Latvia

Latvia (Latvija) is a Baltic state in Northern Europe. Latvia is bordered by Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, Russia to the east, Belarus on the south east, and the Baltic Sea on the west. The most famous travel spot is the capital Riga, a World Heritage Site. There are also many other great places to see, both urban and rural, such as Liepaja with its unique former secret military town of Karosta and a magnificent beach. Kuldiga with Europe`s widest waterfall and Cesis with its medieval castle ruins are also interesting. Tourists can also enjoy the wild beauty of Latvia’s unspoilt sea coast, which is 500 km long and consists mainly of white, soft sandy beaches. Forests, which cover approximately a half of Latvia’s territory, offer many nature trails and nature parks.
Latvia is a famous ancient trading point. The famous route from the Vikings to the Greeks’ mentioned in ancient chronicles stretched from Scandinavia through Latvian territory along the river Daugava to the Kievan Rus and Byzantine Empire. Across the European continent, Latvia’s coast was known as a place for obtaining amber. In the Middle Ages amber was more valuable than gold in many places. Latvian amber was known in places as far away as Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. In the 12th century, German traders arrived, bringing with them missionaries who attempted to convert the pagan Finno-Ugric and Baltic tribes to the Christian faith.

Capital Riga
Government parliamentary democracy
Currency euro (EUR)
Area 64,589 sq km
Population 2,223,000 (October 2009 est.)
Language Latvian (official), Russian (widely spoken, especially in Riga and Daugavpils), English (widely spoken in Riga), others
Religion Lutheran, Catholic, Muslim, Russian Orthodox, Jewish
Electricity 220V/50Hz (European plug)
Country code +371
Internet TLD .lv
Time Zone UTC+2

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A tapestry of sea, lakes and woods, Latvia is best described as a vast unspoilt parkland with just one real city – its cosmopolitan capital, Rīga. The country might be small, but the amount of personal space it provides is enormous. You can always secure a chunk of pristine nature all for yourself, be it for trekking, cycling or dreaming away on a white-sand beach amid pine-covered dunes. Having been invaded by every regional power, Latvia has more cultural layers and a less homogenous population than its neighbours. People here fancy themselves to be the least pragmatic and the most artistic of the Baltic lot. They prove the point with myriad festivals and a merry, devil-may-care attitude – well, a subdued Nordic version of it.

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