Rīga & Latvia

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Rīga - the Capital City of Latvia

Latvia’s political, economic and culture centre is in Rīga, where more than one third of Latvia’s population (644 thousand) lives and works. Rīga’s elegant Old Town and distinctive Art Nouveau architecture serve as a stimulating setting for a vibrant modern business and cultural life. Founded in 1201, this former Hanseatic League member is one of the oldest medieval cities in Europe and has been listed by UNESCO as one of the world’s most important cultural and natural sites. As one of the new stars of the dynamic Baltic Sea region, Rīga has hosted a NATO summit, world hockey championship, the Eurovision Song Contest and many other large-scale international events. Rīga’s International Airport is one of the fastest growing travel hubs in Europe.

Rīga is a European Capital of Culture in 2014: http://riga2014.org/eng/

Practical information on Rīga: http://www.liveriga.com



Latvia in Brief

Republic of Latvia - Latvijas Republika



The Republic of Latvia was founded on November 18, 1918. It has been continuously recognised as a sovereign state since 1920 despite occupations and rule by the Soviet Union (1940-1941, 1945-1991) and Nazi Germany (1941-1945). On August 21, 1991 Latvia declared the restoration of its de facto independence, re-established international diplomatic ties, and joined the United Nations. Latvia joined the WTO in 1998 and in 2004 became a member of the European Union and NATO.

The name "Latvija" comes from the ancient Latgallians, one of four Indo-European Baltic tribes, who along with Couronians, Selonians and Semigallians formed the ethnic core of today’s Latvian people.

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The Coat of Arms

Latvia’s coat of arms combines the traditional heraldic symbols of Latvian statehood and national identity – three stars, the sun, the sea and oak leaves. Latvia’s historical districts of Kurzeme and Zemgale are represented by a red lion, while Vidzeme and Latgale are depicted by a silver griffin.

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The Flag

The crimson-white-crimson flag of Latvia is one of the oldest in the world and dates back to a battle near Cēsis in the 13th century. According to one legend, it originated from a white sheet used to carry a mortally wounded Latvian tribal chief from the battlefield. Soaked with his blood on two sides, his soldiers hoisted the warrior’s sheet as a banner as it led them to victory.

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Latvians are the indigenous people of Latvia, and the Finno-Ugric Livs (or Livonians) are the only indigenous minority. Latvia’s present ethnic mix is largely a result of massive post-war immigration, which resulted in a decline in the share of ethnic Latvians from 77% in 1935 to 52% in 1989.

Population in 2014: 2, 001, 468

Urban: 68% Rural:32%

Ethnic Composition

59.5% Latvian,
27%    Russian,
3.45% Belorussian,
2.42% Ukrainian,
2.25% Polish,
1.3%   Lithuanian,
4.08% other nationalities.

Official Language: Latvian

Hi - Sveiks!
Good-bye - Uz redzēšanos
Yes - 
No - 
Thank you - Paldies
Please - Lūdzu
Sorry - Atvainojiet
Street - Iela

Latvian is a Baltic language that belongs to the Indo-European language family. Its only linguistic relative is Lithuanian, and is considered to be among the oldest and least changed of all living Indo-European languages in the world. It is estimated that 1,5 million people worldwide use Latvian as their primary language. English and Russian are widely spoken throughout Latvia, while German, French and the Scandinavian languages are also frequently heard.


Name: Euro
Code: EUR
Symbol: €

Latvia’s national currency is the euro consisting of 100 euro cents. Banknotes have nominal values of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros, while coins have nominal values of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 euro cents, and 1, 2 euros.

The euro was introduced in Latvia on January 1, 2014, when it replaced the lat, which had been the country’s currency since 1993. The lat was also the national currency of the Republic of Latvia from 1922 to 1940.

The lat was one of Europe’s most stable and secure currencies, its exchange rate to euros was 1 : 1,423. The 500 lat banknote (711.44 euros) was the third most valuable in the world before it gave way to the 500 euro banknote in 2014. The lat was pegged to the euro since 2005 providing a fixed rate.


Latvian Foods

Among Latvia’s traditionally most popular national foods are caraway cheese, grey peas with bacon, bacon-filled pastries and a special rye bread prepared to ancient recipes. Latvian rye bread is a staple for most of the population and is one of Latvia’s most popular food ‘souvenirs’.






Source: The Latvian Institute