Overview website for Latvia


Provides an overview of Latvia, including key events and facts about this country which lies on the Baltic Sea.


The Republic of Latvia lies on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. To the north it borders Estonia, to the south and south-west Lithuania, to the east the Russian …


16 ???., 2012 – One of the most exciting places to visit in Europe, Latvia is a hidden treasure that visitors will definitely enjoy exploring. Located on the coast of …


Economic Overview of Latvia for Property & Real Estate Investors – this report includes data on Latvia’s GDP, inflation, GDP per capita, FDI, export/import data …


Republic of Latvia Latvijas Republika. CAPITAL : Riga. FLAG : The flag consists of a single white horizontal stripe on a maroon field. ANTHEM : Dievs, sveti …

Situated in north-eastern Europe with a coastline along the Baltic Sea, Latvia has borders with Estonia, Russia, Belarus and Lithuania. It has linguistic links with Lithuania to the south and historical and religious ties with Estonia to the north.

Not much more than a decade after it declared independence following the collapse of the USSR, Latvia was welcomed as an EU member in May 2004. The move came just weeks after it joined Nato. These developments would have been extremely hard to imagine in the 51 years when Latvia – like Estonia and Lithuania – was occupied by the Soviet Union.

For centuries Latvia was primarily an agricultural country, with seafaring, fishing and forestry as other important factors in its economy.

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At a glance

Politics: Latvia regained its independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Presence of a large ethnic Russian minority is a sensitive issue

Economy: Latvia made a rapid transformation to a market economy after independence

International: Latvia is a member of the European Union and Nato

Country profiles compiled by BBC Monitoring

Latvia was under foreign rule from the 13th until the 20th century, but managed to keep its unique language and rich cultural and especially musical traditions alive. After the First World War it declared independence from Russia, which recognised it in 1920.

Two decades later, following a pact between Stalin and Hitler, Soviet troops invaded in 1940 and Latvia was absorbed into the Soviet Union. Nazi forces pushed the Soviets back in 1941 but the Red Army returned in 1944 and remained for half a century.

During the Soviet period Latvia underwent heavy industrialisation, and experienced a big influx of immigrants from other parts of the USSR, mainly Russia.

About a quarter of the population is Russian-speaking and the rights of this section of society have been a thorny issue since independence. Government reforms introduced in 2004 to restrict the use of the Russian language in schools remain controversial.

Legislation on citizenship was toughened up in 2006. Candidates who fail a Latvian language test three times will be denied citizenship. People without citizenship are entitled neither to vote nor to obtain an EU passport.

Like its Baltic neighbours, in the decade after independence Latvia made a rapid transformation to embrace the free market.

Latvia’s economy grew by 50% between 2004 and 2007 but the global financial crisis of 2008-9 hit the country hard, and the former Baltic tiger endured one of the worst recessions in the EU.

The social turmoil triggered by the financial crisis led to the fall of the Godmanis government in February 2009. By January 2010, unemployment had soared to 20%, prompting fears of further political instability.

Deep public spending cuts introduced by the subsequent Dombrovskis government led to discontent at home, but impressed international lenders enough to earn Latvia an IMF/European Union 7.5bn euro ($10bn) bailout.

This has helped Latvia’s economic recovery, and it returned to growth in 2011. By late 2012, its economic revival was the EU’s strongest. Unemployment, while falling, nonetheless remains high.

The country hopes to join the euro by the start of 2014.

Despite a relatively successful economic transition, Latvia has been struggling with a steep population decline since independence, as young Latvians in particular seek opportunities abroad. Between 2000 and 2011, the population fell by about 13%.

One of the most exciting places to visit in Europe, Latvia is a hidden treasure that visitors will definitely enjoy exploring. Located on the coast of the Baltic Sea, the country has beautiful sceneries and secluded beaches. Discover the world heritage sites in Latvia and the numerous museums that preserve the history and culture of the country.

The capital city of Riga is the most chic destinations in the country. The old town area of the city has some fine looking buildings and monuments. The Riga Castle in the old town center houses two fascinating museums. The Riga Zoo and the Mezapark or the Forest Park has some interesting residential houses that have been renovated to bring back the original charm. The Ethnographic Open Air Museum is one of the main sights in the suburban area of the city and recreates the historic lifestyle.

Liepaja is among the most visited destinations in Latvia. The beaches, Seaside Park, open air markets, and the Liepaja Lake all are worth visiting. The former Soviet military town of Karosta close to the city is a must visit for visitors. The town is surrounded by majestic fortresses and has several interesting exhibits that will intrigue the visitors.

Jurmala is the jewel of Latvia, a beautiful resort town, it boasts of pristine beaches and fantastic wood architecture. The Horn Gardens is one of the most popular attractions in the town. Marvel at some amazing views of the bay from the beaches in the town. The ancient towns of Cesis and Turaida are good to visit especially for their castles and wonderful architecture.

One of the main highlights of visiting Latvia is the untouched beauty of nature, which is preserved in nature parks and reserves of the country. The wetlands of Latvia are excellent to see some rare species of birds. The Slitere National Park is one of the most breathtaking areas of the country. Cape Kolka is a must-visit destination in the park. The Gauja River is good for enjoying a variety of watersports and river rafting. Visitors can also camp at one of the camping sites at the Gauja National Park.

Amber is one of the most popular things to buy in Latvia. Folk art, ceramics, silver jewelry and wickerwork are the other worth buying items in the country. The Central Market in Riga is the best place to buy souvenirs and other interesting items.

Muslims form a small group in Latvia; it is estimated that there are about 10,000 Muslims in the country. The Islamic Information Center in Riga or the Riga Masjid is the main Islamic center in the country. Close to the Masjid is a halal restaurant where visitors can find halal food and snacks. Latvia is popular for its different varieties of breads and cheese. Smoked cheese, eclairs, meatballs with potatoes, salad with sour cream and beetroot soup are some of the must try delicacies in the country.

Latvia is well-connected by public transport system. Car rentals are easily available in the country. Trains are also a good means of conveyance in Latvia. A boat ride from Riga to Jurmala is fantastic. Getting around the cities on bikes is a good and comfortable option. Buses also connect different parts of the country well.

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