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Latvia


Coordinates: 57°N 25°E / 57°N 25°E / 57; 25

Latvia (/ˈlɑːtviə/ or /ˈlætviə/ (About this soundlisten); Latvian: Latvija [ˈlatvija]), officially known as the Republic of Latvia[15] (Latvian: Latvijas Republika), is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is one of the Baltic states; and is bordered by Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, Russia to the east, Belarus to the southeast, and shares a maritime border with Sweden to the west. Latvia covers an area of 64,589 km2 (24,938 sq mi), with a population of 1.9 million. The country has a temperate seasonal climate.[16] Its capital and largest city is Riga. Latvians belong to the ethno-linguistic group of the Balts; and speak Latvian, one of the only two surviving Baltic languages. Russians are a prominent minority in the country, at some 24% of the population.

After centuries of German, Swedish, Polish-Lithuanian and Russian rule, which was mainly executed by the Baltic German aristocracy, the Republic of Latvia was established on 18 November 1918 when it broke away from the German Empire and declared independence in the aftermath of World War I.[3] However, by the 1930s the country became increasingly autocratic after the coup in 1934 establishing an authoritarian regime under Kārlis Ulmanis.[17] The country's de facto independence was interrupted at the outset of World War II, beginning with Latvia's forcible incorporation into the Soviet Union, followed by the invasion and occupation by Nazi Germany in 1941, and the re-occupation by the Soviets in 1944 to form the Latvian SSR for the next 45 years. The peaceful Singing Revolution started in 1987, and ended with the restoring of de facto independence on 21 August 1991.[18] Since then, Latvia has been a democratic, unitary parliamentary republic.

Latvia is a developed country, with a high-income advanced economy; ranking very high in the Human Development Index. It performs favorably in measurements of civil liberties, press freedom, internet freedom, democratic governance, living standards, and peacefulness. However, according to a 2016 index, Latvia is the worst EU country to be gay in.[19] Latvia is a member of the European Union, Eurozone, NATO, the Council of Europe, the United Nations, CBSS, the IMF, NB8, NIB, OECD, OSCE, Baltics and WTO.

The name Latvija is derived from the name of the ancient Latgalians, one of four Indo-European Baltic tribes (along with Couronians, Selonians and Semigallians), which formed the ethnic core of modern Latvians together with the Finnic Livonians.[20] Henry of Latvia coined the latinisations of the country's name, "Lettigallia" and "Lethia", both derived from the Latgalians. The terms inspired the variations on the country's name in Romance languages from "Letonia" and in several Germanic languages from "Lettland".[21]

Terra Mariana, medieval Livonia
Turaida Castle near Sigulda, built in 1214 under Albert of Riga
The Swedish Empire (1560–1815).
Riga became the capital of Swedish Livonia and the largest city in the Swedish Empire.
Jānis Čakste (1859–1927), was the first president of Latvia
Red Army troops enter Riga (1940).
German soldiers enter Riga, July 1941
Reconstruction of a Gulag shack in the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, Riga
Latvia became a member of the European Union in 2004 and signed the Lisbon Treaty in 2007.
Cape Kolka, the northern tip of Latvia in the Gulf of Riga
Latvia lies in Northern Europe, on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea.
  Humid continental climate warm summer subtype
  Oceanic climate
Latvia has the fifth highest proportion of land covered by forests in the European Union.
The white wagtail is the national bird of Latvia. [102]
Historical regions: orange Courland, green Semigallia, yellow Vidzeme, blue Latgale, brown Selonia.
Administrative divisions of Latvia
The building of the Saeima, the parliament of Latvia, in Riga
The building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Riga
Foreign ministers of the Nordic and Baltic countries in Helsinki, 2011
Naval Forces minehunter Imanta
Latvian soldiers during an exercise
Europride 2015 in Riga.
Latvia is part of the EU single market (light blue), Eurozone (dark blue) and Schengen Area (not shown).
Real GDP growth in Latvia 1996–2006
An airBaltic Boeing 757−200WL takes off at Riga International Airport (RIX)
The Port of Ventspils is one of the busiest ports in the Baltic states.
Riga, capital and largest city of Latvia
Population of Latvia (in millions) from 1920 to 2014
Since the Second World War, Daugavpils, the second largest city in Latvia, has maintained an overwhelmingly Russian-speaking population, with Latvians and Poles being significant minorities, but historically, German and Yiddish were additional prominent native languages.