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Introduction - Latvia:




After a brief period of independence between the two World Wars, Latvia was annexed by the USSR in 1940 - an action never recognized by the US and many other countries. It reestablished its independence in 1991 following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Although the last Russian troops left in 1994, the status of the Russian minority (some 30% of the population) remains of concern to Moscow. Latvia joined both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004.

Location - Latvia:


Eastern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, between Estonia and Lithuania

Geographic coordinates

57 00 N, 25 00 E

Map references



total: 64,589 sq km
land: 63,589 sq km
water: 1,000 sq km

Area comparative

slightly larger than West Virginia

Land boundaries

total: 1,368 km
border countries: Belarus 167 km, Estonia 343 km, Lithuania 576 km, Russia 282 km


531 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation


maritime; wet, moderate winters


low plain

Elevation extremes

lowest point: Baltic Sea 0 m
highest point: Galzina Kalns 312 m

Natural resources

peat, limestone, dolomite, amber, hydropower, wood, arable land

Land use

arable land: 28.19%
permanent crops: 0.45%
other: 71.36% (2005)

Irrigated land

200 sq km
note: land in Latvia is often too wet, and in need of drainage, not irrigation; approximately 16,000 sq km or 85% of agricultural land has been improved by drainage (2003)

Natural hazards


Environment current issues

Latvias environment has benefited from a shift to service industries after the country regained independence; the main environmental priorities are improvement of drinking water quality and sewage system, household, and hazardous waste management, as well as reduction of air pollution; in 2001, Latvia closed the EU accession negotiation chapter on environment committing to full enforcement of EU environmental directives by 2010

Environment international agreements

party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography note

most of the country is composed of fertile, low-lying plains, with some hills in the east

People - Latvia:


2,259,810 (July 2007 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 13.6% (male 157,451/female 150,184)
15-64 years: 69.6% (male 764,910/female 808,848)
65 years and over: 16.7% (male 123,952/female 254,465) (2007 est.)

Median age

total: 39.6 years
male: 36.6 years
female: 42.7 years (2007 est.)

Population growth rate

-0.648% (2007 est.)

Birth rate

9.43 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Death rate

13.64 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Net migration rate

-2.27 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.048 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.946 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.487 male(s)/female
total population: 0.862 male(s)/female (2007 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 9.16 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 11.08 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 7.13 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 71.6 years
male: 66.39 years
female: 77.1 years (2007 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.28 children born/woman (2007 est.)

Hiv aids adult prevalence rate

0.6% (2001 est.)

Hiv aids people living with hiv aids

7,600 (2001 est.)

Hiv aids deaths

less than 500 (2003 est.)


noun: Latvian(s)
adjective: Latvian

Ethnic groups

Latvian 57.7%, Russian 29.6%, Belarusian 4.1%, Ukrainian 2.7%, Polish 2.5%, Lithuanian 1.4%, other 2% (2002)


Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Russian Orthodox


Latvian (official) 58.2%, Russian 37.5%, Lithuanian and other 4.3% (2000 census)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.7%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.7% (2000 census)

Government - Latvia:

Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Latvia
conventional short form: Latvia
local long form: Latvijas Republika
local short form: Latvija
former: Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic

Government type

parliamentary democracy


name: Riga
geographic coordinates: 56 57 N, 24 06 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Administrative divisions

26 counties (singular - rajons) and 7 municipalities*: Aizkraukles Rajons, Aluksnes Rajons, Balvu Rajons, Bauskas Rajons, Cesu Rajons, Daugavpils*, Daugavpils Rajons, Dobeles Rajons, Gulbenes Rajons, Jekabpils Rajons, Jelgava*, Jelgavas Rajons, Jurmala*, Kraslavas Rajons, Kuldigas Rajons, Liepaja*, Liepajas Rajons, Limbazu Rajons, Ludzas Rajons, Madonas Rajons, Ogres Rajons, Preilu Rajons, Rezekne*, Rezeknes Rajons, Riga*, Rigas Rajons, Saldus Rajons, Talsu Rajons, Tukuma Rajons, Valkas Rajons, Valmieras Rajons, Ventspils*, Ventspils Rajons


18 November 1918 (from Soviet Russia)

National holiday

Independence Day, 18 November (1918); note - 18 November 1918 was the date Latvia declared itself independent from Soviet Russia; 4 May 1990 is when it declared the renewal of independence; 21 August 1991 was the date of de facto independence from the Soviet Union


15 February 1922; restored to force by the Constitutional Law of the Republic of Latvia adopted by the Supreme Council on 21 August 1991; multiple amendments since

Legal system

based on civil law system with traces of Socialist legal traditions and practices; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


18 years of age; universal for Latvian citizens

Executive branch

chief of state: President Valdis ZATLERS (since 8 July 2007)
head of government: Prime Minister Aigars KALVITIS (since 2 December 2004)
cabinet: Council of Ministers nominated by the prime minister and appointed by the Parliament
elections: president elected by Parliament for a four-year term (no term limits); election last held 31 May 2007 (next to be held 2011); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: Valdis ZATLERS elected president; parliamentary vote - Valdis ZATLERS 58, Aivars ENDZINS 39

Legislative branch

unicameral Parliament or Saeima (100 seats; members are elected by proportional representation from party lists by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 7 October 2006 (next to be held in October 2010)
election results: percent of vote by party - TP 19.5%, ZZS 16.7%, JL 16.4%, SC 14.4%; LPP/LC 8.6%; TB/LNNK 7%; PCTVL 6%; seats by party - TP 23, ZZS 18, JL 18, SC 17, LPP/LC 10, TB/LNNK 8, PCTVL 6

Judicial branch

Supreme Court (judges appointments are confirmed by Parliament); Constitutional Court (judges appointments are confirmed by Parliament)

Political parties and leaders

First Party of Latvia or LPP [Ainars SLESERS]; For Human Rights in a United Latvia or PCTVL [Jakovs PLINERS]; For the Fatherland and Freedom/Latvian National Independence Movement or TB/LNNK [Roberts ZILE, Maris GRINBLATS]; Harmony Center or SC [Janis URBANOVICS, Nils USAKOVS]; Latvian Farmers Union or LZS [Augusts BRIGMANIS]; Latvian Social Democratic Workers Party (Social Democrats) or LSDSP [Juris BOJARS]; Latvian Socialist Party or LSP [Alfreds RUBIKS]; Latvias Way or LC [Ivars GODMANIS, Ainars BERZINS]; New Democrats or JD [Maris GULBIS]; New Era Party or JL [Einars REPSE, Krisjanis KARINS]; Peoples Party or TP [Aigars KALVITIS]; The Union of Latvian Greens and Farmers Party or ZZS [Indulis EMSIS]

Political pressure groups and leaders

Headquarters for the Protection of Russian Schools (SHTAB) [Aleksandr KAZAKOV]

International organization participation

Australia Group, BA, BIS, CBSS, CE, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, EU, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NATO, NIB, NSG, OAS (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WEU (associate partner), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the us

chief of mission: Ambassador Andrejs PILDEGOVICS
chancery: 2306 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 328-2840
FAX: [1] (202) 328-2860

Diplomatic representation from the us

chief of mission: Ambassador Catherine Todd BAILEY
embassy: 7 Raina Boulevard, Riga LV-1510
mailing address: American Embassy Riga, PSC 78, Box Riga, APO AE 09723
telephone: [371] 703-6200
FAX: [371] 782-0047

Flag description

three horizontal bands of maroon (top), white (half-width), and maroon

Economy - Latvia:

Economy overview

Latvias economy experienced average GDP growth of more than 7.0% over the past several years. In 2006 it reached 10.2% real GDP growth. The majority of companies, banks, and real estate have been privatized, although the state still holds sizable stakes in a few large enterprises. Latvia officially joined the World Trade Organization in February 1999. EU membership, a top foreign policy goal, came in May 2004. The current account deficit - more than 15% of GDP in 2006 - and inflation remain major concerns.

Gdp purchasing power parity

$36.49 billion (2006 est.)

Gdp official exchange rate

$16.5 billion (2006 est.)

Gdp real growth rate

11.9% (2006 est.)

Gdp per capita ppp

$16,000 (2006 est.)

Gdp composition by sector

agriculture: 3.7%
industry: 26.3%
services: 70% (2006 est.)

Labor force

1.136 million (2006 est.)

Labor force by occupation

agriculture: 13%
industry: 19%
services: 68% (2005 est.)

Unemployment rate

6.5% (December 2006 est.)

Population below poverty line


Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.8%
highest 10%: 26.1% (1998)

Distribution of family income gini index

35 (2003)

Inflation rate consumer prices

6.8% (December 2006 est.)

Investment gross fixed

31.4% of GDP (2006 est.)


revenues: $6.172 billion
expenditures: $6.45 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2006 est.)

Public debt

11% of GDP (2006 est.)

Agriculture products

grain, sugar beets, potatoes, vegetables; beef, pork, milk, eggs; fish


buses, vans, street and railroad cars; synthetic fibers, agricultural machinery, fertilizers, washing machines, radios, electronics, pharmaceuticals, processed foods, textiles; note - dependent on imports for energy and raw materials

Industrial production growth rate

8.5% (2006 est.)

Electricity production

4.55 billion kWh (2004)

Electricity consumption

6.329 billion kWh (2004)

Electricity exports

707 million kWh (2005)

Electricity imports

2.855 billion kWh (2005)

Oil production

0 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil consumption

47,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil exports

6,765 bbl/day (2004)

Oil imports

39,190 bbl/day (2004)

Oil proved reserves

0 bbl

Natural gas production

0 cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas consumption

1.91 billion cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas exports

0 cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas imports

1.91 billion cu m (2004 est.)

Current account balance

-$2.538 billion (2006 est.)


$6.98 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)

Exports commodities

wood and wood products, machinery and equipment, metals, textiles, foodstuffs

Exports partners

Lithuania 14.1%, Estonia 12.2%, Russia 11.6%, Germany 9.8%, UK 7.7%, Sweden 6.3%, Denmark 4.8% (2006)


$10.33 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)

Imports commodities

machinery and equipment, chemicals, fuels, vehicles

Imports partners

Germany 15.4%, Lithuania 13%, Russia 8%, Estonia 7.7%, Poland 7.2%, Finland 5.7%, Sweden 5%, Belarus 4.7% (2006)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$2.61 billion (2006 est.)

Debt external

$18.9 billion (30 June 2006 est.)

Economic aid recipient

$96.2 million (2002 est.)

Currency code

Latvian lat (LVL)

Exchange rates

lati per US dollar - 0.5597 (2006), - 0.5647 (2005), 0.5402 (2004), 0.5715 (2003), 0.6182 (2002)

Communications - Latvia:

Fiscal year

calendar year

Telephones main lines in use

657,400 (2006)

Telephones mobile cellular

2.184 million (2006)

Telephone system

general assessment: recent efforts focused on bringing competition to the telecommunications sector, beginning in 2003; the number of fixed lines is decreasing as wireless telephony expands
domestic: 3 wireless service providers including Lattelekom, the incumbent monopoly
international: country code - 371; the Latvian network is now connected via fiber optic cable to Estonia, Finland, and Sweden

Radio broadcast stations

AM 8, FM 56, shortwave 1 (1998)

Television broadcast stations

44 (plus 31 repeaters) (1995)

Internet country code


Internet hosts

65,858 (2006)

Internet users

1.071 million (2006)

Transportation - Latvia:


46 (2006)

Airports with paved runways

total: 24
2,438 to 3,047 m: 7
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 13 (2006)

Airports with unpaved runways

total: 22
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 19 (2006)


gas 1,097 km; oil 82 km; refined products 415 km (2006)


total: 2,303 km
broad gauge: 2,270 km 1.520-m gauge (257 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 33 km 0.750-m gauge (2006)


total: 69,532 km
paved: 69,532 km (2004)


300 km (2006)

Merchant marine

total: 21 ships (1000 GRT or over) 250,559 GRT/336,136 DWT
by type: cargo 7, chemical tanker 1, liquefied gas 2, passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker 7, roll on/roll off 1
registered in other countries: 105 (Antigua and Barbuda 5, Bahamas 1, Belize 6, Cambodia 2, Cyprus 4, Dominica 1, Gibraltar 2, Liberia 14, Malta 40, Marshall Islands 7, Panama 3, Russia 2, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 18) (2006)

Ports and terminals

Riga, Ventspils

Military - Latvia:

Military branches

Latvian Republic Defense Force: Ground Forces, Navy, Air Force (Latvijas Gaisa Spelki), Border Guard, Latvian Home Guard (Latvijas Zemessardze) (2007)

Military service age and obligation

19 years of age for compulsory military service; 18 years of age for volunteers; 12-month conscript service obligation; conscription to be abolished in 2007; under current law, every citizen is entitled to serve in the armed forces for life (2006)

Manpower available for military service

males age 19-49: 517,713
females age 19-49: 519,631 (2005 est.)

Manpower fit for military service

males age 19-49: 361,098
females age 19-49: 422,913 (2005 est.)

Manpower reaching military service age annually

males age 18-49: 19,137
females age 19-49: 18,505 (2005 est.)

Military expenditures percent of gdp

1.2% (2005 est.)

Disputes international

Russia refuses to sign the 1997 boundary treaty due to Latvian insistence on a unilateral clarificatory declaration referencing Soviet occupation of Latvia and territorial losses; Russia demands better Latvian treatment of ethnic Russians in Latvia; as of January 2007, ground demarcation of the boundary with Belarus was complete and mapped with final ratification documentation in preparation; the Latvian parliament has not ratified its 1998 maritime boundary treaty with Lithuania, primarily due to concerns over oil exploration rights; as a member state that forms part of the EUs external border, Latvia must implement the strict Schengen border rules with Russia

This page was last updated on 16 September, 2007
Source: CIA >>>

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