Latvian gross domestic product per capita of population last year again was the lowest among the European Union candidate states.
Although Latvian GDP per capita in 2002 increased to 35 percent of the average figure in EU member states from 33 percent in 2001, the country still remains at the bottom of the list, based on preliminary estimates by the European statistics office Eurostat.
Only Romania and Bulgaria had lower GDP per capita than Latvia, but these countries were not invited to join the EU in 2004.
Still, Latvia managed to improve its position vis-à-vis its Baltic neighbors, as Lithuanian GDP per capita in 2002 grew to 39 percent from 38 percent in 2001, while Estonia suffered a fall to 41 percent from 42 percent of the average EU level.
The Latvian Institute of Economy director, Raita Karnite, said that growth of GDP per capita to 35 percent from 33 percent could be considered rather steep. She said Latvia's economic growth was much faster than elsewhere in Europe and its population was shrinking, affecting the indicator such as GDP per capita.
Cyprus and Slovenia led the EU candidates by GDP per capita at 74 percent of the EU average, which is even higher than in EU member states Portugal and Greece.
Luxembourg is the richest country in Europe, boasting a GDP per capita of 89 percent above the average EU level last year.