Fast Facts

Riga; 733,000
64,589 square kilometers (24,938 square miles)
Latvian, Lithuanian, Russian
Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Russian Orthodox
Latvian lat
Life Expectancy:
GDP per Capita:
U.S. $8,900
Literacy Percent:
Flag: Latvia
Map: Latvia

Flat and forested, Latvia lies on the Baltic Sea in northern Europe. Few former Soviet republics experienced a more profound shift in character during their 50 years of domination than this Baltic country. From 1939-1989 the proportion of ethnic Latvians in Latvia dropped from 73 to 52 percent—due to heavy Russian immigration and Latvian emigration. Since independence in 1991, Latvian ethnicity has started to rebound and now constitutes 59 percent of the population—Russians are 29 percent. An industrial country with trade ties to the West, Latvia joined NATO and the EU in 2004.


  • Industry: Buses, vans, street and railroad cars, synthetic fibers
  • Agriculture: Grain, sugar beets, potatoes, vegetables; beef; fish
  • Exports: Wood and wood products, machinery and equipment, metals, textiles

—Text From National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition

Related Features

  • Picture of tourists walk on the Town Hall Square in the House of Blackheads in Riga, Latvia

    There’s Something About Riga

    Find a spirit of renewal in Latvia's compact capital.

  • Picture of two friends in Martini, Riga, Latvia

    Best Trips of 2014

    National Geographic Traveler presents the New Year's must-see places. From Argentina to Oz, this list reflects what’s authentic, culturally rich, sustainable-minded, and of course superlative in the world of travel today.

  • Photo: Bee eaters

    Painting the Sky

    A brilliant blur as it plucks a butterfly from the air, the European bee-eater leads a colorful life on three continents.

Take a Nat Geo Trip

Select a destination or trip type to find a trip:

See All Trips »

2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

  • Picture of a volcano on Reunion Island

    Who Will Win?

    Browse photos of nature, cities, and people and share your favorite photos.

Take a Nat Geo Trip

Select a destination or trip type to find a trip:

See All Trips »

Get Social With Nat Geo Travel