Latvia is opposite Gotland on the Baltic coast.
After independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Latvia
became a member of both the EU and NATO. 2008 -
2010, the country struggled through Europe's worst
economic crisis and in the new year 2014, Latvia joined
the euro zone.
Brief profiles of Latvia, including geography, history, politics, economics as well as common acronyms about this country.
Geography and climate
Latvia is located on the Baltic Sea between
Estonia in the north and Lithuania in the south. In the
east the country borders Russia and in the southeast to
Belarus. Latvia corresponds to about one-seventh of
Sweden's area. The distance to Gotland is about 15 km.
Latvia consists of a small hilly plateau with many
rivers that flows into the Baltic Sea, as well as a few
thousand lakes, most in the east. A coastal plain
stretches along the approximately 50-mile coast to the
west. More than half of the country's area is less than
100 meters above sea level and about two-fifths of the
country is covered by forest.
Latvia has a changing climate. In the eastern parts
of the country it can be described as continental with
large temperature differences between summer and winter.
In the west it is more maritime. There, the summers are
relatively warm and the winters not very cold.
The proximity to the Baltic Sea provides humid air,
cloudy and relatively abundant rainfall. It rains most
during the latter part of summer and autumn. On the
coast in the west, the winter's average temperature is
only a few degrees below zero, while it can be more than
30 degrees cold and large amounts of snow against the
Russian border in the east.
FACTS - GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
64 589 km2 (2018)
Swedish + 1 hour
Adjacent country (s)
Estonia, Russia, Belarus, Lithuania
Capital with number of inhabitants
Riga 764 300 (2000)
Other major cities
Daugavpils 113,000, Liepaja 87,000, Jelgava 66,000,
Jurmala 55,000, Ventspils 44,000 (estimate 2002)
Gaizinkalns (312 m asl)
Daugava, Venta, Lielupe, Gauja
Lubans, Razna, Engure, Usma, Burtneiks
Average Precipitation / year
Riga 617 mm
Average / day
Riga 17 °C (July), -3 °C (Jan)
The Foreign Minister announces homosexuality
That such a high-ranking person as Edgar Rinkēvič's "come out" is very
unusual in the socially strong conservative Latvia, where the prejudice against
same-sex relationships is widespread. In the long run, his message is believed
to be able to increase acceptance for homosexuals.
Straujuma continues as prime minister
One month after the parliamentary elections, Straujuma gets the assignment to
continue leading the government. Most ministers are allowed to keep their posts.
The government parties retain a majority
The four parties to the last government together get 61 of the 100 seats in
the parliamentary elections. Unity retains the position as the government's
strongest party and increases from 20 to 23 seats. The Harmonic Center remains
the largest party, but backs from 31 seats to 24. Concerns over Russia's
possibly aggressive intentions in the Baltic countries are believed to have
received many ethnic leanings to leave the Putin-friendly party. Two new parties
are able to pass the five percent block: For Latvia from the heart, which among
other things profiled in the fight against corruption gets seven seats, and the
Latvian Regions Association, which is an association of local small parties,
gets eight seats. Voter turnout is the lowest since Latvia regained its
independence in 1991, provisionally 58.8 percent. The lowest interest was in the
area along the border with Russia and Belarus. (4/10)
Russian entertainment artists are stopped
A number of Russian artists are banned from performing in Latvia. Foreign
Minister Edgar Rinkēvičs describes them as active propagandists who
"aggressively" supported the Russian annexation of Crimea.
Measures against Russian threat
The government decides, with the support of NATO, to open a "strategic
communication center" to counter what is perceived as a Russian "information
war" directed at Latvia's large Russian minority. The resolution is supported by
Parliament, which at the same time approves that defense spending more than
doubles by 2020 to achieve NATO's recommendation of at least 2 percent of GDP.
Unity greatest in EU elections
The election to the European Parliament is superior to the Unity party, which
receives just over 46 percent of the vote. In second place comes the National
Alliance, which wins a little more than 14 percent of the vote, while the
Harmonic Center receives 13 percent and the League of Green and Peasants more
than 8 percent. The last mandate goes to the Latvian Russian Union.
Russian TV channel is banned
The Latvian Media Council stops the Russian Russian TV channel Rossija RTR
for three months, citing its unbalanced and propagandistic reporting on the
conflict in Ukraine. Similar measures are being taken in Lithuania.
Concerns after Crimean annexation
In a joint letter, the President, the Prime Minister and the President urge
the people to avoid political activities that can create tension and
dissatisfaction in society. The statement is to be seen in light of the concern
that has arisen in several former Soviet republics with large Russian minorities
following Russia's annexation of the Ukrainian Crimean Peninsula. At the same
time, Latvia is once again being criticized by the UN Human Rights Committee for
discrimination in the labor market by Russian-speaking residents.
Minister gets fired
Prime Minister Straujuma dismisses Minister of the Environment Einārs
Cilinskis after announcing his intention to participate in a parade organized by
veterans of the Latvian Legion, an organization that, during the Second World
War, stood on the side of the German Nazis against the Soviet forces. The annual
parade has been regarded by many as a glorification of the SS-led legion.
First female prime minister
Agriculture Minister Laimdota Straujuma forms a broad government with four of
Parliament's five parties. The only opposition party is the pro-Russian Harmonic
Center. The new government is supported by 64 of the 100 members.
Latvia member of the euro zone
Latvia becomes the 18th euro country, when the Latvian currency is allowed at
New Year is exchanged for euro. (See Current Politics and Economics)