Fast Facts

Population:
2,300,000
Capital:
Riga; 733,000
Area:
64,589 square kilometers (24,938 square miles)
Language:
Latvian, Lithuanian, Russian
Religion:
Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Russian Orthodox
Currency:
Latvian lat
Life Expectancy:
71
GDP per Capita:
U.S. $8,900
Literacy Percent:
100
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.

ECONOMY

  • 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

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