Information about Latvia

The name "Latvia" originates from the ancient Latgalians, one of four eastern Baltic tribes that formed the ethnic core of the Latvian people (ca. 8th-12th centuries A.D.).

The region subsequently came under the control of Germans, Poles, Swedes, and finally, Russians.

A Latvian republic emerged following World War I, but it was annexed by the USSR in 1940 - an action never recognized by the US and many other countries.

Latvia 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 joined both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004.

Above picture: The House of the Blackheads located in old town Riga was first built in the 14th century for the Brotherhood of the Blackheads Guild, a guild for unmarried German merchants in the city. The building was bombed by the Germans in 1941 and demolished by the Communists in 1948. Reconstruction took place between 1995 and 1999; the building currently serves as a museum and concert hall.

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