Since ancient times Latvia has been a crossroads between East and West, North and South. At various times Latvia was conquered by German knights, Poles, Swedes, and Russians. However, Latvians have managed to mature as a nation and preserve their distinctive culture.
Numerous tourists now come to Latvia to admire medieval Riga, see the ancient crusader fortresses and relax in the Baltic Sea's beautiful Latvian balneological and beach resorts. Unfortunately, there is no online casino in Latvia, but an online casino in India will suit you if you suddenly want to try slots!
Geography of Latvia
Latvia is located in the Baltics, in Northern Europe. Latvia borders Lithuania to the south, Belarus to the southeast, Russia to the east, and Estonia to the north. On the west, the Baltic Sea separates Latvia from Sweden. The total area of this country is 64 589 sq. km, and the entire length of the border is 1 150 km.
Latvia's landscape is flat, with small uplands in the east and lowlands. The highest point in the country is Gaizinkalns which reaches 312 meters.
Around 12,000 rivers flow through Latvia; the longest are the Daugava and the Gauja. In addition, in this Baltic country, there are about 3 thousand lakes, some of which are pretty small.
Capital of Latvia
The capital of Latvia is Riga, which has more than 710,000 inhabitants. Riga was founded in 1201 by the bishop of Livonia, Albert von Buxhoeveden.
The official language of Latvia
The official language in Latvia is Latvian, which belongs to the Baltic language group.
Most of Latvia's population belongs to the Latvian Evangelical-Lutheran Church, Roman Catholic Church.
State Structure of Latvia
According to the Constitution, Latvia is a parliamentary republic whose head is the President, who the country's Parliament elects.
The unicameral Parliament of Latvia (Saeima) consists of 100 members elected for a 4-year term by direct popular vote. The President appoints the Prime Minister. The executive power is vested in the President, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers, while the legislative power is vested in the Saeima.
Climate and weather
Latvia has a moderate, humid climate with continental elements, which are strongly influenced by the proximity of the Baltic Sea. The average air temperature in winter is -6C and +19C in summer. July is the hottest month in Latvia when temperatures can reach +35C.
Sea in Latvia
Latvia is washed by the waters of the Baltic Sea (the Gulf of Finland) in the west. The coastline of Latvia on the Baltic Sea is 531 km long. Beaches are sandy. The temperature of the Baltic Sea near the coast of Latvia reaches +17C in summer.
Latvia has two ice-free ports - Ventspils and Liepaja. On the coast of the Gulf of Riga are picturesque fishing villages.
Latvian rivers and lakes
About 12 thousand rivers flow through the territory of Latvia, the longest of them is the Daugava and the Gauja. Moreover, this Baltic country has about 3 thousand lakes, some of which are pretty small.
Many tourists come to Latvia to fish in local lakes and rivers (and, of course, in the coastal waters of the Baltic Sea). But unfortunately, salmon fishing in Latvia is allowed only in two rivers - Venta and Salaca.
History of Latvia
Ancestors of contemporary Latvians settled on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea approximately at the beginning of the 3rd millennium B.C. Historians believe that the ancestors of contemporary Latvians were the Baltic tribes of Seles, Couronians, Slavs, and representatives of Finno-Ugric tribes.
Only in the XII century were Latvians included in all-European history. The Livonian Order, encouraged by the Vatican, is trying to convert the pagan Latvians into Christians. At the beginning of the XIII century, most of the territory of modern Latvia was ruled by German knights and bishops. Thus Lithuania, together with southern Estonia, formed a state of German knights, Livonia. It was the German knights who founded Riga in 1201.
From 1560 till 1815, Latvia was a part of Sweden, and Riga was the capital of Swedish Livonia. At this time, the tribes of Couronians, Semigallians, Selonians, Livonians, and Northern Latgalians were assimilated, and thus the Latvian nation was formed. At the end of the 18th century, a large part of Latvian territory joined the Russian Empire.
In 1817 slavery was abolished in Courland. In Livonia, slavery was abolished in 1819.
The independence of Latvia was proclaimed in November 1918, but in August 1940, this Baltic republic was included in the USSR.
On 4 May 1990, the Supreme Soviet of Latvian SSR adopted a Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia. Thus the Republic of Latvia was formed. However, the USSR recognized the independence of Latvia only in September 1991.
In 2004 Latvia joined the NATO military bloc, and in the same year, it became a member of the European Union.
Latvia boasts rich folklore traditions that have survived to the present day. Latvia is a Christian country, but ancient pagan holidays have survived to this day, albeit in a transformed form, and Latvians still celebrate them.
The most significant ancient Latvian national holiday is Ligo (John's day), celebrated during the summer solstice on June 23-24.
Besides, Latvians' most famous national holidays are Shrovetide (Meteņi), Easter, and Christmas.
In recent years, there has been a regular Go Blonde Parade at the beginning of each summer. Therefore, it can be said that the "Go Blonde Parade" has become a traditional folklore event in Latvia.
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Latvian cuisine was influenced by Russian, German and Swedish culinary traditions. Typical products in Latvia are meat, fish, potatoes, cabbage, beets, peas and dairy products.
We recommend that tourists in Latvia try local cookies, "karbonāde" (pork chop), cheese of different varieties, soup with sorrel, potato salad, local pate, sauerkraut, and other types of sausages.
As for alcoholic beverages in Latvia, beer, vodka, and various liquors and balsams are popular in this country. Tourists often take the famous "Riga Balsam" from Latvia.
Attractions in Latvia
Curious travelers will be interested in visiting Latvia because this country has preserved many historical and architectural monuments. In our opinion, the top ten Latvian sights are as follows:
- House of Blackheads in Riga;
- Aglonas Basilica in Latgale;
- Riga Dome Cathedral;
- Cesis Castle;
- St. Peter's Church in Riga;
- Turaida Castle;
- House with Black Cats in Riga;
- Rundale Palace near Bauska;
- Riga Castle;
- Gutmanja Cave in Sigulda.
Cities and Resorts
The largest Latvian cities are Daugavpils, Rezekne, Ventspils, Liepaja and Riga.
There are several good beach resorts on Latvia's shores of the Baltic Sea. Beach season in Latvia usually begins in mid-May and lasts until mid-September. The most popular Latvian beach resorts are Ventspils, Liepaja, Riga and Jurmala.
Every year, more than ten beaches in Latvia receive the "Blue Flag" ecological certificate (for example, Vakarbulli beach in Riga and the beaches of Majori and Jaunķemer in Jurmala). It means that Latvian beach resorts comply with international environmental standards.
There are also several excellent spa resorts in Latvia, including Jūrmala and Jaunķemeri.