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.
For centuries Latvia was primarily an agricultural country, with seafaring, fishing and forestry as other important economic factors.
Like its Baltic neighbours, Latvia has made a rapid transition to the free market since the early 1990s.
More than a quarter of the population is primarily Russian-speaking, and Russian propaganda efforts in this community are a cause of concern for the Latvian authorities.
This year Republic of Latvia together with its neighbouring countries, Lithuania and Estonia, will celebrate 100th anniversary of the Proclamation of Independence of Republic of Latvia is celebrated annually on 18 November when the Proclamation of Independence of Latvia was made by the People’s Council of Latvia in 1918.
Latvian, rooted in Sanskrit and an Indo-European past, one of Europe’s most ancient languages, shares a common bond only with Lithuanian. These two languages form a separate branch of the whole European language classification. For Latvian to have survived, despite invasions by different nations near and far, is nothing short of amazing.
Latvian is spoken by about 58.2% of the population. It is highly inflected, with seven noun cases and six verb declensions. The stress is always on the first syllable. Education is now available in both Latvian and Russian, the latter of which is spoken by about 37.5% of the population.
Lithuania and other languages are spoken by about 4.3% of the population.
The Germans brought Lutheranism to Latvia, which dominated until the Soviet annexation. At present, a plurality of about 40% of Latvians claims to have no affiliation with any religion. The next two largest groups are both Christian with Lutheranism at 19.6%, Busand Orthodoxy at
15.3%. An obscure neopagan religious movement, Dievturība, claims to be a revival of the folk religion that existed before the Germans arrived with Christianity in the 13th century.
Latvians -59.0% ( 1348344 ) , Russians – 28.3% (646567), Belorussians – 3.7% (85434), Ukrainians –
2.5% (57794), Poles- 2.4% (54831), Lithuanians – 1.4% (31034), Others – 2.1%
Latvia is a parliamentary democratic republic with a head of government – the prime minister – who chooses the council of ministers and a head of state – the president – who has a largely ceremonial role and nominates the prime minister. The government remains subject to Parliament’s approval throughout each term.
Latvia faces Sweden from across the Baltic Sea and has 309 miles of the coast. On land, Latvia borders four countries: Estonia, Belarus, Russia, and Lithuania.
The shores of the Baltic Sea in Latvia are 500 km long. The Kurzeme coast is washed by mighty waves from the open sea that, up north at Cape Kolka, meet the calmer waters of the Gulf of Riga, where the most popular stretches are the white sandy beaches at Riga and Jurmala, and the rocky beaches of Vidzeme.
The country’s climate is influenced by geographical location and by its closeness to the North Atlantic Ocean. The average temperature in July is between 16.8°C and 17.6°C. In January the average temperature ranges between–2.8°C and 6.6°C. The rainfall in the country is between 56– 79 cm.
GMT +2, from April to November GMT +3
Population: 2 million
Official languages: Latvian