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Learn about Latvia

Official name: Republic of Latvia

Short form: Latvia

Government: Parliamentary republic

Population in 2013: 2, 023, 825

Area: 64,589 or 24,937 sq.miles.

The Republic of Latvia was founded on November 18, 1918. It has been continuously recognized as a sovereign state since 1920 despite occupations and rule by the Soviet Union (1940-1941, 1945-1991) and Nazi Germany (1941-1945). On August 21, 1991 Latvia declared the restoration of its de facto independence, re-established international diplomatic ties, and joined the United Nations. Latvia joined the WTO in 1998 and in 2004 became a member of the European Union and NATO.

Latvia is the central country of the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and is located in North-eastern Europe on the east coast of the Baltic Sea. It consists of fertile lowland plains and moderate hills, with most of its territory less than 100 meters above sea level. It has an extensive network of rivers, thousands of lakes and hundreds of kilometers of undeveloped seashore lined by pine forests, dunes, and continuous white sand beaches.

The name "Latvija" comes from the ancient Latgallians, one of four Indo-European Baltic tribes, who along with Couronians, Selonians and Semigallians formed the ethnic core of today’s Latvian people.

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