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Latvia
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Latvia


Country Profile

Capital City: Riga (740 000)

Other Cities: Daugavpils (113 000); Liepaja (87 000); Jelgava (66 000); Jurmala (55 000); Ventspils (44 000); Rezekne (38 000).

Local Time: UTC +2h

Geography:
Location: Eastern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, between Estonia and Lithuania.
Area: 64 100 sq. km. (25 640 sq. mi.)
Terrain: Fertile low-lying plains predominate in central Latvia, highlands in Vidzeme and Latgale to the east, and hilly moraine in the western Kurzeme region. Forests cover one-third of the country, with over 3 000 small lakes and numerous bogs.

Border countries
: Belarus, Estonia, Lithuania, Russia

Climate:
Temperate, maritime; wet, with four seasons of almost equal length. January temperatures average -5C (23F); July 17C (63F).

Government:
Type: Parliamentary Democracy.
Constitution: The law "On the Republic of Latvia Status as a State," passed by Parliament on 21 August 1991, provided for the reinstatement of the 1922 constitution.

People:
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Latvian(s).
Population: 2.33 million.
GNI per capita PPP: $ 12 886 (year) Major ethnic groups: Latvian 58.5%, Russians 29%, Belarusians 3.9%, Ukrainians 2.6%, Poles 2.5%. Religions: Lutheran, Orthodox, Roman Catholic. Languages: Latvian. Russian also is spoken by most people. Literacy: 99%

Business

Currency: Latvian Lat (LVL)

Natural resources: Peat, limestone, dolomite, amber, hydropower, wood, arable land.

Agriculture products: Grain, sugar beets, potatoes, vegetables; beef, pork, milk, eggs; fish.

Industries: Automotive industry, railroad cars, agricultural machinery, fertilizers, electronics, synthetic fibers, pharmaceuticals, processed foods, textiles.

Exports partners:
UK 22.1%, Germany 9.9%, USA 8.2%, Sweden 7.3%, France 6.6%, Lithuania 6.4%, Estonia 5.2%, Denmark 4.2%, Russia 4.1% (2004)

Imports partners: Germany 16.1%, Russia 14.4%, Lithuania 7.6%, Finland 6.5%, Sweden 5.6%, Estonia 5.1%, Italy 4.2%, Poland 4% (2004)


Internet Links

Official Sites of Latvia

President of the Republic of Latvia

Saeima

Arlietu ministrija

Diplomatic Missions
Embassy of Latvia in the U.S.

Diplomatic and Consular Representations

Statistics
Latvia Statistika

Weather
Latvijas Hidrometeorologijas agentura (LHMA)

Maps
Map of Latvia

Introduction

Latvia

Background:  After a brief period of independence between the two World
Wars, Latvia was annexed by the USSR in 1940. It reestablished its
independence in 1991 following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Although
the last Russian troops left in 1994, the status of the Russian minority
(some 30% of the population) remains of concern to Moscow. Latvia
continues to revamp its economy for eventual integration into various
Western European political and economic institutions.

Geography Latvia

Location:  Eastern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, between Estonia
and Lithuania

Geographic coordinates:  57 00 N, 25 00 E

Map references:  Europe

Area:  total: 64,589 sq km water: 1,000 sq km land: 63,589 sq km

Area - comparative:  slightly larger than West Virginia

Land boundaries:  total: 1,150 km border countries: Belarus 141 km,
Estonia 339 km, Lithuania 453 km, Russia 217 km

Coastline:  531 km

Maritime claims:  continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of
exploitation exclusive economic zone: 200 NM territorial sea: 12 NM

Climate:  maritime; wet, moderate winters

Terrain:  low plain

Elevation extremes:  lowest point: Baltic Sea 0 m highest point:
Gaizinkalns 312 m

Natural resources:  peat, limestone, dolomite, hydropower, wood, arable
land, minimal; amber

Land use:  arable land: 29% permanent crops: 0% other: 71% (1998 est.)

Irrigated land:  200 sq km note: land in Latvia is often too wet, and
in need of drainage, not irrigation; approximately 16,000 sq km or 85%
of agricultural land has been improved by drainage (1998 est.)

Natural hazards:  NA

Environment - current issues:  Latvia's environment has benefited from
a shift to service industries after the country regained independence;
the main environmental priorities are improvement of drinking water
quality and sewage system, household and hazardous waste management,
and reduction of air pollution; in 2001, Latvia closed the EU accession
negotiation chapter on environment committing to full enforcement of EU
environmental directives by 2010

Environment - international agreements:  party to: Air Pollution,
Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone
Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands signed, but not ratified:
Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol

Geography - note:  most of the country is composed of fertile, low-lying
plains, with some hills in the east

People Latvia

Population:  2,366,515 (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:  0-14 years: 15.8% (male 191,116; female 182,692) 15-64
years: 68.6% (male 775,481; female 847,261) 65 years and over: 15.6%
(male 120,304; female 249,661) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate:  -0.77% (2002 est.)

Birth rate:  8.27 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate:  14.74 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate:  -1.23 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Sex ratio:  at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.05
male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female 65 years and over:
0.48 male(s)/female total population: 0.85 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate:  14.96 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:   75.17 years (2002 est.)  male: Total fertility
rate:  1.18 children born/woman (2002 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:  0.12% (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:  1,792 (15 January 2002)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:  36 (15 January 2002)

Nationality:  noun: Latvian(s) adjective: Latvian

Ethnic groups:  Latvian 57.7%, Russian 29.6%, Belarusian 4.1%, Ukrainian
2.7%, Polish 2.5%, Lithuanian 1.4%, other 2%

Religions:  Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Russian Orthodox

Languages:  Latvian (official), Lithuanian, Russian, other

Literacy:  definition: age 15 and over can read and write total
population: 99.8% male: NA% female: NA%

Government Latvia

Country name:   Republic of Latvia conventional short form:  local long
form: Latvijas Republika

Government type:  parliamentary democracy

Capital:  Riga

Administrative divisions:  26 counties (singular - rajons) and 7
municipalities*: Aizkraukles Rajons, Aluksnes Rajons, Balvu Rajons,
Bauskas Rajons, Cesu Rajons, Daugavpils*, Daugavpils Rajons, Dobeles
Rajons, Gulbenes Rajons, Jekabpils Rajons, Jelgava*, Jelgavas Rajons,
Jurmala*, Kraslavas Rajons, Kuldigas Rajons, Liepaja*, Liepajas Rajons,
Limbazu Rajons, Ludzas Rajons, Madonas Rajons, Ogres Rajons, Preilu
Rajons, Rezekne*, Rezeknes Rajons, Riga*, Rigas Rajons, Saldus Rajons,
Talsu Rajons, Tukuma Rajons, Valkas Rajons, Valmieras Rajons, Ventspils*,
Ventspils Rajons

Independence:  21 August 1991 (from Soviet Union)

National holiday:  Independence Day, 18 November (1918); note - 18
November 1918 is the date of independence from Soviet Russia, 21 August
1991 is the date of independence from the Soviet Union

Constitution:  the 1991 Constitutional Law which supplements the 1922
constitution, provides for basic rights and freedoms

Legal system:  based on civil law system

Suffrage:  18 years of age; universal for Latvian citizens

Executive branch:  chief of state: President Vaira VIKE-FREIBERGA
(since 8 July 1999) head of government: Prime Minister Andris BERZINS
(since 5 May 2000) cabinet: Council of Ministers nominated by the prime
minister and appointed by the Parliament elections: president elected
by Parliament for a four-year term; election last held 17 June 1999
(next to be held by June 2003); prime minister appointed by the president
election results:  of balloting, second round (after five rounds in first
phase failed to produce a clear winner); percent of parliamentary vote -
Vaira VIKE-FREIBERGA 53%, Valdis BIRKAVS 20%, Ingrida UDRE 9%

Legislative branch:  unicameral Parliament or Saeima (100 seats; members
are elected by direct, popular vote to serve four-year terms) elections:
last held 3 October 1998 (next to be held NA October 2002) election
results: percent of vote by party - People's Party 21%, LC 18%, TSP 14%,
TB/LNNK 14%, Social Democrats 13%, New Party 7%; seats by party - People's
Party 24, LC 21, TB/LNNK 17, TSP 16, Social Democrats 14, New Party 8

Judicial branch:  Supreme Court (judges' appointments are confirmed
by Parliament)

Political parties and leaders:  Anticommunist Union or PA [P. MUCENIEKS];
Christian Democrat Union or LKDS [Talavs JUNDZIS]; Christian People's
Party or KTP [Uldis AUGSTKALNS]; Democratic Party "Saimnieks" or DPS
[Ziedonis CEVERS, chairman]; For Fatherland and Freedom or TB [Maris
GRINBLATS], merged with LNNK; For Human Rights in a United Latvia [Janis
JURKANS], a coalition of the People's Harmony Party or TSP, the Latvian
Socialist Party or LSP, and the Equal Rights Movement; Green Party or LZP
[Olegs BATAREVSKI]; Latvian Liberal Party or LLP [J.  DANOSS]; Latvian
National Conservative Party or LNNK [Andrejs KRASTINS]; Latvian National
Democratic Party or LNDP [A. MALINS]; Latvian Social-Democratic Workers
Party (Social Democrats) or LSDWU [Juris BOJARS and Janis ADAMSONS];
Latvian Unity Party or LVP [Alberis KAULS]; Latvia's Way or LC [Andrei
PANTELEJEVS]; New Christian Party [Ainars SLESERS]; New Faction [Ingrida
UDRE]; New Party [leader NA]; New Times Party [Einars REPSE]; "Our Land"
or MZ [M. DAMBEKALNE]; Party of Russian Citizens or LKPP [V. SOROCHIN, V.
IVANOV]; People's Party [Andris SKELE]; Political Union of Economists
or TPA [Edvins KIDE]

Political pressure groups and leaders:  NA

International organization participation:  BIS, CBSS, CCC, CE, EAPC,
EBRD, ECE, EU (applicant), FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA,
IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO (correspondent), ITU,
NSG, OAS (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UPU, WEU
(associate partner), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador
Aivis RONIS FAX: [1] (202) 726-6785 telephone: [1] (202) 726-8213,
8214 chancery: 4325 17th Street NW, Washington, DC 20011

Diplomatic representation from the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador Brian
E. CARLSON embassy: 7 Raina Boulevard, Riga LV-1510 mailing address:
American Embassy Riga, PSC 78, Box Riga, APO AE 09723 telephone: [371]
721-0005 FAX: [371] 782-0047

Flag description:  three horizontal bands of maroon (top), white
(half-width), and maroon

Economy Latvia

Economy - overview:  Latvia's transitional economy recovered from the 1998
Russian financial crisis, largely due to the SKELE government's budget
stringency and a gradual reorientation of exports toward EU countries,
lessening Latvia's trade dependency on Russia. The majority of companies,
banks, and real estate have been privatized. Latvia officially joined
the World Trade Organization in February 1999 - the first Baltic state
to join - and was invited at the Helsinki EU Summit in December 1999 to
begin accession talks in early 2000. Preparing for EU membership over
the next few years remains a top foreign policy goal. The high current
account deficit remains a major concern.

GDP:  purchasing power parity - $18.6 billion (2001 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:  6.3% (2001 est.)

GDP - per capita:  purchasing power parity - $7,800 (2001 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:  agriculture: 5% industry: 24% services: 71%
(2000)

Population below poverty line:  NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share:  lowest 10%: 2.9%
highest 10%: 25.9% (1998)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:  32 (1999)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):  2.5% (2001)

Labor force:  1.1 million (2001 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:  agriculture 15%, industry 25%, services 60%
(2000 est.)

Unemployment rate:  7.6% (2001 est.)

Budget:  revenues: $2.4 billion expenditures: $2.6 billion, including
capital expenditures of $NA (2002 est.)

Industries:  buses, vans, street and railroad cars, synthetic
fibers, agricultural machinery, fertilizers, washing machines, radios,
electronics, pharmaceuticals, processed foods, textiles; note - dependent
on imports for energy and raw materials

Industrial production growth rate:  6.4% (2001 est.)

Electricity - production:  3.301 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - production by source:  fossil fuel: 33.02% hydro: 66.98%
other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0%

Electricity - consumption:  5.16 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - exports:  500 million kWh (2000)

Electricity - imports:  2.59 billion kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products:  grain, sugar beets, potatoes, vegetables; beef,
pork, milk, eggs; fish

Exports:  $2.2 billion (f.o.b., 2001)

Exports - commodities:  wood and wood products, machinery and equipment,
metals, textiles, foodstuffs

Exports - partners:  Germany 17%, UK 16%, Sweden 10%, Lithuania 8%
(2001 est.)

Imports:  $3.3 billion (f.o.b., 2001)

Imports - commodities:  machinery and equipment, chemicals, fuels,
vehicles

Imports - partners:  Germany 17%, Russia 9%, Lithuania 8%, Finland 8%,
Sweden 7% (2001 est.)

Debt - external:  $2.6 billion (2000 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:  $96.2 million (1995)

Currency:  Latvian lat (LVL)

Currency code:  LVL

Exchange rates:  lati per US dollar - 0.6384 (January 2002), 0.628
(2001), 0.607 (2000), 0.585 (1999), 0.590 (1998), 0.581 (1997)

Fiscal year:  calendar year

Communications Latvia

Telephones - main lines in use:  734,693 (2000)

Telephones - mobile cellular:  401,263 (2000)

Telephone system:  general assessment: inadequate, but is being
modernized to provide an international capability independent of the
Moscow international switch; more facilities are being installed for
individual use domestic: expansion underway in intercity trunk line
connections, rural exchanges, and mobile systems; still many unsatisfied
subscriber applications international:  earth station at Riga, enabling
direct connections for most calls (1998)

Radio broadcast stations:  AM 8, FM 56, shortwave 1 (1998)

Radios:  1.76 million (1997)

Television broadcast stations:  44 (plus 31 repeaters) (1995)

Televisions:  1.22 million (1997)

Internet country code:  .lv

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):  41 (2001)

Internet users:  310,000 (2001)

Transportation Latvia

Railways:  total: 2,412 km broad gauge: 2,379 km 1.520-m gauge (271 km
electrified) narrow gauge: 33 km 0.750-m gauge (2001)

Highways:  total: 59,178 km paved: 22,843 km unpaved: 36,335 km
(1998 est.)

Waterways:  300 km (perennially navigable)

Pipelines:  crude oil 750 km; refined products 780 km; natural gas 560 km
(1992)

Ports and harbors:  Liepaja, Riga, Ventspils

Merchant marine:  total: 6 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 30,119
GRT/30,572 DWT note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here
as a flag of convenience: Greece 3 (2002 est.)  ships by type: cargo 1,
petroleum tanker 1, refrigerated cargo 4

Airports:  25 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:   1 914 to 1,523 m: Airports - with
unpaved runways:   2 914 to 1,523 m: Military Latvia

Military branches:  Ground Forces, Navy, Air and Air Defense Forces,
Border Guard, National Guard

Military manpower - military age:  18 years of age (2002 est.)

Military manpower - availability:  males age 15-49: 591,592 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:  males age 15-49: 464,843
(2002 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:  males: 19,114
(2002 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure:  $87 million (FY01)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP:  1.2% (FY01)

Transnational Issues Latvia

Disputes - international:  the Russian Duma refuses to ratify boundary
delimitation treaty with Latvia; the Latvian Parliament has not ratified
its 1998 maritime boundary treaty with Lithuania, primarily due to
concerns over oil exploration rights

Illicit drugs:  transshipment point for opiates and cannabis from Central
and Southwest Asia to Western Europe and Scandinavia and Latin American
cocaine and some synthetics from Western Europe to CIS

This page was last updated on 1 January 2002

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