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Latvia - Baltic Way

Latvia

Latvia, Turaida

Latvia is a small country on the Baltic Sea with ancient history and traditions. There are many interesting tourist sights which will attract everyone. If you want to enjoy nature - there is not only the serene Gulf of Riga and the open Baltic Sea, but also nature parks, fast rivers and lakes with beautiful forests on the shores. Those who are interested in history will be fascinated by the medieval castles and culture of the ancient Latvians. If you are interested not only in entertainment but also in gaining new knowledge and information you are welcome to visit Old Riga, where you will find not only fabulous architectural monuments but also various night clubs and pubs. There are many beautiful churches in Latvia - both ancient and modern. There is a wide range of relaxation, health rehabilitation and outdoor recreation possibilities. And of course, don’t forget to make inquiries about events that are going to take place during your stay in Latvia. There is the possibility for you to enjoy the traditional Latvian celebrations, different cultural events and entertaining programs throughout the year.

Latvia is the country where you can enjoy your trip - come with the tourist group or have a nice time together with your family. You can have a variety of choices from taking a number of exciting tours to spending several weeks in the guesthouse near a river or lake, far from the hustle and bustle of the city. This web page will help you to get to know Latvia and it will help you to choose the best pastime to suit your mood and make the most of your trip to Latvia.

Historical facts

  • 9000 BC Arrival of the first inhabitants on Latvian soil, after the withdrawal of the glaciers.
  • 900 AD – 1200 AD Individual Baltic tribal groups (Couronians, Latgallians, Selonians, Semgallians) start to form specific tribal realms.
  • 1100s – 1200s Arrival of German traders, missionaries and crusaders in Latvia. Tribal territories fall into the hands of the Germans.
  • 1201 City of Rīga founded.
  • 1500s Livonian War (1558-1583). Latvian territory under Polish-Lithuanian rule.
  • 1600s Polish-Swedish War (1600-1629). Vidzeme (Livland) and Rīga under Swedish rule.
  • 1700s Great Northern War (1700-1721). Vidzeme and Rīga come under Russian rule. Latgale (Latgallia) and the Duchy of Courland are annexed to Russia.
  • 1850s – 1870s National awakening of the Latvian people.
  • 1905 - 1907 Latvian Revolution.
  • November 18, 1918 Proclamation of independence of Latvia.
  • August 11, 1920 Soviet Russia (later – the USSR) and the Republic of Latvia sign a peace treaty. Russia acknowledges Latvia’s independence and forever withdraws its claims to the territory of Latvia.
  • August 23, 1939 Non-aggression pact between the USSR and Germany (so-called 'Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact')
  • June 17, 1940 Latvia occupied by USSR troops.
  • June 14, 1941 15,424 Latvians are deported from Latvia to Siberia
  • 1941 – 1945 Latvia occupied by the German Third Reich.
  • 1941 – 1944 The German occupation regime exterminates over 90,000 Latvian civilians, mainly Jews.
  • May 8, 1945 End of the Second World War. The German occupation army capitulates and the USSR occupation power is re-established in the territory of Latvia.
  • 1945 – 1956 A continuous Latvian national partisan armed struggle against the second Soviet occupation spread throughout the country.
  • March 25, 1949 More than 43,000 innocent people are labelled as enemies of the re-established Soviet regime and are deported to Siberia.
  • June 14 and August 23, 1987 The first large anti-Soviet and anti-occupation demonstrations in Rīga.
  • May 4, 1990 Adoption of a declaration restoring independence with a transition period.
  • August 21, 1991 Complete reinstatement of Latvia’s independence.
  • August 31, 1994 The last troops of Russian (former USSR) occupation army leave Latvia.
  • April – May 2004 Latvia becomes a member of NATO and the European Union.
  • 28-29 November, 2006 Latvia hosts NATO summit.

Government

Latvia is a democratic, parliamentary republic. Legislative power is in the hands of the single chamber Saeima , which has 100 deputies. Parliamentary elections are held every 4 years. Latvia’s 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.

Population

2, 270,00 - urban: 66%, rural:32%

Ethnic composition

59% Latvian, 28% Russian, 3.7% Belorussian, 2.5% Ukrainian, 2.4% Polish, 1.4% Lithuanian, 0.4% Jewish, 0.4% Roma, 2.2% other nationalities.

Main symbols

flag

Flag

coat of arms Latvia’s coat of arms combines the traditional heraldic symbols of Latvian statehood and national identity – three stars, the sun, the sea and oak leaves. Latvia’s historical districts of Kurzeme and Zemgale are represented by a red lion, while Vidzeme and Latgale are depicted by a silver griffin.

Language

State language - Latvian.

There are about 1.5 million native Latvian speakers in Latvia and about 150,000 abroad. Latvian is a Baltic language and is most closely related to Lithuanian, although the two are not mutually intelligible.

Religion

Evangelic Lutheran, Roman Catholic, and Russian Orthodox. Since the 16th century Reformation, the Lutheran church has played a leading role in Latvia.

Time

Time is 2 hours from Greenwich in summer and 3 hours - in winter, according to East-European time zone system.

Geographical information

Territory

Latvia is the central country of the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania). On the world map Latvia is to be found in North-eastern Europe, on the east coast of the Baltic Sea. 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. There are thousands of rivers and lakes in Latvia.

  • Borders with other countries: Estonia, Russia, Belarus, Lithuania.
  • Area: 64,589 sq.km or 24,937 sq.miles.
  • Regions: Kurzeme, Zemgale, Vidzeme, Latgale.
  • Total national border length: 1,862 km.
  • Length of Latvia’s Baltic coastline: 494 km.
  • Largest lake: Lubans, 80.7 sq.km.
  • Deepest lake: Dridzis, 65.1 metres.
  • Longest river within Latvian territory: the Gauja, 452 km.
  • Largest river to flow through Latvian territory: the Daugava, total length 1,005 km, of which 352 km within Latvian territory.
  • Highest point: Gaizinkalns, 311.6 metres.

Latvia is situated on a trading cross-roads and has long since served as a bridge between Western Europe and Russia. The famous "route from the Vikings to the Greeks" mentioned in ancient chronicles stretched from Scandinavia through Latvian territory along the Daugava River to the ancient Russia and Byzantine Empire.

Climate

Latvia’s weather is governed by a moderate oceanic climate, with pronounced cyclone activity and a considerable amount of precipitation.

  • Summer: June - August.
  • Winter: December - February.
  • The average temperature in summer is 15.8°C (in the capital 16.1°C), the average temperature in winter is –4.5°C (in the capital –3.8°C).
  • The warmest month - July, the coldest - January.
  • The average precipitation amount in summer is 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’s 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’s 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.

Most common foreign languages

English, Russian, and German

 

 

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