Latvia – key data
Area: 64,589 km² (of which land: 62,249 km², water: 2,340 km²)
Population: 2.2 million (2011 estimate, CIA). Composition: Latvians 57.7%, Russians 29.6%, Belarusians 4.1%, Ukrainians 2.7%,Poland 2.5%, Lithuanians 1.4%, others 2% (2002)
Population density: 34 people per km²
Population growth: -0.597% per year (2011, CIA). One of the highest annual population decreases worldwide.
Capital: Riga (719,613 residents, 2008)
Highest point: Galzina Kalns, 312 m
Lowest point: Baltic Sea, 0 m
Form of government: Latvia has been a republic since 1991. The Latvian constitution dates from 1922. After it was repealed in 1940 under the Soviet occupation, it has been reintroduced since 1993. The Latvian houses of Parliament(Saeima) consists of 100 members. Latvia has been independent from the former Soviet Union since August 21, 1991 and a member of the EU since May 1, 2004.
Administrative division: 26 rajons: Aizkraukles districts, Aluksnes districts, Balvu districts, Bauskas districts, Cesu districts, Daugavpils districts, Dobeles districts, Gulbenes districts, Jekabpils districts, Jelgavasazu districts, Kraslavas districts, Kuldigas districts, Ludzbajas districts, Madonas Rajons, Ogres Rajons, Preilu Rajons, Rezeknes Rajons, Rigas Rajons, Saldus Rajons, Talsu Rajons, Tukuma Rajons, Valkas Rajons, Valmieras Rajons and Ventspils Rajons
and 7 cities: Daugavpils, Jelgava, Jurmala, Liepaja, Rezekne, Riga and Ventspils
Head of State: President Valdis Zatlers, since July 8, 2007
Head of Government: President Andris Berzins, since July 8, 2011
Language: the official language in Latvia is Latvian (58.2%). Russian 37.5%, Lithuanian and other languages 4.3% (2000 census)
Religion: Evangelical Lutheran 19.6%, Orthodox 15.3%, other Christians 1%, other 0.4%, unspecified 63.7% (2006)
Local time: CET + 1 h. Between the last Sunday in March and the last Sunday in October there is summer time in Latvia (CET + 2 hours).
The time difference to Central Europe both in winter and in summer 1 hour.
International phone code: +371
Mains voltage: 220 V, 50 Hz
The Republic of Latvia lies in Eastern Europe in the center of the Baltic States and borders in the west on the Baltic Sea, in the north on the Gulf of Riga and Estonia, in the east on Russia, in the southeast on Belarus and in the south on Lithuania. The national territory covers around 64,600 square kilometers and is thus in 121st place in the “country world rankings”; this places Latvia behind Lithuania, but ahead of Estonia.
It is thanks to Latvia’s extremely northern location that it is in the Midsummer can offer the impressive “white nights”, which are more of a specialty in Scandinavia. Although Latvia is not very big, the country and its border have a total length of 1,862 kilometers. The longest common border runs with Lithuania, followed by Estonia, Russia and Belarus in decreasing length. The Baltic Sea, together with the Riga Bay, occupies a natural border of almost 500 kilometers, i.e. about a quarter of the total length. The extension of Latvia from east to west is 435 kilometers, while the north-south extension is just under 210 kilometers.
The rather flat landscape Latvia stretches on both sides of the lower Daugava northwest of the Eastern European Plain. The glacial overformed surface is characterized by ground moraines as well as the domed heights of various terminal moraine courses together with embedded lakes. The country is mostly covered by forest, from which countless hills protrude, which were formed as a result of ice age shifts. Large stones and boulders also date from this period and give the Latvian landscape impressive accents. Gaizina Kalns, for example, rises at just 312 meters as the highest mountain out of the otherwise rather flat landscape of Latvia. Visit smartercomputing for National Parks in Latvia.
Latvia can be divided into four major regions whose formation is historically determined: Livonia in the northeast, the Semgaller Plain, which lies on the lower Daugava, Kurlander Aa and the Gulf of Riga, Latgale in the southeast and Kurland in the west.
The Latvian capital Riga is not only the country’s only metropolis, it is also the geographical center of Latvia; With around 750,000 residents, practically every third Latvian lives in Riga. In the east towards Russia, the already sparse population of the country decreases again drastically.
Latvia can boast 12,400 rivers, of which the Daugava is the longest at 1,005 kilometers. The Daugava has its source in Belarus and flows via Daugavpils and Riga to the Riga Bay. Latvian territory only accounts for 342 kilometers of its total length. The Gauja, whose somewhat strange course leads through an impressive national park, is not quite as important, but it is very scenic. The largest lake in Latvia is the Lubans with a size of 81 square kilometers. At 65 meters, Lake Dridzis is the deepest in the country. In total, there are 2,256 lakes in Latvia that are more than one hectare in size.