Latvia is situated on the Baltic coast and borders Estonia in the north, Lithuania in the south, the Russian Federation in the east and Belarus in the southeast. The capital city of Latvia is Riga. The coastal plain is mostly flat, but inland to the east the land is hilly with forests, lakes and white sandy beaches.
Latvia has a vibrant cultural life. Classical and modern music and dance performances are high quality. Folk music and dance traditions are alive and play a large role in everyday life from teaching children morals at school to nation-wide song and dance festivals held every four years. Latvians are also big fans of contemporary music. Museums cover all sorts of topics and eras. Cinema theatres show films in the original language with subtitles. Swimming, track and field, basketball, volleyball and fitness are activities you can do at practically every university. Bowling and golf are rapidly gaining popularity with facilities opening around the country. Hockey, football and basketball are the most popular spectator sports. By popular demand, bars set up large screen TVs during championships. When Latvian teams reach international play-offs people may even skip work to watch. Latvians enjoy eating – food is the central element of almost any celebration. Traditional food is filling and nourishing, because of the northern climate and the hard work farmers and fishermen were used to do. Meat, fish, potatoes and dairy products are the most popular components of main dish meals. Salads are more often composed of vegetables than of greens, and sour cream or mayonnaise is the preferred dressing. Contemporary Latvians are still very fond of their traditional dark rye bread and mostly choose food that is in season to get the best flavour and price. Many people enjoy growing their own fruits and vegetables or harvesting wild berries and mushrooms from the forests. Of course, one can find a variety of fruit and vegetables from around the world all through the year at supermarkets.
Latvia is a Parliamentary Representative Democratic Republic – the Prime Minister, currently Laimdota Straujuma, since January 2014, is the Head of Government. The President of Latvia is the Head of State and also Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. Currently this is President Egils Levits who was elected for a term of five years in 2019. The home of the President is Riga Castle. To find out more go to the www.latvia.eu website.
At a glance facts
- Languages – Latvian, Russian, Lithuanian
- Population 1,929,938 (2018)
- International Dialling Code 371
- Time – Latvia is 2 hours ahead of the UK
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Europe, member of the EU