Latvia Latvia

History

Baltic tribespeople settled along the Baltic Sea and, lacking a centralized government, fell prey to more powerful peoples. In the 13th century, they were overcome by the Livonian Brothers of the Sword, a German order of knights whose mission was to conquer and Christianize the Baltic region. The land became part of the state of Livonia until 1561. Germans composed the ruling class of Livonia and Baltic tribes made up the peasantry. German was the official language of the region.

Poland conquered the territory in 1562 and occupied it until Sweden took over the land in 1629, ruling until 1721. The land then passed to Russia. From 1721 until 1918, the Latvians remained Russian subjects, although they preserved their language, customs, and folklore.

The Russian Revolution of 1917 gave Latvia the opportunity for freedom, and the Latvian republic was proclaimed on Nov. 18, 1918. The republic lasted little more than 20 years. Plagued by political instability, Latvia essentially became a dictatorship under President Karlis Ulmanis. The country was occupied by Russian troops in 1939 and incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1940. German armies occupied the nation from 1941 to 1944. Of the 70,000 Jews living in Latvia during World War II, 95% were massacred. In 1944, Russia again took control.


Geography
 
Latvia borders Estonia in the north, Lithuania in the south, the Baltic Sea with the Gulf of Riga in the west, Russia in the east, and Belarus in the southeast. Latvia is largely a fertile lowland with numerous lakes and hills to the east.

Places to Visit in Latvia
 

  • Riga attractions
  • Jurmala attractions
  • Rezekne attractions
  • Sigulda attractions
  • Liepaja attractions
  • Daugavpils attractions
  • Jelgava attractions
  • Aglona attractions
  • Ventspils attractions
  • Kuldiga attractions
  • Cesis attractions
  • Aluksne attractions
  • Ligatne attractions
  • Ludza attractions
  • Ogre attractions
  • Bauska attractions
  • Dobele attractions
  • Tukums attractions
  • Aizpute attractions
  • Grobina attractions