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 Transnational Issues

This page was last updated on 18 January, 2007

Map of Latvia

Legend: DefinitionDefinition Field ListingField Listing Rank OrderRank Order
   Introduction    Latvia Top of Page
Definition Field Listing
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 joined both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004.
   Geography    Latvia Top of Page
Definition Field Listing
Eastern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, between Estonia and Lithuania
Geographic coordinates:
Definition Field Listing
57 00 N, 25 00 E
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 64,589 sq km
land: 63,589 sq km
water: 1,000 sq km
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
slightly larger than West Virginia
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
total: 1,368 km
border countries: Belarus 167 km, Estonia 343 km, Lithuania 576 km, Russia 282 km
Definition Field Listing
531 km
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Definition Field Listing
maritime; wet, moderate winters
Definition Field Listing
low plain
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: Baltic Sea 0 m
highest point: Gaizinkalns 312 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
peat, limestone, dolomite, amber, hydropower, wood, arable land
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 28.19%
permanent crops: 0.45%
other: 71.36% (2005)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
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 (2003)
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
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, as well as 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:
Definition Field Listing
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
Definition Field Listing
most of the country is composed of fertile, low-lying plains, with some hills in the east
   People    Latvia Top of Page
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2,274,735 (July 2006 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: 14% (male 162,562/female 155,091)
15-64 years: 69.6% (male 769,004/female 815,042)
65 years and over: 16.4% (male 121,646/female 251,390) (2006 est.)
Median age:
Definition Field Listing
total: 39.4 years
male: 36.3 years
female: 42.4 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
-0.67% (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
9.24 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
13.66 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
-2.26 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
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 (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 9.35 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 11.31 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 7.29 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total population: 71.33 years
male: 66.08 years
female: 76.85 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.27 children born/woman (2006 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0.6% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
7,600 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
less than 500 (2003 est.)
Definition Field Listing
noun: Latvian(s)
adjective: Latvian
Ethnic groups:
Definition Field Listing
Latvian 57.7%, Russian 29.6%, Belarusian 4.1%, Ukrainian 2.7%, Polish 2.5%, Lithuanian 1.4%, other 2% (2002)
Definition Field Listing
Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Russian Orthodox
Definition Field Listing
Latvian (official) 58.2%, Russian 37.5%, Lithuanian and other 4.3% (2000 census)
Definition Field Listing
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.8%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.8% (2003 est.)
   Government    Latvia Top of Page
Country name:
Definition Field Listing
conventional long form: Republic of Latvia
conventional short form: Latvia
local long form: Latvijas Republika
local short form: Latvija
former: Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic
Government type:
Definition Field Listing
parliamentary democracy
Definition Field Listing
name: Riga
geographic coordinates: 56 57 N, 24 06 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions:
Definition Field Listing
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
Definition Field Listing
21 August 1991 (from Soviet Union)
National holiday:
Definition Field Listing
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
Definition Field Listing
15 February 1922; an October 1998 amendment on Fundamental Human Rights replaced the 1991 Constitutional Law, which had supplemented the constitution
Legal system:
Definition Field Listing
based on civil law system
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age; universal for Latvian citizens
Executive branch:
Definition Field Listing
chief of state: President Vaira VIKE-FREIBERGA (since 8 July 1999)
head of government: Prime Minister Aigars KALVITIS (since 2 December 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 (no term limits); 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:
Definition Field Listing
unicameral Parliament or Saeima (100 seats; members are elected by direct, popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 7 October 2006 (next to be held October 2010)
election results: percent of vote by party - TP 19.5%, ZZS 16.7%, JL 16.4%, SC 14.4%; LPP/LC 8.6%; TB/LNNK 7%; PCTVL 6%; seats by party - TP 23, ZZS 18, JL 18, SC 17, LPP/LC 10, TB/LNNK 8, PCTVL 6
Judicial branch:
Definition Field Listing
Supreme Court (judges' appointments are confirmed by Parliament)
Political parties and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
First Party of Latvia or LPP [Juris LUJANS]; For Human Rights in a United Latvia or PCTVL [Tatjana ZDANOKA, Jakovs PLINERS]; For the Fatherland and Freedom/Latvian National Independence Movement or TB/LNNK [Janis STRAUME]; Harmony Center or SC [Sergejs DOLGOPOLOVS]; Latvian Green Party or ZZS [Indulis EMSIS, Viesturs SILENIEKS, Raimonds VEJONIS]; Latvian Farmer's Union or LZS [Augusts BRIGMANIS]; Latvian Social Democratic Workers Party (Social Democrats) or LSDSP [Juris BOJARS]; Latvian Socialist Party or LSP [Alfreds RUBIKS]; Latvia's Way or LC [Ivars GODMANIS]; New Democrats or JD [Maris GULBIS]; New Era Party or JL [Einars REPSE]; People's Harmony Party or TSP [Aivars DATAVS]; People's Party or TP [Atis SLAKTERIS]; Social Democratic Union or SDS [Egils BALDZENS]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
Headquarters for the Protection of Russian Schools (SHTAB) [Aleksandr KAZAKOV]
International organization participation:
Definition Field Listing
Australia Group, BA, BIS, CBSS, CE, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, EU (new member), FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NATO, NIB, NSG, OAS (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WEU (associate partner), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador Maris RIEKSTINS
chancery: 2306 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 328-2840
FAX: [1] (202) 328-2860
Diplomatic representation from the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador Catherine TODD BAILEY
embassy: 7 Raina Boulevard, Riga LV-1510
mailing address: American Embassy Riga, PSC 78, Box Riga, APO AE 09723
telephone: [371] 703-6200
FAX: [371] 782-0047
Flag description:
Definition Field Listing
three horizontal bands of maroon (top), white (half-width), and maroon
   Economy    Latvia Top of Page
Economy - overview:
Definition Field Listing
Latvia's transitional economy recovered from the 1998 Russian financial crisis, largely due to the 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. EU membership, a top foreign policy goal, came in May 2004. The current account deficit - 15.7% of GDP in 2006 - remains a major concern. The perception that many of Latvia's banks facilitate illicit activity could damage the country's vibrant financial sector.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$35.08 billion (2006 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
Definition Field Listing
$16.13 billion (2006 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
9.3% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$15,400 (2006 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 3.7%
industry: 26.3%
services: 70% (2006 est.)
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.136 million (2006 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 15%
industry: 25%
services: 60% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
6.7% (2006 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Definition Field Listing
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Definition Field Listing
lowest 10%: 2.8%
highest 10%: 26.1% (1998)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
Definition Field Listing
35.03 (2003)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
6.3% (2006 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
31.4% of GDP (2006 est.)
Definition Field Listing
revenues: $6.172 billion
expenditures: $6.45 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2006 est.)
Public debt:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
11% of GDP (2006 est.)
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
grain, sugar beets, potatoes, vegetables; beef, pork, milk, eggs; fish
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
8.5% (2006 est.)
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
4.55 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
6.329 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
636 million kWh (2004)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
2.733 billion kWh (2004)
Oil - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
47,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0 bbl/day (2004)
Natural gas - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.91 billion cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.91 billion cu m (2004 est.)
Current account balance:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$-2.538 billion (2006 est.)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$6.98 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
wood and wood products, machinery and equipment, metals, textiles, foodstuffs
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Lithuania 11%, Estonia 10.8%, Germany 10.2%, UK 10.2%, Russia 7.9%, Sweden 7.8%, Denmark 5.3%, Poland 5.3% (2005)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$10.33 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
machinery and equipment, chemicals, fuels, vehicles
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Germany 13.9%, Lithuania 13.6%, Russia 8.6%, Estonia 7.9%, Poland 6.4%, Finland 5.9%, Belarus 5.8%, Sweden 5.1% (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$2.61 billion (2006 est.)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$18.9 billion (30 June 2006 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
Definition Field Listing
$96.2 million
Currency (code):
Definition Field Listing
Latvian lat (LVL)
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing
lati per US dollar - 0.55991 (2006), - 0.5647 (2005), 0.5402 (2004), 0.5715 (2003), 0.6182 (2002)
Fiscal year:
Definition Field Listing
calendar year
   Communications    Latvia Top of Page
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
731,000 (2005)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.872 million (2005)
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing
general assessment: recent efforts focused on bringing competition to the telecommunications sector, beginning in 2003; the number of fixed lines is decreasing as wireless telephony expands
domestic: two wireless service providers in addition to Lattelekom, the incumbent monopoly
international: country code - 371; the Latvian network is now connected via fiber optic cable to Estonia, Finland, and Sweden
Radio broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
AM 8, FM 56, shortwave 1 (1998)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
44 (plus 31 repeaters) (1995)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
Internet hosts:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
65,858 (2006)
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.03 million (2005)
   Transportation    Latvia Top of Page
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
46 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 24
2,438 to 3,047 m: 7
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 13 (2006)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 22
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 19 (2006)
Definition Field Listing
gas 1,097 km; oil 82 km; refined products 415 km (2006)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 2,303 km
broad gauge: 2,270 km 1.520-m gauge (257 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 33 km 0.750-m gauge (2005)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 69,532 km
paved: 69,532 km (2004)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
300 km (2005)
Merchant marine:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 21 ships (1000 GRT or over) 250,559 GRT/336,136 DWT
by type: cargo 7, chemical tanker 1, liquefied gas 2, passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker 7, roll on/roll off 1
registered in other countries: 105 (Antigua and Barbuda 5, Bahamas 1, Belize 6, Cambodia 2, Cyprus 4, Dominica 1, Gibraltar 2, Liberia 14, Malta 40, Marshall Islands 7, Panama 3, Russia 2, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 18) (2006)
Ports and terminals:
Definition Field Listing
Riga, Ventspils
   Military    Latvia Top of Page
Military branches:
Definition Field Listing
Latvian Republic Defense Force: Ground Forces, Navy, Air Force, Border Guard, Home Guard (Zemessardze) (2005)
Military service age and obligation:
Definition Field Listing
19 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation - 12 months; 18 years of age for volunteers; plans are to phase out conscription, tentatively moving to an all-professional force by 2007; under current law, every citizen is entitled to serve in the armed forces for life (2004)
Manpower available for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 19-49: 517,713
females age 19-49: 519,631 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 19-49: 361,098
females age 19-49: 422,913 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:
Definition Field Listing
males age 18-49: 19,137
females age 19-49: 18,505 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.2% (FY01)
   Transnational Issues    Latvia Top of Page
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
Russia refuses to sign the 1997 boundary treaty due to Latvian insistence on a unilateral clarificatory declaration referencing Soviet occupation of Latvia and territorial losses; Russia demands better Latvian treatment of ethnic Russians in Latvia; the Latvian parliament has not ratified its 1998 maritime boundary treaty with Lithuania, primarily due to concerns over oil exploration rights; as a member state that forms part of the EU's external border, Latvia must implement the strict Schengen border rules
Illicit drugs:
Definition Field Listing
transshipment point for opiates and cannabis from Central and Southwest Asia to Western Europe and Scandinavia and Latin American cocaine and some synthetics from Western Europe to CIS; despite improved legislation, vulnerable to money laundering due to nascent enforcement capabilities and comparatively weak regulation of offshore companies and the gaming industry; CIS organized crime (including counterfeiting, corruption, extortion, stolen cars, and prostitution) accounts for most laundered proceeds

This page was last updated on 18 January, 2007

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