Facts of Latvia

Latvia: a keystone of the 'New Europe'.

Latvia is a keystone of Northern Europe's Baltic Seas region. On the world map Latvia can be found in North-Eastern Europe, on the east coast of the Baltic Sea. A country with a language, culture and attitude all its own, yet with a national identity shaped by the surrounding dynamic Northern European region and woven through with diverse historical influences. A country that survived two world wars and 50 years behind the Iron Curtain, in 2011 entered its third decade of renewed independence. In 2004 it became a member of NATO and the European Union. On January 1, 2014 the country adopted the euro currency

Latvia: where is it.

Latvia borders Estonia, Russia, Belarus, and Lithuania. It is situated on a trading crossroads and has long since served as a bridge between Western Europe and Russia. The famous 'route of the Vikings to the Greeks' mentioned in ancient chronicles stretched from Scandinavia through Latvian territory along the Daugava River to the ancient Russian and Byzantine Empire.


The population of Latvia today is around 2.0 million. The ethnic composition is around 62% Latvian and 28% Russian. The diverse ethnic mix of the population of Latvia is largely the result of massive post-war immigration, which resulted in a decline in the share of ethnic Latvians from 77% in 1935 to around 62% today. There are more than 1.5 million ethnic Latvians in the world, and approximately 90% of them live in Latvia. Other Latvians can be found in the USA, Russia, Australia, Canada, the UK and Germany, as well as Brazil, Lithuania, Sweden, Estonia, and Ireland. In fact, there is hardly a country in the world where Latvians have not made their presence felt. Even if you have not yet visited Latvia, you stand a good chance of meeting a Latvian somewhere else. Almost 30,000 people of Latvian descent live in the U.S.

The Latvian language.

As one of 250 major languages in the world (spoken by more than 1 million people), the Latvian language is also one of the oldest. Latvian belongs to the Indo-European language family, and together with Lithuanian, forms the Baltic language group, related to, but separate from the Slavic and Germanic language groups. The total number of Latvian speakers in the world exceeds 2 million, and for 1.4 million of them it is their native language.

Latvia’s National Day.

November 18 is Latvia's National Holiday. Latvia's independence was proclaimed in Riga on November 18, 1918. Following WW II, Latvia was occupied by the Soviet Union between June 17, 1940 and May 4, 1990.

Latvia: one of the greenest countries in Europe.

Latvia's landscape is marked by lowland plains, rolling hills, thousands of rivers and lakes. Forests cover 44 percent of the territory, and most of the countryside is less than 100 meters above sea level.

Latvia’s capital, Riga: The 'Paris of the North'.

One hundred years ago Riga was known as the 'Paris of the North'. 800 years young, Riga is now called 'The Second City that Never Sleeps', and the 'Hottest City in the North'. As it moves into the 21st century, Riga is blossoming as a creative centre for the arts once again. Local and visiting art exhibits and the opera, theatre and ballet compete with nightclubs and discos that rock with jazz, blues and the latest electronic fusions of hip hop and dance music. For more information about Riga, please visit the Riga City tourism website (or see the 'Videos of Latvia' section of this website). In 2014 Riga was designated European Capital of Culture.

Riga: a UNESCO designated cultural and natural site.

Nearly one-third of Latvia's population (747,000) lives in the capital Riga. Riga, the oldest existing medieval city, was founded in 1201. Riga has been included in UNESCO's list of the world's most important cultural and natural sites.

Latvia: a business hub in the 'New Europe’.

With its prime location as a transit hub for east-west trade, Latvia has become one of the most favorables destinations for foreign investment in the 'New Europe'. Sectors attracting investors include manufacturing, forestry and woodworking, metal processing and engineering, textiles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, logistics and transit, construction and real estate, and information technology.

Latvia and Europe: key trading partners.

The European Union accounts for 80% of Latvia's total trade. Latvia's major trading partners include Germany, Sweden, the UK, Russia and neighbouring Baltic countries such as Estonia and Lithuania.