RIGA – The statistics office reported last week that the population of Latvia has continued to decline and that a drop of 7,000 people has been registered so far this year.
However, the rate of population decline in the first half of this year was the same as last year's.
From January to June almost 17,000 people died, and over 10,000 young infants were born, while some 500 left the country.
As of July 1 the official population was 2.31 million.
Since 1999, when the 11-year plunge in Latvia's birth-rate reversed and began to grow, more babies have been born – from 8.1 per 1,000 people in 1999 to nine per 1,000 per capita in 2004.
The mortality rate remains high and gained 1.4 percent this year so far, with deaths also from accidents claiming many lives.
The average life expectancy in Latvia is one of the lowest in Europe and was 65.9 years for men and 76.9 years for women in 2003.