Latvia is country of Europe located in eastern Europe
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Official Name: Republic of Latvia Capital: Riga Total area: 65 000 km2 GDP per capita: $18,100 Native Language: Latvian Government: Parliamentary Democracy Population: 1,911,108 Major Religion: Evangelical Lutheranism Monetary Unit: Euro (EUR)
Latvia regained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Located on the Baltic coast, Latvia is a flat country with large forests that provide timber for the construction and paper industries. The surrounding area is rich in wildlife. Latvia also produces consumer goods, textiles and machine tools. The country attracts tourists from all over Europe.
Ethnically, the population is 59% Latvian and 29% Russian, and more than a third live in the capital, Riga. Riga was founded in 1201 and is the largest city in the three Baltic States with 730,000 inhabitants. At 43 meters, the Statue of Liberty is one of the tallest monuments in Europe.
Latvia's 100-seat unicameral parliament, the Saeima, is elected every four years by direct popular vote. The President is also elected by Parliament every four years.
The best-known Latvians include the expressionist painter Mark Rothko and the contemporary composer Peteris Vasks.
Characteristic specialties of Latvian cuisine are speķapīrādziņi (bacon pies) and a refreshing, cold sour cream soup.
Health & Wellbeing Social security and benefit programs are being developed, including free provider choice, free medicines and prescriptions, and inclusive health insurance for all citizens.
Economy & Jobs Service, tourism, shipping, trade and agriculture.
main attraction Riga, Bauska Castle, the cities of Jurmala, the historical town of Kuldiga and the medieval castles of Sigulda.
immigration Latvian citizenship can be obtained in a number of ways. The most common are lineage, birth, marriage, award renewal, and business. Tourist, student and work visas are also available as immigration is provided through real estate.
Business Latvia is a small, open economy, with exports accounting for almost a third of GDP. Because of its geographic location, transit services are highly developed, along with timber and wood processing, agriculture and food products, and manufacturing of machinery and electronics industries. Corruption remains a barrier to attracting foreign direct investment, and Latvia's low birth rate and declining population pose major challenges to its long-term economic vitality. Latvia's economy posted GDP growth of more than 10% per year in 2006/07, but slipped into a severe recession in 2008 due to an unsustainable current account deficit and high levels of debt amid the flagging global economy. Triggered by the collapse of the second largest bank, GDP collapsed by 18% in 2009. The economy has not returned to pre-crisis levels, despite strong growth, particularly in the export sector in 2011-12. The IMF, the EU and other international donors provided significant financial support to Latvia under an agreement to defend the currency's peg to the euro in exchange for the government's commitment to tough austerity measures.