The Republic of Latvia is founded on November 18, 1918
Location: Latvia is situated in Northern Europe, on the coast of the Baltic Sea.
The Territory of Latvia: 64,589 square kilometres (24,938 square miles).
National anthem: ’Dievs, sveti Latviju!’ (God Bless Latvia)
International code: LV
Constitution: democratic parliamentary republic
The parliament, called the Saeima consists of 100 elected MPs.
President: Valdis Zatlers (since 8 July, 2007)
Official language: Latvian
Total population: 2 274 700 (2007)
Capital city: Riga (with 723931 inhabitants)
Administrative organisation: 7 cities, 65 towns, 26 regions, 11 districts, 467 parishes
Traditionally divided into 4 regions: Vidzeme, Latgale, Kurzeme and Zemgale
Largest cities apart from Riga: Daugavpils, Jelgava, Jurmala, Liepaja, Rezekne, Ventspils
Major ports: Ventspils, Riga, Liepaja
Ethnic composition: Latvians -59.0% (1348344) , Russians - 28.3% (646567), Belorussians - 3.7% (85434), Ukrainians - 2.5% (57794), Poles- 2.4% (54831), Lithuanians - 1.4% (31034), Others - 2.1% ( uz 01.04.2007)
Religion: Non-religious - 35%, Lutheran - 24%, Catholic - 18%, Orthodox - 15%, Others - 8%
Currency: Lats (LVL), 1 lats = 100 santimi
Time: GMT +2, from April to November GMT +3
Internet domain: .lv
International telephone code: +371
Electricity supply: 220 volts, 50 Hz European-style 2-pin plugs
For centuries under Hanseatic and German influence and then during its inter-war independence, Latvia used its geographic location as an important East-West commercial and trading centre. Industry served local markets, while timber, paper, and agricultural products supplied Latvia’s main exports. The years of Soviet occupation tended to integrate Latvia’s economy into the U.S.S.R. in order to serve that empire’s large internal industrial needs. Since re-establishing its independence, Latvia has proceeded with market-oriented reforms. Its freely traded currency, the Lat, was introduced in 1993 and has held steady or appreciated against major world currencies. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has noted that Latvia’s economic performance the past several years has been among the best of the EU accession countries. Real per capita GDP has roughly doubled compared to its 1995 level. GDP grew by close to 11 % in 2006 and annual growth rates of 6-8 % in the medium term are predicted by the Latvian Government. Inflation, however, has remained high, at 6-7 %, since 2004, following a period from 1999 to 2003 when Latvian inflation rates were at 3 % or below. The increase in inflation has delayed prospects of introducing the Euro currency in Latvia. At the same time, Latvia’s current account deficit (ranging from 12 % to 14 % of GDP over the past 3 years) remains one of the key vulnerabilities of the Latvian economy.
|Market - source|
Independence forced Latvia into a precarious position regarding its energy supply. With the exception of peat and timber, Latvia had no significant domestic energy resources and received 93 % of its imported energy from Soviet republics. Latvia has sought ways to diversify its energy sources and to increase energy conservation. In August 2001, the Kegums hydroelectric power plant was reopened, contributing to Latvia’s ability to supply 25 % of its energy that year. Furthermore, in June 2002 the European Investment Bank loaned Latvenergo, a state-owned energy supply group, 80 million Euros to modernize its generation and distribution of electricity and thermal energy. Latvia is also looking to regional cooperation arrangements to diversify its energy supplies. With the other Baltic states, it plans to create an electricity network able to operate independently of its Russian counterpart. It is planning major infrastructure projects to provide energy supplies via Scandinavia, and it is working with Estonia, Lithuania and Poland to build a new nuclear power station in Ignalina, Lithuania.
Privatization in Latvia is effectively complete. All of the previously state-owned small and medium enterprises have been privatized, leaving in state hands the electric utility, the Latvian railway company, and the Latvian postal system, as well as state shares in several politically sensitive concerns. Despite the lack of transparency of the early stages of the privatization process and certain difficulties in privatization of some of the largest companies, Latvian privatization efforts have led to the development of a dynamic and prosperous private sector, which accounts for approximately 70 % of the country’s GDP.
In the last few years, Latvia has implemented many positive reforms in the business sphere (ranking 24th worldwide on the ease of doing business there, according to the World Bank Doing Business 2007 report). Most reforms deal with licensing, taxes, and business closures. In the 2005/2006 period, Latvia made it easier for businesses to comply with building requirements and reduced the number of licenses and permits required. In addition, Latvia launched an electronic tax filing system and improved the regulation of bankruptcy administrators in order to reduce corruption.
Foreign investment in Latvia remains high, as both Western and Eastern investors are trying to establish a foothold in the new EU member state as well as to take advantage of Latvia’s stable macroeconomic environment, central location in the region, and cheap labour. Representing 5.8 % of Latvia’s total foreign direct investment (FDI), the U.S. FDI stock in Latvia stood at nearly $420 million at the end of 2006, according to the Bank of Latvia’s most recent available figures. In 2005, U.S. goods and services accounted for 1 % of Latvia’s total imports, while exports to the United States accounted for 2.7 % of Latvia’s total exports. Latvia has been a member of the World Trade Organization since 1999. Latvia and the United States have signed treaties on investment, trade, intellectual property protection, and avoidance of double taxation.
By the 10th century, the area that is today Latvia was inhabited by several Baltic tribes who had formed their own local governments. In 1054, German sailors who shipwrecked on the Daugava River inhabited the area, which initiated a period of increasing Germanic influence. The Germans named the territory Livonia. In 1201, Riga, the current capital of Latvia, was founded by the Germanic Bishop Alberth of Livonia; the city joined the Hanseatic League in 1285 and began to form important cultural and economic relationships with the rest of Europe. However, the new German nobility restricted the indigenous people and accorded them only limited trading and property rights.
|Riga – The Blackhead´s House - source|
Subsequent wars and treaties led to Livonia’s partition and colonization for centuries. In 1721 Russia took control over the Latvian territories as a result of its victory over Sweden in the Great Northern War. During this time there was little sense of a Latvian national identity, as both serfdom and institutional controls to migration and social mobility limited the boundaries of the indigenous people’s intellectual and social geography. However, in the 1860’s, the Young Latvian Movement was formed in order to promote the indigenous language against Russification policies and to publicize and counteract the socioeconomic oppression of Latvians, 60 % of whom belonged to the landless, urban class. This growing proletariat became fertile ground for the ideas of western European socialism and supported the creation in 1903 of the Latvian Social Democratic Union (LSDU), which continued to champion national interests and Latvia’s national self-determination, especially during the failed 1905 Revolution in Russia.
|Great Northern War source|
The onset of World War I brought German occupation of the western coastal province of Kurzeme, which Latvians heroically countered with several regiments of riflemen commanded by Czarist generals. The military campaign generally increased Latvian and LSDU support for the Bolsheviks’ successful October Revolution in 1917, in the hopes of a "free Latvia within free Russia." These circumstances led to the formation of the Soviet "Iskolat Republic" in the unoccupied section of Latvia. In opposition to this government and to the landed barons’ German sympathies stood the Latvian Provisional National Council and the Riga Democratic Bloc. These and other political parties formed the Latvian People’s Council, which on November 18, 1918 declared Latvia’s independence and formed an army. The new Latvian Army won a decisive battle over the combined German-Red Army forces and consolidated that success on the eastern Latgale front. These developments led to the dissolution of the Soviet Latvian government on January 13, 1920 and to a peace treaty between Latvia and Soviet Russia on August 11 later that year. On September 22, 1921, an independent Latvia was admitted to the League of Nations.
The government, headed by Prime Minister Ulmanis, declared a democratic, parliamentary republic. It recognized Latvian as the official language, granted cultural autonomy to the country’s sizeable minorities, and introduced an electoral system into the Latvian constitution, which was adopted in 1922. The ensuing decade witnessed sweeping economic reform, as the war had devastated Latvian agriculture, and most Russian factories had been evacuated to Russia. However, economic depression heightened political turmoil, and, on May 15, 1934, the Prime Minister dismissed the Parliament, banned outspoken and left-wing political parties, and tightened authoritarian state control over Latvian social life and the economy.
The German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact of 1939 steadily forced Latvia under Soviet influence, culminating in Latvia’s annexation by the Soviet Union on August 5, 1940. On June 14 of the following year, 15,000 Latvian citizens were forcibly deported and a large number of army officers shot. The subsequent German occupation witnessed the mobilization of many Latvians into Waffen SS legions, while some Latvians joined the Red Army and formed resistance groups, and others fled to the West and East.
An estimated 70,000, or 89.5 %, of Latvian Jews were killed in Latvia under Nazi occupation. Up to one-third of Latvia’s pre-war population (approximately 630,000 residents) was lost between 1940 and 1954 due to the Holocaust and the Soviet and Nazi occupations.
After World War II, the U.S.S.R. subjected the Latvian republic to a social and economic reorganization which rapidly changed the rural economy to one based on heavy industry, transformed the predominantly Latvian population into a more multiethnic populace, and converted the peasant class into a fully urbanized industrial worker class. As part of the goal to more fully integrate Latvia into the Soviet Union, Stalin deported another 42,000 Latvians and continued to promote the policy of encouraging Soviet immigration to Latvia.
In July 1989, following the dramatic events in East Germany, the Latvian Supreme Soviet adopted a "Declaration of Sovereignty" and amended the Constitution to assert the supremacy of its laws over those of the U.S.S.R. Candidates from the pro-independence party Latvian Popular Front gained a two-thirds majority in the Supreme Council in the March 1990 democratic elections. On May 4, the Council declared its intention to restore full Latvian independence after a "transitional" period; three days later, a Latvian was chosen Prime Minister. Soviet political and military forces tried unsuccessfully to overthrow the Latvian Government. On August 21, 1991, Latvia claimed de facto independence. International recognition, including that of the U.S.S.R., followed. The United States, which had never recognized Latvia’s forcible annexation by the U.S.S.R. and continued to accredit a Latvian Ambassador in Washington, recognized Latvia’s renewed independence on September 2. In 2007, the United States and Latvia celebrated 85 years of continuous diplomatic relations.
Since regaining its independence, Latvia has rapidly moved away from the political-economic structures and socio-cultural patterns which underlay the Soviet Union. Through a U.S. initiative, on April 30, 1994, Latvia and Russia signed a troop withdrawal agreement; Russia withdrew the bulk of its troops by August 31 of that year. Except for some large state-owned utilities, Latvia has privatized most sectors of its economy, which has become one of the fastest developing economies in Europe. Latvia has also maintained and strengthened the democratic, parliamentary republic that it revived in 1990.
Latvia has developed a policy of international security cooperation through participation in crisis management and peacekeeping operations. In 2006, Latvia deployed over 10 % of its active duty military to support UN, NATO, and coalition military operations. That percentage is well above the European average in terms of per capita contributions. In 2007, Latvia increased its participation in the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan to 98 soldiers and plans a further increase in 2008. Closer to home, Latvia has been active in the Balkans: it supports the NATO mission in Kosovo with peacekeepers, and the European Union Force (EUFOR) mission in Bosnia with liaison officers. In November 2006, Latvia hosted a NATO Summit in its capital, Riga.
After regaining its independence, Latvia began to work at reintegrating into the West. In 1991, Latvia joined the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and became a member of the United Nations (UN). It is party to a number of UN organizations as well as other international agreements including the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank. Since 2004, Latvia has been an active member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU).
Latvia has emerged as a significant international player, courageously supporting peace and democracy world-wide. Per capita, it is one of the largest contributors to international military operations. It has deployed troops to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Balkans. It also works closely with the U.S. and the EU to support and promote democracy in the former Soviet Union states of Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, and Georgia. A testament to the close relationship between the U.S, and Latvia is the fact that President Bush has visited the country twice, the second time to attend the NATO Summit held in Riga on November 28-29, 2006.
Russia has expressed concern over how Latvia’s language and naturalization laws affect Latvia’s Russian-speaking population. Russians comprised 28.5 % of the population in 2006. In turn, Latvia is interested in the welfare of ethnic Latvians still residing in Russia. A border treaty between Latvia and Russia entered into force in 2007.
Latvia maintains embassies in the United States, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Canada, the People’s Republic of China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and Uzbekistan. It also operates missions to the United Nations in New York City and Geneva, the European Council, the European Union, the Chemical Weapons Non-proliferation Organization, NATO, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the World Trade Organization, and the UN Council on Food and Agriculture.
Latvia has a Consulate General in Russia; Consulates in Belarus and Russia; Honorary Consulates General in Australia, Cyprus, India, Israel, and Norway; and Honorary Consulates in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Mexico, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, and Venezuela.
Latvia’s defence concept is based upon four basic pillars: collective defence as a member of NATO, professionalization of the armed forces, support and coordination with civil society, and international military cooperation. The armed forces consist of the land forces brigade with one deployable battalion, an air force focused on air surveillance and search and rescue, and naval forces focused on coastal surveillance, assertion of sovereignty, mine countermeasures, search and rescue, and environmental protection. The land forces, air force, and navy comprise approximately 7,000 personnel. There is also a "zemessardze," or home guard, an autonomous 13,890-man-strong volunteer reserve organization which performs traditional national-guard duties such as crisis response and support for military operations. The Latvian National Armed Forces became fully professional in November 2006. Defence spending has risen in recent years, and the government has committed 2% of its GDP to defence spending through 2013.
The highest organ of state authority in Latvia is the Saeima, a unicameral legislative body of 100 members who are elected by direct popular vote to serve four-year terms. The Saeima initiates and approves legislation sponsored by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is the head of government and has full responsibility and control over the Cabinet. The President, who is elected by the Saeima every four years, holds a primarily ceremonial role as head of state, though the President must sign each law into force and has the power to return laws to the Saeima twice for review and revision. The President also has the power to call for a referendum on legislation that the Saeima refuses to change after twice being sent back.
In the autumn of 1991 Latvia re-implemented significant portions of its 1922 constitution, and in the spring of 1993 the government took a census to determine eligibility for citizenship. Latvia finalized a citizenship and naturalization law in the summer of 1994, which was further liberalized in 1998. By law, those who were Latvian citizens in 1940 and their descendants could claim citizenship. 41 % of Latvia’s population is ethnically non-Latvian, yet almost 3/4 of all residents are citizens of Latvia. Requirements for naturalization include a conversational knowledge of Latvian, a loyalty oath, renunciation of former citizenship, 5 years of residency in Latvia, and a basic knowledge of Latvian history. Dual citizenship is allowed for those who were forced to leave Latvia during the Soviet occupation and adopted another citizenship. Convicted criminals, agents of Soviet intelligence services, and certain other groups are excluded from becoming citizens.
On March 19, 1991 the Supreme Council passed a law explicitly guaranteeing "equal rights to all nationalities and ethnic groups" and "to all permanent residents in the Republic regardless of their nationality, equal rights to work and wages." In addition, the law prohibits "any activity directed toward nationality discrimination or the promotion of national superiority or hatred."
|Parlament – Saeima - source|
In the June 5-6, 1993 elections, in which more than 90 % of the electorate participated, 8 of Latvia’s 23 registered political parties passed the 5 % threshold to enter parliament. The centrist party Latvia’s Way received a 33 % plurality of votes and joined the Farmer’s Union to head a centre-right-wing coalition government.
The September 30-October 1,1995 elections resulted in a deeply fragmented parliament with nine parties represented and the largest party commanding only 18 of 100 seats. Attempts to form right-of-centre and leftist governments failed; seven weeks after the election, a broad but fractious coalition government of six of the nine parties was voted into office under Prime Minister Andris Skele, a popular, nonpartisan businessman.
In the 1998 elections, the Latvian party structure began to consolidate, with only six parties obtaining seats in the Saeima. Andris Skele’s newly formed People’s Party garnered a plurality with 24 seats. Though the election represented a victory for the centre-right, personality conflicts and scandals within the two largest right-of-centre parties--Latvia’s Way and the People’s Party--prevented stable coalitions from forming. Two shaky governments quickly collapsed in less than a year. In May 2000, a compromise candidate was found in the Latvia’s Way mayor of Riga, Andris Berzins. His four-party coalition lasted until parliamentary elections in October 2002. Those elections left Latvia’s Way, for the first time since 1993, with no seats in parliament. The New Era Party, which ran on an anti-corruption platform, gained the most seats and formed a four-party coalition government until the abrupt resignation of the Prime Minister in February 2004 over issues relating to personalities and management of the ruling coalition.
In 1999, the Saeima elected Vaira Vike-Freiberga, a compromise candidate with no party affiliation, to the presidency. Though born in Riga in 1937, she settled in Canada during the years of the Soviet occupation, becoming a well-respected academic on the subject of Latvian culture and psychology. Following her election, she became one of the most popular political figures in Latvia. She was overwhelmingly re-elected by parliament for another four-year term in June 2003. She was also credited with bringing Latvia to the world’s stage and serving as an important check on the ruling coalitions.
With the tacit support of leftist parties, a minority government led by Greens and Farmers Union leader Indulis Emsis took office on March 9, 2004. The new government focused on smoothing Latvia’s entry into NATO and the European Union, which took place in the first half of 2004. The government collapsed on October 28, 2004 after parliament voted against the 2005 budget. A new coalition government, led by Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis, took office on December 2, 2004 and was re-elected on October 7, 2006. These last election results marked the first time that an incumbent administration has won re-election in the history of independent Latvia.
In July 2007, the Saeima elected Valdis Zatlers, another candidate with no political affiliation, to the presidency. An orthopaedic surgeon by trade, Zatlers was the director of the Latvian Traumatology and Orthopaedics Center until his election and has no prior political experience. When his start was clouded by charges that he had accepted supplemental payments for medical services on which he did not pay taxes, he complied with investigations and paid back taxes as directed by the State Revenue Service.
In December 2007, Prime Minister Kalvitis resigned after his government came under intense criticism for attempting to dismiss the head of the anti-corruption bureau. President Zatlers nominated veteran politician Ivars Godmanis to form a new government. Godmanis’ governing coalition consists of the same four center-right parties in the previous government.
Latvia’s flag consists of two horizontal, maroon bands of equal width, divided by a white stripe one-half the width. The national holiday is November 18, Independence Day, which marks Latvia’s 1918 independence.
Head of State: Valdis Zatlers - President, Head of Government: Valdis Dombrovskis (JL) - Prime Minister, governing parties: TP, ZZS, JL, PS (JL/TB-LNNK spin-off)
Last national elections 2006
http://www.parties-and-elections.de/latvia.html Last European Parliament election June 2009 See: • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Parliament_election,_2009_(Latvia) • http://www.europarl.europa.eu/parliament/archive/elections2009/en/Latvia_en.html
The largest religion is Christianity, although only 7 % of population attend religious services regularly. The largest groups are Lutheran (400,000), Roman Catholic (450,000), Eastern Orthodox (350,000).
According to the most recent Eurobarometer Poll 2005, 37 % of Latvian citizens responded that "they believe there is a god", whereas 49 % answered that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 10 % that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, god, or life force".
Lutheranism was much stronger before the Soviet occupation, when it was a majority religion, but since then Lutheranism in all the Baltic States has declined to a much greater extent than has Roman Catholicism. The country’s Orthodox Christians belong to the Latvian Orthodox Church, a semi-autonomous body within the Russian Orthodox Church. There are 182 known Muslims living in Latvia; total number of Muslims in Latvia, however, is estimated to be much larger - from 500 to 5,000. There are also Jews (9,743 in 2006) in Latvia.
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.
Latvians and Livonians, the indigenous peoples of Latvia, now form about 60 % of the population; 28 % of the inhabitants are Russian. Approximately 56 % of the ethnic Russians living in Latvia are citizens of Latvia. In 2005 there were even fewer Latvians than in 1989, though their share of the population was larger (1,357,099 - 58,8 % of the inhabitants).
Between the 13th and 19th century, Baltic Germans, many of whom were originally of non-German ancestry but had been assimilated into German culture, formed the upper class. They developed a distinct cultural heritage, characterized by both Latvian and German influences. It has survived in German Baltic families to this day, in spite of their dispersal to Germany, the USA, Canada and other countries in the early 20th century. However, most indigenous Latvians did not participate in this particular cultural life. Thus, the mostly peasant local pagan heritage was preserved, partly merging with Christian traditions, for example in one of the most popular celebrations today which is J??i, a pagan celebration of the summer solstice, celebrated on the feast day of St. John the Baptist.
In the 19th century Latvian nationalist movements emerged promoting Latvian culture and encouraging Latvians to take part in cultural activities. The 19th century and beginning of the 20th century is often regarded 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.
After incorporation into the USSR, 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 and classical music have become the most notable branches of Latvian culture.
More information about culture, history, urbanism, social stratification, gender role, etiquette and religion can be found at www.everyculture.com
Latvian way of life and mentality is similar to people in Denmark.
The Latvians are a peaceful and not very assertive people. The tone is informal compared to many other countries. Friends, family and colleagues are addressed with the informal pronoun and their first name, and it is common for employees to address their boss by his or her first name. The informal tone is also encountered in the educational system, where the students address the teachers by their first names. They are open people.
More at: www.workindenmark.dk
On the personal level, foreigners will generally experience the Latvians as tolerant, helpful and open. Foreigners are often met with interested questions about their own country and culture from colleagues and acquaintances. However, many Latvians will not initiate conversations about cultural or personal topics before they know their foreign colleague well.
Meetings are expected to commence at the agreed time, and will normally start and end with a handshake. Meetings constitute an important part of Latvian business culture, and are the most usual way of keeping colleagues and employees up to date. Latvians prefer meetings to be short, well structured and with a preponderance of factual information. Paperwork will generally be kept at a minimum. However, it is seen as a matter of course that meetings proceed according to a written agenda and that they result in a written summary recording the most important decisions and agreements.
The informal attitude of the Latvians is expressed in a generally relaxed dress code. While many men prefer a suit and tie, it is not uncommon to see businessmen in more casual clothing, especially when meeting contacts they already know. Women also dress relatively casually.
Latvians usually introduce themselves with both their first name and surname, but after this they address each other by their first names. It is rare to bring gifts to business meetings, but when you are invited to someone’s private home, you should bring flowers or a couple of bottles of red wine.
Most Latvian companies involve their employees in the decision-making process. This results in a democratic and open working environment with short channels of command from the management to the common employee.
Behaviour in schools
For an impression how to behave in Latvian schools, if you click on the following webpage, you will find a „rules of procedures":
How to behave in business sphere
Latvia can be accessed by virtually every means of transportation. Maritime transport links the three main seaports (Riga, Liepaja and Ventspils) with the other Baltic Sea countries, there are good railway links with Russia and Belarus, while coach routes have developed rapidly in recent years to link neighbouring countries as well as more distant major European cities.
Highways lead into Latvia from Estonia, Lithuania, Belarus and Russia.
Air traffic is growing exponentially. Several low cost airlines have found their way to Latvia as well as long haul flights to the USA.
Currently Riga International Airport is the main hub for air traffic, however regional airports at Liepaja and Ventspils have recently been renovated and are already attracting international charters. An initiative has been launched to encourage more internal flights between Riga and these airports.
Getting to Latvia: www.latviatourism.lv
Where to spend the night
When planning your trip to Latvia, be sure to make inquiries about places to stay at during your visit. While in Latvia, stay in one of the numerous hotels. Choose one that suits your needs, as there are various types of hotels, starting with the luxurious upscale hotels to those providing more modest accommodations. Many of them are located near the city center or major tourist sites. For example, if you are planning to visit the Latvian seaside resort town of Jurmala, you can stay in a hotel situated a few minutes walk from the beach. Young and active people will enjoy staying at a camping site or even in a tent.
|Jurmala – source|
If you are planning to stay in the countryside, think about renting a room in a guesthouse, where you will not only have a good rest but will also enjoy the homey atmosphere that the host creates for you. If you decide to spend a night in a tent, there are tent sites, campfire sites, and fresh drinking water at your disposal. Your vehicle will be safe and this excellent recreation will revitalize you for the following day and for new adventures.
Where to go
Clicking on this hyperlink, you will be redirected to the site with interactive map and you can search for places that are nice or interesting to see:
What to do
There are many activities you can do in Latvia. In this section you will find some hyperlinks for activities that are you interested in.
The Most Popular Things To See
Riga Old Town - Established in 1201, the old centre of Riga was encircled by fortifications until the mid 19th century. Here are the oldest buildings in Riga: the Dome Cathedral, St. Peter’s Church, St. John’s Church, St. Jacob’s Church, the ’Three Brothers’ houses, and Riga Castle, which also houses the Latvian History Museum and the Foreign Art Museum. The centrepiece of Rutslaukums Square is the reconstructed Blackheads’ House, which was destroyed in World War II and is now owned by Riga Council.
Riga-Jugendstil Metropolis - Riga’s Jugendstil buildings amaze everyone both in their quantity and their high quality of workmanship. Although Alberta and Elizabetes Streets are particularly well-known for Jugendstil architecture, these beautiful buildings can be seen in all parts of the city that were built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Latvian Open-Air Museum - The Latvian Open-Air Museum, established in 1924, is one of the oldest open-air museums in Europe. In this museum can be seen traditional farmsteads, fishermen’s dwellings, and craft workshops from all corners of Latvia. In addition, the museum has two wooden churches, a tavern, windmill, and other rural buildings. There are craft fairs and organ and folk music concerts in the museum during the summer. 18 master craftsmen and artisans work at the museum: weavers, blacksmiths, woodworkers, basket makers, potters, bee-keepers and others.
|Open Air Museum -source|
Pasiene Catholic Church - Pasiene is the easternmost point of Latvia, where visitors can become acquainted with the atmosphere of the European Union’s borderland. Here, in the middle of a quiet rural area, stands the colourful Pasiene Church, built in 1761 in the Polish Baroque style.
Turvete Nature Park - Many natural, historical, and cultural monuments can be seen in this park. Beautiful Turvete river valley, pine forest, bird watching, information trails and the 400 hectare forest that includes a Fairy Tale Forest, wooden sculptures, an arboretum, an ancient castle mound, and the home and memorial museum of author Anna Brigadere can be enjoyed. Nearby is the Kalnamuiža Church (1614) and the only book museum in Latvia.
Daugava Museum - Daugava Museum is located in an 1898 estate house on Dole Island. It tells the history of the River Daugava and about the boatmen, bargemen, fishermen and ferrymen who have all owed their livings to this important waterway. There is an old Daugava fishermen’s farmstead, complete with fishing equipment and everyday items and tools, on display in the former estate park.
Jurkalne’s Steep Coast - One of the most picturesque sections of the Baltic coast in Latvia. It features a quiet and pristine beach and coastal cliffs that reach an impressive 20 m height. Many opportunities exist for both relaxation and active recreation.
|Jurkalne’s Steep Coast - source|
Planning your trip to Latvia, don’t forget to find out which events are going to take place during the time of your visit not only in Riga but also in the regions! Exciting pastime is guaranteed not only at such big events as the Song Festival, but also at the smaller events where you will see how creativity and traditional Latvian culture are merged with modern tendencies. You can choose the events that best suit your taste - visit the National Opera, a dance club, an arts gallery, or battles of the medieval knights.
In this section you will find information about big-scale events, in which a significant number of people are going to participate and about entertainment possibilities as well. You can see if there is some interesting exhibition, you can decide on the nightclub to spend Friday evening! Also pay your attention to holidays and upcoming festivals - visit Song Festival, come and visit us during Traditional Latvian Midsummer Festival Ligo, or visit Latvia during the air-balloon festival. While visiting Latvia during festivities you will gain an unforgettable experience which no other country will give you.
Use the search possibilities to find the events you are interested to see during your stay in Latvia!
If you click this hyperlink, you will find events that are taking place in next few days
The last hyperlink is about „good to know" and about public holidays and remembrance days
The official language of Latvia is Latvian, which belongs to the Baltic language group of the Indo-European language family. Another notable language of Latvia is the nearly extinct Livonian language of the Baltic-Finnish sub branch of the Uralic language family, which enjoys protection by law; Latgalian language - a dialect of Latvian - is also protected by Latvian law as historical variation of Latvian language. Russian is by far the most widespread minority language.
Here you can find basic phrases in Latvian language:
And here are also many useful phrases, but you can translate them to any other language as well:
Useful may be this pronunciation guide:
BAISTER, S., PATRICK, CH. Latvia. Bradt Travel Guides, 2007. ISBN: 184162201X.
BULTJE, J. W. Latvia: New EU Countries and Citizen. Cherrytree Books, 2005. ISBN: 184234322X.
COOK, T. Latvia. Thomas Cook Publishing, 2008. ISBN: 1841578967.
KAHN, F. Latvia: Riga. Landmark Publishing Ltd., 2000. ISBN: 1901522598.