID_566 >TITLE=OFFICIAL LANGUAGE LAW, SECTION 3 (ARTICLES 3 AND 4) ACCESSDATE=20 NOVEMBER 2013 ARCHIVEURL=HTTPS://WEB.ARCHIVE.ORG/WEB/20140104204308/HTTP://WWW.VALODA.LV/EN/DOWNLOADDOC_436/MID_566, 4 January 2014, | footnote_b = Latvia is de jure continuous with its declaration of 18 November 1918.| footnote_c = The .eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union member states.}}Latvia ({{IPAc-en|ˈ|l|ɑː|t|v|i|ə}} or {{IPAc-en|audio=en-us-Latvia.ogg|ˈ|l|æ|t|v|i|ə}}; {{IPA-lv|ˈlatvija|}}, ), officially the Republic of Latvia (, ), is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe.WEB, Composition of macro geographical (continental) regions, geographical sub-regions, and selected economic and other groupings, United Nations,weblink 9 November 2008, Since its independence, Latvia has been referred to as one of the Baltic states. It is bordered by Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, Russia to the east, and Belarus to the southeast, and shares a maritime border with Sweden to the west. Latvia has 1,957,200 inhabitantsWEB,weblink Archived copy, 14 June 2013,weblink" title="">weblink 28 June 2013, yes, dmy-all, and a territory of {{convert|64589|km2|sqmi|abbr=on}}.WEB,weblink Latvia in Brief, 2011, Latvian Institute, 5 November 2011, The country has a temperate seasonal climate.WEB,weblink Weather information in Latvia, 14 March 2015,, 14 March 2015, After centuries of Swedish, Polish-Lithuanian and Russian rule, a rule mainly executed by the Baltic German aristocracy, the Republic of Latvia was established on 18 November 1918 when it broke away and declared independence in the aftermath of World War I.BOOK, Ģērmanis, Uldis, Uldis Ģērmanis, Ojārs Kalniņš, The Latvian Saga, 11th, 268, English, Atēna, Riga, 2007, 9789984342917, 213385330, However, by the 1930s the country became increasingly autocratic after the coup in 1934 establishing an authoritarian regime under Kārlis Ulmanis. The country's de facto independence was interrupted at the outset of World War II, beginning with Latvia's forcible incorporation into the Soviet Union, followed by the invasion and occupation by Nazi Germany in 1941, and the re-occupation by the Soviets in 1944 (Courland Pocket in 1945) to form the Latvian SSR for the next 45 years.The peaceful Singing Revolution, starting in 1987, called for Baltic emancipation from Soviet rule and condemning the Communist regime's illegal takeover.NEWS,weblink UPHEAVAL IN THE EAST; Soviet Congress Condemns '39 Pact That Led to Annexation of Baltics, Esther B. Fein, The New York Times, It ended with the Declaration on the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia on 4 May 1990, and restoring de facto independence on 21 August 1991.On 21 August 1991, after the Soviet coup d'état attempt, the Supreme Council adopted a Constitutional law, "On statehood of the Republic of Latvia", declaring Article 5 of the Declaration to be invalid, thus ending the transitional period and restoring de facto independence. Latvia is a democratic sovereign state, parliamentary republic and a very highly developed country according to the United Nations Human Development Index.WEB,weblink Human Development Report 2016 – 'Human Development for Everyone', Human Development Report, HDRO (Human Development Report Office) United Nations Development Programme, 198, 2 September 2017, Its capital Riga served as the European Capital of Culture in 2014. Latvian is the official language. Latvia is a unitary state, divided into 119 administrative divisions, of which 110 are municipalities and nine are cities.WEB,weblink Administrative divisions of Latvia, 2015,, 14 March 2015, Latvians and Livonians are the indigenous people of Latvia. Latvian and Lithuanian are the only two surviving Baltic languages.Despite foreign rule from the 13th to 20th centuries, the Latvian nation maintained its identity throughout the generations via the language and musical traditions. However, as a consequence of centuries of Russian rule (1710–1918) and later Soviet occupation, Latvia is home to a large number of ethnic Russians (26.9% in Latvia),WEB,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink 12 July 2011, Etniskais sastāvs un mazākumtautību kultūras identitātes veicināšana, Latvijas Republikas Ārlietu Ministrija, 2 December 2011, yes, dmy, some of whom (14.1% of Latvian residents) have not gained citizenship, leaving them with no citizenship at all. Until World War II, Latvia also had significant minorities of ethnic Germans and Jews. Latvia is historically predominantly Lutheran Protestant, except for the Latgale region in the southeast, which has historically been predominantly Roman Catholic.WEB,weblink Socialinguistica: language and Religion,, 26 May 2015, The Russian population are largely Eastern Orthodox Christians.Latvia is a member of the European Union, Eurozone, NATO, the Council of Europe, the United Nations, CBSS, the IMF, NB8, NIB, OECD, OSCE, and WTO. For 2014, the country was listed 46th on the Human Development Index and as a high income country on 1 July 2014.WEB, Latvia – Country Profile: Human Development Indicators,weblink, United Nations, 15 December 2015, WEB, Latvia,weblink World Bank, 15 July 2013, A full member of the Eurozone, it began using the euro as its currency on 1 January 2014, replacing the Latvian lats.WEB,weblink EU and euro, Bank of Latvia, 16 July 2013, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 25 April 2013,


The name Latvija is derived from the name of the ancient Latgalians, one of four Indo-European Baltic tribes (along with Couronians, Selonians and Semigallians), which formed the ethnic core of modern Latvians together with the Finnic Livonians.WEB,weblink Latvia in Brief, 2012, Latvian Institute, 12 May 2011, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 8 November 2012, Henry of Latvia coined the latinisations of the country's name, "Lettigallia" and "Lethia", both derived from the Latgalians. The terms inspired the variations on the country's name in Romance languages from "Letonia" and in several Germanic languages from "Lettland".WEB,weblink Baltic Online, The University of Texas at Austin, 12 May 2011,


Around 3000 BC, the proto-Baltic ancestors of the Latvian people settled on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea.WEB,weblink Data: 3000 BC to 1500 BC, The European Ethnohistory Database, The Ethnohistory Project, 6 August 2006, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 22 June 2006, The Balts established trade routes to Rome and Byzantium, trading local amber for precious metals.A History of Rome, M Cary and HH Scullard, p455-457, Macmillan Press, {{ISBN|0-333-27830-5}} By 900 AD, four distinct Baltic tribes inhabited Latvia: Curonians, Latgalians, Selonians, Semigallians (in Latvian: kurši, latgaļi, sēļi and zemgaļi), as well as the Finnic tribe of Livonians (lībieši) speaking a Finnic language.{{citation needed|date=March 2015}}In the 12th century in the territory of Latvia, there were 14 lands with their rulers: Vanema, Ventava, Bandava, Piemare, Duvzare, Ceklis, Megava, Pilsāts, Upmale, Sēlija, Koknese, Jersika, Tālava and Adzele.Latvijas vēstures atlants, Jānis Turlajs, page 12, Karšu izdevniecība Jāņa sēta, {{ISBN|978-9984-07-614-0}}

Medieval period

File:Medieval Livonia 1260.svg|thumb|left|190px|Terra MarianaTerra MarianaAlthough the local people had contact with the outside world for centuries, they became more fully integrated into the European socio-political system in the 12th century.WEB,weblink Data: Latvia, Kingdoms of Northern Europe â€“ Latvia, The History Files, The first missionaries, sent by the Pope, sailed up the Daugava River in the late 12th century, seeking converts.WEB,weblink Latvian History, Lonely Planet,, 16 October 2010, The local people, however, did not convert to Christianity as readily as the Church had hoped. German crusaders were sent, or more likely decided to go on their own accord as they were known to do. Saint Meinhard of Segeberg arrived in IkÅ¡Ä·ile, in 1184, traveling with merchants to Livonia, on a Catholic mission to convert the population from their original pagan beliefs. Pope Celestine III had called for a crusade against pagans in Northern Europe in 1193. When peaceful means of conversion failed to produce results, Meinhard plotted to convert Livonians by force of arms.WEB,weblink The Crusaders, City Paper, 28 July 2007, 22 March 2006, File:Burg Turaida04.jpg|thumb|Turaida Castle near Sigulda, built in 1214 under Albert of RigaAlbert of RigaFile:Haupthandelsroute Hanse.png|thumb|In 1282, Riga became a member of the Hanseatic LeagueHanseatic LeagueIn the beginning of the 13th century, Germans ruled large parts of today's Latvia. Together with Southern Estonia, these conquered areas formed the crusader state that became known as Terra Mariana or Livonia. In 1282, Riga, and later the cities of CÄ“sis, Limbaži, Koknese and Valmiera, became part of the Hanseatic League. Riga became an important point of east-west trading and formed close cultural links with Western Europe.{{Citation needed|date=November 2009}}

Reformation period and Polish–Lithuanian rule

File:Swedish Empire (1560-1815) en2.png|thumb|The Swedish Empire (1560–1815).Riga became the capital of Swedish LivoniaSwedish LivoniaAfter the Livonian War (1558–1583), Livonia (Latvia) fell under Polish and Lithuanian rule. The southern part of Estonia and the northern part of Latvia were ceded to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and formed into the Duchy of Livonia (Ducatus Livoniae Ultradunensis). Gotthard Kettler, the last Master of the Order of Livonia, formed the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia.WEB, Ceaser, Ray A.,weblink Duchy of Courland, University of Washington, 11 September 2017,weblink" title="">weblink 2 March 2003, June 2001, yes, dmy-all, Though the duchy was a vassal state to Poland, it retained a considerable degree of autonomy and experienced a golden age in the 16th century. Latgalia, the easternmost region of Latvia, became a part of the Inflanty Voivodeship of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.Culture and Customs of the Baltic States By Kevin O'Connor; p. 14 {{ISBN|978-0-313-33125-1}}In the 17th and early 18th centuries, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Sweden, and Russia struggled for supremacy in the eastern Baltic. After the Polish–Swedish War, northern Livonia (including Vidzeme) came under Swedish rule. Riga became the capital of Swedish Livonia and the largest city in the entire Swedish Empire.Kasekamp, p. 47 Fighting continued sporadically between Sweden and Poland until the Truce of Altmark in 1629.{{Citation needed|date=November 2009}} In Latvia, the Swedish period is generally remembered as positive; serfdom was eased, a network of schools was established for the peasantry, and the power of the regional barons was diminished.H. Strods, "'Dobrye Shvedskie Vremena' v Istoriografii Latvii (Konets XVIII V. â€“ 70-E Gg. XX V.). ["'The good Swedish times' in Latvian historiography: from the late 18th century to the 1970s"] Skandinavskiy Sbornik, 1985, Vol. 29, pp. 188–199JOURNAL, J. T. Kotilaine, Riga's Trade With its Muscovite Hinterland in the Seventeenth Century, Journal of Baltic Studies, 1999, 30, 2, 129–161, 10.1080/01629779900000031, Several important cultural changes occurred during this time. Under Swedish and largely German rule, western Latvia adopted Lutheranism as its main religion. The ancient tribes of the Couronians, Semigallians, Selonians, Livs, and northern Latgallians assimilated to form the Latvian people, speaking one Latvian language. Throughout all the centuries, however, an actual Latvian state had not been established, so the borders and definitions of who exactly fell within that group are largely subjective. Meanwhile, largely isolated from the rest of Latvia, southern Latgallians adopted Catholicism under Polish/Jesuit influence. The native dialect remained distinct, although it acquired many Polish and Russian loanwords.JOURNAL, V. Stanley Vardys, The Role of the Churches in the Maintenance of Regional and National Identity in the Baltic Republics, Journal of Baltic Studies, 1987, 18, 3, 287–300, 10.1080/01629778700000141,

Latvia in the Russian Empire (1795–1917)

{{Refimprove section|date=March 2015}}The capitulation of Estonia and Livonia in 1710 and the Treaty of Nystad, ending the Great Northern War in 1721, gave Vidzeme to Russia (it became part of the Riga Governorate).{{Citation needed|date=November 2009}} The Latgale region remained part of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth as Inflanty Voivodeship until 1772, when it was incorporated into Russia. The Duchy of Courland and Semigallia became an autonomous Russian province (the Courland Governorate) in 1795, bringing all of what is now Latvia into the Russian Empire. All three Baltic provinces preserved local laws, German as the local official language and their own parliament, the Landtag.{{Citation needed|date=November 2009}}During the Great Northern War (1700–1721), up to 40 percent of Latvians died from famine and plague.BOOK, Kevin O'Connor, The History of the Baltic States,weblink 1 January 2003, Greenwood Publishing Group, 978-0-313-32355-3, 29–, Half the residents of Riga were killed by plague in 1710–1711.WEB,weblink Collector Coin Dedicated to 18th Century Riga, 19 July 2010, bot: unknown,weblink" title="">weblink 19 July 2010, dmy, . Bank of Latvia.The emancipation of the serfs took place in Courland in 1817 and in Vidzeme in 1819.{{Citation needed|date=November 2009}} In practice, however, the emancipation was actually advantageous to the landowners and nobility,{{Citation needed|date=November 2009}} as it dispossessed peasants of their land without compensation, forcing them to return to work at the estates "of their own free will".{{citation needed|date=March 2015}}During the 19th century, the social structure changed dramatically.{{Citation needed|date=November 2009}} A class of independent farmers established itself after reforms allowed the peasants to repurchase their land, but many landless peasants remained.{{Citation needed|date=November 2009}} There also developed a growing urban proletariat and an increasingly influential Latvian bourgeoisie. The Young Latvian () movement laid the groundwork for nationalism from the middle of the century, many of its leaders looking to the Slavophiles for support against the prevailing German-dominated social order.{{Citation needed|date=November 2009}} The rise in use of the Latvian language in literature and society became known as the First National Awakening. Russification began in Latgale after the Polish led the January Uprising in 1863: this spread to the rest of what is now Latvia by the 1880s.{{Citation needed|date=November 2009}} The Young Latvians were largely eclipsed by the New Current, a broad leftist social and political movement, in the 1890s. Popular discontent exploded in the 1905 Russian Revolution, which took a nationalist character in the Baltic provinces.{{citation needed|date=March 2015}}During these two centuries Latvia experienced economic and construction boom – ports were expanded (Riga became the largest port in the Russian Empire), railways built; new factories, banks, and a University were established; many residential, public (theatres and museums), and school buildings were erected; new parks formed; and so on. Riga's boulevards and some streets outside the Old Town date from this period.{{citation needed|date=March 2015}}Worth mentioning is the fact that numeracy was also higher in the Estonian and Latvian parts of the Russian Empire, which may have been influenced by the Protestant religion of the inhabitants.BOOK, Baten, Jörg, A History of the Global Economy. From 1500 to the Present., 2016, Cambridge University Press, 50, 9781107507180,

Declaration of independence

File:Karlis Ulmanis.jpg|thumb|upright|Kārlis UlmanisKārlis UlmanisWorld War I devastated the territory of what became the state of Latvia, and other western parts of the Russian Empire. Demands for self-determination were initially confined to autonomy, until a power vacuum was created by the Russian Revolution in 1917, followed by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk between Russia and Germany in March 1918, then the Allied armistice with Germany on 11 November 1918. On 18 November 1918, in Riga, the People's Council of Latvia proclaimed the independence of the new country, with Kārlis Ulmanis becoming the head of the provisional government.{{citation needed|date=March 2015}}The General representative of Germany August Winnig formally handed over political power to the Latvian Provisional Government on 26 November.The war of independence that followed was part of a general chaotic period of civil and new border wars in Eastern Europe. By the spring of 1919, there were actually three governments: the Provisional government headed by Kārlis Ulmanis, supported by Tautas padome and the Inter-Allied Commission of Control; the Latvian Soviet government led by Pēteris Stučka, supported by the Red Army; and the Provisional government headed by Andrievs Niedra and supported by the Baltische Landeswehr and the German Freikorps unit Iron Division.{{citation needed|date=March 2015}}Estonian and Latvian forces defeated the Germans at the Battle of Wenden in June 1919,NEWS,weblink Cēsis, Battle of {{!, International Encyclopedia of the First World War (WW1)|access-date=2018-11-15}} and a massive attack by a predominantly German force—the West Russian Volunteer Army—under Pavel Bermondt-Avalov was repelled in November. Eastern Latvia was cleared of Red Army forces by Latvian and Polish troops in early 1920 (from the Polish perspective the Battle of Daugavpils was a part of the Polish–Soviet War).{{citation needed|date=November 2009}}A freely elected Constituent assembly convened on 1 May 1920, and adopted a liberal constitution, the Satversme, in February 1922.Bleiere, p. 155 The constitution was partly suspended by Kārlis Ulmanis after his coup in 1934 but reaffirmed in 1990. Since then, it has been amended and is still in effect in Latvia today. With most of Latvia's industrial base evacuated to the interior of Russia in 1915, radical land reform was the central political question for the young state. In 1897, 61.2% of the rural population had been landless; by 1936, that percentage had been reduced to 18%.Bleiere, p. 195By 1923, the extent of cultivated land surpassed the pre-war level. Innovation and rising productivity led to rapid growth of the economy, but it soon suffered from the effects of the Great Depression. Latvia showed signs of economic recovery, and the electorate had steadily moved toward the centre during the parliamentary period.{{citation needed|date=November 2009}} On 15 May 1934, Ulmanis staged a bloodless coup, establishing a nationalist dictatorship that lasted until 1940.NEWS,weblink Timeline: Latvia, BBC News, 20 January 2010, 5 February 2010, After 1934, Ulmanis established government corporations to buy up private firms with the aim of "Latvianising" the economy.BOOK, 2119564, Nicholas Balabkins, Arnolds P. Aizsilnieks, Entrepreneur in a small country: a case study against the background of the Latvian economy, 1919–1940,weblink 19 February 2012, 1975, Exposition Press, 978-0-682-48158-8, xiv, 143,

Latvia in World War II

{{See also|Soviet occupation of Latvia in 1940|German occupation of Latvia during World War II|The Holocaust in Latvia|Latvian partisans|Latvian anti-Nazi resistance movement 1941–45}}File:Riga 1940 Soviet Army.jpg|thumb|Red Army troops enter RigaRigaEarly in the morning of 24 August 1939, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed a 10-year non-aggression pact, called the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. The pact contained a secret protocol, revealed only after Germany's defeat in 1945, according to which the states of Northern and Eastern Europe were divided into German and Soviet "spheres of influence".Text of the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, executed 23 August 1939 In the north, Latvia, Finland and Estonia were assigned to the Soviet sphere. A week later, on 1 September 1939, Germany and on 17 September, the Soviet Union invaded Poland.BOOK, Prit, Buttar, Between Giants, 9781780961637, {{rp|32}}After the conclusion of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, most of the Baltic Germans left Latvia by agreement between Ulmanis' government and Nazi Germany under the Heim ins Reich programme.Lumans, pp. 71–74 In total 50,000 Baltic Germans left by the deadline of December 1939, with 1,600 remaining to conclude business and 13,000 choosing to remain in Latvia. Most of those who remained left for Germany in summer 1940, when a second resettlement scheme was agreed.Lumans pp. 110–111 The racially approved being resettled mainly in Poland, being given land and businesses in exchange for the money they had received from the sale of their previous assets.{{rp|46}}On 5 October 1939, Latvia was forced to accept a "mutual assistance" pact with the Soviet Union, granting the Soviets the right to station between 25,000 and 30,000 troops on Latvian territory.Lumans, p. 79State administrators were liquidated and replaced by Soviet cadres.Wettig, Gerhard, Stalin and the Cold War in Europe, Rowman & Littlefield, Landham, Md, 2008, {{ISBN|0-7425-5542-9}}, pp. 20–21 Elections were held with single pro-Soviet candidates listed for many positions. The resulting people's assembly immediately requested admission into the USSR, which the Soviet Union granted. Latvia, then a puppet government, was headed by Augusts KirhenÅ¡teins.Lumans, pp. 98–99 The Soviet Union incorporated Latvia on 5 August 1940, as The Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic.(File:Bundesarchiv Bild 183-L19397, Lettland, Riga, Begrüßung der deutschen Soldaten.jpg|thumb|German soldiers enter Riga, July 1941)The Soviets dealt harshly with their opponents â€“ prior to Operation Barbarossa, in less than a year, at least 34,250 Latvians were deported or killed.BOOK, Simon Sebag Montefiore, Simon Sebag Montefiore, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, 334, Most were deported to Siberia where deaths were estimated at 40 percent, officers of the Latvian army being shot on the spot.{{rp|48}}On 22 June 1941 German troops attacked Soviet forces in Operation Barbarossa. There were some spontaneous uprisings by Latvians against the Red Army which helped the Germans. By 29 June Riga was reached and with Soviet troops killed, captured or retreating, Latvia was left under the control of German forces by early July.{{rp|78–96}} The occupation was followed immediately by SS Einsatzgruppen troops who were to act in accordance with the Nazi Generalplan Ost which required the population of Latvia to be cut by 50 percent.{{rp|64}}{{rp|56}}Under German occupation, Latvia was administered as part of Reichskommissariat Ostland. Latvian paramilitary and Auxiliary Police units established by the occupation authority participated in the Holocaust and other atrocities. 30,000 Jews were shot in Latvia in the autumn of 1941.{{rp|127}} Another 30,000 Jews from the Riga ghetto were killed in the Rumbula Forest in November and December 1941, to reduce overpopulation in the ghetto and make room for more Jews being brought in from Germany and the West.{{rp|128}} There was a pause in fighting, apart from partisan activity, until after the siege of Leningrad ended in January 1944 and the Soviet troops advanced, entering Latvia in July and eventually capturing Riga on 13 October 1944.{{rp|271}}More than 200,000 Latvian citizens died during World War II, including approximately 75,000 Latvian Jews murdered during the Nazi occupation. Latvian soldiers fought on both sides of the conflict, mainly on the German side, with 140,000 men in the Latvian Legion of the Waffen-SS,"Patriots or Nazi collaborators? Latvians march to commemorate SS veterans". The Guardian. 16 March 2010 The 308th Latvian Rifle Division was formed by the Red Army in 1944. On occasions, especially in 1944, opposing Latvian troops faced each other in battle.{{rp|299}} Activity reached a peak in late 1946.{{rp|326}}{{clarify|date=April 2018}}(File:HL Damals – Vorwerker Friedhof – Lettische Kriegsgräberstätte – 2.jpg|thumb| Monument to the Latvians who died in Lübeck)In the 23rd block of the Vorverker cemetery, a monument was erected after the Second World War for the people of Latvia, who had died in Lübeck from 1945 to 1950.

Soviet era (1940–1941, 1944–1991)

File:Liepaja December 1941 massacres 01.jpeg|thumb|Latvian-Jewish women and children photographed before being murdered at Liepaja in December 1941.]]In 1944, when Soviet military advances reached Latvia, heavy fighting took place in Latvia between German and Soviet troops, which ended in another German defeat. In the course of the war, both occupying forces conscripted Latvians into their armies, in this way increasing the loss of the nation's "live resources". In 1944, part of the Latvian territory once more came under Soviet control. The Soviets immediately began to reinstate the Soviet system. After the German surrender, it became clear that Soviet forces were there to stay, and Latvian national partisans, soon joined by some who had collaborated with the Germans, began to fight against the new occupier.Lumans, pp. 395–396Anywhere from 120,000 to as many as 300,000 Latvians took refuge from the Soviet army by fleeing to Germany and Sweden.Lumans, p. 349 Most sources count 200,000 to 250,000 refugees leaving Latvia, with perhaps as many as 80,000 to 100,000 of them recaptured by the Soviets or, during few months immediately after the end of war,Lumans, pp. 384–385 returned by the West.Lumans, p. 391The Soviets reoccupied the country in 1944–1945, and further deportations followed as the country was collectivisedand Sovieticised. On 25 March 1949, 43,000 rural residents ("kulaks") and Latvian patriots ("nationalists") were deported to Siberia in a sweeping Operation Priboi in all three Baltic states, which was carefully planned and approved in Moscow already on 29 January 1949.JOURNAL, Strods, Heinrihs, Kott, Matthew, 2002, The File on Operation 'Priboi': A Re-Assessment of the Mass Deportations of 1949, Journal of Baltic Studies, 33, 1, 1–36, 10.1080/01629770100000191, This operation had the desired effect of reducing the anti Soviet partisan activity.{{rp|326}} Between 136,000 and 190,000 Latvians, depending on the sources, were imprisoned or deported to Soviet concentration camps (the Gulag) in the post war years, from 1945 to 1952.Lumans, pp. 398–399 Some managed to escape arrest and joined the partisans.{{Citation needed|date=November 2009}}File:Shack from Gulag - Museum of the Occupation of Latvia.JPG|thumb|Reconstruction of a Gulag shack in the Museum of the Occupation of LatviaMuseum of the Occupation of LatviaIn the post-war period, Latvia was made to adopt Soviet farming methods. Rural areas were forced into collectivisation.Bleiere, p. 384 An extensive programme to impose bilingualism was initiated in Latvia, limiting the use of Latvian language in official uses in favour of using Russian as the main language. All of the minority schools (Jewish, Polish, Belarusian, Estonian, Lithuanian) were closed down leaving only two media of instructions in the schools: Latvian and Russian.Bleiere, p. 411 An influx of labourers, administrators, military personnel and their dependants from Russia and other Soviet republics started. By 1959 about 400,000 people arrived from other Soviet republics and the ethnic Latvian population had fallen to 62%.Bleiere, p. 418Since Latvia had maintained a well-developed infrastructure and educated specialists, Moscow decided to base some of the Soviet Union's most advanced manufacturing in Latvia. New industry was created in Latvia, including a major machinery factory RAF in Jelgava, electrotechnical factories in Riga, chemical factories in Daugavpils, Valmiera and Olaine—and some food and oil processing plants.Bleiere, p. 379 Latvia manufactured trains, ships, minibuses, mopeds, telephones, radios and hi-fi systems, electrical and diesel engines, textiles, furniture, clothing, bags and luggage, shoes, musical instruments, home appliances, watches, tools and equipment, aviation and agricultural equipment and long list of other goods. Latvia had its own film industry and musical records factory (LPs). However, there were not enough people to operate the newly built factories.{{Citation needed|date=November 2009}} To maintain and expand industrial production, skilled workers were migrating from all over the Soviet Union, decreasing the proportion of ethnic Latvians in the republic.Lumans, p. 400 The population of Latvia reached its peak in 1990 at just under 2.7 million people.In late 2018 the National Archives of Latvia released a full alphabetical index of some 10,000 people recruited as agents or informants by the Soviet KGB. 'The publication, which followed two decades of public debate and the passage of a special law, revealed the names, code names, birthplaces and other data on active and former KGB agents as of 1991, the year Latvia regained its independence from the Soviet Union.' Washington Post 9 January 2019 weblink

Restoration of independence in 1991

{{Further|Singing Revolution|Baltic Way|On the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia}}In the second half of the 1980s, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev started to introduce political and economic reforms in the Soviet Union that were called glasnost and perestroika. In the summer of 1987, the first large demonstrations were held in Riga at the Freedom Monument—a symbol of independence. In the summer of 1988, a national movement, coalescing in the Popular Front of Latvia, was opposed by the Interfront. The Latvian SSR, along with the other Baltic Republics was allowed greater autonomy, and in 1988, the old pre-war Flag of Latvia flew again, replacing the Soviet Latvian flag as the official flag in 1990.{{citation needed|date=March 2015}}In 1989, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR adopted a resolution on the Occupation of the Baltic states, in which it declared the occupation "not in accordance with law", and not the "will of the Soviet people". Pro-independence Popular Front of Latvia candidates gained a two-thirds majority in the Supreme Council in the March 1990 democratic elections. On 4 May 1990, the Supreme Council adopted the Declaration on the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia, and the Latvian SSR was renamed Republic of Latvia.BOOK,weblink Imagining the Nation: History, Modernity, and Revolution in Latvia, Eglitis, Daina Stukuls, 2010-11-01, Penn State Press, 0271045620, en, However, the central power in Moscow continued to regard Latvia as a Soviet republic in 1990 and 1991. In January 1991, Soviet political and military forces tried unsuccessfully to overthrow the Republic of Latvia authorities by occupying the central publishing house in Riga and establishing a Committee of National Salvation to usurp governmental functions. During the transitional period, Moscow maintained many central Soviet state authorities in Latvia.In spite of this, 73% of all Latvian residents confirmed their strong support for independence on 3 March 1991, in a nonbinding advisory referendum.{{Citation needed|date=November 2009}} The Popular Front of Latvia advocated that all permanent residents be eligible for Latvian citizenship, and that helped sway a large number of ethnic Russians to vote for independence. However, universal citizenship for all permanent residents was not adopted. Instead, citizenship was granted to persons who had been citizens of Latvia at the day of loss of independence at 1940 as well as their descendants. As a consequence, the majority of ethnic non-Latvians did not receive Latvian citizenship since neither they nor their parents had ever been citizens of Latvia, becoming non-citizens or citizens of other former Soviet republics. By 2011, more than half of non-citizens had taken naturalisation exams and received Latvian citizenship. Still, today there are 290,660 non-citizens in Latvia, which represent 14.1% of the population. They have no citizenship of any country, and cannot vote in Latvia.WEB,weblinkweblink yes, 27 November 2015, Stories of Statelessness: Latvia and Estonia – IBELONG, 12 January 2015, The Republic of Latvia declared the end of the transitional period and restored full independence on 21 August 1991, in the aftermath of the failed Soviet coup attempt.WEB,weblink History, Embassy of Finland, Riga, Latvia declared independence on 21 August 1991...The decision to restore diplomatic relations took effect on 29 August 1991, 9 July 2008, 2 September 2010, File:Tratado de Lisboa 13 12 2007 (081).jpg|thumb|Latvia became a member of the European Union in 2004 and signed the Lisbon TreatyLisbon TreatyThe Saeima, Latvia's parliament, was again elected in 1993. Russia ended its military presence by completing its troop withdrawal in 1994 and shutting down the Skrunda-1 radar station in 1998. The major goals of Latvia in the 1990s, to join NATO and the European Union, were achieved in 2004. The NATO Summit 2006 was held in Riga.WEB,weblink NATO Press Release,, 2017-01-16, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 12 March 2014, Language and citizenship laws have been opposed by many Russophones. Citizenship was not automatically extended to former Soviet citizens who settled during the Soviet occupation, or to their offspring. Children born to non-nationals after the reestablishment of independence are automatically entitled to citizenship. Approximately 72% of Latvian citizens are Latvian, while 20% are Russian; less than 1% of non-citizens are Latvian, while 71% are Russian.JOURNAL, Commercio Michele E, 2003, Emotion and Blame in Collective Action: Russian Voice in Kyrgyzstan and Latvia, Political Science Quarterly, 124, 3, 489–512, The government denationalised private property confiscated by the Soviets, returning it or compensating the owners for it, and privatised most state-owned industries, reintroducing the prewar currency. Albeit having experienced a difficult transition to a liberal economy and its re-orientation toward Western Europe, Latvia is one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union. In 2014, Riga was the European Capital of Culture, the euro was introduced as the currency of the country and a Latvian was named vice-president of the European Commission. In 2015 Latvia held the presidency of Council of the European Union. Big European events have been celebrated in Riga such as the Eurovision Song Contest 2003 and the European Film Awards 2014. On 1 July 2016, Latvia became a member of the OECD.WEB,weblink Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, Latvia's accession to the OECD, 1 July 2016, 22 July 2016,


{{See also|Baltic Sea|Baltic states|Northern Europe}}File:Baltijos jūra Kolkos rage.JPG|thumb|Cape KolkaCape KolkaFile:BalticSea March2000 NASA-S2000084115409.png|thumb|Latvia lies in Northern Europe, on the eastern shores of the Baltic SeaBaltic SeaLatvia lies in Northern Europe, on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea and northwestern part of the East European craton, between latitudes 55° and 58° N (a small area is north of 58°), and longitudes 21° and 29° E (a small area is west of 21°). Latvia has a total area of {{convert|64559|km2|abbr=on}} of which {{convert|62157|km2|abbr=on}} land, {{convert|18159|km2|abbr=on}} agricultural land,WEB,weblink Agriculture – Key Indicators, Central Statistical Bureau Republic of Latvia, 28 April 2012, 17 May 2012,weblink" title="">weblink 27 April 2012, yes, dmy-all, {{convert|34964|km2|abbr=on}} forest landWEB,weblink Forestry – Key Indicators, Central Statistical Bureau Republic of Latvia, 18 August 2011, 17 May 2012,weblink" title="">weblink 12 October 2012, yes, dmy-all, and {{convert|2402|km2|abbr=on}} inland water.WEB,weblink Geographical Data – Key Indicators, Central Statistical Bureau Republic of Latvia, 5 October 2011, 17 May 2012,weblink" title="">weblink 2 June 2012, yes, dmy-all, The total length of Latvia's boundary is {{convert|1866|km|abbr=on}}. The total length of its land boundary is {{convert|1368|km|abbr=on}}, of which {{convert|343|km|abbr=on}} is shared with Estonia to the north, {{convert|276|km|abbr=on}} with the Russian Federation to the east, {{convert|161|km|abbr=on}} with Belarus to the southeast and {{convert|588|km|abbr=on}} with Lithuania to the south. The total length of its maritime boundary is {{convert|498|km|abbr=on}}, which is shared with Estonia, Sweden and Lithuania. Extension from north to south is {{convert|210|km|abbr=on}} and from west to east {{convert|450|km|abbr=on}}.Most of Latvia's territory is less than {{convert|100|m|abbr=on}} above sea level. Its largest lake, Lubāns, has an area of {{convert|80.7|km2|abbr=on}}, its deepest lake, Drīdzis, is {{convert|65.1|m|abbr=on}} deep. The longest river on Latvian territory is the Gauja, at {{convert|452|km|abbr=on}} in length. The longest river flowing through Latvian territory is the Daugava, which has a total length of {{convert|1005|km|abbr=on}}, of which {{convert|352|km|abbr=on}} is on Latvian territory. Latvia's highest point is Gaiziņkalns, {{convert|311.6|m|abbr=on}}. The length of Latvia's Baltic coastline is {{convert|494|km|abbr=on}}. An inlet of the Baltic Sea, the shallow Gulf of Riga is situated in the northwest of the country.WEB,weblink Latvia in brief, Latvian Institute, 17 May 2012, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 23 September 2012,


{{multiple image
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| image1 = Koppen World Map Dfb Dwb Dsb.png
| caption1 = {{legend|#38C7FF|Humid continental climate warm summer subtype}}
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| caption2 = {{legend|#008000|Oceanic climate}}
}}Latvia has a temperate climate that has been described in various sources as either humid continental ((Humid continental climate#Dfb/Dwb/Dsb: Warm summer subtype|Köppen Dfb)) or oceanic/maritime (Köppen Cfb).WEB,weblink Liepājas Universitāte, Latvia in crosscut, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 27 February 2013, WEB,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink yes, 2012-11-01, Global Water Partnership, Latvia, WEB,weblink RPIVA, Latvia in brief, 16 October 2012,weblink" title="">weblink 10 May 2013, yes, dmy-all, Coastal regions, especially the western coast of Courland Peninsula, possess a more maritime climate with cooler summers and milder winters, while eastern parts exhibit a more continental climate with warmer summers and harsher winters.Latvia has four pronounced seasons of near-equal length. Winter starts in mid-December and lasts until mid-March. Winters have average temperatures of {{convert|-6|°C|0|abbr=on}} and are characterized by stable snow cover, bright sunshine, and short days. Severe spells of winter weather with cold winds, extreme temperatures of around {{convert|-30|°C|0|abbr=on}} and heavy snowfalls are common. Summer starts in June and lasts until August. Summers are usually warm and sunny, with cool evenings and nights. Summers have average temperatures of around {{convert|19|°C|0|abbr=on}}, with extremes of {{convert|35|°C|0|abbr=on}}. Spring and autumn bring fairly mild weather.WEB,weblink The climate and weather conditions,, 17 May 2012, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 8 January 2012, {| class="wikitable"Weather records in LatviaLATVIJAS ģEOGRāFIJAS ATLANTS, Jāņa sēta, Rīga, 2004, 13, 9984073637, ! Weather record !! Value !! Location !! Date37.80Ventspils >| 4 August 2014-43.20Daugavpils >| 8 February 1956frost >| 24 June 1982Ozolnieki municipality>Cenas parish 15 August 1975precipitation (meteorology)>precipitation {{convertmmabbr=on}} Priekuļi parish 19283841Ainaži >| 19391601Ventspils >| 9 July 19733301Nīca parish >| August 197200| May 1938 and May 1941snow cover >1261Gaiziņkalns >| March 1931blizzards >Liepāja >| February 1956fog in a year >| 1946Alūksne >| 1958atmospheric pressure >31.5mbabbr=on}} Liepāja January 190727.5mbabbr=on}} Vidzeme Upland 13 February 1962thunderstorms in a year >Vidzeme Upland >| 1954| 2 November 1969


(File:Turaidas skats uz Gauju 2okt04.JPG|thumb|Latvia has the fifth highest proportion of land covered by forests in the European Union.)Most of the country is composed of fertile lowland plains and moderate hills. In a typical Latvian landscape, a mosaic of vast forests alternates with fields, farmsteads, and pastures. Arable land is spotted with birch groves and wooded clusters, which afford a habitat for numerous plants and animals. Latvia has hundreds of kilometres of undeveloped seashore—lined by pine forests, dunes, and continuous white sand beaches.WEB,weblink Nature and Environment, Latvian Institute, 2002, 17 May 2012, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 27 September 2012, Latvia has the 5th highest proportion of land covered by forests in the European Union, after Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Slovenia.WEB,weblink Land Use/Cover Area frame Survey 2012 Buildings, roads and other artificial areas cover 5% of the EU …and forests 40%, Eurostat Commission, 25 October 2013, 3 January 2014, Forests account for {{convert|3497000|ha|abbr=on}} or 56% of the total land area.Latvia has over 12,500 rivers, which stretch for {{convert|38000|km|abbr=on}}. Major rivers include the Daugava River, Lielupe, Gauja, Venta, and Salaca, the largest spawning ground for salmon in the eastern Baltics. There are 2,256 lakes that are bigger than {{convert|1|ha|abbr=on}}, with a collective area of {{convert|1000|km2|abbr=on}}. Mires occupy 9.9% of Latvia's territory. Of these, 42% are raised bogs; 49% are fens; and 9% are transitional mires. 70% percent of the mires are untouched by civilisation, and they are a refuge for many rare species of plants and animals.Agricultural areas account for {{convert|1815900|ha|abbr=on}} or 29% of the total land area. With the dismantling of collective farms, the area devoted to farming decreased dramatically – now farms are predominantly small. Approximately 200 farms, occupying {{convert|2750|ha|abbr=on}}, are engaged in ecologically pure farming (using no artificial fertilisers or pesticides).Latvia's national parks are Gauja National Park in Vidzeme (since 1973),WEB,weblink Gauja National Park travel – Lonely Planet, Planet, Lonely, Lonely Planet, en, 2017-10-10, Ķemeri National Park in Zemgale (1997), Slītere National Park in Kurzeme (1999), and Rāzna National Park in Latgale (2007).WEB,weblink Rāzna National Park {{!, Latvia Travel||access-date=2019-02-22}}Latvia has a long tradition of conservation. The first laws and regulations were promulgated in the 16th and 17th centuries. There are 706 specially state-level protected natural areas in Latvia: four national parks, one biosphere reserve, 42 nature parks, nine areas of protected landscapes, 260 nature reserves, four strict nature reserves, 355 nature monuments, seven protected marine areas and 24 microreserves.WEB,weblink Protected areas, Nature Conservation Agency Republic of Latvia, 17 May 2012, Nationally protected areas account for {{convert|12790|km2|abbr=on}} or around 20% of Latvia's total land area. Latvia's Red Book (Endangered Species List of Latvia), which was established in 1977, contains 112 plant species and 119 animal species. Latvia has ratified the international Washington, Bern, and Ramsare conventions.The 2012 Environmental Performance Index ranks Latvia second, after Switzerland, based on the environmental performance of the country's policies.WEB,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink yes, 5 June 2012, 2012 Environmental Performance Index (EPI), Yale University and Columbia University in collaboration with The World Economic Forum and European Commission, 17 May 2012,
File:Kuldyga. ventos krioklys, 2006-09-22.jpg|Venta Rapid in Kuldīga is the widest waterfall in Europe and a natural monument of Latvia.
File:Ergeljuklintis424aug037qg.jpg|Devonian sandstone cliffs in Gauja National Park, Latvia's largest and oldest national park
File:Liela Kemeru taka 5jul03.JPG|Ķemeri National Park is home to mires, natural mineral-springs, muds and lakes that are former lagoons of the Littorina Sea.
File:Kolka, pláž.jpg|Slītere National Park at Cape Kolka includes several Livonian fishing villages of the Livonian Coast. (Livonian: Līvõd Rānda)


File:White-Wagtail.jpg|thumb|The (white wagtail]] is the national bird of Latvia."National symbols of Latvia" {{ru icon}})Approximately 30,000 species of flora and fauna have been registered in Latvia.BOOK, Latvijas enciklopēdija, 3rd volume, 2005, Valērija Belokoņa izdevniecība, Riga, Latvia, lv, 9984-9482-3-4, 695, Common species of wildlife in Latvia include deer, wild boar, moose, lynx, bear, fox, beaver and wolves.WEB,weblink List of species, Nature of Latvia, 7 March 2007, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 7 February 2006, Non-marine molluscs of Latvia include 159 species.{{citation needed|date=March 2015}}Species that are endangered in other European countries but common in Latvia include: black stork (Ciconia nigra), corncrake (Crex crex), lesser spotted eagle (Aquila pomarina), white-backed woodpecker (Picoides leucotos), Eurasian crane (Grus grus), Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber), Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra), European wolf (Canis lupus) and European lynx (Felis lynx).Phytogeographically, Latvia is shared between the Central European and Northern European provinces of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. According to the WWF, the territory of Latvia belongs to the ecoregion of Sarmatic mixed forests. 56 percent of Latvia's territory is covered by forests, mostly Scots pine, birch, and Norway spruce.{{citation needed|date=March 2015}}Several species of flora and fauna are considered national symbols. Oak (Quercus robur, ), and linden (Tilia cordata, ) are Latvia's national trees and the daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare, ) its national flower. The white wagtail (Motacilla alba, ) is Latvia's national bird. Its national insect is the two-spot ladybird (Adalia bipunctata, ). Amber, fossilized tree resin, is one of Latvia's most important cultural symbols. In ancient times, amber found along the Baltic Sea coast was sought by Vikings as well as traders from Egypt, Greece and the Roman Empire. This led to the development of the Amber Road.WEB,weblink National Symbols of Latvia, Latvian Institute, 17 May 2012, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 26 September 2012, Several nature reserves protect unspoiled landscapes with a variety of large animals. At Pape Nature Reserve, where European bison, wild horses, and recreated aurochs have been reintroduced, there is now an almost complete Holocene megafauna also including moose, deer, and wolf.Lake Pape – Latvia {{webarchive|url= |date=4 June 2015 }}

Administrative divisions

File:Latvija_viki.PNG|thumb|upright=1.65|Historical regions: orange Courland, green Semigallia, brown Selonia, yellow Vidzeme, blue LatgaleLatgale(File:Latvijas novadi (krāsās).png|thumb|upright=1.65|Administrative divisions of Latvia){{See also|List of cities in Latvia|Planning regions of Latvia|Statistical regions of Latvia|Historical regions of Latvia}}Latvia is a unitary state, currently divided into 110 one-level municipalities () and 9 republican cities () with their own city council and administration: Daugavpils, JÄ“kabpils, Jelgava, JÅ«rmala, Liepāja, RÄ“zekne, Riga, Valmiera, and Ventspils. There are four historical and cultural regions in Latvia â€“ Courland, Latgale, Vidzeme, Zemgale, which are recognised in Constitution of Latvia. Selonia, a part of Zemgale, is sometimes considered culturally distinct region, but it is not part of any formal division. The borders of historical and cultural regions usually are not explicitly defined and in several sources may vary. In formal divisions, Riga region, which includes the capital and parts of other regions that have a strong relationship with the capital, is also often included in regional divisions; e.g., there are five planning regions of Latvia (), which were created in 2009 to promote balanced development of all regions. Under this division Riga region includes large parts of what traditionally is considered Vidzeme, Courland, and Zemgale. Statistical regions of Latvia, established in accordance with the EU Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics, duplicate this division, but divides Riga region into two parts with the capital alone being a separate region.{{citation needed|date=March 2015}}The largest city in Latvia is Riga, the second largest city is Daugavpils and the third largest city is Liepaja.


{| class="wikitable" style="text-align:left; float:left; margin-right:9px; margin-left:2px;" (File:Flickr - Saeima - 10.Saeimas deputāts Raimonds Vējonis.jpg|125px) (File:Karins, Krisjanis-9702.jpg|125px)Raimonds VējonisPresidentArturs Krišjānis KariņšPrime MinisterThe 100-seat unicameral Latvian parliament, the Saeima, is elected by direct popular vote every four years. The president is elected by the Saeima in a separate election, also held every four years. The president appoints a prime minister who, together with his cabinet, forms the executive branch of the government, which has to receive a confidence vote by the Saeima. This system also existed before World War II.{{Lv icon}} Constitution of the Republic of Latvia with amendments and revisions (Official English translation) {{Webarchive|url= |date=5 December 2013 }} (Retrieved on 18 November 2011) The most senior civil servants are the thirteen Secretaries of State.{{citation needed|date=March 2015}}NEWS,weblink Politics, 2015-01-09, [], en, 2017-01-31, File:Flickr - Saeima - 4.maijs Saeimā (6).jpg|thumb|The building of the Saeima, the parliament of Latvia, in Riga]]

Foreign relations

(File:Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, Riga, Letonia, 2012-08-07, DD 01.JPG|thumb|right|The building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Riga)Latvia is a member of the United Nations, European Union, Council of Europe, NATO, OECD, OSCE, IMF, and WTO. It is also a member of the Council of the Baltic Sea States and Nordic Investment Bank. It was a member of the League of Nations (1921–1946). Latvia is part of the Schengen Area and joined the Eurozone on 1 January 2014.Latvia has established diplomatic relations with 158 countries. It has 44 diplomatic and consular missions and maintains 34 embassies and 9 permanent representations abroad. There are 37 foreign embassies and 11 international organisations in Latvia's capital Riga. Latvia hosts one European Union institution, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC).WEB,weblink Diplomatic and Consular Representations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Latvia, 20 November 2013, Latvia's foreign policy priorities include co-operation in the Baltic Sea region, European integration, active involvement in international organisations, contribution to European and transatlantic security and defence structures, participation in international civilian and military peacekeeping operations, and development co-operation, particularly the strengthening of stability and democracy in the EU's Eastern Partnership countries.WEB,weblink Foreign policy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Latvia, 13 May 2012, WEB,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink yes, 12 September 2012, A foreign policy based on co-operation and constructive engagement, Latvian Institute, 13 May 2012, WEB,weblink Background Note: Latvia, U.S. Department of State, 18 November 2011, 13 May 2012, (File:Foreign Ministers of Nordic and Baltic countries met in Helsinki, 30.08.2011 (Photographer Eero Kuosmanen).jpg|thumb|Foreign ministers of the Nordic and Baltic countries in Helsinki, 2011)Since the early 1990s, Latvia has been involved in active trilateral Baltic states co-operation with its neighbours Estonia and Lithuania, and Nordic-Baltic co-operation with the Nordic countries. The Baltic Council is the joint forum of the interparliamentary Baltic Assembly (BA) and the intergovernmental Baltic Council of Ministers (BCM).WEB,weblink Estonian Chairmanship of the Baltic Council of Ministers in 2011, Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 20 November 2013, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 13 November 2013, Nordic-Baltic Eight (NB-8) is the joint co-operation of the governments of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, and Sweden.WEB,weblink Co-operation of Baltic and Nordic States, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Latvia, 13 May 2012, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 5 April 2012, Nordic-Baltic Six (NB-6), comprising Nordic-Baltic countries that are European Union member states, is a framework for meetings on EU-related issues. Interparliamentary co-operation between the Baltic Assembly and Nordic Council was signed in 1992 and since 2006 annual meetings are held as well as regular meetings on other levels. Joint Nordic-Baltic co-operation initiatives include the education programme NordPlusWEB,weblink About Nordplus, Nordic Council of Ministers, 20 November 2013, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 13 November 2013, and mobility programmes for public administration,WEB,weblink Nordic-Baltic mobility programme for public administration, Nordic Council of Ministers' Office in Estonia, 20 November 2013, business and industryWEB,weblink Nordic-Baltic Mobility and Network Programme for Business and Industry, Nordic Council of Ministers' Office in Latvia, 20 November 2013, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 18 November 2013, and culture.WEB,weblink Nordic Culture Point, Nordic Council of Ministers, 20 November 2013, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 18 November 2013, The Nordic Council of Ministers has an office in Riga.WEB,weblink Nordic Council of Ministers' Office in Latvia, Nordic Council of Ministers' Office in Latvia, 20 November 2013, Latvia participates in the Northern Dimension and Baltic Sea Region Programme, European Union initiatives to foster cross-border co-operation in the Baltic Sea region and Northern Europe. The secretariat of the Northern Dimension Partnership on Culture (NDPC) will be located in Riga.WEB,weblink Nordic Council of Ministers is looking for a Senior Adviser to run the Secretariat of Northern Dimension Partnership on Culture, Northern Dimension Partnership on Culture (NDPC), 6 November 2013, 20 November 2013, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 6 October 2014, dmy-all, In 2013 Riga hosted the annual Northern Future Forum, a two-day informal meeting of the prime ministers of the Nordic-Baltic countries and the UK.WEB,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink yes, 1 March 2013, Northern Future Forum, State Chancellery, Republic of Latvia, 20 November 2013, The Enhanced Partnership in Northern Europe or e-Pine is the U.S. Department of State diplomatic framework for co-operation with the Nordic-Baltic countries.WEB,weblink Enhanced Partnership in Northern Europe (e-PINE), U.S. Department of State, 20 November 2013, Latvia hosted the 2006 NATO Summit and since then the annual Riga Conference has become a leading foreign and security policy forum in Northern Europe.WEB,weblink About Rīga Conference, Rīga Conference, 20 November 2013, Latvia held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2015.WEB, Latvia,weblink, European Union, 9 June 2018,

Human rights

(File:Latvian non-citizens passport.jpg|thumb|upright=0.7|Non-citizen passport)According to the reports by Freedom House and the US Department of State, human rights in Latvia are generally respected by the government:WEB,weblink 2008 Human Rights Report: Latvia, United States Department of State, 25 February 2009, 9 June 2009, WEB,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink 15 May 2011, Freedom in the World â€“ Latvia (2008), Freedom House, 2008, 6 June 2009, yes, dmy, Latvia is ranked above-average among the world's sovereign states in democracy,WEB,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink 14 December 2008, The Economist Intelligence Unit's Index of Democracy 2008, The Economist, 2008, 5 June 2009, yes, dmy, press freedom,WEB,weblink Press Freedom Index 2010, Reporters Without Borders, 2010, 3 March 2011, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 24 November 2010, privacyWEB,weblink The 2007 International Privacy Ranking, Privacy International, 2007, 5 June 2009, and human development.WEB,weblink Statistics of the Human Development Report, United Nations Development Programme, 2008, 5 June 2009, The country has a large ethnic Russian community, which was guaranteed basic rights under the constitution and international human rights laws ratified by the Latvian government.WEB,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink 24 June 2011, Country Report 2008 Edition, Freedom House, 2008, 6 June 2009, yes, dmy, Approximately 223,000 non-citizens NEWS,weblink Latvija dzivo 11.4 procenti nepilsonu, CVK Latvija, 1 January 2017, – including stateless persons â€“ have limited access to some political rights – only citizens are allowed to participate in parliamentary or municipal elections, although there are no limitations in regards to joining political parties or other political organizations.Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee: Latvia. CCPR/CO/79/LVA, 1 December 2003 See Paras. 16, 18ECRI Third Report on Latvia {{webarchive|url= |date=9 May 2009 }}, CRI(2008)2. See paras. 118, 132 In 2011, the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities "urged Latvia to allow non-citizens to vote in municipal elections."WEB, A new kind of citizenship accepted by EU? Latvian non-citizens and the citizenship debates,weblink University of Twente Student Theses, 2011, Additionally, there have been reports of police abuse of detainees and arrestees, poor prison conditions and overcrowding, judicial corruption, discrimination against women, incidents of violence against ethnic minorities, and societal violence and incidents of government discrimination against homosexuals.WEB,weblink Amnesty International Report 2009, Amnesty International, 2009, 8 June 2009, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 10 June 2009, WEB,weblink Latvia: Investigate Attacks on Gay Activists, Human rights watch, 2006, 8 June 2009,


(File:Naval visit, Belfast (3) - - 667223.jpg|thumb|Naval Forces minehunter Imanta)(File:I’m with you battle buddy 141120-A-LY282-013.jpg|thumb|Latvian soldiers during an exercise)The National Armed Forces (Latvian: Nacionālie Bruņotie Spēki (NAF)) of Latvia consists of the Land Forces, Naval Forces, Air Force, National Guard, Special Tasks Unit, Military Police, NAF staff Battalion, Training and Doctrine Command, and Logistics Command. Latvia's defence concept is based upon the Swedish-Finnish model of a rapid response force composed of a mobilisation base and a small group of career professionals. From 1 January 2007, Latvia switched to a professional fully contract-based army.WEB,weblink Aizsardzības ministrija,, 6 December 2018,weblink" title="">weblink 27 April 2018, yes, dmy-all, Latvia participates in international peacekeeping and security operations. Latvian armed forces have contributed to NATO and EU military operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1996–2009), Albania (1999), Kosovo (2000–2009), Macedonia (2003), Iraq (2005–2006), Afghanistan (since 2003), Somalia (since 2011) and Mali (since 2013).WEB,weblink Participation in International operations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Latvia, 12 May 2012, WEB,weblink Previous operations, Latvian, Latvian National Armed Forces, 12 May 2012,weblink" title="">weblink 24 October 2012, yes, dmy-all, WEB,weblink Latvia and NATO, Ministry of National Defence Republic of Latvia, 2011, 12 May 2012,weblink" title="">weblink 9 March 2012, yes, dmy-all, Latvia also took part in the US-led Multi-National Force operation in Iraq (2003–2008)WEB,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink yes, 5 August 2012, US-led coalition forces operation in OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom), Latvian, Latvian National Armed Forces, 12 May 2012, and OSCE missions in Georgia, Kosovo and Macedonia.WEB,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink yes, 5 August 2012, Other operations, Latvian, Latvian National Armed Forces, 12 May 2012, Latvian armed forces contributed to a UK-led Battlegroup in 2013 and the Nordic Battlegroup in 2015 under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) of the European Union.WEB,weblink EU Battlegroup Offers and Commitments, Council of the European Union, 26 September 2012, 25 November 2012, Latvia acts as the lead nation in the coordination of the Northern Distribution Network for transportation of non-lethal ISAF cargo by air and rail to Afghanistan.WEB,weblink Dombrovskis and US Ambassador Garber visit Riga Airport to inspect cargo plane to Afghanistan, The Baltic Course, 2012, 12 May 2012, WEB,weblink One year on: ISAF's trans-European supply routes are a success, NATO, 2011, 12 May 2012, WEB,weblink NATO opens new communication lines to Afghanistan, NATO, 2010, 12 May 2012, It is part of the Nordic Transition Support Unit (NTSU), which renders joint force contributions in support of Afghan security structures ahead of the withdrawal of Nordic and Baltic ISAF forces in 2014.WEB,weblink Nordic Military Alliance With Latvia in Afghanistan, Gerard O'Dwyer, DefenseNews, 13 September 2012, 25 November 2012, Since 1996 more than 3600 military personnel have participated in international operations, of whom 7 soldiers perished.WEB,weblink Fallen soldiers, Latvian, Latvian National Armed Forces, 12 May 2012,weblink" title="">weblink 24 October 2012, yes, dmy-all, Per capita, Latvia is one of the largest contributors to international military operations.WEB,weblink Background Note: Latvia, U.S. Department of State, 18 November 2011, 12 May 2012, Latvian civilian experts have contributed to EU civilian missions: border assistance mission to Moldova and Ukraine (2005–2009), rule of law missions in Iraq (2006 and 2007) and Kosovo (since 2008), police mission in Afghanistan (since 2007) and monitoring mission in Georgia (since 2008).Since March 2004, when the Baltic states joined NATO, fighter jets of NATO members have been deployed on a rotational basis for the Baltic Air Policing mission at Šiauliai Airport in Lithuania to guard the Baltic airspace. Latvia participates in several NATO Centres of Excellence: Civil-Military Co-operation in the Netherlands, Cooperative Cyber Defence in Estonia and Energy Security in Lithuania. It plans to establish the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence in Riga.WEB,weblink V.Dombrovskis: Latvia sees the opportunity to strengthen NATO's strategic communication capability, The Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia, 6 November 2013, 20 November 2013, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 19 December 2013, Latvia co-operates with Estonia and Lithuania in several trilateral Baltic defence co-operation initiatives:
  • Baltic Battalion (BALTBAT) â€“ infantry battalion for participation in international peace support operations, headquartered near Riga, Latvia;
  • Baltic Naval Squadron (BALTRON) â€“ naval force with mine countermeasures capabilities, headquartered near Tallinn, Estonia;
  • Baltic Air Surveillance Network (BALTNET) â€“ air surveillance information system, headquartered near Kaunas, Lithuania;
  • Joint military educational institutions: Baltic Defence College in Tartu, Estonia, Baltic Diving Training Centre in Liepāja, Latvia and Baltic Naval Communications Training Centre in Tallinn, Estonia.WEB,weblink Baltic Defence Co-operation, Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2002, 28 April 2012, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 5 August 2011,
Future co-operation will include sharing of national infrastructures for training purposes and specialisation of training areas (BALTTRAIN) and collective formation of battalion-sized contingents for use in the NATO rapid-response force.WEB,weblink Baltic Defence Ministers announced new defence cooperation initiatives, Ministry of National Defence Republic of Lithuania, 2011, 28 April 2012, In January 2011, the Baltic states were invited to join NORDEFCO, the defence framework of the Nordic countries.WEB,weblink Nordic Countries Invite Baltics to Join Defence Co-operation Framework, Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 21 January 2011, 28 April 2012, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 8 June 2012, In November 2012, the three countries agreed to create a joint military staff in 2013.WEB,weblink Joint Baltic Military Staff to Be Established, Estonian Public Broadcasting, 9 November 2012, 25 November 2012, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 11 November 2012,


File:BlueEurozone.svg|thumb|Latvia is part of the EU single market (dark grey), Eurozone (dark blue) and Schengen AreaSchengen AreaLatvia is a member of the World Trade Organization (1999) and the European Union (2004). On 1 January 2014, the Euro became the country's currency, superseding the Lats. According to statistics in late 2013, 45% of the population supported the introduction of the euro, while 52% opposed it.WEB, Apollo,,weblink Turpina pieaugt iedzÄ«votāju atbalsts eiro ievieÅ¡anai,, 23 April 2014, Following the introduction of the Euro, Eurobarometer surveys in January 2014 showed support for the Euro to be around 53%, close to the European average.NEWS,weblink New currency, new leader, The Economist, 14 January 2014, 10 January 2014, Since the year 2000, Latvia has had one of the highest (GDP) growth rates in Europe.WEB,weblink Growth rate of real GDP per capita, Eurostat, 28 July 2007, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 12 October 2007, However, the chiefly consumption-driven growth in Latvia resulted in the collapse of Latvian GDP in late 2008 and early 2009, exacerbated by the global economic crisis, shortage of credit and huge money resources used for the bailout of Parex bank.WEB,weblink Rimsevics: Failing to bail out Parex banka would result in closing down of four banks in Latvia, The Baltic Course, 8 December 2013, The Latvian economy fell 18% in the first three months of 2009, the biggest fall in the European Union.NEWS, Aaron Eglitis,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink yes, 2 December 2010, Latvian GDP Shrank 18% in First Quarter, EU's Biggest Fall â€“, Bloomberg L.P., 11 May 2009, 16 October 2010, NEWS,weblink BBC News, Latvian economy in rapid decline, 11 May 2009, 4 April 2010, (File:Lv real gdp growth.svg|thumb|Real GDP growth in Latvia 1996–2006)The economic crisis of 2009 proved earlier assumptions that the fast-growing economy was heading for implosion of the economic bubble, because it was driven mainly by growth of domestic consumption, financed by a serious increase of private debt, as well as a negative foreign trade balance. The prices of real estate, which were at some points growing by approximately 5% a month, were long perceived to be too high for the economy, which mainly produces low-value goods and raw materials.{{citation needed|date=March 2015}}Privatisation in Latvia is almost complete. Virtually all of the previously state-owned small and medium companies have been privatised, leaving only a small number of politically sensitive large state companies. The private sector accounted for nearly 68% of the country's GDP in 2000.{{citation needed|date=March 2015}}Foreign investment in Latvia is still modest compared with the levels in north-central Europe. A law expanding the scope for selling land, including to foreigners, was passed in 1997. Representing 10.2% of Latvia's total foreign direct investment, American companies invested $127 million in 1999. In the same year, the United States of America exported $58.2 million of goods and services to Latvia and imported $87.9 million. Eager to join Western economic institutions like the World Trade Organization, OECD, and the European Union, Latvia signed a Europe Agreement with the EU in 1995—with a 4-year transition period. Latvia and the United States have signed treaties on investment, trade, and intellectual property protection and avoidance of double taxation.WEB,weblink TAX CONVENTION WITH LATVIA, Internal Revenue Service, May 19, 2018, WEB,weblink Agreement between the United States of America and the Republic of Latvia on Trade Relations and Intellectual Property Rights Protection, World Intellectual Property Organization, May 19, 2018,

Economic contraction and recovery (2008–12)

File:AirBaltic Boeing 757-200 at RIX.jpg|thumb|An airBaltic Boeing 757−200WL takes off at Riga International AirportRiga International AirportThe Latvian economy entered a phase of fiscal contraction during the second half of 2008 after an extended period of credit-based speculation and unrealistic appreciation in real estate values. The national account deficit for 2007, for example, represented more than 22% of the GDP for the year while inflation was running at 10%.WEB,weblink Latvia, Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, 15 December 2008, Latvia's unemployment rate rose sharply in this period from a low of 5.4% in November 2007 to over 22%.WEB,weblink Statistical Office of the European Commission (Eurostat), Monthly Bulletin: Table in chapter 09, section 01, Europa (web portal), 1 October 2010, 16 October 2010, In April 2010 Latvia had the highest unemployment rate in the EU, at 22.5%, ahead of Spain, which had 19.7%.WEB,weblink Eurostat â€“ Tables, Graphs and Maps Interface (TGM) table, European Commission, 12 August 2010, Paul Krugman, the Nobel Laureate in economics for 2008, wrote in his New York Times Op-Ed column on 15 December 2008:The most acute problems are on Europe's periphery, where many smaller economies are experiencing crises strongly reminiscent of past crises in Latin America and Asia: Latvia is the new ArgentinaNEWS,weblink European Crass Warfare, The New York Times, 15 December 2008, Paul Krugman, 15 December 2008, However, by 2010, commentators"Baltic Thaw, Aegean freeze", The Economist, 27 February 2010, p59Patrick Lannin and Aija Braslina "UPDATE 2-IMF hails Latvia effort but sees risks ahead". Reuters, 15 March 2010. Retrieved 31 July 2010 noted signs of stabilisation in the Latvian economy. Rating agency Standard & Poor's raised its outlook on Latvia's debt from negative to stable. Latvia's current account, which had been in deficit by 27% in late 2006 was in surplus in February 2010. Kenneth Orchard, senior analyst at Moody's Investors Service argued that:The strengthening regional economy is supporting Latvian production and exports, while the sharp swing in the current account balance suggests that the country's 'internal devaluation' is working.WEB, Toomas Hõbemägi,weblink Baltic Business News, 8 February 2010,, 16 October 2010, The IMF concluded the First Post-Program Monitoring Discussions with the Republic of Latvia in July 2012 announcing that Latvia's economy has been recovering strongly since 2010, following the deep downturn in 2008–09. Real GDP growth of 5.5 percent in 2011 was underpinned by export growth and a recovery in domestic demand. The growth momentum has continued into 2012 and 2013 despite deteriorating external conditions, and the economy is expected to expand by 4.1 percent in 2014. The unemployment rate has receded from its peak of more than 20 percent in 2010 to around 9.3 percent in 2014.WEB, Public Information Notice (PIN) No. 12/76 by IMF,weblink IMF Executive Board Concludes First Post-Program Monitoring Discussions with the Republic of Latvia, July 16, 2012,, 18 July 2012,


File:Ventspils osta.jpg|thumb|The Port of Ventspils is one of the busiest ports in the Baltic statesBaltic statesThe transport sector is around 14% of GDP. Transit between Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan as well as other Asian countries and the West is large.WEB,weblink Latvia, 8 September 2008, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 8 September 2008, dmy, , World BankThe three biggest ports of Latvia are located in Riga, Ventspils, and Liepāja. Most transit traffic uses these and half the cargo is crude oil and oil products. Free port of Ventspils is one of the busiest ports in the Baltic states. Apart from road and railway connections, Ventspils is also linked to oil extraction fields and transportation routes of Russian Federation via system of two pipelines from Polotsk, Belarus.{{citation needed|date=March 2015}}Riga International Airport is the busiest airport in the Baltic states with 6.1 million passengers in 2017. It has direct flight to over 80 destinations in 30 countries. The only other airport handling regular commercial flights is Liepāja International Airport. airBaltic is the Latvian flag carrier airline and a low-cost carrier with hubs in all three Baltic States, but main base in Riga, Latvia.{{citation needed|date=March 2015}}Latvian Railway's main network consists of 1,860 km of which 1,826 km is 1,520 mm Russian gauge railway of which 251 km are electrified, making it the longest railway network in the Baltic States. Latvia's railway network is currently incompatible with European standard gauge lines.WEB,weblink Satiksmes ceļu garums gada beigās (kilometros), Centrālais Statistikas Birojs, 7 March 2018, However, Rail Baltica railway, linking Helsinki-Tallinn-Riga-Kaunas-Warsaw is under construction and is set to be completed in 2026.WEB,weblink About Rail Baltica, Rail Baltica, 7 March 2018, National road network in Latvia totals 1675 km of main roads, 5473 km of regional roads and 13 064 km of local roads. Municipal roads in Latvia totals 30 439 km of roads and 8039 km of streets.WEB,weblink Ceļu klasifikācija, Latvijas Valsts ceļi, 7 March 2018,weblink 26 August 2018, yes, dmy-all, The best known roads are A1 (European route E67), connecting Warsaw and Tallinn, as well as European route E22, connecting Ventspils and Terehova. In 2017 there were a total of 803,546 licensed vehicles in Latvia.WEB,weblink ReÄ£istrÄ“to automobiļu skaits ceturkšņa beigās, Centrālais Statistikas Birojs, 7 March 2018, Latvia has three big hydroelectric power stations in Pļaviņu HES (825MW), RÄ«gas HES (402 MW) and Ķeguma HES-2 (192 MW). In the recent years a couple of dozen of wind farms as well as biogas or biomass power stations of different scale have been built in Latvia.{{citation needed|date=March 2015}}Latvia operates Inčukalns underground gas storage facility, one of the largest underground gas storage facilities in Europe and the only one in the Baltic states. Unique geological conditions at Inčukalns and other locations in Latvia are particularly suitable for underground gas storage.WEB,weblink The Outlook of Latvian Potential Underground Gas Storages and Prospects of Utilization of this Potential for Securing of Reliable Gas Supply to Europe, UNECE, 24 January 2007, 5 June 2013,


Biggest employers in Latvia in 2016:WEB,weblink Latvijas lielāko darba devÄ“ju TOP 50, Dienas Biness, 7 March 2018, {| class="wikitable sortable" style="text-align:right;" style="background:#efefef;"! style="text-align:center;"| Rank|| style="text-align:center;"| Name|| style="text-align:center;"| Headquarters|| style="text-align:left;"| Industry || style="text-align:center;"| Employees (2016) {{0}}1. style="text-align:left;"Maxima Group>Maxima Latvija style="text-align:left;"Riga > Retail 7956 {{0}}2. style="text-align:left;"Latvian Railways > Riga style="text-align:left;"Railroad, Logistics >| 6850 {{0}}3. style="text-align:left;"Rimi Baltic>Rimi Latvia style="text-align:left;"Riga > Retail 5790 {{0}}4. style="text-align:left;"Riga East University Hospital > Riga style="text-align:left;"Healthcare >| 4759 {{0}}5. style="text-align:left;"Latvijas Pasts>Latvian Post style="text-align:left;"Riga > Postal services 4248 {{0}}6. style="text-align:left;"RÄ«gas Satiksme > Riga style="text-align:left;"Public transportation >| 4206 {{0}}7. style="text-align:left;"Pauls Stradiņš Clinical University Hospital > Riga style="text-align:left;"Healthcare >| 3237 {{0}}8. style="text-align:left;"RÄ«gas Namu Pārvaldnieks > Riga style="text-align:left;"House management >| 2785 {{0}}9. style="text-align:left;"Sadales TÄ«kls > Riga style="text-align:left;"Electricity distribution >| 2556 {{0}}10. style="text-align:left;"Kreiss > Riga style="text-align:left;"Logistics >| 2441List of biggest companies by profit in Latvia in 2016:WEB,weblink 15 lielākie uzņēmumi pÄ“c peļņas, Lursoft, 7 March 2018, {| class="wikitable sortable" style="text-align:right;" style="background:#efefef;"! style="text-align:center;"| Rank|| style="text-align:center;"| Name|| style="text-align:center;"| Headquarters|| style="text-align:center;"| Industry|| style="text-align:center;"| Profit (2016) (mil. â‚¬) {{0}}1. style="text-align:left;"Latvenergo > Riga style="text-align:left;"Electricity >| 137,4 {{0}}2. style="text-align:left;"MikrotÄ«kls > Riga style="text-align:left;"Electronics, Electrical equipment >| 66,2 {{0}}3. style="text-align:left;"Latvijas valsts meži > Riga style="text-align:left;"Forest Management >| 50,6 {{0}}4. style="text-align:left;"Latvijas Gāze > Riga style="text-align:left;"natural gas>Natural Gas 40,4 {{0}}5. style="text-align:left;"KRONOSPAN Riga > Riga style="text-align:left;"Plywood >| 35,9 {{0}}6. style="text-align:left;"Rimi Baltic>Rimi Latvia style="text-align:left;"Riga > Retail 32 {{0}}7. style="text-align:left;"Lattelecom > Riga style="text-align:left;"Telecommunications >| 31,7 {{0}}8. style="text-align:left;"4finance > Riga style="text-align:left;"Non-bank lender >| 29 {{0}}9. style="text-align:left;"Cassandra Holding Company > Jurmala style="text-align:left;"Financial services >| 27,2 {{0}}10. style="text-align:left;"OF Holding > Riga style="text-align:left;"Financial services >| 26,9


{{Wide image|Riga Skyline Panorama, Latvia - Diliff.jpg|1000px|Riga, capital and largest city of Latvia}}{{bar box|float = right|title = Residents of Latvia by ethnicity (2011)|bars ={{bar percent|Latvians|DarkSlateGray|62.1}}{{bar percent|Russians|DarkSlateGray|26.9}}{{bar percent|Belarusians|DarkSlateGray|3.3}}{{bar percent|Ukrainians|DarkSlateGray|2.2}}{{bar percent|Poles|DarkSlateGray|2.2}}{{bar percent|Lithuanians|DarkSlateGray|1.2}}{{bar percent|Others|DarkSlateGray|2.1}}}}(File:Population-of-Latvia.svg|thumb|upright=1.35|Population of Latvia (in millions) from 1920 to 2014)The total fertility rate (TFR) in 2013 was estimated at 1.52 children born/woman, which is lower than the replacement rate of 2.1. In 2012, 45.0% of births were to unmarried women.WEB,weblink Live births outside marriage, Eurostat – Tables, Graphs and Maps Interface (TGM) table, 17 October 2013, 3 January 2014, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 6 October 2014, The life expectancy in 2013 was estimated at 73.19 years (68.13 years male, 78.53 years female). As of 2015, Latvia is estimated to have the lowest male-to-female ratio in the world, at 0.85 males/female.WEB, Country Comparison to the World,weblink Central Intelligence Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, 1 August 2016,

Ethnic groups

Latvian Russians|Latvian Germans|Latvian Jews|Latgalians (modern)|Livonians|Gauja Estonians}}Latvia's population has been multiethnic for centuries, though the demographics shifted dramatically in the 20th century due to the World Wars, the emigration and removal of Baltic Germans, the Holocaust, and occupation by the Soviet Union. According to the Russian Empire Census of 1897, Latvians formed 68.3% of the total population of 1.93 million; Russians accounted for 12%, Jews for 7.4%, Germans for 6.2%, and Poles for 3.4%.Latvia â€“ Population. Source: U.S. Library of Congress.As of March 2011, Latvians form about 62.1% of the population, while 26.9% are Russians, Belarusians 3.3%, Ukrainians 2.2%, Poles 2.2%, Lithuanians 1.2%, Jews 0.3%, Romani people 0.3%, Germans 0.1%, Estonians 0.1% and others 1.3%. 250 people identify as Livonians (Baltic Finnic people native to Latvia). There were 290,660 non-citizens living in Latvia or 14.1% of Latvian residents, mainly ethnic Russians who arrived after the occupation of 1940 and their descendants.Population Census 2011 â€“ Key Indicators. Retrieved 19 February 2012.In some cities, e.g., Daugavpils and RÄ“zekne, ethnic Latvians constitute a minority of the total population. Despite the fact that the proportion of ethnic Latvians has been steadily increasing for more than a decade, ethnic Latvians also make up slightly less than a half of the population of the capital city of Latvia – RÄ«ga.WEB,weblink Latvia – Population, Pike, John,, 2017-06-06, The share of ethnic Latvians had fallen from 77% (1,467,035) in 1935 to 52% (1,387,757) in 1989.WEB,weblink About Latvia, Latvian Academy of Culture, 28 July 2007, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 29 June 2007, In 2011, there were even fewer Latvians than in 1989, though their share of the population was larger â€“ 1,285,136 (62.1% of the population).WEB, TSG11-06. RESIDENT POPULATION ON MARCH 1, 2011 BY ETHNICITY, SEX AND AGE GROUP,weblink Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia, 27 February 2017, {| class="wikitable" style="margin: 1em 1em 1em 0; font-size: 95%;"|+Residents of Latvia by ethnicity (1897—2017)bgcolor="#e0e0e0"! rowspan="2" width="75" | Ethnicity! colspan="2" | 1897! colspan="2" | 1925 ! colspan="2" | 1935 ! colspan="2" | 1959 ! colspan="2" | 1970 ! colspan="2" | 1979 ! colspan="2" | 1989 ! colspan="2" | 2000 ! colspan="2" | 2011WEB,weblink 2011.gada tautas skaitÄ«Å¡ana — Galvenie rādÄ«tāji, 27 January 2012,weblink" title="">weblink 29 January 2012, yes, dmy-all, ! colspan="2" | 201weblinkbgcolor="#e0e0e0"! width="68" | Population! width="30" | %! width="68" | Population! width="30" | %! width="68" | Population! width="30" | %! width="68" | Population! width="30" | %! width="68" | Population! width="30" | %! width="68" | Population! width="30" | %! width="68" | Population! width="30" | %! width="68" | Population! width="30" | %! width="68" | Population! width="30" | %! width="68" | Population! width="30" | %| Latvians 1 318 112 68,3 1 354 126 73,4 1 467 035 76,9 1 297 881 62,0 1 341 805 56,8 1 344 105 53,7 1 387 757 52,0 1 370 703 57,7 1 284 194 62,1 1 202 781 62,2| Russians 232 204 12,0 193 648 10,5 168 300 8,8 556 448 26,6 704 599 29,8 821 464 32,8 905 515 34,0 703 243 29,6 556 422 26,9 487 528 25,2| Belarusians — — 38 010 2,1 26 800 1,4 61 587 2,9 94 898 4,0 111 505 4,5 119 702 4,5 97 150 4,1 68 174 3,3 62 713 3,2| Ukrainians — — 512 0,0 1800 0,1 29 440 1,4 53 461 2,3 66 703 2,7 92 101 3,5 63 644 2,7 45 699 2,2 43 128 2,2| Poles 65 056 3,4 51 143 2,8 48 600 2,6 59 774 2,9 63 045 2,7 62 690 2,5 60 416 2,3 59 505 2,5 44 783 2,2 39 687 2,1| Lithuanians — — 23 192 1,3 22 800 1,2 32 383 1,6 40 589 1,7 37 818 1,5 34 630 1,3 33 430 1,4 24 426 1,2 22 831 1,2| Jews 142 315 7,4 95 675 5,2 93 400 4,9 36 592 1,8 36 680 1,6 28 331 1,1 22 897 0,9 10 385 0,4 6416 0,3 4 721 0,2Romani people>Romani — — 2870 0,2 3800 0,2 4301 0,2 5427 0,2 6134 0,3 7044 0,3 8205 0,3 6452 0,3 5 082 0,3| Germans 120 191 6,2 70 964 3,8 62 100 3,3 1609 0,1 5413 0,2 3299 0,1 3783 0,1 3465 0,1 3023 0,1 2 554 0,1| Estonians — — 7893 0,4 6900 0,4 4610 0,2 4334 0,2 3681 0,2 3312 0,1 2652 0,1 2000 0,1 1 676 0,1| Livonians — — 1268 0,1 944 0,0 185 0,0 48 0,0 107 0,0 135 0,0 180 0,0 180 0,0 n/a n/a| Others 51 509 2,7 5504 0,3 3256 0,2 8648 0,4 13 828 0,6 16 979 0,7 29 275 1,1 24 824 1,1 26 118 1,3 66 677 3,2bgcolor="#e0e0e0"! align="left" | Total! colspan="2" | 1 929 387! colspan="2" | 1 844 805! colspan="2" | 1 905 936! colspan="2" | 2 093 458! colspan="2" | 2 364 127! colspan="2" | 2 502 816! colspan="2" | 2 666 567! colspan="2" | 2 377 383! colspan="2" | 2 067 887! colspan="2" | 1 934 379


{{further|Language policy in Latvia}}The sole official language of Latvia is Latvian, which belongs to the Baltic language sub-group of the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European language family. Another notable language of Latvia is the nearly extinct Livonian language of the Finnic branch of the Uralic language family, which enjoys protection by law; Latgalian â€“ referred to as either a dialect or a distinct separate language of Latvian â€“ is also formally protected by Latvian law but only as a historical variation of the Latvian language. Russian, which was widely spoken during the Soviet period, is still the most widely used minority language by far (in 2011, 34% spoke it at home, including people who were not ethnically Russian).WEB,weblink THNICITIES OF RESIDENT POPULATION IN STATISTICAL REGIONS, CITIES UNDER STATE JURISDICTION AND COUNTIES BY LANGUAGE MOSTLY SPOKEN AT HOME; ON 1 MARCH 2011, Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia, 1 January 2014, yes,weblink 17 May 2016, While it is now required that all school students learn Latvian, most schools also include English, Russian and German in their curricula. English and Russian are also widely accepted in Latvia, especially in business and tourism. {{As of|2014}} there were 109 schools for minorities that use Russian as the language of instruction (27% of all students) for 40% of subjects (the remaining 60% of subjects are taught in Latvian).On 18 February 2012, Latvia held a constitutional referendum on whether to adopt Russian as a second official language.WEB,weblink Referendum on the Draft Law 'Amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia', Central Election Commission of Latvia, 2012, 2 May 2012,weblink" title="">weblink 2 May 2012, yes, dmy-all, According to the Central Election Commission, 74.8% voted against, 24.9% voted for and the voter turnout was 71.1%.WEB,weblink Results of the referendum on the Draft Law 'Amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia', Latvian, Central Election Commission of Latvia, 2012, 2 May 2012, Beginning in 2019, instruction in Russian language will be gradually discontinued in private colleges and universities in Latvia, as well as general instruction in Latvian public high schools,NEWS, Latvia pushes majority language in schools, leaving parents miffed,weblink Deutsche Welle, 8 September 2018, NEWS, Moscow threatens sanctions against Latvia over removal of Russian from secondary schools,weblink The Daily Telegraph, 3 April 2018, except for subjects related to culture and history of the Russian minority, such as Russian language and literature classes.WEB,weblink Government okays transition to Latvian as sole language at schools in 2019, January 23, 2018, Public Broadcasting of Latvia,


{{Bar box| title=Religion in Latvia (2011)| float=right| bars={{Bar percent|Lutheranism|DodgerBlue|34.2}}{{Bar percent|Roman Catholicism|DarkOrchid|24.1}}{{Bar percent|Russian Orthodox|Crimson|17.8}}{{Bar percent|Old Believers|DeepPink|1.6}}{{Bar percent|Other Christian|RoyalBlue|1.2}}{{Bar percent|Other or none|SlateGray|21.1}}}}File:Riga Dom 02.JPG|thumb|Riga CathedralRiga CathedralThe largest religion in Latvia is Christianity (79%), The largest groups {{As of|2011|lc=y}} were: In the Eurobarometer Poll 2010, 38% of Latvian citizens responded that "they believe there is a God", while 48% answered that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 11% stated that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force".Lutheranism was more prominent before the Soviet occupation, when it was a majority religion of ~60% due to strong historical links with the Nordic countries and influence of the Hansa, and Germany in general. Since then, Lutheranism has declined to a slightly greater extent than Roman Catholicism in all three Baltic states. The Evangelical Lutheran Church, with an estimated 600,000 members in 1956, was affected most adversely. An internal document of 18 March 1987, near the end of communist rule, spoke of an active membership that had shrunk to only 25,000 in Latvia, but the faith has since experienced a revival.WEB,weblink Latvia â€“ SOCIETY,, 18 March 1987, 12 August 2010, The country's Orthodox Christians belong to the Latvian Orthodox Church, a semi-autonomous body within the Russian Orthodox Church. In 2011, there were 416 Jews and 319 Muslims living in Latvia.There are more than 600 Latvian neopagans, Dievturi (The Godskeepers), whose religion is based on Latvian mythology.WEB,weblink Statistics of approved parishes in Latvia, 1 January 2004, 7 March 2007, ReliÄ£iju EnciklopÄ“dija, The Latvian Bible Society, Latvian, About 21% of the total population is not affiliated with a specific religion.

Education and science

{{See also|List of universities in Latvia}}File:Latvijas Universitāte - ogre11 - Panoramio.jpg|thumb|upright=1.25|University of LatviaUniversity of LatviaUniversity of Latvia and Riga Technical University are two major universities in the country, both established on the basis of Riga Polytechnical Institute and located in Riga.WEB,weblink Riga Polytechnical Institute Home Page,, 16 October 2010, Another two important universities, which were established on the base of State University of Latvia, are Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies (established in 1939 on the basis of the Faculty of Agriculture) and Riga Stradiņš University (established in 1950 on the basis of the Faculty of Medicine) â€“ both nowadays cover a variety of different fields. The University of Daugavpils is another significant centre of education. Latvia closed 131 schools between 2006 and 2010, which is a 12.9% decline, and in the same period enrolment in educational institutions has fallen by over 54,000 people, a 10.3% decline.WEB,weblink Latvijas Statistika,, 17 May 2010, 6 June 2010, {{dead link|date=June 2016|bot=medic}}{{cbignore|bot=medic}}The Latvian policy of science and technology set out the long term goal – transition from labor-consuming economy to knowledge-based economy.WEB,weblink Ministry of Education and Science, By 2020 the government aims at a 1.5% GDP funding for research and development, with half of the investments coming from the private sector. Latvia develop their scientific potential on the basis of the existing scientific traditions, particularly in organic chemistry, medical chemistry, genetic engineering, physics, materials science and information technologies.WEB,weblink Latvian Academy of Sciences, The highest number of inventions, which are patented both nationwide and abroad, are made in the branch of medical chemistry.WEB,weblink Inventions and Inventors of Latvia,


The Latvian healthcare system is a universal programme, largely funded through government taxation.NEWS,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink yes, 11 July 2012, Latvia's Healthcare System is Funded by General Taxation and All Latvians and Foreign Residents Are Guaranteed Medical Care | Find Articles at BNET,, 18 November 2005, 5 February 2010, It is among the lowest-ranked healthcare systems in Europe, due to excessive waiting times for treatment, insufficient access to the latest medicines, and other factors.WEB, The Baltic Course – Балтийский курс,weblink Latvia has worst health care system in Europe :: The Baltic Course | Baltic States news & analytics, The Baltic Course, 14 November 2008, 5 February 2010, There were 59 hospitals in Latvia in 2009, down from 94 in 2007, and 121 in 2006.NEWS,weblink The New York Times, Latvian Health Official Resigns Over Cuts, David Jolly, 18 June 2009, 4 April 2010, WEB,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink 16 December 2007, The basic indicators of health care, at the end of the year,, 22 January 2010, 5 February 2010, yes, dmy, WEB,weblink The Baltic States and their health systems â€“ From Soviet to EU, European-Hospital, 5 February 2010, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 11 May 2011, dmy-all,


File:Latvian song festival by Dainis Matisons, 2008-2.jpg|right|thumb|Choirs performing during the 24th Latvian Song and Dance FestivalLatvian Song and Dance FestivalTraditional Latvian folklore, especially the dance of the folk songs, dates back well over a thousand years. More than 1.2 million texts and 30,000 melodies of folk songs have been identified.WEB,weblink Welcome to Latvia â€“ Folk Songs,, 1 May 2006, 16 October 2010, Between the 13th and 19th centuries, Baltic Germans, many of whom were originally of non-German ancestry but had been assimilated into German culture, formed the upper class.{{Citation needed|date=July 2007}} They developed distinct cultural heritage, characterised by both Latvian and German influences. It has survived in German Baltic families to this day, in spite of their dispersal to Germany, the United States, Canada and other countries in the early 20th century. However, most indigenous Latvians did not participate in this particular cultural life.{{Citation needed|date=July 2007}} Thus, the mostly peasant local pagan heritage was preserved, partly merging with Christian traditions. For example, one of the most popular celebrations is Jāņi, a pagan celebration of the summer solstice—which Latvians celebrate on the feast day of St. John the Baptist.{{citation needed|date=March 2015}}File:Historic Centre of Riga-112610.jpg|thumb|Historic Centre of Riga was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCOUNESCOIn the 19th century, Latvian nationalist movements emerged. They promoted Latvian culture and encouraged Latvians to take part in cultural activities. The 19th century and beginning of the 20th century is often regarded by Latvians as a classical era of Latvian culture. Posters show the influence of other European cultures, for example, works of artists such as the Baltic-German artist Bernhard Borchert and the French Raoul Dufy.{{Citation needed|date=July 2007}} With the onset of World War II, many Latvian artists and other members of the cultural elite fled the country yet continued to produce their work, largely for a Latvian émigré audience.WEB,weblink Historical Background, Global Society for Latvian Art, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 29 October 2009, The Latvian Song and Dance Festival is an important event in Latvian culture and social life. It has been held since 1873, normally every five years. Approximately 30,000 performers altogether participate in the event.23rd All Latvian Song Festival. Retrieved 7 March 2007 Folk songs and classical choir songs are sung, with emphasis on a cappella singing, though modern popular songs have recently been incorporated into the repertoire as well.{{citation needed|date=March 2015}}After incorporation into the Soviet Union, Latvian artists and writers were forced to follow the socialist realism style of art. During the Soviet era, music became increasingly popular, with the most popular being songs from the 1980s. At this time, songs often made fun of the characteristics of Soviet life and were concerned about preserving Latvian identity. This aroused popular protests against the USSR and also gave rise to an increasing popularity of poetry. Since independence, theatre, scenography, choir music, and classical music have become the most notable branches of Latvian culture.{{Citation needed|date=July 2007}}During July 2014, Riga hosted the 8th World Choir Games as it played host to over 27,000 choristers representing over 450 choirs and over 70 countries. The festival is the biggest of its kind in the world and is held every two years in a different host city.WEB,weblink World Choir Games Riga 2014, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 5 February 2014, This year (2019) Latvia hosts the inaugural Riga Jurmala Music Festival, a new festival in which world-famous orchestras and conductors perform across four weekends during the summer. The festival takes place at the Latvian National Opera, the Great Guild, and the Great and Small Halls of the Dzintari Concert Hall. This year features the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Russian National Orchestraweblink


Latvian cuisine typically consists of agricultural products, with meat featuring in most main meal dishes. Fish is commonly consumed due to Latvia's location on the Baltic Sea. Latvian cuisine has been influenced by the neighbouring countries. Common ingredients in Latvian recipes are found locally, such as potatoes, wheat, barley, cabbage, onions, eggs, and pork. Latvian food is generally quite fatty, and uses few spices.BOOK,weblink The cuisine of Latvia, Maija., Auliciema, Marianna, Raimonds., Cerūzis,, 2004, Latvian Institute, 998473627X, 660594947, Grey peas and ham are generally considered as staple foods of Latvians. Sorrel soup (skābeņu zupa) is also consumed by Latvians."Typical Latvian Food and Drink Recipes." Retrieved September 2011. Rupjmaize is a dark bread made from rye, considered the national staple.WEB,weblink Latvia {{!, Tasting Europe||language=en|access-date=2017-06-13|deadurl=yes|archiveurl=|archivedate=14 October 2017|df=dmy-all}}BOOK,weblink Ethnic American Food Today: A Cultural Encyclopedia, Long, Lucy M., 2015-07-17, Rowman & Littlefield, 9781442227316, en,


File:Arena Riga CAN-CZE-2006-05-14.JPG|thumb|Arena Riga during the 2006 IIHF World Championship2006 IIHF World ChampionshipIce hockey is usually considered the most popular sport in Latvia. Latvia has had many famous hockey stars like Helmuts Balderis, Artūrs Irbe, Kārlis Skrastiņš and Sandis Ozoliņš and more recently Zemgus Girgensons, who the Latvian people have strongly supported in international and NHL play, expressed through the dedication of using the NHL's All Star Voting to bring Zemgus to number one in voting.WEB,weblink Sabres' Girgensons expands lead as top vote-getter in 2015 NHL All-Star Fan Vote presented by SiriusXM,, Dinamo Riga is the country's strongest hockey club, playing in the Kontinental Hockey League. The national tournament is the Latvian Hockey Higher League, held since 1931. The 2006 IIHF World Championship was held in Riga.File:Kristaps Porzingis.jpg|thumb|left|150px|Kristaps PorziņģisKristaps PorziņģisThe second most popular sport is basketball. Latvia has a long basketball tradition, as the Latvian national basketball team won the first ever EuroBasket in 1935 and silver medals in 1939, after losing the final to Lithuania by one point. Latvia has had many European basketball stars like Jānis Krūmiņš, Maigonis Valdmanis, Valdis Muižnieks, Valdis Valters, Igors Miglinieks, as well as the first Latvian NBA player Gundars Vētra. Andris Biedriņš is one of the most well-known Latvian basketball players, who played in the NBA for the Golden State Warriors and the Utah Jazz. Current NBA players include Kristaps Porziņģis, who plays for the Dallas Mavericks, and Dāvis Bertāns, who plays for the San Antonio Spurs. Former Latvian basketball club ASK Riga won the Euroleague tournament three times in a row before becoming defunct. Currently, VEF Rīga, which competes in EuroCup, is the strongest professional basketball club in Latvia. BK Ventspils, which participates in EuroChallenge, is the second strongest basketball club in Latvia, previously winning LBL eight times and BBL in 2013.{{citation needed|date=March 2015}} Latvia was one of the EuroBasket 2015 hosts.Other popular sports include football, floorball, tennis, volleyball, cycling, bobsleigh and skeleton. The Latvian national football team's only major FIFA tournament participation has been the 2004 UEFA European Championship.WEB,weblink Latvia team profile, UEFA,, 6 January 2014, 3 November 2015, Latvia has participated successfully in both Winter and Summer Olympics. The most successful Olympic athlete in the history of independent Latvia has been Māris Štrombergs, who became a two-time Olympic champion in 2008 and 2012 at Men's BMX.NEWS,weblink Pajon, Strombergs win Olympic BMX Finals,, 2017-11-17, In 2017 Latvian boxer Mairis Briedis became the undisputed WBC cruiserweight world champion, the first and only boxer from Latvia and the Baltic states to hold any one of the four major titles in boxing.In 2017 Latvian tennis player Jeļena Ostapenko won the 2017 French Open Women's singles title being the first unseeded player to do so in the open era.

See also




  • BOOK, Latvia and Latvians: A People and a State in Ideas, Images and Symbols, Cimdiņa, Ausma, Zinātne Publishers, 2011, 978-9984-808-83-3, RÄ«ga, and Deniss Hanovs (eds.),
  • BOOK, The A to Z of Latvia, Plakans, Andrejs, The Scarecrow Press, 2010, 978-0-8108-7209-7, Lanham,
  • BOOK, The Latvian Saga, Ģērmanis, Uldis, AtÄ“na, 2007, 978-9984-34-291-7, RÄ«ga,
  • BOOK, History of Latvia: the 20th century, Bleiere, Daina, Jumava, 2006, 9984-38-038-6, RÄ«ga, 70240317, and Ilgvars Butulis, Antonijs Zunda, Aivars Stranga, Inesis Feldmanis,
  • BOOK,weblink Latvia in World War II, Fordham University Press, 2006, 0-8232-2627-1, Lumans, Valdis O.,
  • BOOK, Historical Dictionary of Latvia, Plakans, Andrejs, The Scarecrow Press, 1998, 978-0-8108-5515-1, 2nd, Lanham,
  • BOOK, The Latvians: A Short History, Plakans, Andrejs, Hoover Institution Press / Stanford University, 1995, 978-0-8179-9302-3, Stanford,
  • BOOK, Latvia in Transition, Dreifelds, Juris, Cambridge University Press, 1996, 978-0-521-55537-1,
  • BOOK, Latvia: Country & People, Latvian National Foundation, 1967, Stockholm, 457313, Rutkis, Jānis (ed.),
  • BOOK, The Story of Latvia: A Historical Survey, Latvian National Foundation, 1949, Stockholm, 2961684, Arveds, Å vābe,
  • BOOK, Latvijas vÄ“stures atlants, Turlajs, Jānis, KarÅ¡u izdevniecÄ«ba Jāņa sÄ“ta, 2012, 978-9984-07-614-0, RÄ«ga,

Baltic states
  • BOOK, A Concise History of the Baltic States, Plakans, Andrejs, Cambridge University Press, 2011, 978-0-521-54155-8, Cambridge/New York,
  • BOOK, A History of the Baltic States, Kasekamp, Andres, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, 978-0-230-01940-9, London,
  • BOOK, The European Union and the Baltic States: Changing forms of governance, Jacobsson, Bengt, Routledge, 2009, 978-0-415-48276-9, London,
  • BOOK, The Baltic Question during the Cold War, Hiden, John, Routledge, 2008, 978-0-415-56934-7, London, and Vahur Made, David J. Smith,
  • BOOK,weblink Travel to the Baltic Hansa â€“ The European Union and its enlargement to the East (Book in Italian: Viaggio nell'Hansa baltica â€“ L'Unione europea e l'allargamento ad Est), D'Amato, Giuseppe, Greco&Greco editori, 2004, 88-7980-355-7, Milano, Giuseppe D'Amato,
  • BOOK, Post-Cold War Identity Politics â€“ Northern and Baltic Experiences, Lehti, Marko, Frank Cass Publishers, 2003, 0-7146-8351-5, London/Portland, and David J. Smith (eds.),
  • BOOK, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, Williams, Nicola, Lonely Planet, 2003, 1-74059-132-1, 3rd, London, Debra Herrmann, Cathryn Kemp,
  • BOOK, Forward to the Past â€“ A Cultural History of the Baltic People, Bojtár, Endre, Central European University Press, 1999, 978-963-9116-42-9, Budapest,
  • BOOK, The Baltic States: The National Self-determination of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, Smith, Graham (ed.), St. Martin's Press, 1994, 0-312-12060-5, New York,
  • BOOK, The Baltic Revolution: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the Path to Independence, Lieven, Anatol, Yale University Press, 1994, 0-300-05552-8, 2nd, New Haven/London, Anatol Lieven,
  • BOOK, The Baltic Nations and Europe: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in the Twentieth Century, Hiden, John, Longman, 1991, 0-582-08246-3, London, Patrick Salmon,

  • BOOK, Russia's European Agenda and the Baltic States, Å leivyte, Janina, Routledge, 2010, 978-0-415-55400-8, London,
  • BOOK, Russian Minority Politics in Post-Soviet Latvia and Kyrgyzstan: The Transformative Power of Informal Networks, Commercio, Michele E., University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010, 978-0-8122-4221-8, Philadelphia,

External links

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General information



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