Latvijas Republika
Republic of Latvia
Flagge Lettlands: Auf dunkelrotem Grund verläuft in der Mitte horizontal ein schmaler, weißer Streifen. Großes Staatswappen
(detail) (detail)
office language Lettisch
capital Rīga
system of government parliamentary democracy
president Vaira Vīķe Freiberga
Prime Minister Aigars Kalvītis
surface 64,589 km ²
number of inhabitants 2.292.400 (1. February 2006)
Population density of 35 inhabitants per km ²
gros domestic product/inhabitant 5,137 US-$ (2006)
Independence 18. November 1918
21. August 1991
currency Lats
time belt UTC +2 (EET)
national anthem Dievs, svēti Latviju („God, segne Latvia! “)
Kfz characteristic LV
olympia contraction LAT
Internet TLD .lv
preselection +371
layer of Latvia in Europe
Lage von Lettland in Europa
Latvia from the universe
Lettland aus dem Weltall
map of Latvia
Karte Lettlands

Latvia (lettisch Latvija) lies in northeast Europe, in the center of the Baltic. Latvia borders in the south on Lithuania, in the southeast on white Russia, in the east on Russia, in the north on Estonia and in the west on those Baltic Sea.

Table of contents


Klimadiagramm Riga
climatic diagram Riga

Latviacure country (Kurzeme) in the west, live country (Vidzeme) in the northeast, Semgallen (Zemgale) essentially consists as narrow strips between Daugava and the litauischen border as well as Lettgallen ( Latgale ) in the southeast of the four historical regions,and is mostly a wooded (40% of the surface) Moränen - hill country with numerous lakes and a long, little arranged coastal plain. It is somewhat smaller with scarcely 64,600 km ² than Bavaria. Longest rivers are the Daugava and those Gauja. The capital Riga is also in geographical regard the center of the thinly populated country.

to nature

beside deer, deer and foxes also moose , wolves and beaver occurs .

The average height of Latvia amounts to 87Meter over NN. The highest mountain is the Gaiziņkalns (Gaising) with 312 meters and. NN.

longest rivers

No. Name flows to overall length (km
) into length into
1. Gauja (German: Livländi Aa) Rigai sea bosom 452 ,452
2. Daugava (German: Düna) Rigai sea bosom 352 1005
3. Ogre (German: Oger) Daugava 188 ,188
4. Venta (German: Windau) Baltic Sea 178 ,346
5. Iecava (German: Eckau) Lielupe (German: Kurländi Aa) 136 136

largest cities

city circle inhabitant
31. March 2000 1. January 2005
Rīga Rīga (city) 764,329 731,762
Daugavpils Daugavpils (city) 115,265 110,379
Liepāja Liepāja (city) 89,448 86,264
Jelgava Jelgava (city) 63,652 66,136
Jūrmala Jūrmala (city) 55,718 55.603
Vent play of vent play (city) 43,928 44,017
Rēzekne Rēzekne (city) 39,233 36,798
Jēkabpils Jēkabpils 27,871 26,845
Valmiera Valmiera 27,752 27,550
Ogre Ogre 26,573 26,046

see also: List of the cities in Latvia


major item: History of Latvia


Latvia are a parliamentary Präsidialrepublik. The guidance of affairs of state, above all however the international representation are the most important tasks of the office for president, which appoints and dismisses the selected government. The acting president and/or. the acting president functions at the same time as a commander in chiefthe armed forces. There is also a Gesetzesinitiativrecht, which is taken up sporadically. The tasks of government and the guidance of the cabinet however the prime minister, that transfers the strongest in each case parliamentary group in the parliament (Saeima) places and of that100 delegates one selects.

This parliament is selected in the elections on the basis of proportional representation right in free, same and secret elections. Beside the direct candidate of the 26 constituencies in five provinces still further mandates to the strongest parliamentary groups, which are then occupied from the party list, fall.

The cabinet consists of 17 Ministries, which presidency leads the prime minister, in addition the respective undersecretaries of state as well as the leaders of the parliamentary group of the governing parties belong to the cabinet, which have however no right to vote.

The president and/or. the president takes regularly at meetingsthe cabinet and also the Saeima part. The acting government coalition accepted its office as a third government in December 2004. The cabinet led by Prime Minister Aigars Kalvītis sits down from the parliamentary groups of the people's party (Tautas partija), to that Recent time (JL), of Latvia of a first party (LPP) and the Green/farmer union (ZZS) together. This coalition is to be arranged by the political spectrum as center right.

The foreign policy of Latvia is west oriented; the relations with Russia is rather strained.

Latvia is after the decision on that European Union - summits to 13. December 2002 in Copenhagen to the 1. May 2004 with nine further east, central, northeast and Southeast-European states taken up to the European union. In a referendum to 20. September 2003 agreed the lettische population entitled to vote this project with scarcely 67%. In the course of the NATO extension to the East Latvia became in April 2004 member of NATO.

See also: List of the political parties in Latvia, Kabinett Kalvitis

administrative arrangement

major items: Administrative arrangement of Latvia



the growth of the gross domestic product of Latvia is appropriate for 8.5% since the overcoming of the Russia crisis (thus starting from 2000) over 6%, 2004 was always it. That was thosehighest growth rate of all European Union states. The GROS DOMESTIC PRODUCT amounted for 2004 to scarcely 11 billion €, those are per head 4,742 € and thus (counted in euro) the three-way of the value of 1995. Latvia thereby is nevertheless on last rankin the European Union (to the comparison: Germany 26,400 €) - the catching up need is thus further large.

direct investments

the sum of the foreign direct investments amounted up to the midyear 2004 to 3.1 billion euro. Germany occupies with total investments by 435Million Euro (I. Quarter 2004; corresponds 15%) first rank before Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and the USA. This position justifies itself completely substantially in the expansion of the Nord/LB also after Latvia (own daughter). Besides the following enterprises are largeInvestor in Latvia:

  • Telecommunications: TeliaSonera (S/SF, portions of Lattelekom and LMT (portable radio)), Tele2 (s)
  • of energy: Ruhrgas/eon and Gazprom (D and RU/Anteile at Latvijas gauze), the Norske Stats (N/Erdöl (Statoil)), Shell (UK-NL/Erdöl), Transneftegaz (RU/Erdöl), Nefte (SF/Erdöl)
  • banking: SEB (S/Anteile at Unibanka),Hansabanka (EE-SF), association and west bank (D)
  • real estates and retail trade: LinstowWarner (N/Immobilien), Preatoni Group (I/u. A. Domina hotel), Polarbek (USA/Radisson hotel), stick man (SF), Kesko (SF)
  • various: Rinzai (HKG SGP/Acot Industries (model construction made of metal)), SAS (S/DK; Portions on airbaltic)

Currency and prices

the national currency of Latvia is the Lats (int. Contraction LVL), which was introduced starting from March 1993 and which Letti rouble replaced, which had been long as transition currency one year in the circulation. A Lats are 100 Santims.

The price history in Latvia is moderate since the economic depression ( Russia crisis 1998/99), progressed however with inflation rates between 2,5 and 3% always faster than in the neighbour states Estonia and Litauen. With the European Union entry and by the strong economic growthit increased clearly and was themselves for 2004 about 6,2%.

With effect of the 1. January 2005 was coupled firmly the Lats to the euro to a rate of exchange by 1 EUR = 0.702804 LVL. The lettische central bank holds thatLats rate of exchange in a range of 1% opposite the euro up to the euro introduction (planned: 2008/2009).

state budget and - deficit

the state budget was 2004 with 3,9 billion Euro, the deficit with 162 millions Euro, that are 1.5%GROS DOMESTIC PRODUCT. The changing governments succeeded thus (supported of the strong economic growth) the new indebtedness, which had been to 1999 on the high point of the Russia crisis still about 8,3% GROS DOMESTIC PRODUCT to reduce continuously.

public expenditures

between 1992 and 2000 were the portion of the public expenditures for

to foreign trade

the exports amounted 2004 to well 3.15 billion Euro, the imported goods on well 5.7 billion Euro.The deficit in the commercial balance sheet amounts to thereby considerable 2.55 billion Euro, that are well 80% of the export value or soon a quarter GROS DOMESTIC PRODUCT. By positive balances with services as well as with direct investments and other transfer services this deficit reduces in the balance of payments, remains however at scarcely 1.35 billion Euro further highly and/or. in the last years still strengthened. Altogether the foreign trade doubled itself in well four years. 2004 have itself in particular the exchange of goods with thatdirect neighbour states (Estonia, Litauen, Russia, Belarus, Poland) intensifies. Main export countries are (2004) Great Britain (13%), Germany (12%) and Sweden (10%), main export products wood and wood products (over 30% of the exports), metals and metal products (14%) as well as textiles (11%). Main importing country are Germany (14.5%), Lithuania (12.5%) and Russia (9%), main import goods machines and electrical appliances (20%), mineral products (v. A. Oil, 13%) and vehicles (11%).

branches of production

the processing thingTrade contributes a quarter to the GROS DOMESTIC PRODUCT of Latvia. Important branches of industry are:

  • Construction of vehicles and machine: Railroad car, buses, washing machines
  • food industry
  • of metals and metal products
  • textile industry
  • wood working and paper
  • fertilizer

see also: Tourism in Latvia


Latvia produces electricity too welltwo thirds from water power, which originates from three hydro-electric power plants to the Daugava. Remaining the produced electricity originates from two large burn power stations with Riga (TEC-1 and TEC-2), which burn a mixture from fuel oil , natural gas and peat. Peat is (besideWood) the only primary fuel, which Latvia produces, and contributes a good fifth to the energy from fossil fuels. Oil, natural gas and coal must be imported completely (usually from Russia). 40% of the power requirement become by imported river outEstonia (river from oil shale power stations with Narva) and Lithuania (atomic current from nuclear power station Ignalina) covered. The German company Prussia Elektra already established a pilot wind park at the border to 1995 to Estonia with Ainaži, a larger project with Liepāja (German: Libau followed), but is still negligibly small the feed of wind energy.

Apart from the own energy consumption Latvia is also an important transit country for energy. From Polock in white Russia run after two oil pipelines vent play at the Baltic Sea as well as oneover lettisches territory after Mažeikiai in Lithuania. Operator is that lettisch Russian Joint venture LatRosTrans. The last stop of the pipeline, vent play, is (still) the largest port of shipment for oil and oil products in the Baltic Sea. However of Russia has national oil transport enterprise Transneft, thatalso involved in LatRosTrans (see direct investments), for politico-economic reasons since 2003 the pipeline drying is put (Transneft explains however that the beep LINE contains leakages), around own Ölhäfen in Russia (Primorsk with pc. Petersburg to prefer Kaliningrad). Spare transport over thoseRail could not catch this loss naturally.



largest railway company is the Latvijas Dzelzceļš. It operates a route network in 1.524mm track width, star shaped aligned to Riga. In the passenger traffic becomes the rapid-transit railway - similar local train trafficin the region Riga and the connections over Daugavpils to Russia, white Russia and Lithuania served, in the goods traffic come still some to distances vent play and Liepāja (German: Libau) in addition. The distances in the region Riga are electrified.

air traffic

Most important airline is AirBaltic, which above all goals in north -, central and Western Europe approach.

It has its seat at the airport Riga, the largest three airports of the country.


the road system actual howthe Eisenbahnnetz - star shaped aligned to Riga. In the region Riga are motorway-like developed the freeways. A large part of the passenger traffic is completed with bus. The individual traffic constantly increases in meaning.

Latvia has one of the smallest traffic densities in Europe, holdsbut the point place with the traffic deads.


most important seas port are Riga, Liepāja (German: Libau) and vent play. From here among other things Russian oil is shipped. Besides driving connections exist to Sweden and Germany.


beside the lettischen population of majority (59%) give it a strong Russian minority (28.6%) and small, usually russischsprachige groups such as white Russian (3.9%) and Ukrainer (2.6%) as well as Poland (2.4%) and Litauer (1.4%) (Letti officefor nationality and affairs of migration, January 2005). In addition the minority that comes approx. 1.500 live ones, particularly in Riga and unite kurländischen coastal villages, as well as minorities of Esten, Germans, Roma and act arene.

Of Latvia population after ethnical origin 1935-2005in thousands
1935* 1959 1970 1979 1989* 2000* 2005
ethnical origin amount of per cent of amount of per cent of amount of per cent of amount of per cent of amount of per cent of amount of per cent of amount of per cent
of Letten 1 467.0 77.0 1 297.9 62.0 1 341.8 56.8 1 344.1 54.0 1 387,8 52,0 1 370.7 57.7 1 357.1 58.8
Russians 168,3 8,8 556.4 26.6 704.6 29.8 821.5 32.8 905.5 34.0 703.2 29.6 669.7 28.6
Jews 93,4 4,9 36,6 1,7 36,7 1,6 28,3 1,1 22,9 0,9 10,3 0,4 9,9 ,0.4
Germans 62.1 3,3 1,6 ,0,1 5,4 ,0,2 3,3 ,0,1 3,8 ,0,1 3,5 ,0,1 3,9 ,0.2
Poland 48.6 2.6 59.8 2.9 63.0 2.7 62.7 2.5 60.4 2.3 59.5 2.5 56.5 2.5
white Russians 26.8 1.4 61.6 2.9 94.7 4.0 111.5 4.5 119.7 4.5 97.1 4,0 88,3 3.8
Litauer 22.8 1.2 32.4 1.5 40.6 1.7 37.8 1.5 34.6 1.3 33.4 1.4 31.7 1.4
Esten 6,9 ,0,4 4,6 ,0,2 4,3 ,0,2 3,7 ,0,1 3,3 ,0,1 2,6 ,0,1 2,5 ,0.1
Roma 3,8 ,0,2 4,3 ,0,2 5,4 ,0,2 6,1 0,2 7,0 ,0,3 8,2 ,0,3 8,5 ,0.4
Ukrainer 1,8 ,0.1 29.4 1.4 53.5 2.3 66.7 2.7 92.1 3.4 63.6 2.7 59.0 2.6
others 4,2 ,0,2 1,8 ,0,1 2,7 ,0,1 3,8 ,0.2 29.4 1.0 25.0 1.1 28.4 1.2
entire 1,905, 9 100,0 2.086, 4 100.0 2,352, 7 100.0 2,489, 5 100.0 2,666, 6 100.0 2,377, 4 100.0 2,306, 4 100.0

* result of the census of the appropriate yearly

Russian minority

handling of the lettischen government with that, felt of the Russian minority as discrimination, ensures in particular Nationality for years for continuous conflicts, since after of Latvia independence only those received the lettische nationality, which had been born either 1940 ago on lettischem soil or direct descendants of such persons are. For all remaining ones since 1. February 1995valid naturalization procedures (“naturalization”) consists of a language test and an exam in lettischer history and a condition customer. That applies also to persons, who were born there for decades in Latvia to live or.

Contrary to the Letten, of those about80% in two languages live, thus both their native language and Russian understand, speak and write, live according to official data about half of the Russian minority in Latvia einsprachig, which means that they can speak nor read the lettische language neither.

Partlybecause of the complicated language tests and other tests, from lack of interest, partly from protest in principle many Russischsprachige (Russian, white Russian, Ukrainer) until today have themselves not to partly in-patriate do not leave (over half). They receive as “non--citizens so mentioned” own passports, to theman unrestricted residence and industrial law in Latvia as well as the protection by the lettischen state secure, on the other hand one they remain impossible by elections (so far also local elections, however disputed) and need for journeys into the European Union just like to Russia a visa.

The introduction of lettischsprachigen instruction caused large riot under the russischsprachigen population also at the Russian schools: beginning with the 10. Classes must be held since the school year 2004/5 in the upper stage at least 60% of instruction on Lettisch. Numerous one Reminders on the part of the European Court of Justice for human rights led in the last years to intensified efforts on the part of the state to increase the naturalization rates. By the European Union entry the attractiveness of the lettischen passport (freedom to travel) for Russians likewise rose. Neverthelessface that so far scarcely 100,000 naturalizations since 1995 well 400,000 “non--citizens” - 17 per cent of the lettischen population.

A further point at issue is the sea protest of the German occupation of Latvia particularly which can be found with older Letten in 2. World war, inParades of lettischen weapon SS - and those flows to veterans the historical understanding in particular the Russians provocatively, who see the “fascists” in German and in the Red Army the “Befreier” of Latvia.


major item: Letti language

work on []

Culture and society

Latvia are culturally above all northEuropean affected. The old parts of town exhibit the typical elements common in the area of the Hanse. Also the current lettische culture possesses various relations with Sweden and Finland, above all however to north German culture area.

“Prevailing” religion is Evangelical-Lutheran since the reformation, except in the by the majority catholic Lettgallen. The number of regular church visitors is however today extremely small, probably one the lowest in Europe. The lettische lutherische church is very conservative and leansWomen as ministers off. Thus it goes into an opposite position to the lettischen exile church for example in Sweden. In the folklore also the conceptions and songs of the altlettischen religion play still another large role.

The most important holiday inLatvia is Jāņi ( the midsummer festival) to 23. June, around which many old customs climb.

Latvia is particularly admits for its people music - culture. Of the typical Dainas - usually four-lines, did not gereimten songs to all only erdenklichen topics ofthe mythology up to the valleys of the everyday life - in the meantime over one million were collected, which in relation to the total population world point might be. The minute of this up to then verbal excessive quantity became end 19. Century of Krišjānis of baron begun;its particularly Daina cabinet manufactured for it is considered today as a kind Nationalheiligtum.

In Rīga (while the Soviet time at different places abroad) every five years a large singer celebration takes place , in which several thousand lettische, exile lettische and international choirs participate.

Howwith most very small peoples a very much minted national feeling is also with the Letten.

Similarly as in Estonia the city culture and the large-landed property up to the resettlement of the German minority were German-language - and thus for centuries also those Intelligence of the country. The before times culturally meaning Jewish - jiddische minority plays today in the public life likewise no more role.


in Latvia is played gladly ice hockey. Besides is basketball likes, during football only since the firstEM-qualification 2004 a larger attention finds, particularly the national team.See also: Football in Latvia


major item: Letti literature, see: Lettischer writer [

work on] would list


in Latvia stood in opinion of some researchers in the year 1510 the first Christmas tree of the world. Others put this invention however in the elsässische Strasbourg.

see also

Web on the left of

Wiktionary: Latvia - word origin, synonyms and translations
Wikiquote: Letti proverbs - quotations

coordinates: 56° 52 ′ 8 " N, 24° 50 ′ 28 " O


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