Latvia

Republic of Latvia

Latvijas Republika  (Latvian)
Flag of Latvia
Flag
Coat of arms of Latvia
Coat of arms
Anthem: 
Dievs, svētī Latviju!
God Bless Latvia!
Location of Latvia (dark green) – in Europe (green & dark grey) – in the European Union (green)  –  [Legend]
Location of Latvia (dark green)

– in Europe (green & dark grey)
– in the European Union (green)  –  [Legend]

Capital
and largest city
Riga
56°57′N 24°6′E / 56°57′N 24°6′E / 56.950; 24.100
Official languagesLatviana
Ethnic groups
(2018[1])
Demonym(s)Latvian
GovernmentUnitary parliamentary constitutional republic
• President
Egils Levits
Krišjānis Kariņš
LegislatureSaeima
Independence
• Declaredb
18 November 1918[2]
26 January 1921
7 November 1922
1940–1991
4 May 1990
21 August 1991[3]
• Independence recognized by the Soviet Union
6 September 1991
17 September 1991
1 May 2004
Area
• Total
64,589 km2 (24,938 sq mi) (122nd)
• Water (%)
1.57% (1,014 km2)
Population
• 2018 estimate
1,919,968[4] (148th)
• 2011 census
2,070,371[5]
• Density
34.3/km2 (88.8/sq mi) (166th)
GDP (PPP)2019 estimate
• Total
$60.732 billion[6]
• Per capita
$31,490[6]
GDP (nominal)2019 estimate
• Total
$35.721 billion[6]
• Per capita
$18,522[6]
Gini (2018)Negative increase 35.6[7]
medium
HDI (2017)Increase 0.847[8]
very high · 41st
CurrencyEuro () (EUR)
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
• Summer (DST)
UTC+3 (EEST)
Driving sideright
Calling code+371
Internet TLD.lvc
  1. Latvian is the sole official language.[9][10] Livonian is considered an indigenous language and has special legal status.[11] Latgalian written language and Latvian Sign Language also have special legal status.[12]
  2. Latvia is de jure continuous with its declaration of 18 November 1918.
  3. The .eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union member states.

Latvia (ə/ or ə/ (About this soundlisten); Latvian: Latvija [ˈlatvija], Livonian: Lețmō), officially known as the Republic of Latvia (Latvian: Latvijas Republika, Livonian: Lețmō Vabāmō), is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe.[13] Since its independence, Latvia has been referred to as one of the Baltic states. It is bordered by Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, Russia to the east, Belarus to the southeast, and shares a maritime border with Sweden to the west. Latvia has 1,957,200 inhabitants[14] and a territory of 64,589 km2 (24,938 sq mi).[15] The country has a temperate seasonal climate.[16] The Baltic Sea moderates climate, although it has four distinct seasons and snowy winters.

After centuries of Swedish, Polish and Russian rule, a rule mainly executed by the Baltic German aristocracy, the Republic of Latvia was established on 18 November 1918 when it broke away and declared independence in the aftermath of World War I.[2] However, by the 1930s the country became increasingly autocratic after the coup in 1934 establishing an authoritarian regime under Kārlis Ulmanis. The country's de facto independence was interrupted at the outset of World War II, beginning with Latvia's forcible incorporation into the Soviet Union, followed by the invasion and occupation by Nazi Germany in 1941, and the re-occupation by the Soviets in 1944 (Courland Pocket in 1945) to form the Latvian SSR for the next 45 years.

The peaceful Singing Revolution, starting in 1987, called for Baltic emancipation from Soviet rule and condemning the Communist regime's illegal takeover.[17] It ended with the Declaration on the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia on 4 May 1990, and restoring de facto independence on 21 August 1991.[18] Latvia is a democratic sovereign state, parliamentary republic and a very highly developed country according to the United Nations Human Development Index.[19] Its capital Riga served as the European Capital of Culture in 2014. Latvian is the official language. Latvia is a unitary state, divided into 119 administrative divisions, of which 110 are municipalities and nine are cities.[20] Latvians and Livonians are the indigenous people of Latvia.[15] Latvian and Lithuanian are the only two surviving Baltic languages.

Despite foreign rule from the 13th to 20th centuries, the Latvian nation maintained its identity throughout the generations via the language and musical traditions. However, as a consequence of centuries of Russian rule (1710–1918) and later Soviet occupation, 26.9% of Latvians are ethnic Russians,[21] some of whom (14.1% of Latvian residents) have not gained citizenship, leaving them with no citizenship at all. Until World War II, Latvia also had significant minorities of ethnic Germans and Jews. Latvia is historically predominantly Lutheran Protestant, except for the Latgale region in the southeast, which has historically been predominantly Roman Catholic.[22] The Russian population are largely Eastern Orthodox Christians.

Latvia is a high-income advanced economy[23][24] and ranks 41st in the Human Development Index.[25] It performs favourably in measurements of civil liberties, press freedom, internet freedom, democratic governance, living standards and peacefulness. Latvia is a member of the European Union, Eurozone, NATO, the Council of Europe, the United Nations, CBSS, the IMF, NB8, NIB, OECD, OSCE, and WTO. A full member of the Eurozone, it began using the euro as its currency on 1 January 2014, replacing the Latvian lats.[26]

Etymology

The name Latvija is derived from the name of the ancient Latgalians, one of four Indo-European Baltic tribes (along with Couronians, Selonians and Semigallians), which formed the ethnic core of modern Latvians together with the Finnic Livonians.[27] Henry of Latvia coined the latinisations of the country's name, "Lettigallia" and "Lethia", both derived from the Latgalians. The terms inspired the variations on the country's name in Romance languages from "Letonia" and in several Germanic languages from "Lettland".[28]