The Basic Facts of Latvia

Before we begin to took more complicated view about Latvia I will introduce you with the basic facts of this country.

Latvia is located in Eastern Europe bordering the Baltic Sea. Its neighbors are Estonia from north, Lithuania in the south and Russia and Belarus in the east.

Its total area is 64,589 sq km. Not much considering other nations like France or Poland but more than Denmark or Netherlands.  The weather is maritime, vet with moderate winters however because of Global Warming the climate of Latvia is rapidly changing with more hotter summers and more warmer winters.

Our terrain is low plain-ed. Our highest mountain the Gaiziņkalns is only 312 meters high. However this douse not prevent the winter lowers from enjoying winter skiing in Latvia.  The River Daugava which starts in Russia and ends at the Riga Bay are most important river. Its divides Latvia in two sides. This was crucial in Latvia history when the river was serving as the borderline between the  fighting sides of foreign powers. The other important rivers are Gauja, Lielupe and Venta.

We are low on rich natural recourse’s. Our main export resource always has been wood. The is also dolomite and limestone.  On the shores you can find amber, but its more common in Lithuania.

Latvians are known as the farming peoples so the much of the land is used for farming purposes. However in the last 18 years the agriculture in Latvia has experienced fall down thanks to faulty Soviet collective farming policies and incompetence of present day Latvian politicians.

The population of Latvia is 2,231,503 (July 2009 est.) peoples.  The mayor ethnic group are Latvians (57%), Russians (29%), Belarusians (4%), Ukrainians (2%), Poles (2,5%) and others. This ethnic situation considerably differs from the prewar ethnic situation in 1939. when Latvians where roughly 78% and the Russians only 10%. There were also large German and Jewish populations in Latvia who  almost completely perished thought the events of the Second World War.  After the war Latvia faced uncontrolled migration from the Soviet Union which bought  large masses of mostly Slavic settlers.  This was followed by large emigrations by ethnic Latvians to Western world and two large deportations to Siberia in 1940 and 1949.  Those events have downsized the Latvian majority and because of present day emigration to Western World the count of Latvian nation is still shrinking.

The present day Latvia political system is multi party democracy. The President of Latvia is Valdis Zatlers the ex physician. The president of Latvia has been always elected by parliament- the Saeima. President serves four years and can be elected twice.  The Saeima consists of 100 elected deputies with chosen in elections every four years.  Our current Prime Minister is Valdis Dombrovskis. The main ruling parties are Peoples Party, New Era Party, First Party of Latvia/ Latvia’s way and others. However the last municipal elections showed the appalling unpopularity of the coalition parties. In the next years parliamentary elections it is proposed that left-sided party union the Harmony Center will gain majority.  The Harmony Center is more pro- Russian party and are predicted to win since the Latvian right parties has lost the support of  the most voters.

Since joining the European Union Latvia enjoyed economic boom. The ex prime minister promised “seven fat years”, but it’s appeared to be just a good dream. In 2008 following the crisis in worlds markets the Latvian economy faced a big fall causing large budget account deficit and inability to support payments to the workforce.

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