General Information

Living in Europe | Access to the culture of the host country/language courses | Latvia

         Overview

         Geography

        Climate

        Nature

        Government and Political System

        Populations

        Latvians

        Cities

        e-Resources and e-Information sources

        Latvija.lv

        Your Gateway to Acquaint Yourself with Latvia

        Institutions

        News Agencies and Information Services

        Newspapers, Magazines and Internet News Portals in English

        Inquiry Desks

 

Overview

Latvia - a small country on the Baltic Sea. Closer than you think (only approx. 2,5 h by plane from London, Paris or Rome), and more contrasting than you think. It takes only about 8 hours to drive across the state from West to East, with the possibility to experience both untouched nature and hi-tech settings. A mix of ancient traditions and modern knowledge. A possibility to experience something fresh, clean and in its natural state, at the same time not losing the connection with the civilization. Latvia is bridging the past and the future as it moves from its past to a modern EU, NATO and ERA country and are ready to take its place in the global community.

Full country name: The Republic of Latvia

Abbreviated: Latvia

Country code: LV

 

Geography

The landscape of the country is marked by lowland plains and rolling hills. Most of the countryside is less than 100 metres above sea level. It has an extensive network of rivers, thousands of lakes and hundreds of kilometres of undeveloped seashore lined by pine forests, dunes, and continuous white sand beaches.

Latvia is bordered by Estonia to the north, Russia and Belarus to the east, Lithuania to the south and the Baltic Sea to the west. Its strategic location has made it an international crossroad for trade, commerce and cultural Exchange since ancient times.

Area: 64,589 sq.km or 24,937 sq. Miles,

Total national border length: 1,862 km,

Length of Latvia Baltic coastline: 494 km,

Highest point: Gaizinkalns (Gaiziņkalns), 311.6 metres,

Regions: Kurzeme, Zemgale, Vidzeme, Latgale,

Time zone: EET (UTC+2), in summer EEST (UTC+3).

 

Climate

Latvia weather features a temperate maritime climate, with mild summers, moderate winters and frequently high levels of humidity and precipitation.

Summer: June - August,

Winter: December - February,

The average temperature: In summer: 15.8°C (in the capital 16.1°C), In winter: -4.5°C (in the capital - Riga -3.8°C)

The warmest month: July,

The coldest month: January,

The average precipitation amount: In summer: 195 mm, In winter: 116 mm.

 

Nature

With over 44 percent of its territory covered by forests, a vast network of free-flowing rivers and thousands of lakes, Latvia is one of Europe best preserved havens for a wide variety of wildlife. Over 27 thousand species of flora and fauna thrive in natural settings that are still relatively undisturbed by man. Many rare species, such as the black stork and lesser spotted eagle, make their homes in Latvia mixed forests, marshes and meadows. There is also an abundance of otters, beavers, lynx and wolves, as well as great concentrations of deer, elk, fox and wild boar. Bird-watching is particularly rewarding in Latvia, especially in the coastal areas and wetlands during annual migration periods.

 

Government and Political System

Latvia is a democratic, parliamentary republic. Legislative power is in the hands of the single chamber parliament (Saeima), which has 100 deputies. Parliamentary elections are held every 4 years. Latvia head of state, the President, is elected by the Saeima for a period of 4 years. The President signs laws, chooses the Prime Minister (who heads the government) and performs representative functions. The highest executive body is the Cabinet of Ministers.

The President of Latvia: Raimonds Vejonis (since 8 July, 2015).

The Prime Minister of Latvia: Maris Kucinskis (since 11 February, 2016).

Memberships: European Union (2004), NATO (2004), United Nations Organisation (1991), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – OECD (2016), Council of Europe, World Trade Organisation, Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, - OSCE, Council of the Baltic Sea States, ...

 

Population

Latvians are the indigenous people of Latvia, and the Finno-Ugric Livs (or Livonians) are the only indigenous minority. Latvia present ethnic mix is largely a result of massive post-war immigration.

Population (2017): 1,930,000; Urban 66%, Rural 32%,

Population density: 30,6/sq.km or 79/sq. Miles ,

Ethnic composition: 59% Latvian, 28% Russian, 13% other nationalities.

 

Latvians

In all, there are more than 1.5 million Latvians in the world. Around 90% of them live in Latvia, while others can be found in the UK, Ireland, the USA, Russia, Australia, Canada and Germany, as well as Brazil, Lithuania, Sweden and Estonia.

The particular Latvian character traits: reserve, self-reliance, independence and persistence. Latvians may seem somewhat anti-social to others overly reticent individualists but in fact it is simply that Latvians need more time to develop trust and friendship. As in many parts of Eastern Europe, so too in Latvia, ethnic consciousness is very pronounced, sometimes even predominating over national or religious consciousness. Regardless of whether they live in cities or the countryside, all Latvians display a deep reverence for nature: the land, sea, animals, and especially flowers and trees.

 

Cities

Riga - Capital of Latvia - founded in 1201, population 701,000, territory 307 sq.km (see also Live Riga ; Latvia-Cities-Riga - information in English, German, Swedish, Finnish, Estonian, Lithuanian, Russian, Japanese).

Daugavpils - first mentioned in 1275, population 98,000.

Jelgava - founded in 1225, population 63,000.

Liepāja - first mentioned in 1253, population 80,000, international airport, ice-free harbour.

Rezekne - first mentioned in 1285, population 33,000.

Valmiera - founded in 1283, population 26,000.

Ventspils - founded in 1378, population 41,000.

 

e-Resources and e-Information sources

Latvija.lv - aim of the Portal is to provide people in Latvia and abroad with access to Internet resources of Latvian state institutions and with centralized access to electronic services provided by different institutions.

  

Your Gateway to Acquaint Yourself with Latvia

The Latvian Institute – a state institution to provide a wide range of information about Latvia, its society, culture & history: fact sheets, brochures … . Information in English, Latvian, French, German, Russian, Spain, Estonian, Chinese.

Welcome to Latvia - the official Latvia tourism portal of the Latvian Tourism Development Agency: welcoming information about Latvia, its society, culture and daily life. Information in English, Latvian, German, Russian.

Welcoming information about Latvia prepared by The Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

 

Institutions

The Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA) – economy and business information.

The Central Statistical Bureau – a internationally comparable statistical information on economical, demographic, social, and environmental phenomena and processes of Latvia.

The State Archives of Latvia – an integrated, easy accessible information system on political, social and cultural history databases, exhibitions, publications ... .

Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Agency – geographical, climate and weather information.

Lursoft – the access to different data bases and registers, including those of business and state importance (paid service).

Letonika (in Latvian !) – a portal devoted to Latvian language, terminology, translation; Latvian encyclopaedic information and online dictionaries; a Latvian Internet search tool and directory (paid service).

 

News Agencies and Information Services

The National News Agency (LETA) – the full-service news agency in Latvia provides quality news and business information solutions (paid service).

News.lv (in Latvian!) – a newspaper library (archive) – the most voluminous collection of Latvian newspaper and news (paid service).

 

Newspapers, Magazines and Internet News Portals in English

The Baltic Times – the news from Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania: Politics, Business, Entertainment, Opinions, … ; available also in printed form.

Providus.lv – the Latvian public policy site about policy studies, reviews and articles on public policy issues in Latvia.

 

Inquiry Desks

1188 – inquiry portal and directory (free access), phone desk 1188 (paid services);

1189 Info Line – inquiry portal and directory (free access), phone desk 1189 (paid services);

ZL Hotline – inquiry portal and directory (free access).