Official Name: Republic of Latvia (Latvijas Republika), Latvia (Latvija)
Area: 64,589 sq km
Coastline: 531 km
Population: 2,306,306 (July 2004 est.)
Life Expectancy: male: 65.91 years; female: 76.09 years
Nationalities: Latvian 57.7%, Russian 29.6%, Belarusian 4.1%, Ukrainian 2.7%, Polish 2.5%, Lithuanian 1.4%, other 2% (2002)
Religion: Evangelic Lutheran, Roman Catholic, and Russian Orthodox
Official Languages: Latvian. Latvian is a Baltic language which belongs to the Indo-European family of languages and is considered one of the oldest of that family.
Capital: Riga (oldest still-existing medieval city founded in 1201)
Number of counties: 26
Principal Cities: Riga, Daugavpils, Jelgava, Jurmala, Liepaja, Ventspils, Rezekne, Valmiera, and Jekabpils
Latvian Coat of Arms
Chief of State: President Vaira Vike-Freiberga (since July 8, 1999)
Prime Minister: Indulis Emsis (since March 9, 2004)
Government Type: Parliamentary Republic
Independence: November 18, 1918. Soviet forces began occupation on June 17, 1940. Independence was restored on August 21, 1991.
Constitution: February 15, 1922; an October 1998 amendment on Fundamental Human Rights replaced the 1991 Constitutional Law, which had supplemented the constitution.
Currency: Lats (LVL)
GDP Per Capita: purchasing power parity -$10,200 (2003 est)
Chief Crops: grain, sugar beets, potatoes, vegetables
Livestock: Cattle, pigs
Major Industries: information technologies, electronics and mechanical engineering, chemical and pharmaceutical industries, wood processing, food processing, textiles; dependent on imports for energy and raw materials
Natural Resources: Peat, limestone, dolomite, amber, hydropower, wood, arable land
Land Use: arable land: 29.67%; permanent crops: 0.47%; other: 69.86%
Climate: Latvia's weather is governed by a moderate oceanic climate, with promounced cyclone activity and a considerable amount of precipitation. Average temp in summer is 15.8C, winter is -4.5C
Highest Elevation: Gaizinkalns, 311.6 metres
Rivers and Lakes:There are thousands of rivers and lakes in Latvia. The longest river is the Gauja (452 km), but the largest one is the Daugava, which is 352 km. There are about 3000 lakes in Latvia. Most of them are small. 40% are located in the Eastern part of Latvia. The lagest is Lubans (80.7 sq km) and the deepest one is Dridzis (65.1 m).
Terrain and Environment: Low plain. Forests cover 44% of the territory, with larger forest tracts found in the northern part of Kurzeme. Large variety of flora and fauna (total approx. 27.7 thousand species). Most of the country is composed of fertile, low-lying plains with some hills in the east.
Where is Latvia? Eastern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, Belarus, Estonia, Lithuania, and Russia. Latvia is situated on a trading cross-roads and has long since served as a bridge between Western Europe and Russia.
History of Latvia
Go here for a good brief history of Latvia
For more information
Nice site for Latvian artists: http://www.gallery.lv/EN.htm
Some nice links to photos and experiences in Latvia: http://www.latvians.com/
Can you add anything? Please comment!