Latvia - a country in north-central Europe and on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea.
Approximately 2.5 hours by plane from London, Paris or Rome, Latvia offers a wealth of contrasts. It only takes about 8 hours to drive across the country from West to East, but on your way you will have the possibility to experience both untouched nature and hi-tech settings; the possibility to experience a mix of ancient traditions and modern knowledge; finally - the possibility to experience something fresh, clean and in its natural state, without losing the connection to civilization. Latvia is bridging the past and the future as it moves into a modern EU, NATO, and ERA, ready to take its place in the global community.
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: UTC +3 (from March) / UTC +2 (from October)
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
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 the mixed forests, marshes and meadows of Latvia. 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.
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. The head of state of Latvia, 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: Egils Levits (since 8 July, 2019)
- The Prime Minister of Latvia: Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš (since 23 January, 2019)
- Member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2016), European Union (2004), NATO (2004), United Nations Organisation (1991), Council of Europe, World Trade Organisation, Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Council of the Baltic Sea States
Latvians are the indigenous people of Latvia, and the Finno-Ugric Livs (or Livonians) are the only indigenous minority. The present ethnic mix of Latvia is largely a result of massive post-war immigration.
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.
Particular Latvian character traits: reserve, self-reliance, independence and persistence. Latvians may seem somewhat anti-social to others, they may seem like 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.
- Population (2019): 1 919 968; Urban 68%, Rural 32%
- Population density: 30 /sq.km or 79/sq. Miles
- Ethnic composition: 59% Latvian, 28% Russian, 13% other nationalities
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
Latvija.lv - State service portal. The aim of the portal is to ensure quick and convenient access to the services provided by Latvian State institutions and municipalities.
Public Broadcasting of Latvia –Lsm.lv is the unified news portal of Latvia's public television and radio services, with a mission to deliver informative, accurate and engaging content.
The Baltic Times- news from Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania: Politics, Business, Entertainment, Opinions, etc.
Other information resources:
- Welcome to Latvia- official Latvian Tourism Portal