General information about Latvia
The official name is the Republic of Latvia (Latvijas Republika). Located in the northeast of Europe. The area is 64.6 thousand km2, the population is 2.375 million people. (census 2000). The official language is Latvian. The capital is Riga (797 thousand people, 2000). National holiday – Independence Day November 18 (1918). The monetary unit is the lat (equal to 100 centimes).
Member of the UN (since 1991), IMF and World Bank (since 1992), EU (since 2004), NATO (since 2004).
Geography of Latvia
Latvia is located between 21° and 28° east longitude and 58° and 56° north latitude. In the west it is washed by the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Riga, the coastline is 494 km. The length of the land border is 1380 km, in the north with Estonia (343 km), in the south with Lithuania (598 km), in the east with the Russian Federation (282), in the southeast with Belarus (167 km).
Latvia is located in the extreme west of the East European Plain, divided into 4 cultural and historical regions: in the west of Kurzeme (Courland), in the south of Zemgale, in the central part and in the northeast of Vidzeme and in the southeast of Latgale (Latgale).
The relief is slightly hilly with heights from 100 to 200 m with a predominance of plains and lowlands. In the country of St. 3,000 lakes (the largest lake is Lubāns with a surface area of 80.7 km2), about 750 rivers with a length of no more than 10 km. The longest river that flows only through the territory of Latvia is the Gauja (452 km), the largest (main) is the Daugava (Dvina) – 375 km of the total river length of 1020 km fall on Latvia. Famous resorts: Jurmala, Sigulda, Liepaja.
More than 40% of the territory is covered with mixed (near the sea coast – pine) forests, most of them are located in Kurzeme. Main species: pine, birch, oak, ash, linden, willow, juniper. Flora and fauna are represented by approx. 7850 species of plants, 60 species of mammals (elk, wild boar, hare, fox, squirrel, wolf, beaver, etc.), 308 species of birds (owl, falcon, stork, capercaillie, swallow, herons, ducks, etc.) and 76 species fish (perch, pike, perch, trout, eel, carp).
The soils are podzolic, swampy (the most fertile in Zemgale, the poorest along the sea coast). Approximately 78% of agricultural land is waterlogged.
Minerals: peat (reserves 530 million tons), limestone, dolomite, amber.
According to bridgat, the climate is mild maritime, there are often cyclones, precipitation is plentiful, the average temperature in January is -5 ° C, in July + 18 ° C, the growing season is 170-180 days.
Population of Latvia
According to estimates from national statistics, at the beginning of In 2003, the population of Latvia was 2.329 million people, a decrease compared to 2000 by 46 thousand people.
During 1989-2000, the population decreased by almost 11% (moreover, rural by 5.1%, and urban by 13.5%, which is associated with the exchange of housing in large cities for cheaper ones in rural areas) and continues to decrease. In 2002, the negative natural increase amounted to 12.5 thousand people. (20,020 people were born, and 32,530 people died). Migration remains an important reason for the decline in the population, mainly Russian-speaking people leave, and Latvians come (mainly from the USA, Canada, Sweden), emigration significantly exceeds immigration. So, in 1998 the excess was 2.9 times, in 1999 – 3.3, in 2000 – 4.4, in 2001 – 4.6, and in 2002 this gap decreased to 3.4 times (6638 people left and arrived 1938 people)
Men make up 46% of the population, women 54%. The process of population aging is observed. The proportion of people under 15 years of age decreased from 21.4 to 17.9%, while those aged 60 and over increased from 17.4 to 21.1%. Average life expectancy is 69.9 years (men 64.1, women 75.5). From January 1, 2003, the retirement age for men is 62 years, and for women from July 1, 2003 – 59.5 years.
Ethnic composition: Latvians 57.6%, Russians 29%, Belarusians 4.1%, Ukrainians 2.7%, Poles 2.5% and Lithuanians 1.5% (2000). Citizenship is 75% of the population, among Latvians citizens make up 99.6%, among Russians – 42, among Belarusians – 22.4, among Ukrainians – 29.1, among Poles – 65.6, among Lithuanians – 46.1%.
The Latvian language belongs to the Baltic group of the Indo-European family.
Most of the population (55%) professes Protestantism (300 Lutheran parishes), 24% – Catholicism (241 parishes), 9% – Orthodoxy (110 parishes). There are other religious groups: Jews, Baptists and Old Believers.