Latvia: Facts and Information

Here are some interesting facts about Latvia.

  • Latvia is one of the 3 European Baltic states. It is located in northern Europe, covers an area of about 64,000 square km and is bordered by Lithuania, Estonia, Russia and Belarus.
  • The country was controlled by the Soviet Union after World War II, and claimed its independence in 1991.
  • In 2004, Latvia joined the European Union.
  • Riga is the capital and largest city. The city is a World Heritage Site, known for its 19th century wooden buildings and for having the most Art Nouveau buildings in the world.
  • Riga Castle was built in the 14th century to protect the city, and is today the home of the country’s President. In 2013, a fire destroyed about 3,000 square metres of the castle.
  • One of Riga’s most well-known buildings is the House of the Blackheads. It was built during the 14th century as a trade guild for unmarried German merchants.

Flag of Latvia

  • Over 50 percent of Latvia is covered by forest, and a lot of the coastline is undeveloped.
  • The country’s highest point is only 311 metres high, and there are over 700 protected areas, including over 250 nature reserves.
  • Ice hockey is the most popular sport in Latvia, and tennis, football and cycling are also popular.
  • In 1935, the Latvian basketball team won the first European Basketball Championship.
  • In 2012, most of the country voted not to adopt Russian as an official second language, after Latvian.
  • Some Latvians speak the almost extinct language of Livonian, which is protected under the country’s law.
  • It rains or snows in Latvia for over half the year. The farmland often has to be drained, which provides one of the country’s main sources of employment.
  • The country has over 12,000 rivers and is home to over 27,000 plant and animal species.
  • The white wagtail has been Latvia’s national bird since 1960.

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