Latvia Old History

By | January 3, 2023

Latvia is an independent nation in Northern Europe. With the capital city of Riga, Latvia 2020 population is estimated at 1,886,209 according to countryaah. The first known Baltic people, before the birth of Christ, traded amber to the Mediterranean. Riga was founded in 1201 by German crusaders, who subjugated present-day Latvia, where the peasant population was oppressed by German nobility. In the 17th century, Sweden occupied the area, and in the early 18th century it was conquered by Russia. Latvia became free in the end of World War I in 1918, but independence was crushed by Soviet occupation 1939 – 1940.

  • Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Latvia, covering history, economy, and social conditions.

The present Latvia was inhabited several millennia BC. The wealth of the Baltic coast’s amber, used for jewelery and other ornaments, led early to trade between the Baltic and the Mediterranean. For Latvia political system, please check computerminus.

In ancient Greek tombs, finds were made of amber, dating to around 1600 BC, which have been found to originate from the Baltic Sea coast. During the Roman Empire, more specifically from the 10th century AD, the so-called Bärnstensvägen emerged as a lively busy trade route between Northern Italy and the Baltic Sea.

The first sure written information about a Baltic people, the Aisans, can be found in the Roman historian Tacitus about a century AD. According to him, the Aisites collected amber and were more diligent as farmers and fruit growers than the Germans. Jordanes, a Gothic writer, stated in the 500s that the Aisans lived east of the Wistula River. Linguistic research has later shown that, in ancient times, the Baltic region stretched from the Baltic into present Russia up to the regions around Volga and Moscow.

From the end of the 12th century, German crusaders advanced along the Baltic coast. Through prolonged battles, they laid down what constitutes Latvia today (the name Latvia first came into use in the 19th century). The area consisted mainly of the landscapes of Kurland (Kurzeme, farthest west) and Livland (Vidzeme, southern Estonia and northern present Latvia), named after the Baltic and Finnish-Ugric peoples groups cure and liver respectively. Other Baltic peoples in the area were semen grids (the Zemgale landscape), harnesses and light grids (the Latgale landscape).

The Germans founded Riga in 1201 and formed the Swordsman’s Order, which later went up in the German words. Riga became a Hanseatic city in 1282.

The German state of law was dissolved after the Reformation in the 16th century. Russia attempted to conquer Livland, which, however, came first under Polish-Lithuanian and then (in the 1620s) under Swedish control, finally to become part of the growing Russian empire under Tsar Peter I. Kurland after a long Nordic war in 1721 was long independent. duchy under Poland but resigned in 1795 to Russia. Thus, the tsar ruled the entire eastern coast of the Baltic Sea, and Livland and Kurland remained Russian-controlled Baltic provinces until Latvian independence in 1918.

After centuries of occupation and division of Latvia, a national movement arose in the 1860s. It was met by a deliberate refreshment policy, including the banning of Latvian as a language of instruction in primary school. In the early 1900s, a political movement was formed that required territorial independence for Latvia within the Russian Empire. During the revolution in Russia in 1905, the Latvians revolted against both the German countryside and the Russian oppression. The rise was brutally defeated. Hundreds of people were killed in criminal expeditions and executions. Thousands were exiled to Siberia.

During the First World War, especially in the years 1915–1917, Latvia was a scene of war and the country was paralyzed. Germany occupied the western half of the country in 1915 and a fifth of the population was displaced. The Russian rulers relocated much of the industry to the interior of Russia.

Latvian Volunteer Corps managed to temporarily halt Germany’s advance. After the Russian Revolution in 1917, demands for complete independence were raised. Latvian nationalist groups elected a provisional national council which, on November 18, 1918, proclaimed independent Latvia. But it was not until 1920 that both Germans and Russians were finally defeated. At the peace in Riga in 1920, Soviet Russia promised to “forever” respect Latvian independence. In 1922, Latvia adopted a democratic constitution.

Although the country lost a quarter of its population and most of its industry in the war, the economy began to flourish, and by the end of the 1920s Latvia had reached Western European living standards.

The new democracy was unstable with many small parties in Parliament, so to speak. A long line of weak coalition governments succeeded. The most important parties were the Conservative Peasant League, which held the Prime Minister’s post in 12 of 18 governments, and the Socialist Workers’ Party. The Communist Party was banned. Successful land reforms gave land to over 140,000 landless peasants and Latvia began to export food.

Latvian democracy did not cope with the stress of the economic depression in the early 1930s. In 1934, President Kārlis Ulmanis, leader of the Peasant League, conducted a bloodless coup, dissolved Parliament, banned all political parties and established dictatorship.

Following the outbreak of World War II in the fall of 1939, Soviet leader Josef Stalin forced the Balts to conclude defense agreements that allowed the Soviet Union to place troops in the Baltic States. In accordance with secret supplementary provisions of the so-called Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, in which Germany and the Soviet Union divided Eastern Europe between them, Latvia was occupied by the Soviet Union in June 1940.

The Occupation Force had elections run by the Communists, and the new parliament then “applied” for entry into the Soviet Union. President Ulmanis was deported, terror started, and over 1,000 people were killed in less than a year. One night in June 1941, over 15,000 Latvian people were deported to prison camps in Russian Siberia. Most were light, but Jews and Russians were also removed. At this time, a nationalization of industry was also initiated. However, the Soviet regime was canceled the same summer, when German troops occupied Latvia.

A Latvian SS affiliate, the Latvian Legion, was established by order of Adolf Hitler. Most of Latvia’s nearly one hundred thousand Jews were killed, partly by the help of letters. Other letters risked their lives to save Jews and oppose the German occupation. Soviet troops returned and when the German army was forced back in 1944 and capitulated in 1945, over 100,000 letters fled to the west.



Crisis loans from the IMF and the EU

In order to receive emergency loans from outside, the government and parliament decide on tough budget cuts. Public wages are reduced by 15 percent, VAT is increased, and taxes are increased on gasoline, alcohol, tobacco and coffee. The austerity measures are gradually being followed by promises of € 7.5 billion in crisis loans from the IMF, EU, Sweden and others. The IMF immediately pays close to EUR 600 million to prevent an emergency crisis in the Treasury.


The government saves the bank Parex

The action is hard on the state budget. The government is forced to request emergency loans from the EU and the IMF.


Big Bank risks bankruptcy

Latvia’s second largest bank Parex has made major losses and is forced to initiate bankruptcy proceedings.


The referendum is annulled

In a referendum, 97 percent say yes to the proposal that the people should be able to take initiative in the dissolution of Parliament. However, turnout is too low and the referendum will not be valid.


Latvia goes into recession

After experiencing the EU’s highest economic growth, Latvia enters the EU’s worst economic crisis in the second half of 2008.


New decision on the head of the Anti-Corruption Agency

The government again decides to dismiss Aleksej Loskutovs (see also September 2007). He is accused of lack of control after a couple of officials at the agency embezzled money. Parliament approves the government decision, but the opposition sees it as an attempt to prevent corruption investigations against coalition parties and their oligarchs.


Name collection for constitutional change

The trade union movement is conducting the name gathering, which will make it possible in the referendum to take the initiative for Parliament’s dissolution and new elections.

Latvia Old History