Latvia officially the Republic of Latvia, is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Estonia, Lithuania, Russia, Belarus and by a maritime border to the west with Sweden. Latvia has 2,008,700 inhabitants and a territory of . The country has a temperate seasonal climate.
Latvia is a democratic parliamentary republic established in 1918. The capital city is Riga, the European Capital of Culture 2014. Latvian is the official language. Latvia is a unitary state, divided into 118 administrative divisions of which 109 are municipalities and 9 are cities. There are five planning regions: Kurzeme, Latgale, Riga, Vidzeme and Zemgale.
The Latvians are Baltic people, culturally related to the Lithuanians. Latvians and Livs are the indigenous people of Latvia. Latvian is an Indo-European language; it and Lithuanian are the only two surviving Baltic languages. Despite foreign rule from the 13th to the 20th centuries, the Latvian nation maintained its identity throughout the generations via the language and musical traditions. Latvia and Estonia share a long common history. As a consequence of the Soviet occupation 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 Lutheran, except for the Latgale region in the southeast, which has historically been predominantly Roman Catholic.
The Republic of Latvia was founded on 18 November 1918. However, its de facto independence was interrupted at the outset of World War II. In 1940, the country was forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union, invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany in 1941, and 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 21 August 1991.
Latvia is a member of NATO, European Union, United Nations, Council of Europe, CBSS, IMF, NB8, NIB, OSCE, WTO and OECD. For 2013, Latvia is listed 44th on the Human Development Index and as a high income country. Its currency, the Latvian lats, was replaced by the euro on 1 January 2014.
How places in Latvia are organized
All places in Latvia
Further information on historical place organization in Latvia