- Art Gallery -



Latvia, See : Flags, Maps

Latvia (Europe)

Introduction ::Latvia


The name "Latvia" originates from the ancient Latgalians, one of four eastern Baltic tribes that formed the ethnic core of the Latvian people (ca. 8th-12th centuries A.D.). The region subsequently came under the control of Germans, Poles, Swedes, and finally, Russians. A Latvian republic emerged following World War I, but it was annexed by the USSR in 1940 - an action never recognized by the US and many other countries. Latvia reestablished its independence in 1991 following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Although the last Russian troops left in 1994, the status of the Russian minority (some 30% of the population) remains of concern to Moscow. Latvia joined both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004.

Geography ::Latvia


Eastern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, between Estonia and

Geographic coordinates:
57 00 N, 25 00 E

Map references:



total: 64,589 sq km country comparison to the world: 123 land: 62,249 sq km

water: 2,340 sq km

Area - comparative:

slightly larger than West Virginia

Land boundaries:

total: 1,382 km

border countries: Belarus 171 km, Estonia 343 km, Lithuania 576 km, Russia 292 km


498 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation


maritime; wet, moderate winters


low plain

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Baltic Sea 0 m

highest point: Gaizina Kalns 312 m

Natural resources:

peat, limestone, dolomite, amber, hydropower, timber, arable land

Land use:

arable land: 28.19%

permanent crops: 0.45%

other: 71.36% (2005)

Irrigated land:

200 sq km

note: land in Latvia is often too wet and in need of drainage not irrigation; approximately 16,000 sq km or 85% of agricultural land has been improved by drainage (2003)

Total renewable water resources:

49.9 cu km (2005)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):

total: 0.25 cu km/yr (55%/33%/12%)

per capita: 108 cu m/yr (2003)

Natural hazards:

Environment - current issues:

Latvia's environment has benefited from a shift to service industries after the country regained independence; the main environmental priorities are improvement of drinking water quality and sewage system, household, and hazardous waste management, as well as reduction of air pollution; in 2001, Latvia closed the EU accession negotiation chapter on environment committing to full enforcement of EU environmental directives by 2010

Environment - international agreements:

party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note:

most of the country is composed of fertile low-lying plains with some hills in the east

People ::Latvia


2,217,969 (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 141

Age structure:

0-14 years: 13.3% (male 152,472/female 145,161)

15-64 years: 69.6% (male 756,469/female 797,505)

65 years and over: 17% (male 124,432/female 255,464) (2010 est.)

Median age:

total: 40.4 years

male: 37.4 years

female: 43.5 years (2010 est.)

Population growth rate:

-0.602% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 225

Birth rate:

9.9 births/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 197

Death rate:

13.6 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 21

Net migration rate:

-2.32 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 177


urban population: 68% of total population (2008)

rate of urbanization: -0.5% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.054 male(s)/female

under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.48 male(s)/female

total population: 0.86 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 8.59 deaths/1,000 live births country comparison to the world: 161 male: 10.41 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 6.67 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 72.42 years country comparison to the world: 121 male: 67.27 years

female: 77.84 years (2010 est.)

Total fertility rate:

1.31 children born/woman (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 208

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.8% (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 59

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

10,000 (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 100

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

fewer than 500 (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 96

Major infectious diseases:

degree of risk: intermediate

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea

vectorborne diseases: tickborne encephalitis (2009)


noun: Latvian(s)

adjective: Latvian

Ethnic groups:

Latvian 59.3%, Russian 27.8%, Belarusian 3.6%, Ukrainian 2.5%,
Polish 2.4%, Lithuanian 1.3%, other 3.1% (2009)


Lutheran 19.6%, Orthodox 15.3%, other Christian 1%, other 0.4%, unspecified 63.7% (2006)


Latvian (official) 58.2%, Russian 37.5%, Lithuanian and other 4.3% (2000 census)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 99.7%

male: 99.8%

female: 99.7% (2000 census)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):

total: 15 years

male: 14 years

female: 17 years (2008)

Education expenditures:

5% of GDP (2007) country comparison to the world: 67

Government ::Latvia

Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of Latvia

conventional short form: Latvia

local long form: Latvijas Republika

local short form: Latvija

former: Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic

Government type:

parliamentary democracy


name: Riga

geographic coordinates: 56 57 N, 24 06 E

time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Administrative divisions:

109 municipalities (novadi, singular-novads) and 9 cities*: Adazu
Novads, Aglonas Novads, Aizkraukles Novads, Aizputes Novads,
Aknistes Novads, Alojas Novads, Alsungas Novads, Aluksnes Novads,
Amatas Novads, Apes Novads, Auces Novads, Babites Novads, Baldones
Novads, Baltinavas Novads, Balvu Novads, Bauskas Novads, Beverinas
Novads, Brocenu Novads, Burtnieku Novads, Carnikavas Novads, Cesu
Novads, Cesvaines Novads, Ciblas Novads, Dagdas Novads, Daugavpils*,
Daugavpils Novads, Dobeles Novads, Dundagas Novads, Durbes Novads,
Engures Novads, Erglu Novads, Garkalnes Novads, Grobinas Novads,
Gulbenes Novads, Iecavas Novads, Ikskiles Novads, Ilukstes Novads,
Incukalna Novads, Jaunjelgavas Novads, Juanpiebalgas Novads,
Jaunpils Novads, Jekabpils*, Jekabpils Novads, Jelgava*, Jelgavas
Novads, Jurmala*, Kandavas Novads, Karsavas Novads, Keguma Novads,
Kekavas Novads, Kocenu Novads, Kokneses Novads, Kraslavas Novads,
Krimuldas Novads, Krustpils Novads, Kuldigas Novads, Lielvardes
Novads, Liepaja*, Ligatnes Novads, Limbazu Novads, Livanu Novads,
Lubanas Novads, Ludzas Novads, Madonas Novads, Malpils Novads,
Marupes Novads, Mazsalacas Novads, Nauksenu Novads, Neretas Novads,
Nicas Novads, Ogres Novads, Olaines Novads, Ozolnieku Novads,
Pargaujas Novads, Pavilostas Novads, Plavinu Novads, Preilu Novads,
Priekules Novads, Priekulu Novads, Raunas Novads, Rezekne*, Rezeknes
Novads, Riebinu Novads, Riga*, Rojas Novads, Ropazu Novads, Rucavas
Novads, Rugaju Novads, Rujienas Novads, Rundales Novads, Salacgrivas
Novads, Salas Novads, Salaspils Novads, Saldus Novads, Saulkrastu
Novads, Sejas Novads, Siguldas Novads, Skriveru Novads, Skrundas
Novads, Smiltenes Novads, Stopinu Novads, Strencu Novads, Talsu
Novads, Tervetes Novads, Tukuma Novads, Vainodes Novads, Valkas
Novads, Valmiera*, Varaklanu Novads, Varkavas Novads, Vecpiebalgas
Novads, Vecumnieku Novads, Ventspils*, Ventspils Novads, Viesites
Novads, Vilakas Novads, Vilanu Novads, Zilupes Novads


18 November 1918 (from the Soviet Russia)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 18 November (1918); note - 18 November 1918 was the date Latvia declared itself independent from Soviet Russia; 4 May 1990 is when it declared the renewal of independence; 21 August 1991 was the date of de facto independence from the Soviet Union


15 February 1922; restored to force by the Constitutional Law of the Republic of Latvia adopted by the Supreme Council on 21 August 1991; multiple amendments since

Legal system:

based on civil law system with traces of Socialist legal traditions and practices; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


18 years of age; universal for Latvian citizens

Executive branch:

chief of state: President Valdis ZATLERS (since 8 July 2007)

head of government: Prime Minister Valdis DOMBROVSKIS (since 12 March 2009)

cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers nominated by the prime minister and appointed by Parliament (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: president elected by Parliament for a four-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 31 May 2007 (next to be held in 2011); prime minister appointed by the president, confirmed by Parliament

election results: Valdis ZATLERS elected president; parliamentary vote - Valdis ZATLERS 58, Aivars ENDZINS 39

Legislative branch:

unicameral Parliament or Saeima (100 seats; members elected by proportional representation from party lists by popular vote to serve four-year terms)

elections: last held on 2 October 2010 (next to be held in October 2014)

election results: percent of vote by party - Unity bloc 31.2%, SC 26%, ZZS 19.7%, National Alliance 7.7%, For a Good Latvia bloc 7.7%; seats by party - Unity Coalition 33, SC 29, ZZS 22, National Alliance 8, For a Good Latvia 8

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court (judges' appointments are confirmed by parliament); Constitutional Court (judges' appointments are confirmed by parliament)

Political parties and leaders:

All For Latvia! [Irnants PARADNIEKS, Raivis DZINTARS]; Civic Union
[Sandra KALNIETE, Girts Valdis KRISTOVSKIS]; First Party of
Latvia/Latvia's Way or LPP/LC [Ainars SLESERS]; For a Good Latvia
(alliance of TP, LPP/LC); For Human Rights in a United Latvia or
PCTVL [Jakovs PLINERS, Tatjana ZDANOKA]; For the Fatherland and
Freedom/Latvian National Independence Movement or TB/LNNK [Roberts
ZILE, Maris GRINBLATS]; Harmony Center or SC [Nils USAKOVS, Janis
URBANOVICS]; National Alliance (alliance of TB/LNNK, All For
Latvia!); New Era Party or JL [Solvita ABOLTINA, Dzintars ZAKIS];
People's Party or TP [Andris SKELE]; Society for Different Politics
or SCP [Aigars STOKENBERGS; Artis PABRIKS]; The Union of Latvian
Greens and Farmers Party or ZZS [Augusts BRIGMANIS]; Unity bloc
(alliance of Civic Union, New Era, SCP)

Political pressure groups and leaders:

Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia [Peteris KRIGERS],
Employers' Confederation of Latvia [Elina EGLE], Farmers' Parliament

International organization participation:

Australia Group, BA, BIS, CBSS, CE, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, EU, FAO, IAEA,
Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NATO,
NIB, NSG, OAS (observer), OIF (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, Schengen

Diplomatic representation in the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Andrejs PILDEGOVICS

chancery: 2306 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 328-2840
FAX: [1] (202) 328-2860

Diplomatic representation from the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Judith G. GARBER

embassy: 7 Raina Boulevard, Riga LV-1510

mailing address: American Embassy Riga, PSC 78, Box Riga, APO AE 09723

telephone: [371] 670-36200
FAX: [371] 678-20047

Flag description:

three horizontal bands of maroon (top), white (half-width), and maroon; the flag is one of the older banners in the world; a medieval chronicle mentions a red standard with a white stripe being used by Latvian tribes in about 1280

National anthem:

name: "Dievs, sveti Latviju!" (God Bless Latvia)

lyrics/music: Karlis BAUMANIS

note: adopted 1920, restored 1990; the song was first performed in 1873 while Latvia was a part of Russia; the anthem was banned during the Soviet occupation from 1940 to 1990

Economy ::Latvia

Economy - overview:

Latvia's economy experienced GDP growth of more than 10% per year during 2006-07 but entered a severe recession in 2008 as a result of an unsustainable current account deficit and large debt exposure amid the softening world economy. GDP plunged 18% in 2009 - the three former Soviet Baltic republics had the world's worst declines that year - and another 1.8% in 2010. The IMF, EU, and other donors provided assistance to Latvia as part of an agreement to defend the currency's peg to the euro and reduce the fiscal deficit to about 5% of GDP over time. DOMBROVSKIS' government enacted major speding cuts to reduce the fiscal deficit to 7.8% of GDP in 2010, and plans to cut the deficit further in 2011. The majority of companies, banks, and real estate have been privatized, although the state still holds sizable stakes in a few large enterprises. Latvia officially joined the World Trade Organization in February 1999. EU membership, a top foreign policy goal, came in May 2004.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$32.2 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 105 $32.79 billion (2009 est.)

$39.99 billion (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):

$23.39 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

-1.8% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 203 -18% (2009 est.)

-4.2% (2008 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$14,500 (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 79 $14,700 (2009 est.)

$17,800 (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 4.2%

industry: 20.6%

services: 75.2% (2010 est.)

Labor force:

1.178 million (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 139

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 12.1%

industry: 25.8%

services: 61.8% (2005 est.)

Unemployment rate:

19.1% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 163 17.1% (2009 est.)

Population below poverty line:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 2.7%

highest 10%: 27.4% (2004)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

36 (2005) country comparison to the world: 84 32 (1999)

Investment (gross fixed):

15.7% of GDP (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 125

Public debt:

46.2% of GDP (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 58 36.6% of GDP (2009 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

-1.2% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 5 3.5% (2009 est.)

Central bank discount rate:

4% (31 December 2009) country comparison to the world: 75 6% (31 December 2008)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:

16.23% (31 December 2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 76 11.85% (31 December 2008 est.)

Stock of narrow money:

$5.769 billion (31 December 2010 est) country comparison to the world: 84 $5.893 billion (31 December 2009 est)

Stock of broad money:

$11.17 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 97 $11.46 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:

$27.59 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 70 $27.76 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:

$1.824 billion (31 December 2009) country comparison to the world: 98 $1.609 billion (31 December 2008)

$3.111 billion (31 December 2007)

Agriculture - products:

grain, sugar beets, potatoes, vegetables; beef, pork, milk, eggs; fish


pharmaceuticals, plastics, synthetic fibers, agricultural machinery, fertilizers, soaps, paints, rubber, processed foods, textiles

Industrial production growth rate:

-1.8% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 160

Electricity - production:

4.62 billion kWh (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 114

Electricity - consumption:

6.822 billion kWh (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 101

Electricity - exports:

2.123 billion kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - imports:

4.643 billion kWh (2008 est.)

Oil - production:

0 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 156

Oil - consumption:

40,000 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 102

Oil - exports:

5,873 bbl/day (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 101

Oil - imports:

43,400 bbl/day (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 92

Oil - proved reserves:

0 bbl (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 161

Natural gas - production:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 167

Natural gas - consumption:

2.05 billion cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 80

Natural gas - exports:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 164

Natural gas - imports:

2.05 billion cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 46

Current account balance:

$1.62 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 42 $2.53 billion (2009 est.)


$7.894 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 93 $7.223 billion (2009 est.)

Exports - commodities:

wood and wood products, machinery and equipment, metals, textiles, foodstuffs

Exports - partners:

Lithuania 15.19%, Estonia 13.57%, Russia 13.17%, Germany 8.13%,
Sweden 5.7% (2009)


$9.153 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 93 $8.906 billion (2009 est.)

Imports - commodities:

machinery and equipment, chemicals, fuels, vehicles

Imports - partners:

Lithuania 16.36%, Germany 11.34%, Russia 10.68%, Poland 8.11%,
Estonia 7.69% (2009)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$7.17 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 60 $6.907 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Debt - external:

$37.28 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 59 $41.58 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:

$11.71 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 79 $11.61 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:

$1.097 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 71 $1.037 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Exchange rates:

lati (LVL) per US dollar - 0.5422 (2010), 0.5056 (2009), 0.4701 (2008), 0.5162 (2007), 0.5597 (2006)

Communications ::Latvia

Telephones - main lines in use:

644,000 (2009) country comparison to the world: 91

Telephones - mobile cellular:

2.243 million (2009) country comparison to the world: 128

Telephone system:

general assessment: recent efforts focused on bringing competition to the telecommunications sector; the number of fixed lines is decreasing as mobile-cellular telephone service expands

domestic: number of telecommunications operators has grown rapidly since the fixed-line market opened to competition in 2003; combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular subscribership exceeds 125 per 100 persons

international: country code - 371; the Latvian network is now connected via fiber optic cable to Estonia, Finland, and Sweden (2008)

Broadcast media:

several national and regional commercial TV stations are foreign-owned, 2 national TV stations are publicly-owned; system supplemented by privately-owned regional and local TV stations; cable and satellite multi-channel TV services with domestic and foreign broadcasts are available; publicly-owned broadcaster operates 4 radio networks with dozens of stations throughout the country; dozens of private broadcasters also operate radio stations (2007)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

289,478 (2010) country comparison to the world: 59

Internet users:

1.504 million (2009) country comparison to the world: 81

Transportation ::Latvia


42 (2010) country comparison to the world: 101

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 19

over 3,047 m: 1

2,438 to 3,047 m: 3

1,524 to 2,437 m: 5

914 to 1,523 m: 3

under 914 m: 7 (2010)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 23

under 914 m: 23 (2010)


gas 948 km; refined products 415 km (2009)


total: 2,298 km country comparison to the world: 68 broad gauge: 2,265 km 1.520-m gauge

narrow gauge: 33 km 0.750-m gauge (2008)


total: 73,074 km country comparison to the world: 65 paved: 14,459 km

unpaved: 58,615 km (2010)


300 km (navigable year round) (2010) country comparison to the world: 93

Merchant marine:

total: 13 country comparison to the world: 107 by type: cargo 3, chemical tanker 1, passenger/cargo 5, petroleum tanker 3, roll on/roll off 1

foreign-owned: 4 (Estonia 4)

registered in other countries: 90 (Antigua and Barbuda 16, Belize 10, Cambodia 1, Comoros 1, Cook Islands 1, Dominica 1, Georgia 1, Liberia 9, Malta 11, Marshall Islands 18, Panama 4, Saint Kitts and Nevis 2, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 15) (2010)

Ports and terminals:

Riga, Ventspils

Military ::Latvia

Military branches:

National Armed Forces (Nacionalo Brunoto Speku): Ground Forces, Navy
(Latvijas Juras Speki; includes Coast Guard (Latvijas Kara Flotes)),
Latvian Air Force (Latvijas Gaisa Speki), Border Guard, Latvian Home
Guard (Latvijas Zemessardze) (2010)

Military service age and obligation:

18 years of age for voluntary male and female military service; conscription abolished January 2007; under current law, every citizen is entitled to serve in the armed forces for life (2009)

Manpower available for military service:

males age 16-49: 554,943

females age 16-49: 550,700 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:

males age 16-49: 406,592

females age 16-49: 456,071 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:

male: 11,536

female: 11,058 (2010 est.)

Military expenditures:

1.2% of GDP (2005 est.) country comparison to the world: 121

Transnational Issues ::Latvia

Disputes - international:

Russia demands better Latvian treatment of ethnic Russians in Latvia; as of January 2007, ground demarcation of the boundary with Belarus was complete and mapped with final ratification documentation in preparation; the Latvian parliament has not ratified its 1998 maritime boundary treaty with Lithuania, primarily due to concerns over oil exploration rights; as a member state that forms part of the EU's external border, Latvia has implemented the strict Schengen border rules with Russia

Illicit drugs:

transshipment and destination point for cocaine, synthetic drugs, opiates, and cannabis from Southwest Asia, Western Europe, Latin America, and neighboring Balkan countries; despite improved legislation, vulnerable to money laundering due to nascent enforcement capabilities and comparatively weak regulation of offshore companies and the gaming industry; CIS organized crime (including counterfeiting, corruption, extortion, stolen cars, and prostitution) accounts for most laundered proceeds


Hellenica World