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Latvia, (/ˈlætviə/ ( listen); Latvian: Latvija [ˈlatvija]), officially the Republic
Republic
of Latvia
Latvia
(Latvian: Latvijas Republika), is an independent republic in the Baltic region
Baltic region
of Northern Europe.[13] Since its independence, Latvia
Latvia
has been referred to as one of the Baltic states. It is bordered by Estonia
Estonia
in the northern region, Lithuania
Lithuania
in the southern, to the east is Russia, and Belarus
Belarus
to the southeast, as well as sharing a maritime border with Sweden
Sweden
to the west. Latvia
Latvia
has 1,957,200 inhabitants[14] and a territory of 64,589 km2 (24,938 sq mi).[15] The country has a temperate seasonal climate.[16] After centuries of Swedish, Livonian, Polish and Russian rule, a rule mainly executed by the Baltic German aristocracy, the Republic
Republic
of Latvia
Latvia
was established on 18 November 1918 when it broke away and declared independence from Russia
Russia
in the aftermath of World War I.[2] However, by the 1930s, the country became increasingly autocratic after the coup in 1934 establishing an authoritarian regime under Kārlis Ulmanis. The country's de facto independence was interrupted at the outset of World War II, beginning with Latvia's forcible incorporation into the Soviet Union, followed by the invasion and occupation by Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
in 1941, and the re-occupation by the Soviets in 1944 to form the Latvian SSR for the next fifty years. The peaceful Singing Revolution, starting in 1987, called for Baltic emancipation from Soviet rule and condemning the "Stalinist" regime's illegal takeover.[17] It ended with the Declaration on the Restoration of Independence of the Republic
Republic
of Latvia
Latvia
on 4 May 1990, and restoring de facto independence on 21 August 1991.[18] Latvia
Latvia
is a democratic republic and a very highly developed country by United Nations
United Nations
Human Development Index.[19] Its capital Riga
Riga
served as the European Capital of Culture
European Capital of Culture
in 2014. Latvian is the official language. Latvia
Latvia
is a unitary state, divided into 119 administrative divisions, of which 110 are municipalities and 9 are cities.[20] Latvians
Latvians
are the indigenous people of Latvia.[15] Latvian and Lithuanian are the only two surviving Baltic languages. Despite foreign rule from the 13th to 20th centuries, the Latvian nation maintained its identity throughout the generations via the language and musical traditions. As a consequence of centuries of Russian rule (1710–1918) and later Soviet occupation, Latvia
Latvia
is home to a large number of ethnic Russians
Russians
(26.9% in Latvia[21]), some of whom (14.1% of Latvian residents) have not gained citizenship, leaving them with no citizenship at all. Until World War II, Latvia
Latvia
also had significant minorities of ethnic Germans
Germans
and Jews. Latvia
Latvia
is historically predominantly Lutheran Protestant, except for the Latgale
Latgale
region in the southeast, which has historically been predominantly Roman Catholic.[22] The Russian population has also brought a significant portion of Eastern Orthodox Christians. It is a member of the European Union, NATO, the Council of Europe, the United Nations, CBSS, the IMF, NB8, NIB, OECD, OSCE, and WTO. For 2014, Latvia
Latvia
was listed 46th on the Human Development Index
Human Development Index
and as a high income country on 1 July 2014.[23][24] A full member of the Eurozone, it uses the euro as its currency since 1 January 2014, replacing the Latvian lats.[25]

Contents

1 Etymology 2 History

2.1 The Medieval period 2.2 The Reformation period and Polish-Lithuanian rule 2.3 Latvia
Latvia
in the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
(1795–1917) 2.4 Declaration of independence 2.5 Latvia
Latvia
in World War II 2.6 Soviet era (1940–41, 1944–91) 2.7 Restoration of Independence in 1991

3 Geography

3.1 Climate 3.2 Environment 3.3 Biodiversity 3.4 Administrative divisions

4 Politics

4.1 Foreign relations 4.2 Human rights 4.3 Military

5 Economy

5.1 Economic contraction and recovery (2008–12) 5.2 Infrastructure 5.3 Companies

6 Demographics

6.1 Ethnic groups 6.2 Language 6.3 Religion 6.4 Education and science 6.5 Health

7 Culture

7.1 Cuisine 7.2 Sport

8 International rankings 9 See also 10 Notes and references 11 Bibliography 12 External links

Etymology[edit] The name Latvija is derived from the name of the ancient Latgalians, one of four Indo-European Baltic tribes (along with Couronians, Selonians
Selonians
and Semigallians), which formed the ethnic core of modern Latvians
Latvians
together with the Finnic Livonians.[26] Henry of Latvia coined the latinisations of the country's name, "Lettigallia" and "Lethia", both derived from the Latgalians. The terms inspired the variations on the country's name in Romance languages
Romance languages
from "Letonia" and in several Germanic languages
Germanic languages
from "Lettland".[27] History[edit] Main article: History of Latvia Around 3000 BC, the proto-Baltic ancestors of the Latvian people settled on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea.[28] The Balts established trade routes to Rome and Byzantium, trading local amber for precious metals.[29] By 900 AD, four distinct Baltic tribes inhabited Latvia: Curonians, Latgalians, Selonians, Semigallians
Semigallians
(in Latvian: kurši, latgaļi, sēļi and zemgaļi), as well as the Livonians
Livonians
(lībieši) speaking a Finnic language.[citation needed] In the 12th century in the territory of Latvia, there were 14 lands with their rulers: Vanema, Ventava, Bandava, Piemare, Duvzare, Ceklis, Megava, Pilsāts, Upmale, Sēlija, Koknese, Jersika, Tālava
Tālava
and Adzele.[30] The Medieval period[edit] Main articles: Terra Mariana, Livonian Crusade, and Northern Crusades

Terra Mariana, medieval Livonia

Turaida Castle
Turaida Castle
near Sigulda, built in 1214 under Albert of Riga

In 1282, Riga
Riga
became a member of the Hanseatic League.

Although the local people had contact with the outside world for centuries, they became more fully integrated into the European socio-political system in the 12th century.[31] The first missionaries, sent by the Pope, sailed up the Daugava River
Daugava River
in the late 12th century, seeking converts.[32] The local people, however, did not convert to Christianity
Christianity
as readily as the Church had hoped.[32] German crusaders were sent, or more likely decided to go on their own accord as they were known to do in search of pagans to kill and loot throughout eastern Europe. Saint Meinhard
Saint Meinhard
of Segeberg arrived in Ikšķile, in 1184, traveling with merchants to Livonia, on a Catholic mission to convert the population from their original pagan beliefs. Pope Celestine III had called for a crusade against pagans in Northern Europe
Europe
in 1193. When peaceful means of conversion failed to produce results, Meinhard plotted to convert Livonians
Livonians
by force of arms.[33] In the beginning of the 13th century, Germans
Germans
ruled large parts of today's Latvia.[32] Together with Southern Estonia, these conquered areas formed the crusader state that became known as Terra Mariana
Terra Mariana
or Livonia. In 1282, Riga, and later the cities of Cēsis, Limbaži, Koknese
Koknese
and Valmiera, became part of the Hanseatic League.[32] Riga became an important point of east-west trading[32] and formed close cultural links with Western Europe.[citation needed] The Reformation period and Polish-Lithuanian rule[edit] Main articles: Swedish Livonia, Duchy of Courland
Courland
and Semigallia, Duchy of Livonia, and Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

The Swedish Empire
Swedish Empire
(1560–1815). Riga
Riga
became the capital of Swedish Livonia and the largest city in the Swedish Empire.

After the Livonian War
Livonian War
(1558–1583), Livonia (Latvia) fell under Polish and Lithuanian rule.[32] The southern part of Estonia
Estonia
and the northern part of Latvia
Latvia
were ceded to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Lithuania
and formed into the Duchy of Livonia
Duchy of Livonia
(Ducatus Livoniae Ultradunensis). Gotthard Kettler, the last Master of the Order of Livonia, formed the Duchy of Courland
Courland
and Semigallia.[34] Though the duchy was a vassal state to Poland, it retained a considerable degree of autonomy and experienced a golden age in the 16th century. Latgalia, the easternmost region of Latvia, became a part of the Inflanty Voivodeship of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.[35] In the 17th and early 18th centuries, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Sweden, and Russia
Russia
struggled for supremacy in the eastern Baltic. After the Polish–Swedish War, northern Livonia (including Vidzeme) came under Swedish rule. Riga
Riga
became the capital of Swedish Livonia and the largest city in the entire Swedish Empire.[36] Fighting continued sporadically between Sweden
Sweden
and Poland until the Truce of Altmark
Truce of Altmark
in 1629.[citation needed] In Latvia, the Swedish period is generally remembered as positive; serfdom was eased, a network of schools was established for the peasantry, and the power of the regional barons was diminished.[37][38] Several important cultural changes occurred during this time. Under Swedish and largely German rule, western Latvia
Latvia
adopted Lutheranism
Lutheranism
as its main religion. The ancient tribes of the Couronians, Semigallians, Selonians, Livs, and northern Latgallians assimilated to form the Latvian people, speaking one Latvian language. Throughout all the centuries, however, an actual Latvian state had not been established, so the borders and definitions of who exactly fell within that group are largely subjective. Meanwhile, largely isolated from the rest of Latvia, southern Latgallians adopted Catholicism
Catholicism
under Polish/Jesuit influence. The native dialect remained distinct, although it acquired many Polish and Russian loanwords.[39] Latvia
Latvia
in the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
(1795–1917)[edit] The capitulation of Estonia
Estonia
and Livonia in 1710 and the Treaty of Nystad, ending the Great Northern War
Great Northern War
in 1721, gave Vidzeme
Vidzeme
to Russia (it became part of the Riga
Riga
Governorate).[citation needed] The Latgale region remained part of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
as Inflanty Voivodeship
Inflanty Voivodeship
until 1772, when it was incorporated into Russia. The Duchy of Courland and Semigallia
Duchy of Courland and Semigallia
became an autonomous Russian province (the Courland
Courland
Governorate) in 1795, bringing all of what is now Latvia
Latvia
into the Russian Empire. All three Baltic provinces preserved local laws, German as the local official language and their own parliament, the Landtag.[citation needed] During the Great Northern War
Great Northern War
(1700–1721), up to 40 percent of Latvians
Latvians
died from famine and plague.[40] Half the residents of Riga were killed by plague in 1710–1711.[41] The emancipation of the serfs took place in Courland
Courland
in 1817 and in Vidzeme
Vidzeme
in 1819.[citation needed] In practice, however, the emancipation was actually advantageous to the landowners and nobility,[citation needed] as it dispossessed peasants of their land without compensation, forcing them to return to work at the estates "of their own free will".[citation needed] During the 19th century, the social structure changed dramatically.[citation needed] A class of independent farmers established itself after reforms allowed the peasants to repurchase their land, but many landless peasants remained.[citation needed] There also developed a growing urban proletariat and an increasingly influential Latvian bourgeoisie. The Young Latvian (Latvian: Jaunlatvieši) movement laid the groundwork for nationalism from the middle of the century, many of its leaders looking to the Slavophiles for support against the prevailing German-dominated social order.[citation needed] The rise in use of the Latvian language
Latvian language
in literature and society became known as the First National Awakening. Russification
Russification
began in Latgale
Latgale
after the Polish led the January Uprising in 1863: this spread to the rest of what is now Latvia
Latvia
by the 1880s.[citation needed] The Young Latvians
Latvians
were largely eclipsed by the New Current, a broad leftist social and political movement, in the 1890s. Popular discontent exploded in the 1905 Russian Revolution, which took a nationalist character in the Baltic provinces.[citation needed] During these two centuries Latvia
Latvia
experienced economic and construction boom – ports were expanded ( Riga
Riga
became the largest port in the Russian Empire), railways built; new factories, banks, and a University were established; many residential, public (theatres and museums), and school buildings were erected; new parks formed; and so on. Riga's boulevards and some streets outside the Old Town date from this period.[citation needed] Worth mentioning is the fact that numeracy was also higher in the Estonian and Latvian parts of the Russian Empire, which may have been influenced by the Protestant
Protestant
religion of the inhabitants.[42] Declaration of independence[edit]

Kārlis Ulmanis

World War I
World War I
devastated the territory of what became the state of Latvia, and other western parts of the Russian Empire. Demands for self-determination were initially confined to autonomy, until a power vacuum was created by the Russian Revolution
Russian Revolution
in 1917, followed by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk between Russia
Russia
and Germany
Germany
in March 1918, then the Allied armistice with Germany
Germany
on 11 November 1918. On 18 November 1918, in Riga, the People's Council of Latvia
Latvia
proclaimed the independence of the new country, with Kārlis Ulmanis
Kārlis Ulmanis
becoming the head of the provisional government.[citation needed] The war of independence that followed was part of a general chaotic period of civil and new border wars in Eastern Europe. By the spring of 1919, there were actually three governments—Ulmanis's government; the Latvian Soviet government led by Pēteris Stučka, whose forces, supported by the Red Army, occupied almost all of the country; and the Baltic German government of the United Baltic Duchy, headed by Andrievs Niedra
Andrievs Niedra
and supported by the Baltische Landeswehr
Baltische Landeswehr
and the German Freikorps
Freikorps
unit Iron Division.[citation needed] Estonian and Latvian forces[citation needed] defeated the Germans
Germans
at the Battle of Wenden in June 1919, and a massive attack by a predominantly German force—the West Russian Volunteer Army—under Pavel Bermondt-Avalov
Pavel Bermondt-Avalov
was repelled in November. Eastern Latvia
Latvia
was cleared of Red Army
Red Army
forces by Latvian and Polish troops in early 1920 (from the Polish perspective the Battle of Daugavpils
Battle of Daugavpils
was a part of the Polish–Soviet War).[citation needed] A freely elected Constituent assembly
Constituent assembly
convened on 1 May 1920, and adopted a liberal constitution, the Satversme, in February 1922.[43] The constitution was partly suspended by Kārlis Ulmanis
Kārlis Ulmanis
after his coup in 1934 but reaffirmed in 1990. Since then, it has been amended and is still in effect in Latvia
Latvia
today. With most of Latvia's industrial base evacuated to the interior of Russia
Russia
in 1915, radical land reform was the central political question for the young state. In 1897, 61.2% of the rural population had been landless; by 1936, that percentage had been reduced to 18%.[44] By 1923, the extent of cultivated land surpassed the pre-war level. Innovation and rising productivity led to rapid growth of the economy, but it soon suffered from the effects of the Great Depression. Latvia showed signs of economic recovery, and the electorate had steadily moved toward the centre during the parliamentary period.[citation needed] On 15 May 1934, Ulmanis staged a bloodless coup, establishing a nationalist dictatorship that lasted until 1940.[45] After 1934, Ulmanis established government corporations to buy up private firms with the aim of "Latvianising" the economy.[46] Latvia
Latvia
in World War II[edit] See also: Soviet occupation of Latvia
Latvia
in 1940, German occupation of Latvia
Latvia
during World War II, The Holocaust
The Holocaust
in Latvia, Latvian partisans, and Latvian anti-Nazi resistance movement 1941–45

Red Army
Red Army
troops enter Riga
Riga
(1940).

Early in the morning of 24 August 1939, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
and Nazi Germany
Germany
signed a 10-year non-aggression pact, called the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. The pact contained a secret protocol, revealed only after Germany's defeat in 1945, according to which the states of Northern and Eastern Europe
Europe
were divided into German and Soviet "spheres of influence".[47] In the north, Latvia, Finland
Finland
and Estonia
Estonia
were assigned to the Soviet sphere.[47] A week later, on 1 September 1939, Germany
Germany
and on 17 September, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
invaded Poland.[48]:32 After the conclusion of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, most of the Baltic Germans
Baltic Germans
left Latvia
Latvia
by agreement between Ulmanis' government and Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
under the Heim ins Reich
Heim ins Reich
programme.[49] In total 50,000 Baltic Germans
Baltic Germans
left by the deadline of December 1939, with 1,600 remaining to conclude business and 13,000 choosing to remain in Latvia.[49] Most of those who remained left for Germany
Germany
in summer 1940, when a second resettlement scheme was agreed.[50] The racially approved being resettled mainly in Poland, being given land and businesses in exchange for the money they had received from the sale of their previous assets.[48]:46 On 5 October 1939, Latvia
Latvia
was forced to accept a "mutual assistance" pact with the Soviet Union, granting the Soviets the right to station between 25,000 and 30,000 troops on Latvian territory.[51] State administrators were liquidated and replaced by Soviet cadres.[52] Elections were held with single pro-Soviet candidates listed for many positions. The resulting people's assembly immediately requested admission into the USSR, which the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
granted.[52] Latvia, then a puppet government, was headed by Augusts Kirhenšteins.[53] The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
incorporated Latvia
Latvia
on 5 August 1940, as The Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic.

German soldiers enter Riga, July 1941

The Soviets dealt harshly with their opponents – prior to Operation Barbarossa, in less than a year, at least 34,250 Latvians were deported or killed.[54] Most were deported to Siberia where deaths were estimated at 40 percent, officers of the Latvian army being shot on the spot.[48]:48 On 22 June 1941 German troops attacked Soviet forces in Operation Barbarossa. There were some spontaneous uprisings by Latvians
Latvians
against the Red Army
Red Army
which helped the Germans. By 29 June Riga
Riga
was reached and with Soviet troops killed, captured or retreating, Latvia
Latvia
was left under the control of German forces by early July.[48]:78–96 The occupation was followed immediately by SS Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen
troops who were to act in accordance with the Nazi Generalplan Ost
Generalplan Ost
which required the population of Latvia
Latvia
to be cut by 50 percent.[48]:64[48]:56 Under German occupation, Latvia
Latvia
was administered as part of Reichskommissariat Ostland. Latvian paramilitary and Auxiliary Police units established by the occupation authority participated in the Holocaust and other atrocities.[45] 30,000 Jews
Jews
were shot in Latvia
Latvia
in the autumn of 1941.[48]:127 Another 30,000 Jews
Jews
from the Riga
Riga
ghetto were killed in the Rumbula Forest in November and December 1941, to reduce overpopulating in the ghetto and make room for more Jews
Jews
being brought in from Germany
Germany
and the West.[48]:128 There was a pause in fighting, apart from partisan activity, until after the siege of Leningrad ended in January 1944 and the Soviet troops advanced, entering Latvia
Latvia
in July and eventually capturing Riga
Riga
on 13 October 1944.[48]:271 More than 200,000 Latvian citizens died during World War II, including approximately 75,000 Latvian Jews
Jews
murdered during the Nazi occupation.[45] Latvian soldiers fought on both sides of the conflict, mainly on the German side, with 140,000 men in the Latvian Legion
Latvian Legion
of the Waffen-SS,[55] The 308th Latvian Rifle Division was formed by the Red Army
Red Army
in 1944. On occasions, especially in 1944, opposing Latvian troops faced each other in battle.[48]:299 Activity reached a peak in late 1946.[48]:326 Soviet era (1940–41, 1944–91)[edit] Main articles: Occupation of Latvia
Latvia
by Soviet Union
Soviet Union
1944–1945, Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic, and Stalinism

Latvian-Jewish women and children photographed before being murdered at Liepaja in December 1941.

In 1944, when Soviet military advances reached Latvia, heavy fighting took place in Latvia
Latvia
between German and Soviet troops, which ended in another German defeat. In the course of the war, both occupying forces conscripted Latvians
Latvians
into their armies, in this way increasing the loss of the nation's "live resources". In 1944, part of the Latvian territory once more came under Soviet control. The Soviets immediately began to reinstate the Soviet system. After the German surrender, it became clear that Soviet forces were there to stay, and Latvian national partisans, soon joined by German collaborators, began to fight against the new occupier.[56] Anywhere from 120,000 to as many as 300,000 Latvians
Latvians
took refuge from the Soviet army by fleeing to Germany
Germany
and Sweden.[57] Most sources count 200,000 to 250,000 refugees leaving Latvia, with perhaps as many as 80,000 to 100,000 of them recaptured by the Soviets or, during few months immediately after the end of war,[58] returned by the West.[59] The Soviets reoccupied the country in 1944–45, and further deportations followed as the country was collectivised and Sovieticised.[45] On 25 March 1949, 43,000 rural residents ("kulaks") and Latvian patriots ("nationalists") were deported to Siberia in a sweeping Operation Priboi
Operation Priboi
in all three Baltic states, which was carefully planned and approved in Moscow already on 29 January 1949.[60] This operation had the desired effect of reducing the anti Soviet partisan activity.[48]:326 Between 136,000 and 190,000 Latvians, depending on the sources, were imprisoned or deported to Soviet concentration camps (the Gulag) in the post war years, from 1945 to 1952.[61] Some managed to escape arrest and joined the partisans.[citation needed]

Reconstruction of a Gulag
Gulag
shack in the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, Riga

In the post-war period, Latvia
Latvia
was made to adopt Soviet farming methods. Rural areas were forced into collectivisation.[62] An extensive programme to impose bilingualism was initiated in Latvia, limiting the use of Latvian language
Latvian language
in official uses in favour of using Russian as the main language. All of the minority schools (Jewish, Polish, Belarusian, Estonian, Lithuanian) were closed down leaving only two media of instructions in the schools: Latvian and Russian.[63] An influx of labourers, administrators, military personnel and their dependants from Russia
Russia
and other Soviet republics started. By 1959 about 400,000 people arrived from other Soviet republics and the ethnic Latvian population had fallen to 62%.[64] Since Latvia
Latvia
had maintained a well-developed infrastructure and educated specialists, Moscow decided to base some of the Soviet Union's most advanced manufacturing in Latvia. New industry was created in Latvia, including a major machinery factory RAF in Jelgava, electrotechnical factories in Riga, chemical factories in Daugavpils, Valmiera
Valmiera
and Olaine—and some food and oil processing plants.[65] Latvia
Latvia
manufactured trains, ships, minibuses, mopeds, telephones, radios and hi-fi systems, electrical and diesel engines, textiles, furniture, clothing, bags and luggage, shoes, musical instruments, home appliances, watches, tools and equipment, aviation and agricultural equipment and long list of other goods. Latvia
Latvia
had its own film industry and musical records factory (LPs). However, there were not enough people to operate the newly built factories.[citation needed] To maintain and expand industrial production, skilled workers were migrating from all over the Soviet Union, decreasing the proportion of ethnic Latvians
Latvians
in the republic.[66] Population of Latvia
Latvia
reached its peak in 1990 at just under 2.7 million people. Restoration of Independence in 1991[edit] Further information: Singing Revolution, Baltic Way, and On the Restoration of Independence of the Republic
Republic
of Latvia In the second half of the 1980s, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev started to introduce political and economic reforms in the Soviet Union that were called glasnost and perestroika. In the summer of 1987, the first large demonstrations were held in Riga
Riga
at the Freedom Monument—a symbol of independence. In the summer of 1988, a national movement, coalescing in the Popular Front of Latvia, was opposed by the Interfront. The Latvian SSR, along with the other Baltic Republics was allowed greater autonomy, and in 1988, the old pre-war Flag of Latvia
Latvia
flew again, replacing the Soviet Latvian flag as the official flag in 1990.[citation needed] In 1989, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR
Supreme Soviet of the USSR
adopted a resolution on the Occupation of the Baltic states, in which it declared the occupation "not in accordance with law", and not the "will of the Soviet people". Pro-independence Popular Front of Latvia
Popular Front of Latvia
candidates gained a two-thirds majority in the Supreme Council in the March 1990 democratic elections. On 4 May 1990, the Supreme Council adopted the Declaration on the Restoration of Independence of the Republic
Republic
of Latvia, and the Latvian SSR was renamed Republic
Republic
of Latvia.[67] However, the central power in Moscow continued to regard Latvia
Latvia
as a Soviet republic in 1990 and 1991. In January 1991, Soviet political and military forces tried unsuccessfully to overthrow the Republic
Republic
of Latvia
Latvia
authorities by occupying the central publishing house in Riga and establishing a Committee of National Salvation to usurp governmental functions. During the transitional period, Moscow maintained many central Soviet state authorities in Latvia.[67] In spite of this, 73% of all Latvian residents confirmed their strong support for independence on 3 March 1991, in a nonbinding advisory referendum.[citation needed] The Popular Front of Latvia
Popular Front of Latvia
advocated that all permanent residents be eligible for Latvian citizenship, and that helped sway a large number of ethnic Russians
Russians
to vote for independence. However, universal citizenship for all permanent residents was not adopted. Instead, citizenship was granted to persons who had been citizens of Latvia
Latvia
at the day of loss of independence at 1940 as well as their descendants. As a consequence, the majority of ethnic non- Latvians
Latvians
did not receive Latvian citizenship since neither they nor their parents had ever been citizens of Latvia, becoming non-citizens or citizens of other former Soviet republics. By 2011, more than half of non-citizens had taken naturalisation exams and received Latvian citizenship. Still, today there are 290,660 non-citizens in Latvia, which represent 14.1% of population. They have no citizenship of any country, and cannot vote in Latvia.[68] The Republic
Republic
of Latvia
Latvia
declared the end of the transitional period and restored full independence on 21 August 1991, in the aftermath of the failed Soviet coup attempt.[3]

Latvia
Latvia
became a member of the European Union
European Union
in 2004 and signed the Lisbon Treaty
Lisbon Treaty
in 2007.

The Saeima, Latvia's parliament, was again elected in 1993. Russia ended its military presence by completing its troop withdrawal in 1994 and shutting down the Skrunda-1
Skrunda-1
radar station in 1998. The major goals of Latvia
Latvia
in the 1990s, to join NATO
NATO
and the European Union, were achieved in 2004. The NATO
NATO
Summit 2006 was held in Riga.[69] Language and citizenship laws have been opposed by many Russophones. Citizenship
Citizenship
was not automatically extended to former Soviet citizens who settled during the Soviet occupation, or to their offspring. Children born to non-nationals after the reestablishment of independence are automatically entitled to citizenship. Approximately 72% of Latvian citizens are Latvian, while 20% are Russian; less than 1% of non-citizens are Latvian, while 71% are Russian.[70] The government denationalised private property confiscated by the Soviets, returning it or compensating the owners for it, and privatised most state-owned industries, reintroducing the prewar currency. Albeit having experienced a difficult transition to a liberal economy and its re-orientation toward Western Europe, Latvia
Latvia
is one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union. In 2014, Riga
Riga
was the European Capital of Culture, the euro was introduced as the currency of the country and a Latvian was named vice-president of the European Commission. In 2015 Latvia
Latvia
held the presidency of Council of the European Union. Big European events have been celebrated in Riga
Riga
such as the Eurovision Song Contest 2003
Eurovision Song Contest 2003
and the European Film Awards 2014. On 1 July 2016, Latvia
Latvia
became a member of the OECD.[71] Geography[edit] Main article: Geography of Latvia See also: Baltic Sea, Baltic states, and Northern Europe

Cape Kolka, the northern tip of Latvia
Latvia
in the Gulf of Riga

Latvia
Latvia
lies in Northern Europe, on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea.

Latvia
Latvia
lies in Northern Europe, on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea and northwestern part of the East European craton, between latitudes 55° and 58° N (a small area is north of 58°), and longitudes 21° and 29° E (a small area is west of 21°). Latvia
Latvia
has a total area of 64,559 km2 (24,926 sq mi) of which 62,157 km2 (23,999 sq mi) land, 18,159 km2 (7,011 sq mi) agricultural land,[72] 34,964 km2 (13,500 sq mi) forest land[73] and 2,402 km2 (927 sq mi) inland water.[74] The total length of Latvia's boundary is 1,866 km (1,159 mi). The total length of its land boundary is 1,368 km (850 mi), of which 343 km (213 mi) is shared with Estonia
Estonia
to the north, 276 km (171 mi) with the Russian Federation
Russian Federation
to the east, 161 km (100 mi) with Belarus to the southeast and 588 km (365 mi) with Lithuania
Lithuania
to the south. The total length of its maritime boundary is 498 km (309 mi), which is shared with Estonia, Sweden
Sweden
and Lithuania. Extension from north to south is 210 km (130 mi) and from west to east 450 km (280 mi).[74] Most of Latvia's territory is less than 100 m (330 ft) above sea level. Its largest lake, Lubāns, has an area of 80.7 km2 (31.2 sq mi), its deepest lake, Drīdzis, is 65.1 m (214 ft) deep. The longest river on Latvian territory is the Gauja, at 452 km (281 mi) in length. The longest river flowing through Latvian territory is the Daugava, which has a total length of 1,005 km (624 mi), of which 352 km (219 mi) is on Latvian territory. Latvia's highest point is Gaiziņkalns, 311.6 m (1,022 ft). The length of Latvia's Baltic coastline is 494 km (307 mi). An inlet of the Baltic Sea, the shallow Gulf of Riga
Riga
is situated in the northwest of the country.[75] Climate[edit]

   Humid continental
Humid continental
climate warm summer subtype

  Oceanic climate

Latvia
Latvia
has a temperate climate that has been described in various sources as either humid continental (Köppen Dfb) or oceanic/maritime (Köppen Cfb).[76][77][78] Coastal regions, especially the western coast of Courland
Courland
Peninsula, possess a more maritime climate with cooler summers and milder winters, while eastern parts exhibit a more continental climate with warmer summers and harsher winters.[76] Latvia
Latvia
has four pronounced seasons of near-equal length. Winter starts in mid-December and lasts until mid-March. Winters have average temperatures of −6 °C (21 °F) and are characterized by stable snow cover, bright sunshine, and short days. Severe spells of winter weather with cold winds, extreme temperatures of around −30 °C (−22 °F) and heavy snowfalls are common. Summer starts in June and lasts until August. Summers are usually warm and sunny, with cool evenings and nights. Summers have average temperatures of around 19 °C (66 °F), with extremes of 35 °C (95 °F). Spring and autumn bring fairly mild weather.[79]

Weather records in Latvia[80]

Weather record Value Location Date

Highest temperature 37.8 °C (100 °F) Ventspils 4 August 2014

Lowest temperature −43.2 °C (−46 °F) Daugavpils 8 February 1956

Last spring frost – large parts of territory 24 June 1982

First autumn frost – Cenas parish 15 August 1975

Highest yearly precipitation 1,007 mm (39.6 in) Priekuļi parish 1928

Lowest yearly precipitation 384 mm (15.1 in) Ainaži 1939

Highest daily precipitation 160 mm (6.3 in) Ventspils 9 July 1973

Highest monthly precipitation 330 mm (13.0 in) Nīca parish August 1972

Lowest monthly precipitation 0 mm (0 in) large parts of territory May 1938 and May 1941

Thickest snow cover 126 cm (49.6 in) Gaiziņkalns March 1931

Month with the most days with blizzards 19 days Liepāja February 1956

The most days with fog in a year 143 days Gaiziņkalns
Gaiziņkalns
area 1946

Longest-lasting fog 93 hours Alūksne 1958

Highest atmospheric pressure 31.5 inHg (1,066.7 mb) Liepāja January 1907

Lowest atmospheric pressure 27.5 inHg (931.3 mb) Vidzeme
Vidzeme
Upland 13 February 1962

The most days with thunderstorms in a year 52 days Vidzeme
Vidzeme
Upland 1954

Strongest wind 34 m/s, up to 48 m/s not specified 2 November 1969

Environment[edit]

Latvia
Latvia
has the fifth highest proportion of land covered by forests in the European Union.

Most of the country is composed of fertile lowland plains and moderate hills. In a typical Latvian landscape, a mosaic of vast forests alternates with fields, farmsteads, and pastures. Arable land is spotted with birch groves and wooded clusters, which afford a habitat for numerous plants and animals. Latvia
Latvia
has hundreds of kilometres of undeveloped seashore—lined by pine forests, dunes, and continuous white sand beaches.[75][81] Latvia
Latvia
has the 5th highest proportion of land covered by forests in the European Union, after Sweden, Finland, Estonia
Estonia
and Slovenia.[82] Forests account for 3,497,000 ha (8,640,000 acres) or 56% of the total land area.[73] Latvia
Latvia
has over 12,500 rivers, which stretch for 38,000 km (24,000 mi). Major rivers include the Daugava River, Lielupe, Gauja, Venta, and Salaca, the largest spawning ground for salmon in the eastern Baltics. There are 2,256 lakes that are bigger than 1 ha (2.5 acres), with a collective area of 1,000 km2 (390 sq mi). Mires occupy 9.9% of Latvia's territory. Of these, 42% are raised bogs; 49% are fens; and 9% are transitional mires. 70% percent of the mires are untouched by civilisation, and they are a refuge for many rare species of plants and animals.[81] Agricultural areas account for 1,815,900 ha (4,487,000 acres) or 29% of the total land area.[72] With the dismantling of collective farms, the area devoted to farming decreased dramatically – now farms are predominantly small. Approximately 200 farms, occupying 2,750 ha (6,800 acres), are engaged in ecologically pure farming (using no artificial fertilisers or pesticides).[81] Latvia's national parks are Gauja
Gauja
National Park in Vidzeme
Vidzeme
(since 1973)[83], Ķemeri National Park
Ķemeri National Park
in Zemgale
Zemgale
(1997), Slītere National Park in Kurzeme (1999), and Rāzna National Park
Rāzna National Park
in Latgale (2007).[citation needed] Latvia
Latvia
has a long tradition of conservation. The first laws and regulations were promulgated in the 16th and 17th centuries.[81] There are 706 specially state-level protected natural areas in Latvia: four national parks, one biosphere reserve, 42 nature parks, nine areas of protected landscapes, 260 nature reserves, four strict nature reserves, 355 nature monuments, seven protected marine areas and 24 microreserves.[84] Nationally protected areas account for 12,790 km2 (4,940 sq mi) or around 20% of Latvia's total land area.[74] Latvia's Red Book (Endangered Species List of Latvia), which was established in 1977, contains 112 plant species and 119 animal species. Latvia
Latvia
has ratified the international Washington, Bern, and Ramsare conventions.[81] The 2012 Environmental Performance Index ranks Latvia
Latvia
second, after Switzerland, based on the environmental performance of the country's policies.[85]

Venta
Venta
Rapid in Kuldīga
Kuldīga
is the widest waterfall in Europe
Europe
and a natural monument of Latvia.

Devonian
Devonian
sandstone cliffs in Gauja
Gauja
National Park, Latvia's largest and oldest national park

Ķemeri National Park
Ķemeri National Park
is home to mires, natural mineral-springs, muds and lakes that are former lagoons of the Littorina Sea.

Slītere National Park
Slītere National Park
at Cape Kolka
Cape Kolka
includes several Livonian fishing villages of the Livonian Coast. (Livonian: Līvõd Rānda)

Biodiversity[edit]

The white wagtail is the national bird of Latvia.[86]

Approximately 30,000 species of flora and fauna have been registered in Latvia.[87] Common species of wildlife in Latvia
Latvia
include deer, wild boar, moose, lynx, bear, fox, beaver and wolves.[88] Non-marine molluscs of Latvia
Latvia
include 159 species.[citation needed] Species that are endangered in other European countries but common in Latvia
Latvia
include: black stork (Ciconia nigra), corncrake (Crex crex), lesser spotted eagle (Aquila pomarina), white-backed woodpecker (Picoides leucotos), Eurasian crane (Grus grus), Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber), Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra), European wolf (Canis lupus) and European lynx (Felis lynx).[81] Phytogeographically, Latvia
Latvia
is shared between the Central European and Northern European provinces of the Circumboreal Region
Circumboreal Region
within the Boreal Kingdom. According to the WWF, the territory of Latvia
Latvia
belongs to the ecoregion of Sarmatic mixed forests. 56 percent[73] of Latvia's territory is covered by forests, mostly Scots pine, birch, and Norway spruce.[citation needed] Several species of flora and fauna are considered national symbols. Oak
Oak
(Quercus robur, Latvian: ozols), and linden ( Tilia
Tilia
cordata, Latvian: liepa) are Latvia's national trees and the daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare, Latvian: pīpene) its national flower. The white wagtail (Motacilla alba, Latvian: baltā cielava) is Latvia's national bird. Its national insect is the two-spot ladybird (Adalia bipunctata, Latvian: divpunktu mārīte). Amber, fossilized tree resin, is one of Latvia's most important cultural symbols. In ancient times, amber found along the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
coast was sought by Vikings as well as traders from Egypt, Greece
Greece
and the Roman Empire. This led to the development of the Amber
Amber
Road.[89] Several nature reserves protect unspoiled landscapes with a variety of large animals. At Pape Nature Reserve, where European bison, wild horses, and recreated aurochs have been reintroduced, there is now an almost complete Holocene
Holocene
megafauna also including moose, deer, and wolf.[90] Administrative divisions[edit]

Historical regions: orange Courland, green Semigallia, brown Selonia, yellow Vidzeme, blue Latgale

Administrative divisions of Latvia

Main article: Administrative divisions of Latvia See also: List of cities in Latvia, Planning regions of Latvia, Statistical regions of Latvia, and Historical regions of Latvia Latvia
Latvia
is a unitary state, currently divided into 110 one-level municipalities (Latvian: novadi) and 9 republican cities (Latvian: republikas pilsētas) with their own city council and administration: Daugavpils, Jēkabpils, Jelgava, Jūrmala, Liepāja, Rēzekne, Riga, Valmiera, and Ventspils. There are four historical and cultural regions in Latvia – Courland, Latgale, Vidzeme, Zemgale, which are recognised in Constitution of Latvia. Selonia, a part of Zemgale, is sometimes considered culturally distinct region, but it is not part of any formal division. The borders of historical and cultural regions usually are not explicitly defined and in several sources may vary. In formal divisions, Riga
Riga
region, which includes the capital and parts of other regions that have a strong relationship with the capital, is also often included in regional divisions; e.g., there are five planning regions of Latvia
Latvia
(Latvian: plānošanas reģioni), which were created in 2009 to promote balanced development of all regions. Under this division Riga
Riga
region includes large parts of what traditionally is considered Vidzeme, Courland, and Zemgale. Statistical regions of Latvia, established in accordance with the EU Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics, duplicate this division, but divides Riga
Riga
region into two parts with the capital alone being a separate region.[citation needed] The largest city in Latvia
Latvia
is Riga, the second largest city is Daugavpils
Daugavpils
and the third largest city is Liepaja. Politics[edit] Main articles: Politics of Latvia, Parliament of Latvia, and Government of Latvia

Raimonds Vējonis President Māris Kučinskis Prime Minister

The 100-seat unicameral Latvian parliament, the Saeima, is elected by direct popular vote every four years. The president is elected by the Saeima
Saeima
in a separate election, also held every four years. The president appoints a prime minister who, together with his cabinet, forms the executive branch of the government, which has to receive a confidence vote by the Saeima. This system also existed before World War II.[91] The most senior civil servants are the thirteen Secretaries of State.[citation needed][92]

The building of the Saeima, the parliament of Latvia, in Riga

Foreign relations[edit] Main article: Foreign relations of Latvia

The building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Riga

Latvia
Latvia
is a member of the United Nations, European Union, Council of Europe, NATO, OECD, OSCE, IMF, and WTO. It is also a member of the Council of the Baltic Sea States
Council of the Baltic Sea States
and Nordic Investment Bank. It was a member of the League of Nations
League of Nations
(1921–1946). Latvia
Latvia
is part of the Schengen Area
Schengen Area
and joined the Eurozone
Eurozone
on 1 January 2014. Latvia
Latvia
has established diplomatic relations with 158 countries. It has 44 diplomatic and consular missions and maintains 34 embassies and 9 permanent representations abroad. There are 37 foreign embassies and 11 international organisations in Latvia's capital Riga. Latvia
Latvia
hosts one European Union
European Union
institution, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC).[93] Latvia's foreign policy priorities include co-operation in the Baltic Sea region, European integration, active involvement in international organisations, contribution to European and transatlantic security and defence structures, participation in international civilian and military peacekeeping operations, and development co-operation, particularly the strengthening of stability and democracy in the EU's Eastern Partnership
Eastern Partnership
countries.[94][95][96]

Foreign ministers of the Nordic and Baltic countries in Helsinki, 2011

Since the early 1990s, Latvia
Latvia
has been involved in active trilateral Baltic states
Baltic states
co-operation with its neighbours Estonia
Estonia
and Lithuania, and Nordic-Baltic co-operation with the Nordic countries. The Baltic Council is the joint forum of the interparliamentary Baltic Assembly (BA) and the intergovernmental Baltic Council of Ministers (BCM).[97] Nordic-Baltic Eight (NB-8) is the joint co-operation of the governments of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, and Sweden.[98] Nordic-Baltic Six (NB-6), comprising Nordic-Baltic countries that are European Union
European Union
member states, is a framework for meetings on EU-related issues. Interparliamentary co-operation between the Baltic Assembly
Baltic Assembly
and Nordic Council
Nordic Council
was signed in 1992 and since 2006 annual meetings are held as well as regular meetings on other levels.[98] Joint Nordic-Baltic co-operation initiatives include the education programme NordPlus[99] and mobility programmes for public administration,[100] business and industry[101] and culture.[102] The Nordic Council
Nordic Council
of Ministers has an office in Riga.[103] Latvia
Latvia
participates in the Northern Dimension and Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
Region Programme, European Union
European Union
initiatives to foster cross-border co-operation in the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
region and Northern Europe. The secretariat of the Northern Dimension Partnership on Culture (NDPC) will be located in Riga.[104] In 2013 Riga
Riga
hosted the annual Northern Future Forum, a two-day informal meeting of the prime ministers of the Nordic-Baltic countries and the UK.[105] The Enhanced Partnership in Northern Europe
Europe
or e-Pine is the U.S. Department of State diplomatic framework for co-operation with the Nordic-Baltic countries.[106] Latvia
Latvia
hosted the 2006 NATO
NATO
Summit and since then the annual Riga Conference has become a leading foreign and security policy forum in Northern Europe.[107] Latvia
Latvia
held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union
European Union
in the first half of 2015.[citation needed] Human rights[edit] Main article: Human rights in Latvia

Non-citizen passport

According to the reports by Freedom House
Freedom House
and the US Department of State, human rights in Latvia
Latvia
are generally respected by the government:[108][109] Latvia
Latvia
is ranked above-average among the world's sovereign states in democracy,[110] press freedom,[111] privacy[112] and human development.[113] The country has a large ethnic Russian community, which was guaranteed basic rights under the constitution and international human rights laws ratified by the Latvian government.[108][114] Approximately 270,000 non-citizens [115]– including stateless persons – have limited access to some political rights – only citizens are allowed to participate in parliamentary or municipal elections, although there are no limitations in regards to joining political parties or other political organizations.[116][117] In 2011, the OSCE
OSCE
High Commissioner on National Minorities "urged Latvia
Latvia
to allow non-citizens to vote in municipal elections."[118] Additionally, there have been reports of police abuse of detainees and arrestees, poor prison conditions and overcrowding, judicial corruption, discrimination against women, incidents of violence against ethnic minorities, and societal violence and incidents of government discrimination against homosexuals.[108][119][120] In 2016, Nils Ušakovs, the first ethnic Russian mayor of Riga
Riga
in independent Latvia, has been fined by Latvia's State Language Center for posting in Russian on Facebook.[121] Military[edit] Main article: Military of Latvia

Naval Forces minehunter Imanta

Latvian soldiers during an exercise

The National Armed Forces (Latvian: Nacionālie Bruņotie Spēki (NAF)) of Latvia
Latvia
consists of the Land Forces, Naval Forces, Air Force, National Guard, Special
Special
Tasks Unit, Military Police, NAF staff Battalion, Training and Doctrine Command, and Logistics
Logistics
Command. Latvia's defence concept is based upon the Swedish-Finnish model of a rapid response force composed of a mobilisation base and a small group of career professionals. From 1 January 2007, Latvia
Latvia
switched to a professional fully contract-based army.[122] Latvia
Latvia
participates in international peacekeeping and security operations. Latvian armed forces have contributed to NATO
NATO
and EU military operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina
(1996–2009), Albania (1999), Kosovo
Kosovo
(2000–2009), Macedonia (2003), Iraq (2005–2006), Afghanistan (since 2003), Somalia (since 2011) and Mali
Mali
(since 2013).[123][124][125] Latvia
Latvia
also took part in the US-led Multi-National Force operation in Iraq (2003–2008)[126] and OSCE missions in Georgia, Kosovo
Kosovo
and Macedonia.[127] Latvian armed forces contributed to a UK-led Battlegroup in 2013 and the Nordic Battlegroup in 2015 under the Common Security and Defence Policy
Common Security and Defence Policy
(CSDP) of the European Union.[128] Latvia
Latvia
acts as the lead nation in the coordination of the Northern Distribution Network for transportation of non-lethal ISAF
ISAF
cargo by air and rail to Afghanistan.[129][130][131] It is part of the Nordic Transition Support Unit (NTSU), which renders joint force contributions in support of Afghan security structures ahead of the withdrawal of Nordic and Baltic ISAF
ISAF
forces in 2014.[132] Since 1996 more than 3600 military personnel have participated in international operations,[124] of whom 7 soldiers perished.[133] Per capita, Latvia
Latvia
is one of the largest contributors to international military operations.[134] Latvian civilian experts have contributed to EU civilian missions: border assistance mission to Moldova
Moldova
and Ukraine
Ukraine
(2005–2009), rule of law missions in Iraq (2006 and 2007) and Kosovo
Kosovo
(since 2008), police mission in Afghanistan (since 2007) and monitoring mission in Georgia (since 2008).[123] Since March 2004, when the Baltic states
Baltic states
joined NATO, fighter jets of NATO
NATO
members have been deployed on a rotational basis for the Baltic Air Policing mission at Šiauliai Airport in Lithuania
Lithuania
to guard the Baltic airspace. Latvia
Latvia
participates in several NATO
NATO
Centres of Excellence: Civil-Military Co-operation in the Netherlands, Cooperative Cyber Defence in Estonia
Estonia
and Energy Security in Lithuania. It plans to establish the NATO
NATO
Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence in Riga.[135] Latvia
Latvia
co-operates with Estonia
Estonia
and Lithuania
Lithuania
in several trilateral Baltic defence co-operation initiatives:

Baltic Battalion (BALTBAT) – infantry battalion for participation in international peace support operations, headquartered near Riga, Latvia; Baltic Naval Squadron
Baltic Naval Squadron
(BALTRON) – naval force with mine countermeasures capabilities, headquartered near Tallinn, Estonia; Baltic Air Surveillance Network
Baltic Air Surveillance Network
(BALTNET) – air surveillance information system, headquartered near Kaunas, Lithuania; Joint military educational institutions: Baltic Defence College
Baltic Defence College
in Tartu, Estonia, Baltic Diving Training Centre in Liepāja, Latvia
Latvia
and Baltic Naval Communications Training Centre in Tallinn, Estonia.[136]

Future co-operation will include sharing of national infrastructures for training purposes and specialisation of training areas (BALTTRAIN) and collective formation of battalion-sized contingents for use in the NATO
NATO
rapid-response force.[137] In January 2011, the Baltic states were invited to join NORDEFCO, the defence framework of the Nordic countries.[138] In November 2012, the three countries agreed to create a joint military staff in 2013.[139] Economy[edit] Main article: Economy of Latvia

Latvia
Latvia
is part of the EU single market (dark grey), Eurozone
Eurozone
(dark blue) and Schengen Area
Schengen Area
(not shown).

Latvia
Latvia
is a member of the World Trade Organisation
World Trade Organisation
(1999) and the European Union
European Union
(2004). On 1 January 2014, the Euro
Euro
became the country's currency, superseding the Lats. According to statistics in late 2013, 45% of the population supported the introduction of the euro, while 52% opposed it.[140] Following the introduction of the Euro, Eurobarometer surveys in January 2014 showed support for the Euro
Euro
to be around 53%, close to the European average.[141] Since the year 2000, Latvia
Latvia
has had one of the highest (GDP) growth rates in Europe.[142] However, the chiefly consumption-driven growth in Latvia
Latvia
resulted in the collapse of Latvian GDP in late 2008 and early 2009, exacerbated by the global economic crisis, shortage of credit and huge money resources used for the bailout of Parex bank.[143] The Latvian economy fell 18% in the first three months of 2009, the biggest fall in the European Union.[144][145]

Real GDP growth in Latvia
Latvia
1996–2006

The economic crisis of 2009 proved earlier assumptions that the fast-growing economy was heading for implosion of the economic bubble, because it was driven mainly by growth of domestic consumption, financed by a serious increase of private debt, as well as a negative foreign trade balance. The prices of real estate, which were at some points growing by approximately 5% a month, were long perceived to be too high for the economy, which mainly produces low-value goods and raw materials.[citation needed] Privatisation in Latvia
Latvia
is almost complete. Virtually all of the previously state-owned small and medium companies have been privatised, leaving only a small number of politically sensitive large state companies. The private sector accounted for nearly 68% of the country's GDP in 2000.[citation needed] Foreign investment in Latvia
Latvia
is still modest compared with the levels in north-central Europe. A law expanding the scope for selling land, including to foreigners, was passed in 1997. Representing 10.2% of Latvia's total foreign direct investment, American companies invested $127 million in 1999. In the same year, the United States
United States
of America exported $58.2 million of goods and services to Latvia
Latvia
and imported $87.9 million. Eager to join Western economic institutions like the World Trade Organisation, OECD, and the European Union, Latvia
Latvia
signed a Europe
Europe
Agreement with the EU in 1995—with a 4-year transition period. Latvia
Latvia
and the United States
United States
have signed treaties on investment, trade, and intellectual property protection and avoidance of double taxation.[citation needed] Economic contraction and recovery (2008–12)[edit] Main article: 2008–2010 Latvian financial crisis

An airBaltic Boeing 757−200WL takes off at Riga
Riga
International Airport (RIX)

The Latvian economy entered a phase of fiscal contraction during the second half of 2008 after an extended period of credit-based speculation and unrealistic appreciation in real estate values. The national account deficit for 2007, for example, represented more than 22% of the GDP for the year while inflation was running at 10%.[146] Latvia's unemployment rate rose sharply in this period from a low of 5.4% in November 2007 to over 22%.[147] In April 2010 Latvia
Latvia
had the highest unemployment rate in the EU, at 22.5%, ahead of Spain, which had 19.7%.[148] Paul Krugman, the Nobel Laureate in economics for 2008, wrote in his New York Times Op-Ed column on 15 December 2008:

"The most acute problems are on Europe's periphery, where many smaller economies are experiencing crises strongly reminiscent of past crises in Latin America and Asia: Latvia
Latvia
is the new Argentina
Argentina
"[149]

However, by 2010, commentators[150][151] noted signs of stabilisation in the Latvian economy. Rating agency Standard & Poor's raised its outlook on Latvia's debt from negative to stable.[150] Latvia's current account, which had been in deficit by 27% in late 2006 was in surplus in February 2010.[150] Kenneth Orchard, senior analyst at Moody's Investors Service argued that:

"The strengthening regional economy is supporting Latvian production and exports, while the sharp swing in the current account balance suggests that the country's ‘internal devaluation’ is working."[152]

The IMF
IMF
concluded the First Post-Program Monitoring Discussions with the Republic
Republic
of Latvia
Latvia
in July 2012 announcing that Latvia's economy has been recovering strongly since 2010, following the deep downturn in 2008–09. Real GDP growth of 5.5 percent in 2011 was underpinned by export growth and a recovery in domestic demand. The growth momentum has continued into 2012 and 2013 despite deteriorating external conditions, and the economy is expected to expand by 4.1 percent in 2014. The unemployment rate has receded from its peak of more than 20 percent in 2010 to around 9.3 percent in 2014.[153] Infrastructure[edit]

The Port of Ventspils
Ventspils
is one of the busiest ports in the Baltic states.

Main article: Transport in Latvia The transport sector is around 14% of GDP. Transit between Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
as well as other Asian countries and the West is large.[154] The three biggest ports of Latvia
Latvia
are located in Riga, Ventspils, and Liepāja. Most transit traffic uses these and half the cargo is crude oil and oil products.[154] Free port of Ventspils
Ventspils
is one of the busiest ports in the Baltic states. Apart from road and railway connections, Ventspils
Ventspils
is also linked to oil extraction fields and transportation routes of Russian Federation
Russian Federation
via system of two pipelines from Polotsk, Belarus.[citation needed] Riga
Riga
International Airport is the busiest airport in the Baltic states with 6.1 million passengers in 2017. It has direct flight to over 80 destinations in 30 countries. The only other airport handling regular commercial flights is Liepāja
Liepāja
International Airport. airBaltic is the Latvian flag carrier airline and a low-cost carrier with hubs in all three Baltic States, but main base in Riga, Latvia.[citation needed] Latvian Railway's main network consists of 1,860 km of which 1,826 km is 1,520 mm Russian gauge
Russian gauge
railway of which 251 km are electrified, making it the longest railway network in the Baltic States. Latvia's railway network is currently incompatible with European standard gauge lines.[155] However, Rail Baltica
Rail Baltica
railway, linking Helsinki-Tallinn-Riga-Kaunas-Warsaw is under construction and is set to be completed in 2026.[156] National road network in Latvia
Latvia
totals 1675km of main roads, 5473 km of regional roads and 13 064 km of local roads. Municipal roads in Latvia
Latvia
totals 30 439 km of roads and 8039 km of streets.[157] The best known roads are A1 (European route E67), connecting Warshaw and Tallinn, as well as European route E22, connecting Ventspils
Ventspils
and Terehova. In 2017 there were a total of 803,546 licensed vehicles in Latvia.[158] Latvia
Latvia
has three big hydroelectric power stations in Pļaviņu HES (825MW), Rīgas HES
Rīgas HES
(402 MW) and Ķeguma HES-2
Ķeguma HES-2
(192 MW). In the recent years a couple of dozen of wind farms as well as biogas or biomass power stations of different scale have been built in Latvia.[citation needed] Latvia
Latvia
operates Inčukalns underground gas storage facility, one of the largest underground gas storage facilities in Europe
Europe
and the only one in the Baltic states. Unique geological conditions at Inčukalns and other locations in Latvia
Latvia
are particularly suitable for underground gas storage.[159] Companies[edit] Biggest employers in Latvia
Latvia
in 2016:[160]

Rank Name Headquarters Industry Employees (2016)

01. Maxima Latvija Riga Retail 7956

02. Latvian Railways Riga Railroad, Logistics 6850

03. Rimi Latvia Riga Retail 5790

04. Riga
Riga
East University Hospital Riga Healthcare 4759

05. Latvian Post Riga Postal services 4248

06. Riga
Riga
Transport Riga Public transportation 4206

07. Pauls Stradiņš Clinical University Hospital Riga Healthcare 3237

08. Rīgas Namu Pārvaldnieks Riga House management 2785

09. Sadales Tīkls Riga Electricity
Electricity
distribution 2556

010. Kreiss Riga Logistics 2441

List of biggest companies by profit in Latvia
Latvia
in 2016:[161]

Rank Name Headquarters Industry Profit (2016) (mil. €)

01. Latvenergo Riga Electricity 137,4

02. Mikrotīkls Riga Electronics, Electrical equipment 66,2

03. Latvijas valsts meži Riga Forest Management 50,6

04. Latvijas Gāze Riga Natural Gas 40,4

05. KRONOSPAN Riga Riga Plywood 35,9

06. Rimi Latvia Riga Retail 32

07. Lattelecom Riga Telecommunications 31,7

08. 4finance Riga Non-bank lender 29

09. Cassandra Holding Company Jurmala Financial services 27,2

010. OF Holding Riga Financial services 26,9

Demographics[edit] Main article: Demographics of Latvia

Residents of Latvia
Latvia
by ethnicity (2011)[1]

Latvians

62.1%

Russians

26.9%

Belarusians

3.3%

Ukrainians

2.2%

Poles

2.2%

Lithuanians

1.2%

Others

2.1%

Population of Latvia
Latvia
(in millions) from 1920 to 2014

The total fertility rate (TFR) in 2013 was estimated at 1.52 children born/woman, which is lower than the replacement rate of 2.1. In 2012, 45.0% of births were to unmarried women.[162] The life expectancy in 2013 was estimated at 73.19 years (68.13 years male, 78.53 years female).[146] As of 2015, Latvia
Latvia
is estimated to have the lowest male-to-female ratio in total population, at 0.85 males/female.[163] Ethnic groups[edit] Main articles: Latvian people, Latvian Russians, Latvian Germans, Latvian Jews, Latgalians
Latgalians
(modern), Livonians, and Gauja
Gauja
Estonians Latvia's population has been multiethnic for centuries, though the demographics shifted dramatically in the 20th century due to the World Wars, the emigration and removal of Baltic Germans, the Holocaust, and occupation by the Soviet Union. According to the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
Census of 1897, Latvians
Latvians
formed 68.3% of the total population of 1.93 million; Russians
Russians
accounted for 12%, Jews
Jews
for 7.4%, Germans
Germans
for 6.2%, and Poles
Poles
for 3.4%.[164] As of March 2011, Latvians
Latvians
form about 62.1% of the population, while 26.9% are Russians, Belarusians
Belarusians
3.3%, Ukrainians
Ukrainians
2.2%, Poles
Poles
2.2%, Lithuanians
Lithuanians
1.2%, Jews
Jews
0.3%, Romani people
Romani people
0.3%, Germans
Germans
0.1%, Estonians
Estonians
0.1% and others 1.3%. 250 people identify as Livonians (Baltic Finnic people native to Latvia). There were 290,660 non-citizens living in Latvia
Latvia
or 14.1% of Latvian residents, mainly ethnic Russians
Russians
who arrived after the occupation of 1940 and their descendants.[165] In some cities, e.g., Daugavpils
Daugavpils
and Rēzekne, ethnic Latvians constitute a minority of the total population. Despite the fact that the proportion of ethnic Latvians
Latvians
has been steadily increasing for more than a decade, ethnic Latvians
Latvians
also make up slightly less than a half of the population of the capital city of Latvia
Latvia
– Rīga.[166] The share of ethnic Latvians
Latvians
had fallen from 77% (1,467,035) in 1935 to 52% (1,387,757) in 1989.[167] In 2011, there were even fewer Latvians
Latvians
than in 1989, though their share of the population was larger – 1,285,136 (62.1% of the population).[168]

Residents of Latvia
Latvia
by ethnicity (1897—2017)

Ethnicity 1897 1925 1935 1959 1970 1979 1989 2000 2011 [169] 2017

Population % Population % Population % Population % Population % Population % Population % Population % Population % Population %

Latvians 1 318 112 68,3 1 354 126 73,4 1 467 035 76,9 1 297 881 62,0 1 341 805 56,8 1 344 105 53,7 1 387 757 52,0 1 370 703 57,7 1 284 194 62,1 1 209 401 62,0

Russians 232 204 12,0 193 648 10,5 168 300 8,8 556 448 26,6 704 599 29,8 821 464 32,8 905 515 34,0 703 243 29,6 556 422 26,9 495 528 25,4

Belarusians — — 38 010 2,1 26 800 1,4 61 587 2,9 94 898 4,0 111 505 4,5 119 702 4,5 97 150 4,1 68 174 3,3 64 257 3,3

Ukrainians — — 512 0,0 1800 0,1 29 440 1,4 53 461 2,3 66 703 2,7 92 101 3,5 63 644 2,7 45 699 2,2 44 639 2,2

Polish 65 056 3,4 51 143 2,8 48 600 2,6 59 774 2,9 63 045 2,7 62 690 2,5 60 416 2,3 59 505 2,5 44 783 2,2 40 583 2,1

Lithuanians — — 23 192 1,3 22 800 1,2 32 383 1,6 40 589 1,7 37 818 1,5 34 630 1,3 33 430 1,4 24 426 1,2 23 327 1,2

Jews 142 315 7,4 95 675 5,2 93 400 4,9 36 592 1,8 36 680 1,6 28 331 1,1 22 897 0,9 10 385 0,4 6416 0,3 4 873 0,2

Romani — — 2870 0,2 3800 0,2 4301 0,2 5427 0,2 6134 0,3 7044 0,3 8205 0,3 6452 0,3 5 191 0,3

Germans 120 191 6,2 70 964 3,8 62 100 3,3 1609 0,1 5413 0,2 3299 0,1 3783 0,1 3465 0,1 3023 0,1 2 529 0,1

Estonians — — 7893 0,4 6900 0,4 4610 0,2 4334 0,2 3681 0,2 3312 0,1 2652 0,1 2000 0,1 1 731 0,1

Livonians — — 1268 0,1 944 0,0 185 0,0 48 0,0 107 0,0 135 0,0 180 0,0 180 0,0 n/a n/a

Others 51 509 2,7 5504 0,3 3256 0,2 8648 0,4 13 828 0,6 16 979 0,7 29 275 1,1 24 824 1,1 26 118 1,3 59 073 3,1

Total 1 929 387 1 844 805 1 905 936 2 093 458 2 364 127 2 502 816 2 666 567 2 377 383 2 067 887 1 950 116

Language[edit] Further information: Language policy in Latvia The sole official language of Latvia
Latvia
is Latvian, which belongs to the Baltic language sub-group of the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European language family. Another notable language of Latvia
Latvia
is the nearly extinct Livonian language
Livonian language
of the Finnic branch of the Uralic language family, which enjoys protection by law; Latgalian – referred to as either a dialect or a distinct separate language of Latvian – is also formally protected by Latvian law but only as a historical variation of the Latvian language. Russian, which was widely spoken during the Soviet period, is still the most widely used minority language by far (about 34% speak it at home, including people who are not ethnically Russian).[170] While it is now required that all school students learn Latvian, most schools also include English and either German or Russian in their curricula. English is widely accepted in Latvia, especially in business and tourism. As of 2014[update] there are 109 schools for minorities that use Russian as the language of instruction for 40% of subjects (the rest 60% of subjects are taught in Latvian). On 18 February 2012, Latvia
Latvia
held a constitutional referendum on whether to adopt Russian as a second official language.[171] According to the Central Election Commission, 74.8% voted against, 24.9% voted for and the voter turnout was 71.1%.[172] Religion[edit] Main article: Religion in Latvia

Religion in Latvia
Religion in Latvia
(2011)[173]

Lutheranism

34.2%

Roman Catholicism

24.1%

Russian Orthodox

17.8%

Old Believers

1.6%

Other Christian

1.2%

Other or none

21.1%

Riga
Riga
Cathedral

The largest religion in Latvia
Latvia
is Christianity
Christianity
(79%),[146][173] The largest groups as of 2011[update] were:

Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia – 708,773[173] Roman Catholic – 500,000[173] Russian Orthodox – 370,000[173]

In the Eurobarometer Poll 2010, 38% of Latvian citizens responded that "they believe there is a God", while 48% answered that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 11% stated that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force". Lutheranism
Lutheranism
was more prominent before the Soviet occupation, when it was a majority religion of ~60% due to strong historical links with the Nordic countries
Nordic countries
and influence of the Hansa, and Germany
Germany
in general. Since then, Lutheranism
Lutheranism
has declined to a slightly greater extent than Roman Catholicism
Catholicism
in all three Baltic states. The Evangelical Lutheran Church, with an estimated 600,000 members in 1956, was affected most adversely. An internal document of 18 March 1987, near the end of communist rule, spoke of an active membership that had shrunk to only 25,000 in Latvia, but the faith has since experienced a revival.[174] The country's Orthodox Christians belong to the Latvian Orthodox Church, a semi-autonomous body within the Russian Orthodox Church. In 2011, there were 416 Jews
Jews
and 319 Muslims living in Latvia.[173] There are more than 600 Latvian neopagans, Dievturi (The Godskeepers), whose religion is based on Latvian mythology.[175] About 21% of the total population is not affiliated with a specific religion.[173] Education and science[edit] Main article: Education in Latvia See also: List of universities in Latvia

University of Latvia

University of Latvia
University of Latvia
and Riga
Riga
Technical University are two major universities in the country, both established on the basis of Riga Polytechnical Institute and located in Riga.[176] Another two important universities, which were established on the base of State University of Latvia, are Latvia
Latvia
University of Life Sciences and Technologies (established in 1939 on the basis of the Faculty of Agriculture) and Riga
Riga
Stradiņš University (established in 1950 on the basis of the Faculty of Medicine) – both nowadays cover a variety of different fields. The University of Daugavpils
Daugavpils
is another significant centre of education. Latvia
Latvia
closed 131 schools between 2006 and 2010, which is a 12.9% decline, and in the same period enrolment in educational institutions has fallen by over 54,000 people, a 10.3% decline.[177] The Latvian policy of science and technology set out the long term goal – transition from labor-consuming economy to knowledge-based economy.[178] By 2020 the government aims at a 1.5% GDP funding for research and development, with half of the investments coming from the private sector. Latvia
Latvia
develop their scientific potential on the basis of the existing scientific traditions, particularly in organic chemistry, medical chemistry, genetic engineering, physics, materials science and information technologies.[179] The highest number of inventions, which are patented both nationwide and abroad, are made in the branch of medical chemistry.[180] Health[edit] Main article: Health in Latvia The Latvian healthcare system is a universal programme, largely funded through government taxation.[181] It is among the lowest-ranked healthcare systems in Europe, due to excessive waiting times for treatment, insufficient access to the latest medicines, and other factors.[182] There were 59 hospitals in Latvia
Latvia
in 2009, down from 94 in 2007, and 121 in 2006.[183][184][185] Culture[edit] Main article: Culture of Latvia

Choirs performing during the 24th Latvian Song and Dance Festival
Latvian Song and Dance Festival
in 2008

Traditional Latvian folklore, especially the dance of the folk songs, dates back well over a thousand years. More than 1.2 million texts and 30,000 melodies of folk songs have been identified.[186] Between the 13th and 19th centuries, Baltic Germans, many of whom were originally of non-German ancestry but had been assimilated into German culture, formed the upper class.[citation needed] They developed distinct cultural heritage, characterised by both Latvian and German influences. It has survived in German Baltic families to this day, in spite of their dispersal to Germany, the United States, Canada
Canada
and other countries in the early 20th century. However, most indigenous Latvians
Latvians
did not participate in this particular cultural life.[citation needed] Thus, the mostly peasant local pagan heritage was preserved, partly merging with Christian traditions. For example, one of the most popular celebrations is Jāņi, a pagan celebration of the summer solstice—which Latvians
Latvians
celebrate on the feast day of St. John the Baptist.[citation needed]

Historic Centre of Riga
Riga
was declared a World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
by UNESCO in 1997.

In the 19th century, Latvian nationalist movements emerged. They promoted Latvian culture and encouraged Latvians
Latvians
to take part in cultural activities. The 19th century and beginning of the 20th century is often regarded by Latvians
Latvians
as a classical era of Latvian culture. Posters show the influence of other European cultures, for example, works of artists such as the Baltic-German artist Bernhard Borchert and the French Raoul Dufy.[citation needed] With the onset of World War II, many Latvian artists and other members of the cultural elite fled the country yet continued to produce their work, largely for a Latvian émigré audience.[187] Latvian Song and Dance Festival
Latvian Song and Dance Festival
is an important event in Latvian culture and social life. It has been held since 1873, normally every five years. Approximately 30,000 performers altogether participate in the event.[188] Although usually folksongs and classical choir songs are sung, with emphasis on a cappella singing, recently modern popular songs have been incorporated into the repertoire, as well.[citation needed] After incorporation into the Soviet Union, Latvian artists and writers were forced to follow the socialist realism style of art. During the Soviet era, music became increasingly popular, with the most popular being songs from the 1980s. At this time, songs often made fun of the characteristics of Soviet life and were concerned about preserving Latvian identity. This aroused popular protests against the USSR and also gave rise to an increasing popularity of poetry. Since independence, theatre, scenography, choir music, and classical music have become the most notable branches of Latvian culture.[citation needed] During July 2014, Riga
Riga
hosted the 8th World Choir
Choir
Games as it played host to over 27,000 choristers representing over 450 choirs and over 70 countries. The festival is the biggest of its kind in the world and is held every two years in a different host city.[189] Cuisine[edit] Main article: Latvian cuisine Latvian cuisine
Latvian cuisine
typically consists of agricultural products, with meat featuring in most main meal dishes. Fish is commonly consumed due to Latvia's location on the Baltic Sea. Latvian cuisine
Latvian cuisine
has been influenced by the neighbouring countries. Common ingredients in Latvian recipes are found locally, such as potatoes, wheat, barley, cabbage, onions, eggs, and pork. Latvian food is generally quite fatty, and uses few spices.[190] Grey peas and ham are generally considered as staple foods of Latvians. Sorrel soup
Sorrel soup
is also consumed by Latvians.[191] Rupjmaize
Rupjmaize
is a dark bread made from rye, considered the national staple.[192][193] Sport[edit] Main article: Sport in Latvia

Arena Riga
Riga
during the 2006 IIHF World Championship

Ice hockey is usually considered the most popular sport in Latvia. Latvia
Latvia
has had many famous hockey stars like Helmut Balderis, Artūrs Irbe, Kārlis Skrastiņš
Kārlis Skrastiņš
and Sandis Ozoliņš
Sandis Ozoliņš
and more recently Zemgus Girgensons, who the Latvian people
Latvian people
have strongly supported in international and NHL play, expressed through the dedication of using the NHL's All Star Voting to bring Zemgus to number one in voting.[194] Dinamo Riga
Riga
is the country's strongest hockey club, playing in the Kontinental Hockey League. The national tournament is the Latvian Hockey Higher League, held since 1931. The 2006 IIHF World Championship was held in Riga.

Kristaps Porziņģis

The second most popular sport is basketball. Latvia
Latvia
has a long basketball tradition, as the Latvian national basketball team
Latvian national basketball team
won the first ever EuroBasket
EuroBasket
in 1935 and silver medals in 1939, after losing the final to Lithuania
Lithuania
by one point. Latvia
Latvia
has had many European basketball stars like Jānis Krūmiņš, Maigonis Valdmanis, Valdis Muižnieks, Valdis Valters, Igors Miglinieks, as well as the first Latvian NBA player Gundars Vētra. Andris Biedriņš
Andris Biedriņš
is one of the most well-known Latvian basketball players, who played in the NBA for the Golden State Warriors
Golden State Warriors
and the Utah Jazz. Current NBA players include Kristaps Porziņģis, who plays for the New York Knicks, and Dāvis Bertāns, who plays for the San Antonio Spurs. Former Latvian basketball club ASK Riga
Riga
won the Euroleague tournament three times in a row before being defunct. Currently, VEF Rīga, which competes in EuroCup, is the strongest professional basketball club in Latvia. BK Ventspils, which participates in EuroChallenge, is the second strongest basketball club in Latvia, previously winning LBL eight times and BBL in 2013.[citation needed] Latvia
Latvia
was one of the EuroBasket
EuroBasket
2015 hosts. Other popular sports include football, floorball, tennis, volleyball, cycling, bobsleigh and skeleton. The Latvian national football team's only major FIFA
FIFA
tournament participation has been the 2004 UEFA European Championship.[195] Latvia
Latvia
has participated successfully in both Winter and Summer Olympics. The most successful Olympic athlete in the history of independent Latvia
Latvia
has been Māris Štrombergs, who became a two-time Olympic champion in 2008 and 2012 at Men's BMX.[196] In 2017 Latvian boxer Mairis Briedis became the undisputed WBC cruiserweight world champion, the first and only boxer from Latvia
Latvia
and the Baltic states
Baltic states
to hold any one of the four major titles in boxing. In 2017 Latvian tennis player Jeļena Ostapenko
Jeļena Ostapenko
won the 2017 French Open Women's singles title being the first unseeded player to do so in the open era. International rankings[edit] The following are links to international rankings of Latvia.

Index Rank Countries reviewed

Ease of doing business index
Ease of doing business index
2017 14th 190

Index of Economic Freedom 2017 20th 180

International Tax Competitiveness Index 2016[197] 3rd 35

Environmental Performance Index 2016 22nd 180

Global Gender Gap Report
Global Gender Gap Report
Global Gender Gap Index 2016 18th 144

Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders
Press Freedom Index 2016 24th 180

Global Innovation Index (INSEAD) 2016 34th 128

Human Development Index
Human Development Index
2015 46th 188

Democracy Index
Democracy Index
2016 41st 167

Programme for International Student Assessment
Programme for International Student Assessment
Maths 2015 34th 72

Programme for International Student Assessment
Programme for International Student Assessment
Science 2015 31st 72

Programme for International Student Assessment
Programme for International Student Assessment
Reading 2015 29th 72

Networked Readiness Index 2015 33rd 143

The State of the Internet Report Q3 2016 Global Average Connection Speeds (IPv4) 10th 147

Social Progress Index 2016 36th 133

OECD Better Life Index 2016 30th 38

Transparency International: Corruption Perceptions Index
Corruption Perceptions Index
2016 44th 176

TRACE Matrix business bribery risk 2016[198] 22nd 199

Index of Public Integrity[199] 22nd 105

ICT Development Index 2016 40th 175

Economic Freedom of the World
Economic Freedom of the World
2015 35th 157

Euro
Euro
health consumer index 2016 29th 35

Global Peace Index
Global Peace Index
2017 32nd 163

Logistics
Logistics
Performance Index 2016 43rd 160

EF English Proficiency Index
EF English Proficiency Index
2014 14th 63

Legatum Prosperity Index 2016 37th 149

Sustainable Society Index
Sustainable Society Index
2012 4th 151

Fragile States Index
Fragile States Index
2017 141st 178

See also[edit]

List of Latvians Outline of Latvia Public holidays in Latvia List of museums in Latvia

Notes and references[edit]

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Bibliography[edit]

Latvia

Cimdiņa, Ausma; and Deniss Hanovs (eds.) (2011). Latvia
Latvia
and Latvians: A People and a State in Ideas, Images and Symbols. Rīga: Zinātne Publishers. ISBN 978-9984-808-83-3. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link) Plakans, Andrejs (2010). The A to Z of Latvia. Lanham: The Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-7209-7.  Ģērmanis, Uldis (2007). The Latvian Saga. Rīga: Atēna. ISBN 978-9984-34-291-7.  Bleiere, Daina; and Ilgvars Butulis; Antonijs Zunda; Aivars Stranga; Inesis Feldmanis (2006). History of Latvia: the 20th century. Rīga: Jumava. ISBN 9984-38-038-6. OCLC 70240317.  Lumans, Valdis O. (2006). Latvia
Latvia
in World War II. Fordham University Press. ISBN 0-8232-2627-1.  Plakans, Andrejs (1998). Historical Dictionary of Latvia
Latvia
(2nd ed.). Lanham: The Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-5515-1.  Plakans, Andrejs (1995). The Latvians: A Short History. Stanford: Hoover Institution Press / Stanford University. ISBN 978-0-8179-9302-3.  Dreifelds, Juris (1996). Latvia
Latvia
in Transition. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-55537-1.  Rutkis, Jānis (ed.) (1967). Latvia: Country & People. Stockholm: Latvian National Foundation. OCLC 457313. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link) Arveds, Švābe (1949). The Story of Latvia: A Historical Survey. Stockholm: Latvian National Foundation. OCLC 2961684.  Turlajs, Jānis (2012). Latvijas vēstures atlants. Rīga: Karšu izdevniecība Jāņa sēta. ISBN 978-9984-07-614-0. 

Baltic states

Plakans, Andrejs (2011). A Concise History of the Baltic States. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-54155-8.  Kasekamp, Andres (2010). A History of the Baltic States. London: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-01940-9.  Jacobsson, Bengt (2009). The European Union
European Union
and the Baltic States: Changing forms of governance. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-48276-9.  Hiden, John; and Vahur Made; David J. Smith (2008). The Baltic Question during the Cold War. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-56934-7.  D'Amato, Giuseppe (2004). Travel to the Baltic Hansa – The European Union
European Union
and its enlargement to the East (Book in Italian: Viaggio nell’Hansa baltica – L’Unione europea e l’allargamento ad Est). Milano: Greco&Greco editori. ISBN 88-7980-355-7.  Lehti, Marko; and David J. Smith (eds.) (2003). Post-Cold War Identity Politics – Northern and Baltic Experiences. London/Portland: Frank Cass Publishers. ISBN 0-7146-8351-5. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link) Williams, Nicola; Debra Herrmann; Cathryn Kemp (2003). Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania
Lithuania
(3rd ed.). London: Lonely Planet. ISBN 1-74059-132-1.  Bojtár, Endre (1999). Forward to the Past – A Cultural History of the Baltic People. Budapest: Central European University Press. ISBN 978-963-9116-42-9.  Smith, Graham (ed.) (1994). The Baltic States: The National Self-determination
Self-determination
of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-12060-5. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link) Lieven, Anatol (1994). The Baltic Revolution: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the Path to Independence (2nd ed.). New Haven/London: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-05552-8.  Hiden, John; Patrick Salmon
Salmon
(1991). The Baltic Nations and Europe: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania
Lithuania
in the Twentieth Century. London: Longman. ISBN 0-582-08246-3. 

Other

Šleivyte, Janina (2010). Russia's European Agenda and the Baltic States. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-55400-8.  Commercio, Michele E. (2010). Russian Minority Politics in Post-Soviet Latvia
Latvia
and Kyrgyzstan: The Transformative Power of Informal Networks. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 978-0-8122-4221-8. 

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