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Facts about Latvia for Kids

Latvia officially the Republic of Latvia, is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia (border length 343 km), to the south by Lithuania (588 km), to the east by the Russian Federation (276 km), to the southeast by Belarus (141 km), and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden.

  • With 2,070,371 inhabitants and a territory of 64,589 km (24,938 sq mi) it is one of the least populous and least densely populated countries of the European Union.
  • The capital of Latvia is Riga.
  • The country has a temperate seasonal climate.
  • Together with the Finnic Livs (or Livonians), the Latvians are the indigenous people of Latvia.
  • Latvian is an Indo-European language and along with Lithuanian the only two surviving members of the Baltic branch.
  • In terms of geography, territory and population Latvia is the middle of three Baltic states: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
  • It was occupied and annexed by the Soviet Union between 1940–1941 and 1945–1991 and by Nazi Germany between 1941–1945.
  • The peaceful “Singing Revolution” between 1987 and 1991 and “Baltic Way” demonstration on August 23, 1989 led to the independence of the Baltic states.
  • Latvia is a member of the United Nations, European Union, Council of Europe, NATO, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organization, and is part of the Schengen Area.
  • Latvia is also a member of the Council of the Baltic Sea States and Nordic Investment Bank, and is together with Estonia and Lithuania involved in trilateral Baltic States cooperation and Nordic-Baltic cooperation.
  • In the global financial crisis of 2008–2010 Latvia was the hardest hit of the European Union member states, with a GDP decline of 26.54% in that period.
  • All three Baltic provinces preserved local laws, the local official language and their own parliament, the Landtag.
  • The People’s Council of Latvia proclaimed the independence of the new country in Riga on November 18, 1918, with Kārlis Ulmanis becoming the head of the provisional government.
  • Latvian paramilitary and Auxiliary Police units established by the occupation authority participated in the Holocaust as well.
  • An influx of labourers, administrators, military personnel and their dependents from Russia and other Soviet republics started.
  • In order to expand industrial production, skilled workers were transferred into the republic from all over the Soviet Union, decreasing the proportion of ethnic Latvians in the republic.
  • The major goals of Latvia in the 1990s, to join NATO and the European Union, were achieved in 2004.
  • Major rivers include the Daugava River, Lielupe, Gauja, Venta, and Salaca, the largest spawning ground for salmon in the eastern Baltics.
  • The sole official language of Latvia is Latvian, which belongs to the Baltic language group of the Indo-European language family.