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The Republic of Latvia is located in northeastern
Europe in the Baltic States and, with an area of
64,600 km², is about three quarters the size of
Austria. In the north the country has borders with
Estonia , in the east with Russia , in the south with
Belarus and with Lithuania. In the north (Gulf of Riga)
and west, the country borders on the Baltic Sea.
Latvia represents the northwest of the Eastern
European lowlands, characterized by hilly lowlands with
wide, fertile plains. More than half of the total
national area is less than 100 m above sea level. On the
flat Kurland peninsula (Kurzeme) in the west of the
country, there is a moraine up to 184 m high (Kurländische
Schweiz). In the east of Latvia, on a final moraine
plateau belonging to the Baltic Ridge, read the highest
point in the country, the Gaising with 311 m. The
Semgallian plain extends from the border of Lithuania in
the south of the country to the Gulf of Riga.
A dense network of rivers and small lakes runs
through the country. Of the approximately 3,000 lakes,
the Lubahn lake (Lubãnas) is the largest with about 80
km². Its average depth is 40 cm, so that the drought
will reduce the size of the lake. The longest river is
the Daugava, which rises in Russia and flows through
Latvia for a length of 357 km before it flows into the
Gulf of Riga near the capital Riga .
Latvia is in the cool temperate climate zone. The
average January temperatures in the capital Riga in the
north of the country are -4 °„ C, the average July
temperatures are 17 °„ C. The annual rainfall is given as
570 mm, in the somewhat higher areas up to 800 mm are
Flora and fauna
Around 40% of the country is forested, the most
common are pine, spruce and birch, but also fir, white
alder and aspen. Around 10% of the country's area is
occupied by swamps and bogs.
In the protected areas of Latvia there are still
animal species that are considered endangered, including
lynx, brown bear and elk; Beavers and raccoons live on
the shores of the many lakes. Among others, wolf, fox,
mountain hare, capercaillie and hazel grouse, marten and
ermine as well as larger populations of red and wild
boar live in the coniferous and deciduous forests. The
bird life is rich in species, the common white stork is
Latvia's national bird.
Around 2.35 million people live in Latvia, 60% of
them in cities. The capital, Riga, is the country's
largest city with around 745,000 residents, followed by
Dunaburg (Daugavpils) with 113,000 and Libau (Liepãja)
with 87,500 residents.
Around 58% of the population are Latvians, Russians
make up the largest minority with almost 30%. Other
minorities are Belarusians (4.0%), Ukrainians (2.7%),
Poles (2.5%) and Lithuanians. The only official language
According to COUNTRYAAH, 38% of the faithful belong to the Evangelical
Lutheran Church, there are also the Roman Catholic with
35% and the Russian Orthodox Church with 15% and the
Jewish synagogue community.
The health and education system is well developed.
Life expectancy for women is 77 in Latvia and 66 for
men. The population shrinks by an average of 0.7% each
year because Latvia has a relatively high rate of
emigration and a low birth rate. Literacy is practically
comprehensive; Over 70% of adults have completed middle
or high school.
Latvia is - according to the current constitution of
1922, which has been back in force since 1993 - a
parliamentary republic with a multi-party system. The
head of state is the president, who is elected by
parliament for a term of four years ( Andris Berzins
since July 2011). The executive is exercised by the
Council of Ministers under the leadership of the Prime
Minister (since March 2009 Valdis Dombrovskis). The
ministers are appointed by the People's Assembly on the
Prime Minister's proposal.
The legislature lies with the parliament (Saeima),
whose 100 members are directly elected for four years.
Latvia is divided into 109 municipalities and nine
The Latvian economy has overcome the economic and
financial crisis. Economic performance has grown
steadily since 2010. In 2012 the gross domestic product
(GDP) rose by 5.6%. The unemployment rate fell again in
2012 from 21% to almost 15%. The euro was introduced on
January 1, 2014.
Agriculture employs around 8% of all workers, but
only generates around 4% of GDP. The main crops are
potatoes, cereals, sugar beets and vegetables. Dairy and
fattening cattle farming and pig breeding dominate in
livestock farming. Both fishing and the timber industry
play an important role.
The most important branches of industry are
mechanical and motor engineering and the electrical
industry, food and wood processing companies are also
important. Latvia has very few natural resources (peat,
limestone, clay). Only around half of the total energy
required can be covered by the Latvian hydro and thermal
Raw materials and food are among the most important
export goods, mainly oil, food and chemical products are
imported. Imports come from Lithuania, but to a large
extent also from Germany. Most of the exports go to
Russia, Lithuania and Estonia.
The road network covers around 60,000 km, and 2,300
km are available on rails. The main seaports are Riga,
Liep®°ja and Ventspils. The airport in Riga is the most
important of the three airports in the country.
The currency is the euro.