Official Name: Republic of Latvia
Established: 6 July 1253 (Kingdom of Lithuania), 16 February 1918 (Independence from Russia)
Population: 1,907,675 (2020 estimate)
Religion: 34.3% Lutheranism, 25.1% Catholicism, 16.9% Eastern Orthodox, 3.7% Other Christian
Order of Visit: Twenty-Fifth
First Visit: 18 July 2006
Last Visit: 19 July 2006
Duration: 2 Days
Visit Highlights: Museum of Occupation, The Baltic Sea
Places Visited: Riga
Latvia Journal Entry
History and Geography
Latvia is a country in the Baltic region of Europe bordered by Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, Russia to the east, Belarus to the southeast, and shares a maritime border with Sweden to the west. Latvia covers 64,589 square kilometres with the Baltic sea off the coast.
Around 3000 BC, the proto-Baltic ancestors of the Latvian people settled on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. The area became integrated into the European socio-political system in the 12th century.
In 1282, Riga, and later the cities of Cēsis, Limbaži, Koknese and Valmiera, became part of the Hanseatic League. Riga became an important point of east–west trading. After the Livonian War (1558–1583), Livonia (Northern Latvia & Southern Estonia) fell under Polish and Lithuanian rule. In the 17th and early 18th centuries, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Sweden, and Russia struggled for supremacy in the eastern Baltic.
After centuries of Swedish, Polish-Lithuanian and Russian rule, a rule mainly executed by the Baltic German aristocracy, the Republic of Latvia was established on 18 November 1918 when it broke away from the Russian Empire and declared independence in the aftermath of World War I.
The country’s independence was interrupted at the outset of World War II, beginning with Latvia’s forcible incorporation into the Soviet Union, followed by the invasion and occupation by Nazi Germany in 1941, and the re-occupation by the Soviets in 1944.
The peaceful Singing Revolution, starting in 1987 ended with the Declaration on the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia on 4 May 1990. The Republic of Latvia declared the end of the transitional period and restored full independence on 21 August 1991.
Despite foreign rule from the 13th to 20th centuries, the Latvian nation maintained its identity throughout the generations via the language and musical traditions. However, as a consequence of centuries of Russian rule (1710–1918) and later Soviet occupation, 26.9% of the population of Latvia are ethnic Russians.
Latvia is a member of the European Union, Eurozone, NATO, the Council of Europe, the United Nations.
What I experienced
For this short visit of Latvia I got to see and experience the outcomes of the Soviet Union involvement in Latvia in particular by visiting the sad but impressive Museum of Occupation. The dark blue Baltic Sea was also very impressive with a cold wind blowing across it, even in summer, as I enjoyed a relaxing walk along the coast. I feel this would be a good country to spend 4-5 days relaxing.