The Republic of Latvia, is basically a fertile plain with 3,000 lakes, marshes and 293 miles of coastline located on the Gulf of Riga and the Baltic Sea. Ruled by 5 different powers since the Middle Ages, and becoming independent from the Soviet Union in 1991, Latvia is now a multi-party democracy. Latvia borders Estonia, Lithuania, Russia and Byelorussia. The territory of the State of Latvia, within the borders established by international agreements, consists of Vidzeme, Latgale, Kurzeme and Zemgale. Its population is 2.566.352 (Jan. 1, 1994). The Latvian language is the official language in the Republic of Latvia. The national flag of Latvia is red with a band of white. Riga is the capital of Latvia (889,500). Latvia is a parliamentary country. Its Parliament (Saeima) is composed of one hundred representatives of the Latvian people. The Parliament is elected for a term of four years.

The coastal territory is mostly flat, but the inland is covered with forests and lakes. Woodland covers 40 % of the territory. Nature preserve parks are Gauja National Park, 5 natural reserves, 189 restricted areas. Agriculture takes 40 % of the national economy. National currency: Lats (LVL) Average temperature: July +16.9 C, February - 4.9 C. The ethnic composition - 52 % of Latvians, 34 % of Russians, 4,5 % of Byelorussians, 3,5% Ukrainians, 2,3 % Poles and other ethnic groups. The country became a nation-state in 1918, with the collapse of Czarist empire. On the 18th of November, 1918, the Democratic Bock, a coalition of Latvian parties, decided to form the Latvian National Council, which declared the independence of the country. The passing of the Constitution (Satversme) in 1922, and the forming of the Constituent Assembly were the foundation for a free democratic and parliamentary state. In 1940 Latvia was annexed by the USSR and until 1991 was part of its political and economic system. In 1991 the political independence was restored. The political course of the country is democratization, sustainable economic development and joining the European Union.

Last Modified: 21.01.2002