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  Introduction Back To Top

The name "Latvia" originates from the ancient Latgalians, one of four eastern Baltic tribes that formed the ethnic core of the Latvian people (ca. 8th-12th centuries A.D.). The region subsequently came under the control of Germans, Poles, Swedes, and finally, Russians. A Latvian republic emerged following World War I, but it was annexed by the USSR in 1940 - an action never recognized by the US and many other countries. Latvia 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.

  Geography Back To Top

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 0.25 cu km/yr (55%/33%/12%)
per capita: 108 cu m/yr (2003)

Total renewable water resources:
49.9 cu km (2005)

Land boundaries:
total: 1,382 km
border countries: Belarus 171 km, Estonia 343 km, Lithuania 576 km, Russia 292 km

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

maritime; wet, moderate winters

Map references:

Geographic coordinates:
57 00 N, 25 00 E

Natural resources:
peat, limestone, dolomite, amber, hydropower, wood, arable land

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

low plain

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

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

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

498 km

Area - comparative:
slightly larger than West Virginia

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)

Environment - current issues:
Latvia's 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

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

Natural hazards:

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

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
1.29 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.49 male(s)/female
total population: 0.86 male(s)/female (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.6% (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
7,600 (2001 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 71.88 years
male: 66.68 years
female: 77.35 years (2008 est.)

Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A
vectorborne diseases: tickborne encephalitis (2008)

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

Net migration rate:
-2.29 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)

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

Median age:
total: 39.9 years
male: 36.9 years
female: 43 years (2008 est.)

2,245,423 (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:
5.1% of GDP (2004)

Population growth rate:
-0.629% (2008 est.)

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

Death rate:
13.63 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 8.96 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 10.85 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.97 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:
fewer than 500 (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 16 years
male: 14 years
female: 17 years (2006)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 13.4% (male 154,077/female 146,825)
15-64 years: 69.7% (male 760,976/female 803,106)
65 years and over: 16.9% (male 124,658/female 255,781) (2008 est.)

Birth rate:
9.62 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Lutheran 19.6%, Orthodox 15.3%, other Christian 1%, other 0.4%, unspecified 63.7% (2006)

noun: Latvian(s)
adjective: Latvian

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Charles LARSON Jr.
embassy: 7 Raina Boulevard, Riga LV-1510
mailing address: American Embassy Riga, PSC 78, Box Riga, APO AE 09723
telephone: [371] 670-36200
FAX: [371] 678-20047

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

18 years of age; universal for Latvian citizens

Government type:
parliamentary democracy

Political pressure groups and leaders:
Headquarters for the Protection of Russian Schools (SHTAB) [Aleksandr KAZAKOV]

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

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), OIF (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, Schengen Convention, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WEU (associate partner), WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

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; note - seats by party as of December 2008 - TP 21, SC 18, ZZS 17, JL 14, LPP/LC 10, Civic Union 7, TB/LNNK 5, PCTVL 5, independents 3

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

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

18 November 1918 (from Soviet Russia)

Country name (Goverment):
conventional long form: Republic of Latvia
conventional short form: Latvia
local long form: Latvijas Republika
local short form: Latvija
former: Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic

Political parties and leaders:
Civic Union [Sandra KALNIETE]; First Party of Latvia/Latvia's Way or LPP/LC [Ainars SLESERS, Ivars GODMANIS]; 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 [Nils USAKOVS]; New Era Party or JL [Einars REPSE, Krisjanis KARINS]; People's Party or TP [Mareks SEGLINS]; The Union of Latvian Greens and Farmers Party or ZZS [Augusts BRIGMANIS]

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

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

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Valdis ZATLERS (since 8 July 2007)
head of government: Prime Minister Ivars GODMANIS (since 20 December 2007)
cabinet: Council of Ministers nominated by the prime minister and appointed by Parliament
elections: president elected by Parliament for a four-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 31 May 2007 (next to be held in 2011); prime minister appointed by the president, confirmed by Parliament
election results: Valdis ZATLERS elected president; parliamentary vote - Valdis ZATLERS 58, Aivars ENDZINS 39

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

Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (judges' appointments are confirmed by Parliament); Constitutional Court (judges' appointments are confirmed by Parliament)

  Economy Back To Top

Exports - partners:
Lithuania 15.1%, Estonia 13.8%, Russia 13%, Germany 8.3%, Sweden 7.4%, UK 6.5% (2007)

Electricity - consumption:
6.424 billion kWh (2006 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
6% (31 December 2007)

Electricity - imports:
4.671 billion kWh (2007 est.)

Current account balance:
-$5.126 billion (2008 est.)

Debt - external:
$39.47 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Unemployment rate:
5.5% (2008 est.)

Oil - exports:
10,070 bbl/day (2005)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$18,500 (2008 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):
30.2% of GDP (2008 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$27.56 billion (31 December 2007)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$41.61 billion (2008 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$33.9 billion (2008 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:
37.7 (2003)

Exchange rates:
lati (LVL) per US dollar - 0.4701 (2008 est.), 0.5162 (2007), 0.5597 (2006), 0.5647 (2005), 0.5402 (2004)

GDP - real growth rate:
-0.4% (2008 est.)

Stock of money:
$8.196 billion (31 December 2007)

Labor force:
1.169 million (2008 est.)

Imports - partners:
Germany 15.1%, Lithuania 13.8%, Russia 8.7%, Estonia 8%, Poland 6.9%, Finland 5.1%, Sweden 4.9% (2007)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
15.8% (2008 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 3.3%
industry: 22.3%
services: 74.4% (2008 est.)

Oil - imports:
45,340 bbl/day (2005)

$8.364 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:
2.04 billion cu m (2007 est.)

Currency (code):
lat (LVL)

Economy - overview:
Latvia's economy experienced GDP growth of more than 10% per year during 2006-07; but entered a recession as a result of unsustainable current account deficit and large debt exposure amid the softening world economy. The IMF, EU, and other donors provided assistance to Latvia as part of a package to defend the currency's peg to the euro and reduce public spending by about 5% of GDP. 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 and inflation remain major concerns.

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, chemicals, fuels, vehicles

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

Electricity - exports:
1.676 billion kWh (2007 est.)

Population below poverty line:

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
10.91% (31 December 2007)

Stock of quasi money:
$5.113 billion (31 December 2007)

Electricity - production:
4.734 billion kWh (2006 est.)

$14.19 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 12.1%
industry: 25.8%
services: 61.8% (2005 est.)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$5.66 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Oil - consumption:
35,180 bbl/day (2006 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$879 million (2008 est.)

Public debt:
7.1% of GDP (2008 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$11.21 billion (2008 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$3.111 billion (31 December 2007)

Currency code:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.5%
highest 10%: 29.1% (2003)

Exports - commodities:
wood and wood products, machinery and equipment, metals, textiles, foodstuffs

Economic aid - recipient:
$162 million (2004)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 29.1%
hydro: 70.9%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)

Natural gas - imports:
2.04 billion cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

revenues: $12.33 billion
expenditures: $12.84 billion (2008 est.)

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2007 est.)

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
1.177 million (2007)

Telephones - main lines in use:
644,000 (2007)

1.22 million (1997)

Internet country code:

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 8, FM 56, shortwave 1 (1998)

1.76 million (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular:
2.217 million (2007)

Television broadcast stations:
44 (plus 31 repeaters) (1995)

Telephone system:
general assessment: recent efforts focused on bringing competition to the telecommunications sector; the number of fixed lines is decreasing as wireless telephone service expands
domestic: number of telecommunications operators has grown rapidly since the fixed-line market opened to competition in 2003; combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular subscribership is roughly 125 per 100 persons
international: country code - 371; the Latvian network is now connected via fiber optic cable to Estonia, Finland, and Sweden (2007)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
41 (2001)

Internet hosts:
220,082 (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

300 km (2007)

gas 948 km; oil 82 km; refined products 415 km (2007)

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)

Ports and terminals:
Riga, Ventspils

Merchant marine:
total: 22
by type: cargo 8, chemical tanker 3, liquefied gas 2, passenger/cargo 5, petroleum tanker 2, roll on/roll off 2
foreign-owned: 2 (Estonia 2)
registered in other countries: 118 (Antigua and Barbuda 13, Belize 12, Cambodia 1, Cook Islands 1, Cyprus 1, Dominica 1, Jamaica 1, Liberia 21, Malta 19, Marshall Islands 16, Panama 8, Russia 2, Saint Kitts and Nevis 5, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 17) (2008)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 21
2,438 to 3,047 m: 7
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 9 (2007)

total: 69,675 km
paved: 69,675 km (2006)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 21
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 20 (2007)

42 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for voluntary military service; conscription abolished January 2007; under current law, every citizen is entitled to serve in the armed forces for life (2006)

Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 568,683
females age 16-49: 565,826 (2008 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 412,849
females age 16-49: 468,827 (2008 est.)

Military branches:
National Armed Forces (Nacionalo Brunoto Speku): Ground Forces, Navy (Latvijas Juras Speki; includes Coast Guard (Latvijas Kara Flotes)), Latvian Air Force (Latvijas Gaisa Speki), Border Guard, Latvian Home Guard (Latvijas Zemessardze) (2008)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 14,506
female: 13,982 (2008 est.)

Military expenditures:
1.2% of GDP (2005 est.)

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

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 EU's external border, Latvia has implemented the strict Schengen border rules with Russia

Illicit drugs:
transshipment and destination point for cocaine, synthetic drugs, opiates, and cannabis from Southwest Asia, Western Europe, Latin America, and neighboring Balkan countries; despite improved legislation, vulnerable to money laundering due to nascent enforcement capabilities and comparatively weak regulation of offshore companies and the gaming industry; CIS organized crime (including counterfeiting, corruption, extortion, stolen cars, and prostitution) accounts for most laundered proceeds

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