Latvia is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe known for its diverse culture, modern cities and landscapes ranging from wide beaches to dense, sprawling forests.
The official name of the country is the Republic of Latvia.
The official language is Latvian.
As of 1 January 2016, the population of Latvia was estimated to be 1,956,526 people.
Latvia has an area of 64,589 square kilometers (24,938 square miles).
Riga is the capital and the largest city of Latvia. With 641,007 inhabitants (2015), Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states and home to one third of Latvia’s population.
About 98% of the country lies under 200 meters (656 feet) elevation.
The Gaising or Gaiziņkalns, at 312 meters (1,023 feet) above sea level, is the highest point in Latvia.
Forests are the outstanding feature of Latvia, claiming 42% of the territory.
Latvia holds over 12,000 rivers, only 17 of which are longer than 100 kilometers (60 miles), and over 3,000 small lakes.
Ventas Rapid or Ventas Rumba (in Latvian) is the widest waterfall in Europe. It falls on the Venta river near town Kuldiga and is 249 meters (817 feet) wide (up to 270 meters (886 feet) during spring floods). It is only 1.80 – 2.20 meters (5.9–7.2 feet) high.
Latvia’s coastline, with sandstone outcrops and steep cliffs as well as sandy beaches, extends about 500 kilometers along the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Riga.
There are four national parks in Latvia.
The Gauja National Park is the largest and oldest of the national parks in Latvia, characterized by great biological diversity, variety of landforms, natural springs, sandstone outcrops, picturesque views and unique natural, cultural and historical monuments.
Turaida Museum Reserve – Turaida means ‘God’s Garden’ in ancient Livonian, and this green knoll capped with a fairy-tale castle is certainly a heavenly place. The red-brick castle (Turaida Castle) with its tall cylindrical tower was built in 1214. The rest of the reserve features a variety of buildings that have been transformed into small galleries and exhibits.
The historic center of Riga is a historical and cultural heritage founded at the beginning of 13th century. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, noted for its Art Nouveau/Jugendstil architecture and 19th century wooden architecture.
St. Peter’s Church is a Lutheran church in Riga dedicated to Saint Peter. It is a parish church of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia. First mention of the St. Peter’s Church is in records dating to 1209.
The Nativity of Christ Cathedral in Riga was built to a design by Nikolai Chagin and Robert Pflug in a Neo-Byzantine style between 1876 and 1883, during the period when the country was part of the Russian Empire.
Rundale Palace is the most outstanding monument of Baroque and Rococo architecture and art in Latvia. The palace was built for the Duke of Courland, Ernst Johann Biron based on the project by architect F.B.Rastrelli during two time periods – from 1736 till 1749 and from 1764 till 1768.
Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum is one of the oldest and largest open-air museums in Europe. 118 historical buildings have been put on display in the territory of 87 ha on the coast of Jugla lake in Riga. The buildings range in age, and most of them were originally constructed between the 17th century up all the way up until the 1930s.
Latvian cuisine typically consists of agricultural products, with meat featuring in most main meal dishes. Fish is commonly consumed due to Latvia’s location on the east coast of the Baltic Sea.
Amber has long been viewed as a precious stone associated with the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea. Latvians themselves have occasionally referred to the Baltic Sea as the Amber Sea, reinforcing the symbolic importance of amber in Latvian culture and history.
The Latvian flag is one of the oldest in the world, dating all the way back to the 13th century. A legend
refers to a mortally wounded chief of a Latvian tribe who was wrapped in a white sheet. The part of the sheet on which he was lying remained white, but the two edges were stained in his blood. During the next battle the bloodstained sheet was used as a flag.
Jāņi is a Latvian anniversary festival, which celebrates the summer solstice, the day when it has the shortestnight and the longest day (over 17 hours of sunlight).
Latvia is one of three countries commonly known as the “Baltic States“. The other Baltic State countries are Estonia and Lithuania.
A Latvian-Jewish tailor named Jākobs Jufess invented the jeans (Levi Strauss backed him financially).
Juris Upatnieks (born in Riga) is a Latvian-American physicist and inventor, and pioneer in the field of holography.
Latvia has the 7th fastest internet speed in the world, ranking between Hong Kong and Switzerland.