Country Briefs: Latvia is a North European country that borders with Baltic States i.e. Estonia to the north and Lithuania to the south and Russia and Belarus to the east. Latvia also shares a maritime border with Republic of Sweden.
The area of Latvia is 123rd in the world and its population of around of 2,290,237 is at 138th rank. The capital of Latvia is its largest city, Riga. Riga is a wonderful city that is extremely popular of its extensive Art Nouveau architecture that is often compared to the Barcelonan architecture.
If we look at the past of Latvia we discover that the foremost settlements in this region were the Balts. In the 9th century the Balts were under the Vikings but around 12th and 13th centuries they moved under their German speaking neighbors who left an immense impact over them.
By 1230 Latvia was conquered by the Knights of the Sword and the German rule over the area continued for three complete centuries. From mid-16th to early 18th century Latvia was divided between Poland and Sweden but by the end of 18th century entire Latvia was under the Russian empire. In 1918 Latvia got independence after the Russian Revolution of 1917. After a series of fights Soviet Russia and Germany realized the new nation in 1920.
Till 1934 coalition parties ruled over Latvia after which an autocratic rule was established by president Karlis Ulmanis. In 1940 the Soviet Red Army entered Latvia and managed to acquire the entire state. Latvia flourished to a great extent under the rule of Soviet Union. However with the liberalization of the Soviet regime in 1980, Latvia too got independence in 1991.
The time period between 10th and 11th centuries was one when Latvia witnessed tremendous pressure from Slavs from east and Swedish from west.
From mid-12th century German missionaries started migrating into Latvia and before they merged with the Knights of the Teutonic Order, they conquered all the Latvian tribal kingdoms. After the conquest the Germans formed a Livonian confederation. This confederation lived for three years.
The Latvian territory again encountered a partition in 1561. As a result of that partition Courland became an autonomous duchy under the rule of the Lithuanian sovereign, Livonia was incorporated into Lithuania and Riga came under the Polish- Lithuanian Commonwealth. But Livonia was taken by the Swediash king Gustav II Adolf in 1621 and the greater part of Livonia was ceded to Sweden.
After the Bolshevik coup of November 1917 in Petrograd, the Latvian People's Council proclaimed independence on 18th November 1918. The leader of Farmer's Union, Karlis Ulmanis formed a government.
The Red Army invaded Riga in 1919 but when it suffered attacks from Estonians, they withdrew from Latvia. Meanwhile Germans had occupied the Liepaja and were constantly facing attacks from the British for domination. By 1919 the German troops left Lithuania and Latvia.
In 1920 a Latvian constituent assembly was formed. The Latvian constitution of 1922 provided for a republic with a president and a unicameral parliament. In 1934 the Ulmanis issued a judgment declaring a state of siege. The Saemia and other political parties were dissolved and Latvia progressed tremendously under the Ulmanis.
The German Soviet Non Aggression pact signed in 1939 pre-decided Latvia's fate in the Second World War. As a result Latvia had to sign the treaty of mutual assistance by which the USSR obtained military, naval and air bases on Latvian land.
On 5th August 1940 Latvia was incorporated in USSR. From 1941 to 1944 German invaded USSR, Latvia was a province of a larger Ostland including Estonia, Lithuania and Belorussia.
In 1944 about two-thirds of the country was occupied by the Red Army. The Germans held out in Kurzeme until the end of the war.
At the end of 1980 Latvia witnessed a national renaissance together with soviet campaigns for openness and restructuring. In 1990 the Latvian Popular Front that was against the ruling party, won the elections. On 4th May the Latvian legislature passed a declaration on renewal of independence and acquired it in 1991 after the failed coup in Moscow.
- Typ: c = city, d = district.
- HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
- ISO: Codes from ISO 3166-2.
- FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.
- Population: 2000-03-31 census.
- Post: Postal code (see note).
- Plan: Planning region (first letter of name).