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Riga & Latvia in brief

  • Official name: Riga
  • Population: 736,000
  • Area: 307.17 km2
  • Location: By the River Daugava, linked with the Gulf of Riga and the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe

What Attracts Visitors To Riga And Latvia

● History and architecture – cities and towns, castles and manor estates, military and industrial heritage

● Unspoilt natural environment – beaches, national parks, cycling trails and waterways - ideal for rejuvenation and outdoor pursuits

● Musical events, opera performances and art exhibitions like the Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art, Riga Jurmala Music Festival and the Cesis Art Festival

● Local food, restaurants and foodie attractions

● Sports events – bobsleigh, biathlon, beach volleyball, rallies and more.

Bite-size History Of Riga

Riga was officially founded by the German Bishop Albert in 1201, even though the area was populated long before. The city joined the Hanseatic League in 1282. In 1510 the world's first Christmas tree was decorated in Riga. German rule was replaced by Swedish rule in 1629, and Riga became the largest city in the Swedish Kingdom. In 1710 Riga came under Russian control, however, the German influence remained significant until the proclamation of independence. In 1873 the first ever Latvian Song Festival was held in Riga.

The economic and building boom at the beginning of the 20th century made Riga one of the leading Art Nouveau cities in the world and one of the most prosperous cities in the Russian Empire. From 1901 to 1912 Riga had a British mayor, George Armitstead. Riga and Latvia enjoyed its independence from 1918 to 1940, when Soviet Russian and Nazi German occupations started. Latvia was under Soviet rule until 1991 when it regained independence. In 1995, the historical centre of Riga, Old Riga, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Political System In A Nutshell

Latvia is a parliamentary republic. The parliament or Saiema consists of 100 members elected for four years. The president is elected by the Saiema for four years.

Insight On Religion In Latvia

Churches gather mainly Lutheran, Orthodox and Catholic believers. Jewish synagogues welcome worshippers in Riga and other cities as well. A small community of Old Believers remains active.

Latvia's Membership In International Organisations

European Union, NATO, United Nations, European Council, World Trade Organisation, Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Council of the Baltic Sea States and more.

Useful Resources For Further Research

Eng.lsm.lv – English language news website run by the public broadcasting service of Latvia

Latvia.travel – national tourism portal

Latvia.eu – website of the Latvian Institute with information on the history, culture and

traditions of Latvia

Liaa.gov.lv – website of the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia

Startuplatvia.eu – official resource for start-up industry.

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