August 13, 2022

Latvia (Latvian, Livonian Leţmō), full name Latvian Republic (Latvian Latvijas Republika, Livonian Leţmō Vabāmō). It is a parliamentary republic with the capital Riga. It belongs to the Baltic republics in Europe and is a member of the European Union and NATO.


Latvia is the middle of the three Baltic countries on the southeastern coast of the Baltic Sea and its Gulf of Riga. It borders Lithuania to the south, Belarus to the southeast, Russia to the east, and Estonia to the north. Around 2 million people live here and the capital is Riga. Other important cities in Latvia are Daugavpils, Liepāja, Jelgava and Jūrmala. Latvians are a Baltic nation and make up 62% of the country's population. The official language is Latvian, which together with Lithuanian represents the last two surviving Baltic languages. Despite having to submit to foreign rule from the 13th to the 20th century, the Latvian nation preserved its identity for generations through language and culture, especially musical traditions. However, as a result of centuries of Russian rule (1710–1918) and later Soviet occupation, 26.9% of Latvia's population is Russian, some of whom (10.7% of Latvian population) have not yet acquired citizenship. By World War II, Latvia also had significant minorities of Baltic Germans and Jews. Latvia is historically a predominantly Protestant (Lutheran) country, with the exception of Latgale in the southeast, which is Roman Catholic. The scattered Russian population is predominantly Orthodox. Latvia is a developed country with an advanced economy. It is 39th in the world in the human development index. From January 1, 2014, the euro currency began to be used, replacing the Latvian lats. It is rated very high in the indices of civil liberties, freedom of the press, freedom of the internet, democratic governance, standard of living and security. Latvia is a former Soviet Union republic, it regained its independence on August 21, 1991. Since then, it has been a democratic state and a parliamentary republic. It is a unitary state divided into 43 administrative divisions – 36 municipalities and 7 cities. It is a member of the European Union, NATO, the Council of Europe or the Schengen area. It develops very close cooperation with other Baltic countries and Nordic states, in regional cooperation organizations such as the Council of the Baltic Sea States or the Nordic-Baltic Eight.


The name Latvija originated from the name of the ancient Baltic (Indo-European) tribe Latgali (Latgali in Latvian), from which the ethnic core of the Latvian nation arose. The Latin versions of the country's name Lettigallia and Lethia were created in the 13th century by Henry of Latvia (Latviešu Indriķis, Henricus de Lettis), the author of the chronicle Heinrici Cronicon Lyvoniae. These then gave rise to the names of the country in Romance languages ​​(Lattonia, Letonia) and in German (Lettland).


Antiquity and the Crusaders

The territory of today's Latvia was settled after the end of the last Ice Age around 9000 BC. During the 2nd millennium BC, the Balts appeared in the area, who by the end of the 1st millennium had created four tribal units in Latvia: Kurs, Latgals, Sélovs and Zemgals. The main Latvian river Daugava represented an important link on the way from northern Russia to southern Europe and the Middle East, which was used both by the Balts and later by the Vikings and later by merchants from the Nordic states and Germany. They mainly traded in amber, the famous Amber Trail passed through today's Riga. The first Christian missionaries sent by the Pope arrived in the country in the 12th century. In 1184, St. Meinhard had the first church built in Ikšķila, and in 1186 he founded a bishopric in Riga. However, neither he nor the other missionaries were as successful as they had hoped. The local inhabitants resisted Christianity and thus became the target of the Northern Crusades. Pope Celestýn III invited them. yr