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Everything you need to know about Latvia: news, reviews, in-depth analysis, opinion and more

Latvia: Former Soviet Baltic State and EU Member

Latvia is a Baltic Sea state situated alongside Estonia, Russia, Belarus and Lithuania. The Latvians were exposed to Christianity first in 1180 when Christian missionaries arrived but as they couldn’t convert the hardy Balts the German missionaries were sent to convert the Latvians by persuasion or force. During the Livonian war of the 16th century Latvia came under Polish-Lithuanian rule and later under Swedish control in the 17th century. The Treaty of Nystad of 1721 gave Latvia to Russia who ruled the country till 1991 except for a brief interregnum from 1920 to 1944. Following independence from the Soviet Union Latvia has gone for rapid modernisation and has embraced free market reforms by joining the WTO, IMF and EU. It is also a member of NATO.

Latvia Facts:

    · National Name: Latvijas Republika
    · Capital: Riga
    · Total area: 64,589 sq km
    · Population: 2,245,423 (2008 est.)
    · Currency: Lats
    · Languages: Latvian 58% (official), Russian 38%, Lithuanian, othe
    · Ethnicity/ Races: Latvian 57.7%, Russian 29.6%, Belorussian 4.1%, Ukrainian 2.7%, Polish 2.5%, Lithuanian 1.4%, other 2% (2002)
    · Religion: Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Russian Orthodox
    · GDP (Per Capita): $17,700 (2007 est.)
    · Life Expectancy: Male: 66.68 Years, Female: 77.35 Years (2208 est.)
    · Literacy: 99.7%

Latvia Geography and Climate:
Latvia lies along the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea between Estonia and Lithuania. Climatic wise Latvia represents England’s damp climate. The major Latvian rivers include Daugava, Lielupe, Gauja, Venta and Salca. Latvia is densely forested with Pine trees and woodlands cover more than 41% of the area. Latvia has more than 500 kms of coastline and the Liepaja and Ventspils are the major Latvian rivers.

Economy of Latvia:
Prior to the Soviet occupation Latvia was mostly an agrarian state, however post WWII the country witnessed rapid industrialisation under the Russian supervision. And after the country gained independence from Soviet rule in 1991 Latvians have enjoyed a very high economic growth that exceeded 10% in 2006-07. Latvia has witnessed rapid privatisation since integrating its economy with the world markets. It was only in 2008 that the Latvian economy suffered a contraction owing to the global financial crisis that affected large parts of Europe.

Latvia Culture and Cuisine:
Latvia has a distinct amalgamation of German cultural elements that entered its culture from the 13th century onwards owing to the influx of the German missionaries who later became the upper class of Latvia. However majority of the Latvians still preserved their pagan ethos and followings and Jani, a pagan celebration is still celebrated even today. Music became increasingly popular during the Soviet era and as a result the 1980’s songs are still popular among the Latvians.

Latvian cuisine consists of a exotic combination of agricultural and meat products and along the western coast of the country fish is quite popular owing to the presence of the Baltic Sea. The traditional Latvian cheese Kimenu siers is served during the Jani celebration whereas other popular dishes include Borshch, Rasols and Sauerkraut. The popular Latvian drinks include beer, vodka and balzam.

Latvia Tourist Attractions:
Latvia owing to its large period of colonial rule has many historic and architectural places of interest to visit for the tourists. The Latvian capital Riga has many such architectural splendours such as the Freedom Monument affectionately called Milda by the locals. Art lovers can also visit the Great and Small guild Halls, which date back to the 14th century. The Riga Castle built in the 13th century and currently the residence of the Latvian President is another architectural treat.

Other Places to See in Latvia include:

    · The Guilds
    · The House of Blackheads
    · The Cat House
    · The Three Brothers
    · Ramparts, Swedish Gate and Powder Tower
    · The Academy of Sciences
    · The Laima Clock

'Agent Vinod' collects Rs.10 crore on opening day

March 24, 2012 at 8:24 PM

New Delhi, March 24 (IANS) Saif Ali Khan's home production "Agent Vinod" has earned Rs.10 crore on the first day, and is the actor's biggest solo opening so far.

It's a shame to ban 'Agent Vinod' in Pak, says Saif

March 22, 2012 at 8:41 PM

New Delhi, March 22 (ANI): The ban on the upcoming film 'Agent Vinod' in Pakistan has disappointed actor Saif Ali Khan, who is also the co-producer of the film.

It's a shame to ban 'Agent Vinod' in Pak, says Saif

March 22, 2012 at 1:20 PM

New Delhi, March 22 (ANI): The ban on the upcoming film 'Agent Vinod' in Pakistan has disappointed actor Saif Ali Khan, who is also the co-producer of the film.


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