General information about the country

Capital city: Riga  |  Population: 1 883 623

Language: Latvian  |  Parliamentary republic

Country code: +371  |  Total area:  64 589 km2

Driving on the right lane  |  Washed by the Baltic Sea

Geography

Latvia is located in the Baltics, on the western edge of the East European Plain. The total length of the border is 1,382 km. Latvia borders with Estonia in the north (343 km), with Lithuania in the south (576 km), with Russia in the east (292 km), and with Belarus (171 km) in the southeast.

The territory of Latvia is washed by the Baltic Sea from the west, the length of the coastline is 498 km.

There are deposits of peat, limestone and dolomite in Latvia. On the coast, amber is occasionally found.

There are also deposits of gypsum, quartz and glass sand, various types of clay and sand-gravel formations used as building materials. There are mineral springs, on which the cities of Kemeri and Baldone stand .


Forests cover 40% of the territory.

Climate and weather

Latvia is located in the temperate climate zone, so here you can enjoy all four seasons: the real winter with frost and snow, the spring flood, the warm summer and the picturesque autumn.

In Latvia, winter usually lasts from mid-December to early March. The air temperature at this time can vary from +5 degrees Celsius to -30 degrees.

In Latvia, spring can begin at the end of February, in March, or only in the second half of April and continue until the beginning of June. The average air temperature gradually rises from 0 to +15 degrees.

Summer in Latvia begins in June and lasts until September. The average air temperature is about +19 degrees, but the air can warm up to +30 degrees. In the second half of summer thunderstorms are frequent.

In Latvia, autumn lasts from September to December. The average temperature drops from +10 degrees in September to 0 degrees in November.

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Population of Latvia

The composition of the population in the territory, with the passage of time known as Latvia, has been diverse since ancient times.

The most numerous ethnic groups are:

  • Latvians ~ 60%
  • Russians ~ 26%
  • Belarusians ~ 3%
  • Ukrainians ~ 3%

On January 1, 2019 approx. 10.7% of residents were non-citizens and therefore were deprived of the rights of citizens (including electing and being elected to representative bodies of power).

Citizenship can be granted to the majority of permanent residents after paying a fee, checking the knowledge of the Latvian language, the constitution and history of Latvia.

Language in Latvia

The state language of Latvia is Latvian. It is one of the several Eastern Baltic dialects, which has survived to the present day and belongs to the oldest European languages.

Latgalian is widely spoken in the eastern part of Latvia.

Russian is also widely used, spoken by a significant part of the population. (80% of Latvian residents understand it).

All announcements, signs, street names, public transport timetables and stops, various inscriptions are made exclusively in Latvian.

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Religion in Latvia

As of today, 14 religious associations have been registered in Latvia, including 719 communities and parishes.

There is no state religion in the country. The overwhelming majority of the religious among the Latvians in the west and center of the country are Lutherans.

Most Russian-speaking residents profess Orthodoxy http://www.pravoslavie.lv, in the east and south of the country Lithuanians, Latgalians and Poles profess Catholicism http://www.katolis.lv/.

In Latvia there is a significant Old Believer community, mainly in Latgale.

In Latvia there are communities of Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and representatives of other religions.

Politics and government

The political structure of Latvia is a parliamentary unitary republic. The basis of the country’s political structure is the Constitution, or Satversme (Latvian – Satversme), adopted on February 15, 1922, ceased to operate in 1934 and restored in action in 1990–1993.

The Latvian Parliament (Saeima), elected by citizens for 4 years, consists of 100 deputies.The head of state is the President, elected by a simple majority of the Saeima by a closed vote for 4 years.

The  government of Latvia is the Cabinet of Ministers, formed up by the person elected by the president of the state, and is approved by the Saeima.

State holidays

May 1 is the day of the convocation of the Constitutional Assembly of the Republic of Latvia, when the state constitution of Latvia was proclaimed. This is an official holiday.

May 4 – the proclamation of the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia, on this day in 1990, the Parliament adopted a decision that marked the beginning of the restoration of state independence. This is an official holiday.

June 23rd and 24th is the largest Latvian national holiday. June 23 – Līgo evening, when the summer solstice is celebrated. Līgo and Jāņa day are official holidays.

November 11 – Lāčplēsis Day. This is a memorial day for soldiers who fought for the freedom of Latvia. The holiday was introduced after 1919, when the army of young Latvia saved Riga from the German-Russian army of Bermont.

November 18 is the proclamation day of the Republic of Latvia, when in 1918, in the current building of the National Theater, the representatives of the nation came together and proclaimed the independence of Latvia. This is an official holiday.

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