Latvia (officially the Republic of Latvia) is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia, to the south by Lithuania, to the east by Russian Federation, and to the southeast by Belarus. The capital of Latvia is Riga. A territory of the state is 64 589 sq.km and there are 2 070 371 inhabitants in Latvia. The official language is Latvian and the official currency is Euro. Already in 2012 Latvia could be proud of being the fastest growing economy in Europe. The largest religion in Latvia is Christianity. Latvia has the fourth fastest Internet speed in the world with broadband lines reaching an average peak speed of 37.5 megabits per second.
Latvia is a parliamentary republic, the 100-seat unicameral Latvian parliament, the Saeima, is elected by direct popular vote every four years. The president is elected by the Saeima in a separate election, also held every four years. The independence of Latvia was declared on 18 November, 1918, and on 4 May, 1990 the independence of Latvia was officially restored after nearly sixty years of Soviet occupation. Latvia is a member of United Nations, European Union, Council of Europe, NATO, International Monetary fund and World Trade Organization.
The Latvian language
As one of the 250 most commonly used languages in the world (spoken by more than 1 million people in the world), the Latvian language is also one of the oldest languages. Latvian belongs to the Indo-European language family and together with the Lithuanian language belongs to Baltic language group – related but separated from Slavic and Germanic group of languages. Latvian is spoken by nearly 2 millions people in the world, and for 1.4 million people Latvian is the mother tongue.
Also Latvian flag is one of the oldest known flags in the world. The red-white-red Latvian flag was first mentioned in the second part of the 13th century. The colour of Latvian flag is saturated dark red tone in the world often is called “Latvian red”.
There are only few places in the Central and Northern Europe which offer so varied and untouched environment for friends of nature. Latvia in the relatively small area offers incredible diversity – forests, lakes, rivers, marshes and 500 km long sandy coast near the Baltic Sea. Proximity to nature mostly amazes visitors of Latvia which discover this state – untouched environment is unusual scene in urbanized Europe.
According to data of Yale University and Columbia University of the City of New York, Latvia has been recognized as the second greenest country in the world, immediately behind Switzerland.
Hills and plains interchanges with forests, which occupies nearly 43% of the state territory. There are more than 3000 lakes and 12000 rivers in Latvia. The highest hill – Gaiziņš (311 m).
Latvia can be proud with its rich folklore heritage – especially, with folk songs which can be dated up to more than thousand years. More than 1.2 millions folks song texts and 30 000 melodies have been preserved.
One of the most significant culture event is Latvian song and dance festival which in every five years brings together thousands of viewers and listeners. Festival is included in the UNESCO Culture Heritage list. The first Latvian Song festival took place in 1873.
In parallel with Christian tradition also original pagan celebration have survived till nowadays. For example, one of the today’s most popular festival in Latvia is Jāņi – the summer solstice of pagans which is celebrated by all Latvians.
Latvia can be proud of many specialties typical of this land – for example, Latvian black bread is rare across borders. Latvian cuisine usually consists of various agriculture products which are the main part of the meal. Also fish is common national dish because Latvia is located to the Baltic Sea. The most common food ingredients are potatoes, courgettes, carrots, beets, onions, eggs and pork.