Latvia is situated in the north-east part of Europe on the shore of the Baltic Sea and borders with the two other Baltic states – Estonia and Lithuania as well as Russia and Belarus.
The territory covers 64 589 square kilometres, 45% of which is forests; the length of its border on land is 1 862 km and its sea boarder is 494 km long.
Latvia's capital city is Rīga, where about one third of the country's inhabitants reside. The total number of inhabitants is 2 041 763 million. (2012, data from the Central Statistical Bureau).
Latvia has four regions – Kurzeme, Zemgale, Vidzeme and Latgale. There are 109 local governments and 9 republican cities functioning in Latvia.
The three biggest ports are in Ventspils, Rīga and Liepāja.
State language: Latvian language, which belongs to the Baltic languages and stems from the Indo-European language group.
National currency: Lat (Ls / LVL) = 100 santimes.
Titular nations: Latvians (62,32%) and Livonians (~0.008%);
Other ethnic groups: Russians (27%), Belarusians (3,31%), Ukrainians (2,22%), Poles (2,17%), Lithuanians (1,4%)
Economically active inhabitants: 66,5%, unemployment rate - 13,5%. (As of 2012, data from the Central Statistical Bureau)
Religions: Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Orthodox
International country ID: LV
Republic of Latvia is an independent democratic republic, which was proclaimed on 18 November 1918. The Soviet army occupied Latvia on 17 June 1940. On 5 August 1940 Latvia was incorporated in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Latvia regained its independence on 21 August 1991 as the result of so called "singing revolution".
Legislator is the Saeima (the Parliament), which consists of 100 representatives elected for a period of 4 years. The Saeima is elected in general, equal, direct, closed and proportional elections. The right to vote applies to those Latvia's citizens whose rights have not been limited and who are 18 years old on the day of elections.
The head of the state is the President who is elected by the Saeima for a period of 4 years. Since 8 July 2011 the President of Latvia is Mr.Andris Bērziņš. Speaker of the Saeima is Ms.Solvita Āboltiņa.
The executive authority belongs to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers. The Cabinet of Ministers is created by a person invited by the President. The Prime Minister and the ministers get authority for work from the Saeima by a confidence vote. Valdis Dombrovskis has been the Prime Minister since 12 March 2009.
Latvia has been a member state of the European Union and NATO since 2004.
Use website of Latvian Istitute as a starting point for getting to know Latvia www.latvia.eu.