All About Latvia Country

By | May 19, 2022

Brief information

Since ancient times, Latvia has been a kind of crossroads between East and West, North and South. At different times, Latvia was conquered by German knights, Poles, Swedes, and Russians. However, despite this, the Latvians managed to form as a nation and preserve their original culture. Now numerous tourists come to Latvia to admire medieval Riga, see the ancient fortresses of the Crusaders, and also relax in the beautiful Latvian balneological and beach resorts of the Baltic Sea.

Geography of Latvia

Latvia is located in the Baltic States, in Northern Europe. Latvia borders Lithuania in the south, Belarus in the southeast, Russia in the east, and Estonia in the north. To the west, the Baltic Sea separates Latvia from Sweden. The total area of ​​this country is 64,589 sq. km., and the total length of the border is 1,150 km.

The landscape in Latvia is flat with small hills in the east and lowlands. The highest point in the country is Gaizinkalns, whose height reaches 312 meters.

About 12 thousand rivers flow through the territory of Latvia, the longest of them are the Daugava and Gauja. In addition, in this Baltic country there are about 3 thousand lakes, some of which are quite small.

Capital

According to itypejob.com, the capital of Latvia is Riga, which is now home to more than 710 thousand people. Riga was founded in 1201 by Bishop of Livonia Albert von Buxhoevden.

Official language of Latvia

The official language in Latvia is Latvian, which belongs to the Baltic group of languages.

Religion

The majority of the population of Latvia belongs to the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Catholic Church.

State structure of Latvia

According to computerminus.com, Latvia is a parliamentary republic headed by the President, who is elected by the country’s Parliament.

The unicameral Parliament of Latvia (Saeima) consists of 100 deputies who are elected for a 4-year term by direct popular elections. The President appoints the Prime Minister. The executive power belongs to the President, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers, while the legislative power belongs to the Seimas.

Climate and weather

The climate in Latvia is temperate, humid, with elements of a continental climate, which is noticeably influenced by the proximity of the Baltic Sea. The average air temperature in winter is -6C, and in summer – +19C. The hottest month in Latvia is July, when the air temperature can rise up to +35C.

Average air temperature in Riga:

  • January – -5С
  • February – -5С
  • March – -1C
  • April – +5C
  • May – +10C
  • June – +14C
  • July – +17C
  • August – +16C
  • september – +12C
  • october – +7С
  • November – +1С
  • December – -2C

Sea in Latvia

In the west, Latvia is washed by the waters of the Baltic Sea (Gulf of Finland). The length of the Latvian coast of the Baltic Sea is 531 km. The beaches are sandy. The temperature of the Baltic Sea near the Latvian coast in summer reaches +17C.

There are two ice-free ports in Latvia – Ventspils and Liepaja. There are picturesque fishing villages on the coast of the Gulf of Riga.

Rivers and lakes of Latvia

About 12 thousand rivers flow through the territory of Latvia, the longest of them are the Daugava and Gauja. In addition, in this Baltic country there are about 3 thousand lakes, some of which are quite small.

Many tourists come to Latvia to fish on local lakes and rivers (and, of course, in the coastal waters of the Baltic Sea). Salmon fishing in Latvia is allowed only in two rivers – Venta and Salaca.

History of Latvia

The ancestors of modern Latvians settled on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea around the beginning of the 3rd millennium BC. Historians believe that the ancestors of modern Latvians were the Baltic tribes of villages, Curonians, as well as Slavs and representatives of the Finno-Ugric tribes.

Only in the XII century, Latvians are included in the pan-European history (but not of their own free will). The Livonian Order, encouraged by the Vatican, is trying to turn pagan Latvians into Christians. At the beginning of the 13th century, most of the territory of modern Latvia was under the rule of German knights and bishops. Thus, Lithuania, together with southern Estonia, formed the state of the German knights – Livonia. It was the German knights who founded Riga in 1201.

From 1560 to 1815 Latvia was part of Sweden, and Riga was the capital of Swedish Livonia. It was at this time that the tribes of Curonians, Semigallians, villages, Livs and northern Latgalians assimilated, and thus the Latvian nationality was formed. At the end of the XVIII century, most of the territory of Latvia joins the Russian Empire.

In 1817 slavery was abolished in Courland. Slavery was abolished in Livonia in 1819.

The independence of Latvia was proclaimed in November 1918, however, in August 1940, this Baltic republic was included in the USSR.

On May 4, 1990, the Supreme Council of the Latvian SSR adopted the Declaration on the Restoration of the Independence of the Republic of Latvia. Thus the Republic of Latvia was formed. The USSR recognized the independence of Latvia only in September 1991.

In 2004, Latvia was accepted into the NATO military bloc, and in the same year it became a member of the European Union.

Culture of Latvia

Latvia boasts rich folklore traditions that have survived to this day. Latvia is a Christian country, but the ancient pagan holidays have survived to this day, albeit in a transformed form, and Latvians still celebrate them.

The biggest ancient folk festival in Latvia is Ligo (Yanov’s Day), celebrated during the summer solstice on June 23-24.

In addition, among the most popular holidays among Latvians, Shrovetide (Meteņi), Easter and Christmas should be mentioned.

In recent years, at the beginning of every summer, Go Blonde (“Blonde Parade”) has been regularly held in Riga. We can assume that the “Parade of Blondes” has already become a traditional folk festival in Latvia.

Many tourists come to Latvia every year to visit the New Wave music festival, which is held in Jurmala.

Kitchen

Latvian cuisine has been formed under the influence of Russian, German and Swedish culinary traditions. Typical products in Latvia are meat, fish, potatoes, cabbage, beets, peas, dairy products.

We advise tourists in Latvia to definitely try local pies, “karbonāde” (pork chop), cheese of different varieties, sorrel soup, potato salad, local pate, sauerkraut, various types of sausages.

As for alcoholic drinks in Latvia, beer, vodka, as well as various liqueurs and balms are popular in this country. Tourists often bring the famous “Riga Balsam” with them from Latvia.

Sights of Latvia

It will be interesting for inquisitive travelers to visit Latvia, because this country has preserved many monuments of history and architecture. In our opinion, the top ten best Latvian sights include the following:

  • House of the Blackheads in Riga
  • Aglona Basilica in Latgale
  • Dome Cathedral in Riga
  • Cēsis Castle
  • Church of St. Peter in Riga
  • Turaida Castle
  • House with black cats in Riga
  • Rundale Palace near Bauska
  • Riga castle
  • Gutman’s cave in Sigulda

Cities and resorts

The largest Latvian cities are Daugavpils, Jelgava, Jurmala, Liepaja, and, of course, Riga.

In Latvia, on the Baltic Sea, there are several good beach resorts. The beach season in Latvia usually starts in mid-May and lasts until mid-September. The most popular Latvian beach resorts are Ventspils, Daugavpils, Liepaja, Riga, Cesis and Jurmala.

Every year, more than 10 beaches in Latvia receive the Blue Flag environmental certificate (for example, Vakarbulli beach in Riga and Majori and Jaunkemer beaches in Jurmala). This means that Latvian beach resorts meet world environmental standards.

In addition, there are several excellent spa resorts in Latvia, among which Jurmala and Jaunkemeri should be mentioned first of all.

Souvenirs/Shopping

Tourists from Latvia usually bring amber products, costume jewelry, handicrafts, Dzintars cosmetics and perfumes, bed linen, tablecloths, towels, Latvian chocolate, honey, Riga Balsam alcoholic drink.

Office Hours

Banks:
Mon-Thu: 10:00-18:00

Shops:
Mon-Fri: 09:00-18:00
Sat: 09:00-16:00

Visa

Ukrainians need a visa to enter Latvia.

Currency of Latvia

Despite the fact that Latvia is a member of the European Union, this country still uses its own currency – the Latvian lats (its international designation is LVL). 1 lats = 100 centimes. All major bank cards are widely used in Latvia.

Customs restrictions

It is possible to import (and export) currency into Latvia without restrictions. Customs regulations in Latvia are the same as in other EU countries.

Useful phone numbers and addresses

Address of the Embassy of Latvia in Ukraine:
Zip code – 01901, Kiev, st. Ivana Mazepa, 6B
T: (044) 490-70-30
Email. mail: embassy.ukraine@mfa.gov.lv

Address of the Embassy of Ukraine in Latvia:
LV- 1010, Riga, Kalpaka bulvarus, 3
T: (8 10 371)
724-30-82 mail: info@ukrainaemb.lv

Emergency Phones
One phone for all emergencies – 112
Fire Department – 01
Police – 02
Ambulance – 03

Time

There is no difference with Ukrainian time. Those. if, for example, in Riga it is 09:00 in the morning, then in Kyiv it is also 09:00 in the morning.

Tips

Tipping in Latvia is usually 10% of the bill. Tipping in hotels in Latvia is not obligatory, but tourists usually leave a small amount for maids to “tea”.

The medicine

No special vaccinations are required to enter Latvia, but health insurance is required.

Security

The crime rate in Latvia is one of the lowest in Europe. Of course, in Latvia, as in any other country, you need to follow the basic safety rules and stay out of trouble. Do not leave your belongings unattended, be careful in crowded places – there may be pickpockets. Leave valuables in your hotel safe. Withdraw money from an ATM at a hotel or bank, not on the street.

All About Latvia Country