Latvia in facts

[pic][lvmap.jpg] 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 will join the EU in May of 2004 and NATO in the summer of 2004.


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

Geographic coordinates:
57 00 N, 25 00 E

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: B
elarus 141 km, Estonia 339 km, Lithuania 453 km, Russia 217 km

531 km

Maritime claims - as described in UNCLOS 1982 (see Notes and Definitions):
territorial sea: 12 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation

maritime; wet, moderate winters

low plain

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

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

Land use:
arable land: 29.01%
permanent crops: 0.48%
other: 70.51% (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:

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

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


2,306,306 (July 2004 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 15% (male 177,223; female 169,241)
15-64 years: 69.2% (male 772,496; female 823,410)
65 years and over: 15.8% (male 118,035; female 245,901) (2004 est.)

Median age:
total: 38.8 years
male: 35.6 years
female: 41.9 years (2004 est.)

Population growth rate:
-0.71% (2004 est.)

Birth rate:
8.87 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)

Death rate:
13.73 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)

Net migration rate:
-2.23 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.48 male(s)/female
total population: 0.86 male(s)/female (2004 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 9.67 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 7.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 11.45 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 70.86 years
male: 65.91 years
female: 76.09 years (2004 est.)

Total fertility rate:
1.25 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.4% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
5,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
less than 100 (2001 est.)

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% (2002)

Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Russian Orthodox

Latvian (official), Lithuanian, Russian, other

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.8%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.8% (2003 est.)


Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Latvia
conventional short form: Latvia
local short form: Latvija
former: Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic
local long form: Latvijas Republika

Government type:
parliamentary democracy


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

21 August 1991 (from Soviet Union)

National holiday:
Independence Day, 18 November (1918); note - 18 November 1918 is the date Latvia declared itself independent from Soviet Russia; 4 May 1990 is when it declared the renewal of independence; 21 August 1991 is the date of de facto independence from the Soviet Union

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

Legal system:
based on civil law system

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 Indulis EMSIS (since 9 March 2004)
cabinet: Council of Ministers nominated by the prime minister and appointed by the Parliament
elections: president reelected by Parliament for a four-year term; election last held 20 June 2003 (next to be held by June 2007); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: Vaira VIKE-FREIBERGA reelected president; parliamentary vote - Vaira VIKE-FREIBERGA 88 of 94 votes cast

Legislative branch:
unicameral Parliament or Saeima (100 seats; members are elected by direct, popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 5 October 2002 (next to be held NA October 2006)
election results: percent of vote by party - New Era 23.9%, PCTVL 18.9%, People's Party 16.7%, ZZS 9.5%, First Party 7.6%, LNNK 5.4%; seats by party - New Era 26, PCTVL 24, People's Party 21, ZZS 12, First Party 10, LNNK 7

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

Political parties and leaders:
Alliance of the Greens and Farmers Union or ZZS [Augusts BRIGMANIS (Farmer's Union); Indulis EMSIS (Green Party)]; CENTER Political Alliance [Juris CELMINS]; First Party of Latvia [Eriks JEKABSONS]; For Fatherland and Freedom or LNNK [Maris GRINBLATS]; For Human Rights in a United Latvia or PCTVL [Janis JURKANS], a coalition of the People's Harmony Party or TSP, the Latvian Socialist Party or LSP, and the Equal Rights Movement; Freedom Party [Ziedonis CEVERS]; Land of Mara [Irena SAPROVSKA]; Latvian Rebirth Party [Andris RUBINS]; Latvian Social-Democratic Workers Party (Social Democrats) or LSDSP [Juris BOJARS]; Latvia's Way Union or LC [Janis NAGLIS]; Light of Latgale or LG [Rihards EIGIMS]; New Era Party [Einars REPSE]; Our Land Party [Ilmars ANCANS]; Party of Latvians [Aivars GARDA]; People's Party [Andris SKELE]; Progressive Center Party [Inta STAMGUTE]; Russian Party [Mihails GAVRILOVS]; Social Democratic Union or SDS [Egils BALDZENS]; Social Democratic Welfare Party or SLP [Juris ZURAVLOVS]; United Republican Party of Latvia or LARP [Eriks Andrejs SAULUNS, Janis PUKIS, Sarmite JEGERE]

Political pressure groups and leaders:

International organization participation:
BIS, CBSS, CE, EAPC, EBRD, EU (new member), FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, 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, WCO, WEU (associate partner), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO

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


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, although the state still holds sizable stakes in a few large enterprises. Latvia officially joined the World Trade Organization in February 1999. Preparing for EU membership continues as a top foreign policy goal. The current account and internal government deficits remain major concerns, but the government's efforts to increase efficiency in revenue collection may lessen the budget deficit.

purchasing power parity - $23.77 billion (2003 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:
6.8% (2003 est.)

GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $10,100 (2003 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 4.5%
industry: 20.9%
services: 74.6% (2002)

Population below poverty line:

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):
2.8% (2003 est.)

Labor force:
1.1 million (2001 est.)

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

Unemployment rate:
8.7% (2003 est.)

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

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:
5.7% (2002 est.)

Electricity - production:
4.365 billion kWh (2001)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 29.1%
hydro: 70.9%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 0%

Electricity - consumption:
6.046 billion kWh (2001)

Electricity - exports:
703 million kWh (2001)

Electricity - imports:
2.69 billion kWh (2001)

Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)

Oil - consumption:
44,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)

Oil - exports:

Oil - imports:

Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2001 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:
1.7 billion cu m (2001 est.)

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2001 est.)

Natural gas - imports:
1.7 billion cu m (2001 est.)

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

$3 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)

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

Exports - partners:
Germany 15.3%, UK 14.4%, Sweden 10.4%, Lithuania 8.2%, Estonia 5.9%, Russia 5.8%, Denmark 5.6%, US 4.3% (2002)

$4.921 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)

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

Imports - partners:
Germany 17.2%, Lithuania 9.8%, Russia 8.8%, Finland 8%, Sweden 6.4%, Estonia 6.2%, Poland 5%, Italy 4.2% (2002)

Debt - external:
$6.6 billion (2003 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:
$96.2 million (1995)

Latvian lat (LVL)

Currency code:

Exchange rates:
lati per US dollar - 0.57 (2003), 0.62 (2002), 0.63 (2001), 0.61 (2000), 0.59 (1999)

Fiscal year:
calendar year