Latvia has a population of 2.4 million inhabitants with a 1999 GDP per capita of 2280 ECU (1). Approximately 72% of Latvian citizens are Latvian, while 20% are Russian; less than 1% of non-citizens are Latvian, while 71% are Russian. [174], Latvian Railway's main network consists of 1,860 km of which 1,826 km is 1,520 mm Russian gauge railway of which 251 km are electrified, making it the longest railway network in the Baltic States. [160] The Latvian economy fell 18% in the first three months of 2009, the biggest fall in the European Union. In Boxing, Mairis Briedis is the first Latvian to win a boxing world title, having held the WBC cruiserweight title from 2017 to 2018, and the WBO cruiserweight title in 2019. [197] By 2020 the government aims to spend 1.5% of GDP on research and development, with half of the investments coming from the private sector. Latvia. The second most popular sport is basketball. Since then, Lutheranism has declined to a slightly greater extent than Roman Catholicism in all three Baltic states. By the spring of 1919, there were actually three governments: the Provisional government headed by Kārlis Ulmanis, supported by Tautas padome and the Inter-Allied Commission of Control; the Latvian Soviet government led by Pēteris Stučka, supported by the Red Army; and the Provisional government headed by Andrievs Niedra and supported by the Baltische Landeswehr and the German Freikorps unit Iron Division. And from 70 females are 2,3 times more than males. Eastern Latvia was cleared of Red Army forces by Latvian and Polish troops in early 1920 (from the Polish perspective the Battle of Daugavpils was a part of the Polish–Soviet War). Lutheranism was more prominent before the Soviet occupation, when it was a majority religion of ~60% due to strong historical links with the Nordic countries and to the influence of the Hansa in particular and Germany in general. [53] Latvian soldiers fought on both sides of the conflict, mainly on the German side, with 140,000 men in the Latvian Legion of the Waffen-SS,[63] The 308th Latvian Rifle Division was formed by the Red Army in 1944. Approximately 200 farms, occupying 2,750 ha (6,800 acres), are engaged in ecologically pure farming (using no artificial fertilizers or pesticides). [citation needed] The Popular Front of Latvia advocated that all permanent residents be eligible for Latvian citizenship, helping to sway many ethnic Russians to vote for independence. However, this only includes people granted stateless [64], Anywhere from 120,000 to as many as 300,000 Latvians took refuge from the Soviet army by fleeing to Germany and Sweden. Latvia's defence concept is based upon the Swedish-Finnish model of a rapid response force composed of a mobilisation base and a small group of career professionals. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is €24.378 billion, as per 2015. [citation needed] Latvia was one of the EuroBasket 2015 hosts. Latvia.eu is Latvia’s official website where you’ll find information about Latvian culture, history, economy, society, sports and more, Get to know Latvia! [56]:271, More than 200,000 Latvian citizens died during World War II, including approximately 75,000 Latvian Jews murdered during the Nazi occupation. Latvia has ratified the international Washington, Bern, and Ramsare conventions. [85] Latvia's Red Book (Endangered Species List of Latvia), which was established in 1977, contains 112 plant species and 119 animal species. In 1282, Riga, and later the cities of Cēsis, Limbaži, Koknese and Valmiera, became part of the Hanseatic League. [69] Some managed to escape arrest and joined the partisans. [citation needed] With the onset of World War II, many Latvian artists and other members of the cultural elite fled the country yet continued to produce their work, largely for a Latvian émigré audience. He works within the European External Action Service (EEAS), the European Union’s diplomatic service, which makes sure the voice of the European Union is heard in the world. [94] Forests account for 3,497,000 ha (8,640,000 acres) or 56% of the total land area. Latvia is a member of the United Nations, European Union, Council of Europe, NATO, OECD, OSCE, IMF, and WTO. Bulgaria has committed to adopt the euro once it fulfils the necessary conditions. Latvia's highest point is Gaiziņkalns, 311.6 m (1,022 ft). Latvian (EU) Residency Program. [54], Early in the morning of 24 August 1939, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed a 10-year non-aggression pact, called the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. Virtually all of the previously state-owned small and medium companies have been privatised, leaving only a small number of politically sensitive large state companies. EU Multiannual Financial Framework [90], 2019 was the warmest year in the history of weather observation in Latvia with an average temperature +8.1°C higher. Since joining the bloc, nearly a fifth of the nation has left to work in more … [187] The Country Office is the focal point for WHO activities in Latvia and the Country team consists of 2 staff members. Latvia Highlights . Amber, fossilized tree resin, is one of Latvia's most important cultural symbols. During these 6 months, ministers from that country's government chair and help determine the agenda of Council meetings in each policy area, and facilitate dialogue with the other EU institutions. In the Council of the EU, national ministers meet regularly to adopt EU laws and coordinate policies. [178], Latvia has three big hydroelectric power stations in Pļaviņu HES (825MW), Rīgas HES (402 MW) and Ķeguma HES-2 (192 MW). Latvian is the official language. Its largest lake, Lubāns, has an area of 80.7 km2 (31.2 sq mi), its deepest lake, Drīdzis, is 65.1 m (214 ft) deep. [93], Agricultural areas account for 1,815,900 ha (4,487,000 acres) or 29% of the total land area. [83] With the dismantling of collective farms, the area devoted to farming decreased dramatically – now farms are predominantly small. [139], Latvia participates in international peacekeeping and security operations. [93] There are 706 specially state-level protected natural areas in Latvia: four national parks, one biosphere reserve, 42 nature parks, nine areas of protected landscapes, 260 nature reserves, four strict nature reserves, 355 nature monuments, seven protected marine areas and 24 microreserves. Winter starts in mid-December and lasts until mid-March. There were 290,660 "non-citizens" living in Latvia or 14.1% of Latvian residents, mainly Russian settlers who arrived after the occupation of 1940 and their descendants. [165], Latvia's unemployment rate rose sharply in this period from a low of 5.4% in November 2007 to over 22%. [93], Phytogeographically, Latvia is shared between the Central European and Northern European provinces of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. The following article is a part of a series of brief country profiles for the EU-28 ahead of the European elections in May. Latvia has had many European basketball stars like Jānis Krūmiņš, Maigonis Valdmanis, Valdis Muižnieks, Valdis Valters, Igors Miglinieks, as well as the first Latvian NBA player Gundars Vētra. The private sector accounted for nearly 68% of the country's GDP in 2000. EU Multiannual Financial Framework In 2015 Latvia held the presidency of Council of the European Union. [202][203][204], Traditional Latvian folklore, especially the dance of the folk songs, dates back well over a thousand years. For elections in the European Union, Latvia is a European Parliament constituency, currently represented by eight MEPs. [citation needed] The Young Latvians were largely eclipsed by the New Current, a broad leftist social and political movement, in the 1890s. On 4 May 1990, the Supreme Council adopted the Declaration on the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia, and the Latvian SSR was renamed Republic of Latvia. [140], Since March 2004, when the Baltic states joined NATO, fighter jets of NATO members have been deployed on a rotational basis for the Baltic Air Policing mission at Šiauliai Airport in Lithuania to guard the Baltic airspace. [175] However, Rail Baltica railway, linking Helsinki-Tallinn-Riga-Kaunas-Warsaw is under construction and is set to be completed in 2026. The 19th century and beginning of the 20th century is often regarded by Latvians as a classical era of Latvian culture. Council meetings are regularly attended by representatives from the Latvian government, depending on the policy area being addressed. Latvia is historically predominantly Lutheran Protestant, except for the Latgale region in the southeast, which has historically been predominantly Roman Catholic. [201] There were 59 hospitals in Latvia in 2009, down from 94 in 2007 and 121 in 2006. From 1 January 2007, Latvia switched to a professional fully contract-based army. This covers all forms of currency, not only cash. Saint Meinhard of Segeberg arrived in Ikšķile, in 1184, traveling with merchants to Livonia, on a Catholic mission to convert the population from their original pagan beliefs. On 1 July 2016, Latvia became a member of the OECD.[82]. [citation needed] In Latvia, the Swedish period is generally remembered as positive; serfdom was eased, a network of schools was established for the peasantry, and the power of the regional barons was diminished. [citation needed], Privatisation in Latvia is almost complete. Latvia and the United States have signed treaties on investment, trade, and intellectual property protection and avoidance of double taxation.[163][164]. Oak (Quercus robur, Latvian: ozols), and linden (Tilia cordata, Latvian: liepa) are Latvia's national trees and the daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare, Latvian: pīpene) its national flower. [57] Most of those who remained left for Germany in summer 1940, when a second resettlement scheme was agreed. [51] The constitution was partly suspended by Kārlis Ulmanis after his coup in 1934 but reaffirmed in 1990. Latvia is a member country of the EU since May 1, 2004 with its geographic size of 64,573 km², and population number 1,986,096, as per 2015. Russia ended its military presence by completing its troop withdrawal in 1994 and shutting down the Skrunda-1 radar station in 1998. However, most indigenous Latvians did not participate in this particular cultural life. Former Latvian basketball club Rīgas ASK won the Euroleague tournament three times in a row before becoming defunct. [56]:128 There was a pause in fighting, apart from partisan activity, until after the siege of Leningrad ended in January 1944 and the Soviet troops advanced, entering Latvia in July and eventually capturing Riga on 13 October 1944. [165] As of 2015, Latvia is estimated to have the lowest male-to-female ratio in the world, at 0.85 males/female. All EU member States are WTO members, as is the EU (until 30 November 2009 known officially in the WTO as the European Communities for legal reasons) in its own right. There were some spontaneous uprisings by Latvians against the Red Army which helped the Germans. [144] Latvian armed forces contributed to a UK-led Battlegroup in 2013 and the Nordic Battlegroup in 2015 under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) of the European Union. It has been held since 1873, normally every five years. [85], The total length of Latvia's boundary is 1,866 km (1,159 mi). However, as a consequence of centuries of Russian rule (1710–1918) and later Soviet occupation, 26.9% of the population of Latvia are ethnic Russians,[24] some of whom (10.7% of Latvian residents[25]) have not gained citizenship, leaving them with no citizenship at all. An internal document of 18 March 1987, near the end of communist rule, spoke of an active membership that had shrunk to only 25,000 in Latvia, but the faith has since experienced a revival. [citation needed] To maintain and expand industrial production, skilled workers were migrating from all over the Soviet Union, decreasing the proportion of ethnic Latvians in the republic. The Best Travel, Food and Culture Guides for Latvia, Europe - Local News & Top Things to Do [56]:48, On 22 June 1941 German troops attacked Soviet forces in Operation Barbarossa. In the summer of 1987, the first large demonstrations were held in Riga at the Freedom Monument—a symbol of independence. A law expanding the scope for selling land, including to foreigners, was passed in 1997. Sjanits’ job is to respond to the exodus triggered by Latvia’s accession to the EU. [194] About 21% of the total population is not affiliated with a specific religion.[2]. [159] However, the chiefly consumption-driven growth in Latvia resulted in the collapse of Latvian GDP in late 2008 and early 2009, exacerbated by the global economic crisis, shortage of credit and huge money resources used for the bailout of Parex bank. The Commissioner nominated by Latvia to the European Commission is Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President for an Economy that Works for People. Since Latvia had maintained a well-developed infrastructure and educated specialists, Moscow decided to base some of the Soviet Union's most advanced manufacturing in Latvia. 2. From the age of 40 – more female. In a typical Latvian landscape, a mosaic of vast forests alternates with fields, farmsteads, and pastures. Despite foreign rule from the 13th to 20th centuries, the Latvian nation maintained its identity throughout the generations via the language and musical traditions. RIGA - Latvia has the highest crime rate in the EU and the second highest in Europe, according to a recent report. The growth momentum has continued into 2012 and 2013 despite deteriorating external conditions, and the economy is expected to expand by 4.1 percent in 2014. Under Swedish and largely German rule, western Latvia adopted Lutheranism as its main religion. (On March 27, 2007 the Border Treaty between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Latvia recognizes Abrene (now Pytalovo) as a ceded territory, thus opening the opportunity for Latvia to proceed with the official demarkation of the border which is a pre-requisite to Latvia’s joining the Schengen zone of the European Union.) [78], However, the central power in Moscow continued to regard Latvia as a Soviet republic in 1990 and 1991. [114] Joint Nordic-Baltic co-operation initiatives include the education programme NordPlus[115] and mobility programmes for public administration,[116] business and industry[117] and culture. [200] It is among the lowest-ranked healthcare systems in Europe, due to excessive waiting times for treatment, insufficient access to the latest medicines, and other factors. Latvia participates in several NATO Centres of Excellence: Civil-Military Co-operation in the Netherlands, Cooperative Cyber Defence in Estonia and Energy Security in Lithuania. [130], More than 56% of leading positions are held by women in Latvia, which ranks 1st in Europe; Latvia ranks 1st in the world in women's rights sharing the position with five other European countries according to World Bank. Andris Biedriņš is one of the most well-known Latvian basketball players, who played in the NBA for the Golden State Warriors and the Utah Jazz. The adoption process began 1 May 2004, when Latvia joined the European Union, entering the EU's Economic and Monetary Union. It covers the member state of Latvia. Latvijas vēstures atlants, Jānis Turlajs, page 12, Karšu izdevniecība Jāņa sēta, H. Strods, "'Dobrye Shvedskie Vremena' v Istoriografii Latvii (Konets XVIII V. – 70-E Gg. [166] In April 2010 Latvia had the highest unemployment rate in the EU, at 22.5%, ahead of Spain, which had 19.7%.[167]. According to the Russian Empire Census of 1897, Latvians formed 68.3% of the total population of 1.93 million; Russians accounted for 12%, Jews for 7.4%, Germans for 6.2%, and Poles for 3.4%. 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. [103] Non-marine molluscs of Latvia include 159 species. In the 23rd block of the Vorverker cemetery, a monument was erected after the Second World War for the people of Latvia, who had died in Lübeck from 1945 to 1950. [44][45], Several important cultural changes occurred during this time. In 1897, 61.2% of the rural population had been landless; by 1936, that percentage had been reduced to 18%. [52], By 1923, the extent of cultivated land surpassed the pre-war level. [34] By 900 AD, four distinct Baltic tribes inhabited Latvia: Curonians, Latgalians, Selonians, Semigallians (in Latvian: kurši, latgaļi, sēļi and zemgaļi), as well as the Finnic tribe of Livonians (lībieši) speaking a Finnic language. With most of Latvia's industrial base evacuated to the interior of Russia in 1915, radical land reform was the central political question for the young state. The national account deficit for 2007, for example, represented more than 22% of the GDP for the year while inflation was running at 10%. During the Soviet era, music became increasingly popular, with the most popular being songs from the 1980s. The University of Daugavpils is another significant centre of education. In 1944, part of the Latvian territory once more came under Soviet control. The unemployment rate has receded from its peak of more than 20 percent in 2010 to around 9.3 percent in 2014. At Pape Nature Reserve, where European bison, wild horses, and recreated aurochs have been reintroduced, there is now an almost complete Holocene megafauna also including moose, deer, and wolf.[106]. [40], After the Livonian War (1558–1583), Livonia (Northern Latvia & Southern Estonia) fell under Polish and Lithuanian rule. These have their own city councils and municipal administrations. In the same year, the United States of America exported $58.2 million of goods and services to Latvia and imported $87.9 million. Schengen: Bulgaria is currently in the process of joining the Schengen area. You'll have to pay a fine when you enter or leave Latvia if you: don't declare this money; give incorrect information Ice hockey is usually considered the most popular sport in Latvia. Meanwhile, largely isolated from the rest of Latvia, southern Latgallians adopted Catholicism under Polish/Jesuit influence. Children born to non-nationals after the reestablishment of independence are automatically entitled to citizenship. Latvia's railway network is currently incompatible with European standard gauge lines. [99], Approximately 30,000 species of flora and fauna have been registered in Latvia. This system also existed before World War II. The new government focused on smoothing Latvia's entry into NATO and the European Union, which took place in the first half of 2004. Pro-independence Popular Front of Latvia candidates gained a two-thirds majority in the Supreme Council in the March 1990 democratic elections. The larger your country's economy, the more it pays – and vice versa. In 2014, Riga was the European Capital of Culture, the euro was introduced as the currency of the country and a Latvian was named vice-president of the European Commission. [citation needed], Numeracy was also higher in the Livonian and Courlandian parts of the Russian Empire, which may have been influenced by the Protestant religion of the inhabitants. The country is subdivided into 110 one-level municipalities and 9 cities. Arable land is spotted with birch groves and wooded clusters, which afford a habitat for numerous plants and animals. On occasions, especially in 1944, opposing Latvian troops faced each other in battle.[56]:299. [citation needed], Species that are endangered in other European countries but common in Latvia include: black stork (Ciconia nigra), corncrake (Crex crex), lesser spotted eagle (Aquila pomarina), white-backed woodpecker (Picoides leucotos), Eurasian crane (Grus grus), Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber), Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra), European wolf (Canis lupus) and European lynx (Felis lynx). [19] Its capital and largest city is Riga; other notable major cities in Latvia are Daugavpils, Liepāja, Jelgava, Valmiera, Ventspils and Jūrmala. 8 members of the economy, the biggest of its maritime boundary is 1,866 km ( 280 mi.... Been the 2004 UEFA European Championship NDPC ) will be located in.! Into Latvian legislation hold a referendum on the issue n't have a permanent, single-person president ( like e.g influence. Team 's only major FIFA tournament participation has been held since 1931 London Symphony Orchestra the! 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