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Latvia / Latvija

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Background:
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.



Location:
Eastern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, between Estonia and Lithuania

Geographic coordinates:
57 00 N, 25 00 E

Map references:
Europe

Area:
total: 64,589 sq km
country comparison to the world: 123
land: 62,249 sq km
water: 2,340 sq km

Area - comparative:
slightly larger than West Virginia

Land boundaries:
total: 1,382 km
border countries: Belarus 171 km, Estonia 343 km, Lithuania 576 km, Russia 292 km

Coastline:
498 km

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation

Climate:
Current Weather
maritime; wet, moderate winters

Terrain:
low plain

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Baltic Sea 0 m
highest point: Galzina Kalns 312 m

Natural resources:
peat, limestone, dolomite, amber, hydropower, timber, arable land

Land use:
arable land: 28.19%
permanent crops: 0.45%
other: 71.36% (2005)

Irrigated land:
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)

Total renewable water resources:
49.9 cu km (2005)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 0.25 cu km/yr (55%/33%/12%)
per capita: 108 cu m/yr (2003)

Natural hazards:
NA

Environment - current issues:
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:
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, 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:
most of the country is composed of fertile low-lying plains with some hills in the east



Population:
2,217,969 (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 141

Age structure:
0-14 years: 13.4% (male 152,059/female 144,891)
15-64 years: 69.6% (male 751,912/female 791,640)
65 years and over: 17% (male 123,289/female 254,178) (2010 est.)

Median age:
total: 40.4 years
male: 37.4 years
female: 43.5 years (2010 est.)

Population growth rate:
-0.602% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 226

Birth rate:
9.9 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 195

Death rate:
13.6 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 22

Net migration rate:
-2.32 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 140

Urbanization:
urban population: 68% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: -0.5% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.054 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.48 male(s)/female
total population: 0.86 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 8.59 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 162
male: 10.41 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.67 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 72.42 years
country comparison to the world: 122
male: 67.27 years
female: 77.84 years (2010 est.)

Total fertility rate:
1.31 children born/woman (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 208

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.8% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 59

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
10,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 100

HIV/AIDS - deaths:
fewer than 500 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 96

Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea
vectorborne diseases: tickborne encephalitis (2009)

Nationality:
noun: Latvian(s)
adjective: Latvian

Ethnic groups:
Latvian 57.7%, Russian 29.6%, Belarusian 4.1%, Ukrainian 2.7%, Polish 2.5%, Lithuanian 1.4%, other 2% (2002)

Religions:
Lutheran 19.6%, Orthodox 15.3%, other Christian 1%, other 0.4%, unspecified 63.7% (2006)

Languages:
Latvian (official) 58.2%, Russian 37.5%, Lithuanian and other 4.3% (2000 census)

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.7%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.7% (2000 census)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 16 years
male: 14 years
female: 17 years (2006)

Education expenditures:
5.1% of GDP (2004)
country comparison to the world: 65



Country name:
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:
parliamentary democracy

Capital:
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:
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

Independence:
18 November 1918 (from the Soviet Russia)

National holiday:
Independence Day, 18 November (1918); note - 18 November 1918 was the date Latvia declared itself independent from Soviet Russia; 4 May 1990 is when it declared the renewal of independence; 21 August 1991 was the date of de facto independence from the Soviet Union

Constitution:
15 February 1922; restored to force by the Constitutional Law of the Republic of Latvia adopted by the Supreme Council on 21 August 1991; multiple amendments since

Legal system:
based on civil law system with traces of Socialist legal traditions and practices; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal for Latvian citizens

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Valdis ZATLERS (since 8 July 2007)
head of government: Prime Minister Valdis DOMBROVSKIS (since 12 March 2009)
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers nominated by the prime minister and appointed by Parliament
(For more information visit the World Leaders website )
elections: president elected by Parliament for a four-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 31 May 2007 (next to be held in 2011); prime minister appointed by the president, confirmed by Parliament
election results: Valdis ZATLERS elected president; parliamentary vote - Valdis ZATLERS 58, Aivars ENDZINS 39

Legislative branch:
unicameral Parliament or Saeima (100 seats; members elected by proportional representation from party lists by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held on 7 October 2006 (next to be held in 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 6.9%; PCTVL 6%; seats by party - TP 23, ZZS 18, JL 18, SC 17, LPP/LC 10, TB/LNNK 8, PCTVL 6; note - seats by party as of November 2009 - TP 21, SC 18, ZZS 17, JL 15, LPP/LC 10, Civic Union 6, TB/LNNK 5, PCTVL 5, independents 3

Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (judges' appointments are confirmed by parliament); Constitutional Court (judges' appointments are confirmed by parliament)

Political parties and leaders:
Civic Union [Sandra KALNIETE, Girts Valdis KRISTOVSKIS]; First Party of Latvia/Latvia's Way or LPP/LC [Ainars SLESERS]; For Human Rights in a United Latvia or PCTVL [Jakovs PLINERS, Tatjana ZDANOKA]; For the Fatherland and Freedom/Latvian National Independence Movement or TB/LNNK [Roberts ZILE, Maris GRINBLATS]; Harmony Center or SC [Nils USAKOVS, Janis URBANOVICS]; New Era Party or JL [Solvita ABOLTINA, Dzintars ZAKIS]; People's Party or TP [Andris SKELE]; Society for Different Politics or SCP [Aigars STOKENBERGS; Artis PABRIKS]; The Union of Latvian Greens and Farmers Party or ZZS [Augusts BRIGMANIS]

Political pressure groups and leaders:
Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia [Peteris KRIGERS], Employers' Confederation of Latvia [Elina EGLE], Farmers' Parliament [Juris LAZDINS]

International organization participation:
Australia Group, BA, BIS, CBSS, CE, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, EU, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NATO, NIB, NSG, OAS (observer), OIF (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, Schengen Convention, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Andrejs PILDEGOVICS
chancery: 2306 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 328-2840
FAX: [1] (202) 328-2860

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Judith G. GARBER
embassy: 7 Raina Boulevard, Riga LV-1510
mailing address: American Embassy Riga, PSC 78, Box Riga, APO AE 09723
telephone: [371] 670-36200
FAX: [371] 678-20047

Flag description:
three horizontal bands of maroon (top), white (half-width), and maroon; the flag is one of the older banners in the world; a medieval chronicle mentions a red standard with a white stripe being used by Latvian tribes in about 1280



Economy - overview:
Latvia's economy experienced GDP growth of more than 10% per year during 2006-07 but entered a severe recession in 2008 as a result of an unsustainable current account deficit and large debt exposure amid the softening world economy. GDP plunged nearly 18% in 2009 - the three former Soviet Baltic republics had the world's worst declines last year. The IMF, EU, and other donors provided assistance to Latvia as part of an agreement to defend the currency's peg to the euro and reduce the fiscal deficit to about 5% of GDP. 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.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$32.4 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 105
$39.41 billion (2008 est.)
$41.31 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):
$24.48 billion (2009 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:
-17.8% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 213
-4.6% (2008 est.)
10% (2007 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$14,500 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 79
$17,600 (2008 est.)
$18,300 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 3.8%
industry: 21.9%
services: 74.3% (2009 est.)

Labor force:
1.186 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 139

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 12.1%
industry: 25.8%
services: 61.8% (2005 est.)

Unemployment rate:
17.1% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 159
7.5% (2008 est.)

Population below poverty line:
NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.7%
highest 10%: 27.4% (2004)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:
36 (2005)
country comparison to the world: 84
32 (1999)

Investment (gross fixed):
21.3% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77

Budget:
revenues: $8.901 billion
expenditures: $11.24 billion (2009 est.)

Public debt:
36.1% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 73
19.5% of GDP (2008 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
3.5% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 114
15.4% (2008 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
6% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 73
6% (31 December 2007)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
11.85% (31 December 2008)

Stock of money:
$6.688 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 59
$8.196 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of quasi money:
$5.572 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 80
$5.113 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of domestic credit:
$28.96 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 60
$27.56 billion (31 December 2007)

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$1.872 billion (31 December 2009)
country comparison to the world: 99
$1.609 billion (31 December 2008)
$3.111 billion (31 December 2007)

Agriculture - products:
grain, sugar beets, potatoes, vegetables; beef, pork, milk, eggs; fish

Industries:
buses, vans, street and railroad cars; synthetic fibers, agricultural machinery, fertilizers, washing machines, radios, electronics, pharmaceuticals, processed foods, textiles

Industrial production growth rate:
-22.8% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 164

Electricity - production:
4.62 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 114

Electricity - consumption:
6.822 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 101

Electricity - exports:
2.123 billion kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - imports:
4.643 billion kWh (2008 est.)

Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 157

Oil - consumption:
40,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 103

Oil - exports:
5,873 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 102

Oil - imports:
43,400 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 94

Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 162

Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 168

Natural gas - consumption:
2.05 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 80

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 166

Natural gas - imports:
2.05 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 46

Current account balance:
$2.53 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 36
-$4.493 billion (2008 est.)

Exports:
$7.223 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 91
$9.634 billion (2008 est.)

Exports - commodities:
wood and wood products, machinery and equipment, metals, textiles, foodstuffs

Exports - partners:
Lithuania 15.19%, Estonia 13.57%, Russia 13.17%, Germany 8.13%, Sweden 5.7% (2009)

Imports:
$8.906 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 91
$15.65 billion (2008 est.)

Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, chemicals, fuels, vehicles

Imports - partners:
Lithuania 16.36%, Germany 11.34%, Russia 10.68%, Poland 8.11%, Estonia 7.69% (2009)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$6.907 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 76
$5.248 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Debt - external:
$38.01 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 55
$42.26 billion (31 December 2008)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$11.61 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 78
$11.54 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$1.037 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 71
$1.054 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Exchange rates:
lati (LVL) per US dollar - 0.5157 (2009), 0.4701 (2008), 0.5162 (2007), 0.5597 (2006), 0.5647 (2005)



Telephones - main lines in use:
644,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 92

Telephones - mobile cellular:
2.234 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 121

Telephone system:
general assessment: recent efforts focused on bringing competition to the telecommunications sector; the number of fixed lines is decreasing as mobile-cellular telephone service expands
domestic: number of telecommunications operators has grown rapidly since the fixed-line market opened to competition in 2003; combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular subscribership exceeds 125 per 100 persons
international: country code - 371; the Latvian network is now connected via fiber optic cable to Estonia, Finland, and Sweden (2008)

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 8, FM 62, shortwave 1 (2008)

Television broadcast stations:
37 (plus 31 repeaters) (2008)

Internet country code:
.lv

Internet hosts:
257,414 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 60

Internet users:
1.254 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 82



Airports:
43 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 100

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 20
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 8 (2009)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 23
under 914 m: 23 (2009)

Pipelines:
gas 948 km; refined products 415 km (2009)

Railways:
total: 2,298 km
country comparison to the world: 68
broad gauge: 2,265 km 1.520-m gauge
narrow gauge: 33 km 0.750-m gauge (2008)

Roadways:
total: 73,074 km
country comparison to the world: 65
paved: 14,459 km
unpaved: 58,615 km (2010)

Waterways:
300 km (2007)
country comparison to the world: 93

Merchant marine:
total: 22
country comparison to the world: 95
by type: cargo 8, chemical tanker 3, liquefied gas 2, passenger/cargo 5, petroleum tanker 2, roll on/roll off 2
foreign-owned: 2 (Estonia 2)
registered in other countries: 118 (Antigua and Barbuda 13, Belize 12, Cambodia 1, Cook Islands 1, Cyprus 1, Dominica 1, Jamaica 1, Liberia 21, Malta 19, Marshall Islands 16, Panama 8, Russia 2, Saint Kitts and Nevis 5, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 17) (2008)

Ports and terminals:
Riga, Ventspils



Military branches:
National Armed Forces (Nacionalo Brunoto Speku): Ground Forces, Navy (Latvijas Juras Speki; includes Coast Guard (Latvijas Kara Flotes)), Latvian Air Force (Latvijas Gaisa Speki), Border Guard, Latvian Home Guard (Latvijas Zemessardze) (2010)

Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for voluntary male and female military service; conscription abolished January 2007; under current law, every citizen is entitled to serve in the armed forces for life (2009)

Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 554,943
females age 16-49: 550,700 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 406,592
females age 16-49: 456,071 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 11,536
female: 11,058 (2010 est.)

Military expenditures:
1.2% of GDP (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 125



Disputes - international:
Russia demands better Latvian treatment of ethnic Russians in Latvia; as of January 2007, ground demarcation of the boundary with Belarus was complete and mapped with final ratification documentation in preparation; 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 has implemented the strict Schengen border rules with Russia

Illicit drugs:
transshipment and destination point for cocaine, synthetic drugs, opiates, and cannabis from Southwest Asia, Western Europe, Latin America, and neighboring Balkan countries; 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

 

Information from the CIA's "The World Fact Book" 2010

 

 

 

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