Key facts about Latvia
Official name: Republic of Latvia
Population: 1 968 957 (as of 01.2016)
Area: 64 589 sq.km or 24 937 sq.miles
Language: Latvian (official), Russian, English and German are also widely spoken
Highest point: Gaiziņa Kalns 312 m
Currency: 1 EUR = 100 cents
Time zone: GMT +2, from April to November – GMT +3
Internet domain: .lv
International phone code: +371
Maritime climate: warm in summer (20oC), cold in winter (-5oC)
Official portal: www.latvia.eu
Latvia is located at the crossroads of northern and Eastern Europe, on the east coast of the Baltic Sea. Latvia is bordered by Estonia to the north, Russia and Belarus to the east and Lithuania to the south, and has a maritime border with Sweden to the west. Other neighbouring countries include Finland, Poland and Germany.
Latvia is famous for its beautiful coastline and pine forests. You can see the well-known white sand beaches, and extravagant rocky beach near Tuja.
Visitors to Latvia may generally experience a safe and secure country, and many of crimes could have easily been avoided using common sense practices.
Latvia is located in such a geographical zone, which allows one to enjoy the magic and the differences of the four seasons, which is mostly not possible elsewhere in Europe. Therefore the climate in Latvia is mild and humid, without extreme fluctuations in temperature.
Nevertheless, that the weather conditions are changeable, Latvia has four pronounced seasons – winter, spring, summer and autumn.
The summer climate in Latvia is warm with an average temperature of 17°C, the peak occasionally going as high as 30°C. During spring and autumn weather is relatively mild but variable, generally humid with the average temperature around 10°C. Fall is popular with nature lovers due to colourful leafage.
Winters in Latvia usually starts in mid-December and last till mid-March. The average temperature in winter is around – 6°C, the cold can sometimes reach even – 25°C.
Latvia is a very lush green country for a good reason - it rains quite a lot. Be sure to bring a sturdy umbrella for year around use, warm clothes and sturdy, waterproof boots from September to March/April.
Liga Eglite, Zvartes Rock via Flickr © Attribution License
Latvia is a country of rich history and cultural traditions. For a thousand years this land in the North-East of Europe was inhabited by the Baltic and Finno-Ugric tribes. Latviaš geographical location between East and West has historically made attractive to foreing conquerors. The German, Swedes, Poles and Russians had ruled here, each leaving cultural imprint on the country’s architecture, infrastructure, style and personality.
The consolidation of the modern Latvian nation started in the 19th century. That was a period of national awakening that later served also as a precondition for establishment of an independent national state in the 20th century. Today Latvia is a member country of the European Union.
Latvia is a democratic, parliamentary republic. Parliamentary elections are held every 4 years. Latvia’s head of state, the President, is elected by the Saeima (Latvian parliament) for a period of 4 years. The President signs laws, chooses the Prime Minister (who heads the government) and performs representative functions. The President represents the State in international relations, appoints the diplomatic representatives of Latvia, and also receives diplomatic representatives of other states.
Latvia is a member of the United Nations, European Union, Council of Europe, NATO, Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organisation. Latvia is also a member of the Council of the Baltic Sea States and Nordic Investment Bank.
Latvia has established diplomatic relations with 158 countries and maintains embassies in 37 countries. 35 countries maintain an embassy in Latvia's capital Riga. The list of Latvian diplomatic missions and honorary consuls is available here.
Human rights in Latvia are generally respected by the government, according to Freedom House and US Department of State. Latvia is ranked above-average among the world's sovereign states in democracy, press freedom, privacy and human development.