If, like us before, you did not know exactly where Latvia was on a map, this page is for you!
Where is Latvia?
– Population : 2,165,165 (2014 estimate), 67.7% urbanized.
– Capital : Riga.
– Density: 35 hab./km².
– Life expectancy: 73.5 years (10 years difference between men and women!).
– Religion : Lutheran (25% of the population) and Catholic (25% of the population).
– Change : the euro (since 1 January 2014).
– Language : Latvian.
– Political regime: parliamentary democracy.
– Head of State (President of the Republic): Andris Berzins (since July 2011).
– Jet lag : + 1h.
– UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the historic center of Riga (1997); the geodesic arc of Struve (2005).
When, in 1991, the country regained its independence, the production system, based on industry, collapsed.
It will take 5 years, reforms and a drastic economic policy to enable the country to recover.
Figures for 1996 are more optimistic. In 1998, imports became too expensive: as a result, national productions took off, and drove the economy. Foreign investment is flowing in.
The shadow economy, corruption and ever-increasing inequality nevertheless continue to pose problems.
The country was very hard hit by the financial and economic crisis since the end of 2008. The government obtained a international aid.
Prospects look better since 2011. In fact, Latvia recorded in 2012 one of the highest growth rates in the European Union.
On January 1, 2014, the country joined the euro zone and adopted the single currency (and replaced the Lats which had been introduced in 1993).
Local culinary habits are strongly influenced by Germany, with also some Russian and Polish touches.
The dishes are often accompanied by a good soft rye bread (rye bread).
: borrowed from the Russian neighbours, thepies (turnovers stuffed with bacon or vegetables) and dumplings(kinds of ravioli), just like blinis (pancakes), accompanied by ham, cheese or “red caviar” (salmon eggs).
The Pisces marinated or smoked are very tender.
The soups (soups)
The "salads", dripping with mayonnaise.
The Latvian is a eater of meat, and especially pork, often cooked the German way in breaded escalope (chop), or Caucasian in shashlik, wood-fired skewers. The chicken (poultry meat) smoked, beef (beef) with onions. Roasted goose, stuffed with plums and apples.
Side Pisces : Salmon (left), trout (trout), sturgeon (store), carpe (carp), eel, etc.
The country gently undulates in low hills: 98% of the country does not exceed 200 m in altitude. The highest point, the Gaizinkalns, just reaches 311 m altitude. Marshes and bogs still occupy nearly 10% of the territory, the forest 44%, especially on the coast, north of Courland. We harvest wild strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and cranberries, mushrooms... Elsewhere, the woods alternate with fields overrun with flowers on sunny days.
The weakness of chemical treatments favors the development of nature, attracting a large number of bird species, especially storks. It is estimated that about half of the country has retained its original ecosystems.
Climate and weather
Near the coast, the influence of the Baltic Sea softens the climate: not too cold in winter (-4°C in January), nor too hot in summer (16.5°C in July).
Inland, the climate is harsher: down to -20°C in winter and +30°C in summer.
Whatever the season, humidity is there: it can rain for a week in a row in summer...
Close to Lithuanian, Latvian is, like it, of old Indo-European stock (non-Slavic). Later, it was influenced by German, the language of education from the Middle Ages until the 19th century.
A rather difficult language at first glance, Latvian has seven cases of declensions, long and short vowels, no articles and a very relative word order. The alphabet has 33 letters, without q, w, x or y, but with many variations of accents. Long vowels are letters in their own right, and forgetting an accent can change the meaning of the word...
Latvian is today the only official language of the country, even if Russian remains very widely spoken.
Thank you The backpacker !