Latvia is one of the three Baltic states, situated on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, between Estonia and Lithuania. The country is also bordered by Russia and Belarus, and it shares maritime borders with Sweden.
The capital and largest city, Riga.
The Latvian capital, the largest city in the Baltics, is a fascinating mixture of proud Latvian tradition and influences of the various countries that have occupied it. Independent once again since 1991, Riga’s Art Nouveau center has won it UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. Opened up to mass tourism with the advent of budget air travel, Riga’s Old City and its abundance of bars and restaurants can be explored on foot. The New Town is easily reached by an efficient and modern bus and tram network.
With an area of 64,589 km², the country is about half the size of Greece. Its mostly flat landscape offers a mix of beaches, rivers, lakes, marshes and forests and has a population of around 2 million people.
After a brief period of independence between the two World Wars, it was annexed by the U.S.S.R. in June 1940 only re-establishing its independence on August 21, 1991 following the breakup of the Soviet Union. The U.S.S.R. recognised its sovereignty on September 6, and United Nations membership followed shortly thereafter. Latvia was admitted to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the European Union (EU) in 2004.