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About Latvia



 

Country Code: LV
Calling Code: +371
Internet TLD: .LV (.EU)
Time Zone: EET (UTC+2) EEST (UTC+3)
Weights & Measures: Metric
Electricity: Electricity in Latvia is 230 Volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second. If you travel to Latvia with a device that does not accept 230 Volts at 50 Hertz, you will need a voltage converter.

 

History

 

The Republic of Latvia was founded on November 18, 1918. It has been continuously recognised as a sovereign state since 1920 despite occupations and rule by the Soviet Union (1940-1941, 1945-1991) and Nazi Germany (1941-1945). On August 21, 1991 Latvia declared the restoration of its de facto independence, re-established international diplomatic ties, and joined the United Nations. Latvia joined the WTO in 1998 and in 2004 became a member of the European Union and NATO.
 

The name "Latvija" comes from the ancient Latgallians, one of four Indo-European Baltic tribes, who along with Couronians, Selonians and Semigallians formed the ethnic core of today’s Latvian people.

Read more on Latvian history...

 

The 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.

Read more on Latvian symbols...

 

The Flag

 

The crimson-white-crimson flag of Latvia is one of the oldest in the world and dates back to a battle near Cēsis in the 13th century. According to one legend, it originated from a white sheet used to carry a mortally wounded Latvian tribal chief from the battlefield. Soaked with his blood on two sides, his soldiers hoisted the warrior’s sheet as a banner as it led them to victory.

Read more on Latvian symbols...

 

Geography

 

Latvia is the central country of the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and is located in north-eastern Europe on the east coast of the Baltic Sea. Its geographic coordinates are 57°00'N latitude and 25°00'E longitude. It consists of fertile lowland plains and moderate hills, with most of its territory 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.


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:
Lubāns, 80.7 sq.km.


Deepest lake:
Drīdzis, 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:
Gaiziņkalns, 311.6 metres.


1 km = 0.62 mile; 1 m = 39.37 inches


Location

 

Latvia is bordered by Estonia to the north, Russia 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. Vikings followed the ‘Amber Road’ through Latvian territory along the Daugava River to reach Byzantium and the Mediterranean Sea.

Read more on Latvian geography..

 

Climate

 

Latvia’s 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 -3.8°C).
The warmest month: July,
The coldest month: January.
The average precipitation amount:
In summer: 195 mm,
In winter: 116 mm.

 

Nature

With over 44 percent of its territory covered by forests, a vast network of free flowing rivers and thousands of lakes, Latvia is one of Europe’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.

Read more on Latvian nature...

 

Population

 

Latvians are the indigenous people of Latvia, and the Finno-Ugric Livs (or Livonians) are the only indigenous minority. Latvia’s present ethnic mix is largely a result of massive post-war immigration, which resulted in a decline in the share of ethnic Latvians from 77% in 1935 to 52% in 1989.


Population in 2010: 2 248 374
Urban: 68% Rural:32%

Ethnic composition:
59.4% Latvian,
27.6% Russian, 
3.6% Belorussian,
2.5% Ukrainian, 
2.3% Polish,
1.3% Lithuanian, 
3.3% other nationalities.

Official Language: Latvian
Hi - Sveiks!
Good-bye - Uz redzēšanos
Yes - Jā
No - Nē
Thank you - Paldies
Please - Lūdzu
Sorry – Atvainojiet

Latvian Pronunciation Guide:
http://www.phantomranch.net/folkdanc/alphabet/latvian.htm

 

Latvian is a Baltic language that belongs to the Indo-European language family. Its only linguistic relative is Lithuanian, and is considered to be among the oldest and least changed of all living Indo-European languages in the world. It is estimated that 1,5 million people worldwide use Latvian as their primary language. English and Russian are widely spoken throughout Latvia, while German, French and the Scandinavian languages are also frequently heard.

Read more on the Latvian language...

 

Most Common Foreign Languages

 

English, Russian, and German.

 

Education

Latvia has traditionally had one of the highest per capita ratio of students in the world. The state guarantees free primary and secondary school education and offers scholarships for higher education. Foreign students from EU countries pay the same fees as permanent residents of Latvia, and degrees from Latvian educational institutions are recognized internationally. Doctorates can be received in the social sciences, natural sciences, and law, as well as technical and humanitarian sciences. Latvia also has state-financed ethnic minority schools or classes where courses are taught in Belorussian, Estonian, Hebrew, Lithuanian, Polish, Roma, Russian and Ukrainian.

Read more on education in Latvia...

 

Largest Religious Confessions

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

 

Electoral System

Latvia has proportional representation based on party lists and a 5% vote threshold. There is universal suffrage for Latvian citizens over the age of 18.

 

Membership in International Organizations

 

European Union, NATO, United Nations, Council of Europe, World Trade Organisation, Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Council of the Baltic Sea States, etc.

 

Foreign Policy

 

Latvia joined the European Union and NATO in 2004, and has been an active member both in promoting global security and prosperity, while reducing crises and conflict. Cooperation with its neighbours in the Baltic Sea region is a priority, and development of strategic global ties is a goal.

 

Riga - the Capital City of Latvia

Latvia’s political, economic and culture centre is in Riga, where more than one third of Latvia’s population (706 thousand) lives and works. Riga’s elegant Old Town and distinctive Art Nouveau architecture serve as a stimulating setting for a vibrant modern business and cultural life. Founded in 1201, this former Hanseatic League member is one of the oldest medieval cities in Europe and has been listed by UNESCO as one of the world’s most important cultural and natural sites. As one of the new stars of the dynamic Baltic Sea region, Riga has hosted a NATO summit, world hockey championship, the Eurovision Song Contest and many other large-scale international events. Riga’s International Airport is one of the fastest growing travel hubs in Europe.

Largest Towns and Cities

Rīga – 706 413
Daugavpils – 103 922
Liepāja 84 074
Jelgava – 64 898
Jūrmala 55 858
Rēzekne 35 074
Ventspils 42 734

Of the 77 towns and cities in Latvia, 23 cities have a population of over 10,000.

 

Ports

Latvia’s three major ports of Rīga, Ventspils and Liepāja service a wide range of global shipping needs. Ventspils is one of the busiest ports in the Baltic Sea region and one of Europe’s leading ports in terms of cargo turnover.

Read more on ports, special economic zones and transport (www.transport.lv)...


Production Sectors

 

Information technologies, chemical and pharmaceutical industries, electronics, mechanical engineering, timber and construction, food processing, textiles, fishery and agriculture.

 

Financial Sector

 

The Bank of Latvia is the central bank of the state and a participant in the European System of Central Banks. Since joining the EU more than 20 commercial banks have been operating in Latvia, offering a full array of banking services. Many banks have established an extensive network of ATM’s throughout the country and offer international Internet and mobile banking services.

 

Currency


Since Latvia is a member of EU, it uses European Union's common currency - Euro.


Constitution 


Satversme (The Constitution)
1. Latvia is an independent democratic republic.
2. The sovereign power of the State of Latvia is vested in the people of Latvia.
3. The territory of the State of Latvia, within the borders established by international agreements, consists of Vidzeme, Latgale, Kurzeme and Zemgale.
4. The Latvian language is the official language in the Republic of Latvia. The national flag of Latvia shall be red with a band of white.
Discover more > 

 

Latvian Political System

 

According to the Satversme (Constitution), Latvia is a parliamentary republic in which the sovereign power belongs to the people, who are represented by a unicameral parliament (Saeima), with 100 members elected in general, equal, direct, secret and proportional elections for a four-year period. Discover more > 

 

Saeima (The Parliament)

 

The Saeima, and also the people, have the right to legislate, in accordance with the procedures, and to the extent, provided by the Constitution. The Saeima elects President for a term of four years. The same person must not hold office as President for more than eight consecutive years. Discover more >

 

President of Latvia

 

Andris Bērziņš

 

Chairman of the Saeima

 

Solvita Āboltiņa, Chairman of the Saeima (Parliament) of the Republic of Latvia, was elected on 2 October, 2010 from the “New Era” Party. Discover more >

 

Prime Minister of Latvia

 

Laimdota Straujuma, Prime Minister of the Republic of Latvia, was elected on 22 March, 2014 by the Saeima (Parliament). Discover more > 

 

The Cabinet of Ministers

 

The Cabinet of Ministers is the highest executive body of the country. The role and functions of the executive power are stipulated in the Satversme (Constitution) of the Republic of Latvia and in the Law on the Structure of Cabinet Law. The Cabinet of Ministers is formed by a person invited by the State President. Discover more >

 

Public Holidays

 

January 1
New Year's Day

 

March-April (in accordance with the Western Church calendar)
Easter

 

In Latvia, the Easter holiday consists of three special days: Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday. In addition to the practices of the Christian Church, many Latvians observe older pre-Christian traditions as well as welcome the rebirth of nature and the arrival of spring.

 

May 1
  Convocation of the Constituent Assembly of the Republic of Latvia

Labour Day

While many in the world celebrate this as Labour Day, in Latvia May 1 has an additional meaning. On this date in 1920 the Constitutional Assembly, the first democratically elected Parliament of the Republic of Latvia, convened for its first session to draft and pass the state constitution.

 

May 4
  Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia

On May 4, 1990 pro-independence members of the Supreme Council of the Latvian SSR (the highest legislative body in then occupied Latvia) passed a Declaration on the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia. This vote launched a transitional period until full independence was restored in August 1991. This date is now observed as Latvia’s ‘second independence day’.

 

The 2nd Sunday of May

  Mothers' Day

Prior to the Second World War in Latvia, this day was devoted to a celebration of the family and its values. Since 1992 Latvia has joined others in the world recognising this as Mother’s Day. Since the mother is the central figure of traditional Latvian families, the essence of this holiday has not changed.

 

A Sunday in May or June (in accordance with the Western Church calendar)

Whitsunday

While Whitsunday is generally associated with Christian religious practices, in Latvia it also includes earlier pre-Christian Latvian traditions.

 

June 23-24
  Līgo Day and Jāņi

The celebration of the summer solstice is Latvia’s oldest and most beloved holiday. While some like to begin this holiday on June 21st, (the longest day of the year), the Latvian Līgo-Day takes place on June 23rd and continues with Jāņi on the following day – June 24th. Most Latvians leave the cities to gather around ceremonial bonfires in the countryside to engage in a colourful array of ancient rituals. To celebrate the arrival of the summer sun, they gather wild flowers, make oak leaf wreaths and decorate houses, animals and themselves. They also prepare special foods and brew barley beer, while singing and dancing traditional folk songs with the 'līgo' refrain.

 

November 18
Proclamation of Independence of the Republic of Latvia.

 

December 24 – 26
Christmas

 

Business & Investment

 

Trade:

The countries of the EU remain Latvia’s main trading partners (71,8% in 2009), while trade with CIS countries (13,9% – 2009) continues to expand. Wood and metal products, machinery, electrical equipment and mineral products are Latvia’s main exports.

Real Estate Business and investment projects in Latvia: Real Estate Limited Liability Company Ritters: http://www.ritters.lv/?lng=eng

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     Last modified: 2015 year, 15 of January, 16:30     
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