Latvia or in Latvian called „Latvia“ is a state in Northern Europe and is located in the geographical and historical territory of the Baltic States. To his bordering countries belong Lithuania, Belarus, Russia and Estonia. Additional, Latvia borders to the Baltic Sea. Since 1st May 2004, Latvia is a member of the European Union and is also one of the Eurozone's monetary policy. 



Latvia consists of the four historical regions of Kurland, Livonia, Semgallen, Lettgallen. The largest part of the country is a wooded morainic land. Latvia is well-known for his numerous lakes and rivers. A total of 2,543 km² are occupied by waterways (rivers, lakes, reservoirs). Of the remaining land, about 40%, namely 24,710 km² are used for agricultural purposes and about 46%, namely 28,855 km², are used for forestry purposes.

The capital city Riga is also geographically the center of the sparsely populated country. The Republic of Latvia has an area of 64,589 km² and is therefore slightly smaller than Bavaria. The highest mountain is Gaiziņkalns (Gaising), which is 120 km east of Riga, with 311 m.



The climate in Latvia is cool and temperate, as in all Baltic countries. During the winter, the temperature can be below 0 ° C, while the temperature in the summer can reach a pleasant 16 to 22 ° C. In Riga the annual average temperature is around 6 °C. 1800 to 1900 hours a year seems the sun (ten percent more than in Germany). The coasts of the Baltic Sea usually remain free of ice in winter, while in August the water temperature reaches up to 17 ° C.


Latvia is very well known for his natural environment. In addition to deer, roe deer, hares, black and foxes are elks, wolves, lynxes, beavers and wisemen also present. The European brown bear has also grown in Latvia. Besides the large number of animals, Latvia has several national parks. The largest national park is the Gauja National Park. It occupies an area of 92261 ha and was established in 1973, during Latvia's membership with the Soviet Union.

Latvia has a long tradition of nature conservation, the first protective provisions was already in the 16th century.


A population of about 1,068 million people, resulted in the census from 2011. To almost 2.7 million people raised the Latvian population from 1935 to 1989. Due to the low birth rate and emigration, the population has fallen sharply since then.

The population decreased by almost 600.000 people from 1989 to 2011. Unfortunately, almost this stand corresponds to the 1930s.


Latvian, is the native language of 58% the population. Russian is second language with about 37%. In the eastern part of the country, modern Latgale is still spoken. It was created by the political separation of Lettgalle from the rest of Latvia. The high proportion of Russian-speaking inhabitants of Latvia is mainly due to the immigration of the USSR during the Soviet occupation (1944-1990 / 1991). In this time Russian was next to Latvian the official language. In the capital city of Riga, where every second inhabitant of the Soviet Union is Russian or rather Russian-speaking, is still in everyday life spoken Russian as well as Latvian. In Daugavpils, the second largest city, the proportion of Latvians is less than 20%.


Latvia in the Middle Ages

The territory of today's Republic of Latvia was populated by Baltic tribes around 1200 AD. The Baltic tribes included Lettgallen, Selonen, Semgallen, Kuren and the Liven. After 1237 the area was conquered by the Teutonic Order. In the middle of the 13th century the city of Riga was founded at the estuary mouth of the river Dünn. In 1282 Riga joined the merger of North German trading cities. The city gained great prosperity through the world-wide trade relations.

In the middle of the 16th century, after the final decline of the Teutonic Order, the territories of today's Latvia were separated into: the part north of the Vistula (Livonia) first fell to Lithuania-Poland, 1629 to Sweden, and 1721 (after the Second Nordic War) to Russia. Until the end of the 18th century, the southern part of the country was a duchy of Kurland under Polish sovereignty. In 1795 these regions also fell to Russia. Riga became a major trading metropolis of the Russian tsarist empire. Against the oppression of the Latvian culture and language by the Czars, early national movements (1868 foundation of the "Latvian Association") began to move. After the first Russian revolution in 1905, members of the Latvian movement against the Czarist House were also protesting in Riga. Latvia received a separate parliament from Moscow.

Latvia in the 20th century

After the beginning of the First World War Latvia was occupied by German troops in 1915. Three years later the Latvian People's Council proclaimed the independent republic of Latvia. As a result, battles between Russian troops on one side and German, Baltic-German, and Latvian troops on the other. Two years later the Republic of Latvia was recognized by Russia. 

The Social Democrats took over the leadership of the government of Latvia in 1922. A constitution was adopted, the economic position of the German Baltic was terminated by expropriations and a land reform. Between 1918 and 1934, internal tensions and fragmentation of parties in Parliament led to a total of 18 changes of government. In addition, the world economic crisis, which broke out in 1929, intensified the conflicts. 

In 1934 there was a coup d'etat under Prime Minister Karlis Ulmanis, the leader of the peasant federation. He abolished the constitution and established an authoritarian dictatorship based on the peasantry and the military. The attempt by Latvia to remain neutral in the Second World War failed. Through the non-aggression pact between the Soviet Union and the nationalsocialist Germany, Latvia was allotted to the Soviet sphere of interest. In June 1940 Russian troops occupied Latvia. The country of the USSR was annexed as "Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic". From June 1941 to the reconquest by the Red Army, the Latvian territories were occupied by German troops. Under the charge of collaboration with the Germans, the 100,000 Latvians were estimated to be deported to Siberia after the war, while a settlement of Russians began.

Latvia's path to the EU

After the end of the USSR was Latvia able to regain its independence in the early 1990s. The international recognition of the republic was the ultimate goal in the following years. The largest domestic policy problem is still the dealing with the Russian population. Since 2004, Latvia has been a member of the European Union and NATO. The high agreement in the vote on membership is explained by the history of Latvia. Through centuries of fierce fighting, the Latvians have developed a strong security need.


Riga is the capital City of Latvia and has more than 700,000 inhabitants, making it the largest city of the Baltic States (Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania).

The city is located in the middle part of the country, on the southern bank of the Gulf of Riga, at the mouth of the Daugava, the largest Latvian river, in the Baltic Sea. The landscape of the last ice age around Riga has a large number of small lakes and streams.

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