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Latvia country profile

27 August 2006
by eub2 -- last modified 25 June 2012

Latvia regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The country became a member of the European Union on 1 May 2004.


Latvijas Republika

Latvia regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Situated on the Baltic coast, Latvia is a low-lying country with large forests that supply timber for construction and paper industries. The environment is rich in wildlife. Latvia also produces consumer goods, textiles and machine tools. The country attracts tourists from all over Europe.Ethnically, the population is 59% Latvian and 29% Russian, and more than a third live in the capital Riga. Founded, in 1201, Riga is the largest city in the three Baltic states with a population of 730 000. Its Freedom Statue is one of the highest in Europe, at 43 metres.

The 100-seat unicameral Latvian Parliament, the Saeima, is elected by direct, popular vote every four years. The president is elected by the Parliament, also every four years.

Among the best-known Latvians are the expressionist painter Mark Rothko and the contemporary composer Peteris Vasks.

Characteristic specialities of Latvian cuisine are speķa pīrādziņi (bacon pies) and a refreshing, cold sour cream soup.

Official name: Republic of Latvia

Area (km2): 65 000

Population: 2.19 million (July 2011 est.)

Capital: Riga

National holiday: 18 November

Currency: Lats

Date of joining: 01 May 2004

Head of state: Valdis Zatlers, since May 2007

Head of government: Valdis Dombrovskis since March 2009. Belonging to the New Era formation, he governs a centre-right coalition made up of five parties.

GDP (millions €): 23 115.3 (2008); 19 602 (forecast for 2009)

GDP per capita in PPS: € 14 400 (2008); € 11 900 (forecast for 2009)

Real growth rate of GDP: 4% (2011 est.); -0.3% (2010 est.); -18% (2009 est.)

Unemployment rate: 15.4% (2011 est.); 18.4% (2010 est.)

National debt as % of GDP: 44.8% (2011 est.); 44.7% (2010 est.)

Inflation: 4.3% (2011 est.)

Public deficit/surplus as % of GDP: -4.0% (2011 est.)

Source: Eurostat, CIA - The World Factbook


Head of State:
Head of Government:
Foreign Minister:

Map of Latvia

Source: European Commission, Spanish EU Presidency

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