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Latvia

Latvia
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GALLERY

"Latvia" ("Latvija") is a European state which is situated on the coast of Baltic Sea. One of the three Baltic states, Latvia is bordered by Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, Russia to the east, Belarus on the south east, and the Baltic Sea on the west. The most famous travel spot is the capital Riga, a World Heritage Site. There are also many other great places to see, both urban and rural, such as Liepaja with its unique former secret military town of Karosta and a magnificent beach. Kuldiga with Europe`s widest waterfall and Cesis with its medieval castle ruins are also interesting. Tourists can also enjoy the wild beauty of Latvia"s unspoilt sea coast, which is 500 km long and consists mainly of white, soft sandy beaches. Forests, which cover approximately a half of Latvia"s territory, offer many nature trails and nature parks.
Understand
Latvia is a famous ancient trading point. The famous route from the Vikings to the Greeks’ mentioned in ancient chronicles stretched from Scandinavia through Latvian territory along the river Daugava to the Kievan Rus and Byzantine Empire. Across the European continent, Latvia’s coast was known as a place for obtaining amber. In the Middle Ages amber was more valuable than gold in many places. Latvian amber was known in places as far away as Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. In the 12th century, German traders arrived, bringing with them missionaries who attempted to convert the pagan Finno-Ugric and Baltic tribes to the Christian faith. The Germans founded Rīga in 1201, establishing it as the largest and most powerful city on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. After independence in 1918, Latvia achieved considerable results in social development, economy, industry and agriculture. It has always been a multicultural melting point, where foreigners and locals worked together and brought prosperity to the country. On June 16, 1940, Vyacheslav Molotov presented the Latvian representative in Moscow with an ultimatum accusing Latvia of violations of that pact, and on June 17 Soviet forces occupied the country. Elections for a "People"s Saeima" were held, and a puppet government headed by Augusts Kirhenšteins led Latvia into the USSR. The annexation was formalized on August 5, 1940. During the time of the Iron Curtain, Latvia was a province of the Soviet Union, but the concentration of heavy industry was enormous. Contacts with the West were regulated. The Baltic region had the reputation of being the most urbanized and having the highest literacy rate in the Soviet Union. Latvia gained independence on September 6, 1991. Between 1991 and 2007 the country saw unprecedented economic growth. However, the global recession and the banking crisis have hit Latvia very brutally, and severe economic contraction and destructively high unemployment have once returned.

Because of a tribal past and divisions between occupying nations, there are regional differences between parts of Latvia which are interesting to explore.

Climate


"The best time to travel" to Latvia is from June to mid September, when it is warm and plenty of local food is available. January and February are the coldest months. October and November have autumn rains and daylight is short.

Geography

Half of Latvia is covered with forests which are "rich with wildlife". There are many lakes, especially if you go to Latgale region. There are deep river valleys with some sections having sand cliffs on their banks. Heavy industry halted a long time ago, so most places are ecologically clean.

The highest point in Latvia is "Gaizinkalns" , at 312m (1,023ft) above sea level, just west of the town of Madona.

Regions
There are some cultural and social differences between regions, for example, traditional dress is different from region to region. The Latgale region has its own unique culture and language - Latgalian.






Cities

Stony beach in Vidzeme
Statue of Rolands, Riga Old Town

* Riga - the capital city with more than 800 years old history, with the popular holiday suburb of Jūrmala right by
* Daugavpils - second biggest city in Latvia. Features many factories and other industries.
* Jurmala
* Liepaja - city of music on the Baltic sea coast, which is always windy. Latvians believe that the wind starts in the city; and well-known Latvian musicians come from there. There is a very interesting former secret military town called Karosta, between a lake and the sea. One of the world"s largest pipe organs. Famous summer event Baltic Beach Party in July. Fantastic unspoilt, white, soft sandy beach.
* Madona - a small scenic town in eastern Vidzeme, surrounded by hills, forests and lakes, capital of winter sports.
* Sigulda - popular town with many interesting castles and historic places. Most popular attraction outside Riga for foreign tourists.
* Valka
* Ventspils - hosts one of busiest ports in Europe. It is possible to observe incoming ships.

Other destinations

* Latvijas Etnografiskais Brivdabas Muzejs — open air museum of the traditional culture of Latvian tribes, near Riga
* Livu Akvaparks — the biggest water attraction in Northern Europe
* Karostas cietums — true Soviet prison experience with live prison show as well as night in prison. Based in the Karosta suburb of Liepaja
* Open Air Art Museum — modern art and installations in nature park, near Sabile in Kurzeme region

Get in
Visas



Health or travel insurance must be presented at border crossing points. More Information at:

If you "need a visa", getting one can be tricky. Visa costs are on the high side considering size of the country - 20LVL for single or 35LVL for multiple entries. Applications will take 7 days to process, or can take as long as 30 days if additional information is needed. To apply, submit to the Latvian embassy or consulate:
* passport with "two" blank pages
* application form
* 2 photos
* invitation (actually, number of invitation, which could only be obtainable by someone else by going to Latvian Immigration Office in Latvia. It costs an additional 5 LVL for single entry and 10 LVL for multiple entry visa. It is valid for 3 months)
* travel insurance and payment

By plane

Riga airport: RIX

"Riga International Airport" has direct flights to/from various European cities (London, Madrid, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Oslo, etc), Middle East (Beirut, Tel Aviv, Dubai), CIS (Moscow, Kiev, Minsk) as well as North America (New York City).

Inexpensive national airline: Air Baltic . There are also other low-cost carriers: Ryanair and WizzAir .
You can take also Ryanair flight to Kaunas in Lithuania but it might be not so easy to get from Kaunas to Riga by public transport.

There are bus (0.70 LVL) and taxi (
Overview
 

 

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emographicDynamics of the population of Daugavpils in 1772–2008As of 1 January 2009, the city had a population of 104 857. * Russians: 52.8% (55 320)* Latvians: 17.6% (18 411)* Poles: 14.6% (15 327)* Belarusians: 7.8% (8 206)* Ukrainians: 2.1% (2
emographicDynamics of the population of Daugavpils in 1772–2008As of 1 January 2009, the city had a population of 104 857. * Russians: 52.8% (55 320)* Latvians: 17.6% (18 411)* Poles: 14.6% (15 327)* Belarusians: 7.8% (8 206)* Ukrainians: 2.1% (2
emographicDynamics of the population of Daugavpils in 1772–2008As of 1 January 2009, the city had a population of 104 857. * Russians: 52.8% (55 320)* Latvians: 17.6% (18 411)* Poles: 14.6% (15 327)* Belarusians: 7.8% (8 206)* Ukrainians: 2.1% (2
emographicDynamics of the population of Daugavpils in 1772–2008As of 1 January 2009, the city had a population of 104 857. * Russians: 52.8% (55 320)* Latvians: 17.6% (18 411)* Poles: 14.6% (15 327)* Belarusians: 7.8% (8 206)* Ukrainians: 2.1% (2
The Rastrelli Palace at the heart of Jelgava, seen from the Lielupe."Jelgava" () is a city in central Latvia about 41 km southwest of Riga with 66,087 inhabitants (2006). It is the largest town in Semigallia. Jelgava is known as the former
The Rastrelli Palace at the heart of Jelgava, seen from the Lielupe."Jelgava" () is a city in central Latvia about 41 km southwest of Riga with 66,087 inhabitants (2006). It is the largest town in Semigallia. Jelgava is known as the former
 
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