Capital City: Riga
Total Area: 64,589km2
Latvia is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia, to the south by Lithuania, to the east by Russia, and to the southeast by Belarus and by a maritime border to the west with Sweden. With 2,070,371 inhabitants and a territory of 64,589 km2 (24,938 sq mi) it is one of the least populous and least densely populated countries of the European Union. The capital of Latvia is Riga. The official language is Latvian. The country has a temperate seasonal climate. Latvia is a unitary parliamentary republic, divided into 118 administrative divisions of which 109 are municipalities and 9 are cities. There are five planning regions; Courland, Latgalia, Riga, Vidzeme and Zemgale.
The Latvians are a Baltic people, culturally related to the Lithuanians. Together with the Finnic Livs (or Livonians), the Latvians are the indigenous people of Latvia. Latvian is an Indo-European language and along with Lithuanian the only two surviving members of the Baltic branch. Indigenous minority languages are Latgalian and the nearly extinct Finnic Livonian language. Despite subjection to foreign rule from the 13th to the 20th centuries, the Latvian nation maintained its identity throughout the generations, most notably the language, culture, and rich musical traditions. Latvia and Estonia share a long common history. Both countries are home to a large number of ethnic Russians (26.9% in Latvia and 25.5% in Estonia) of whom some are non-citizens. Latvia is historically predominantly Protestant, except for the Latgalia region in the southeast, which has historically been predominantly Roman Catholic.
The Republic of Latvia was founded on November 18, 1918, however, its independent status was interrupted at the outset of World War II when in 1940, the country was forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union, invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany in 1941, then re-occupied by the Soviets in 1944 to form the Latvian SSR for the next fifty years. The peaceful Singing Revolution starting in 1987 called for Baltic emancipation of Soviet rule, it ended with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and Latvia declared the restoration of its de facto independence on August 21, 1991.
Latvia is a member of the Council of Europe, CBSS, European Union, IMF, NATO, NB8, NIB, OSCE, United Nations, WTO.