Latvia is one of the least populous and least densely populated countries of the European Union. With the official language being Latvian and its capital city of Riga, this country has a temperate seasonal climate. Currency is called Lats (Ls). Due to its heritage and rich history in music, it is also called “The land that sings”.
Total area: 64,589 km² (24,938 sq. miles)
Population: 2,217,053 (2012 estimate)
Latvia, officially known as the Republic of Latvia (or least known as Lettland), is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia (border length 343 km), to the south by Lithuania (588 km), to the east by the Russian Federation (276 km), to the southeast by Belarus (141 km) and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden.
The beauty of Latvia for international travelers, seems to lie in the most important detail which is finding so many things in the immediate vicinity of the country. Being compact allows, its visitors to wonder its historical towns are easily reached, where medieval hanseatic foundations support baroque and art nouveau buildings. These achitectural masterpieces become venues for cultural festivals during the summer months. In addition, whichever town you seem to visit, you are never far away from its thrilling 500km coastline, which so famously presents itself in unique landscapes and sun downs.
Latvia and Estonia share a long common history: historical Livonia, times of German (Teutonic Order), Polish-Lithuanian, Swedish, Russian, Nazi German and Soviet rule, 13th century Christianization and 16th century Protestant Reformation. Both countries are home to a large number of ethnic Russians (26.9% in Latvia and around 25.5% in Estonia) of whom some are non-citizens. Latvia is historically largely Protestant, except for the region of Latgalia in the southeast, which is historically predominantly Roman Catholic.
Latvia is a member of the United Nations, European Union, Council of Europe, NATO, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and is part of the Schengen Area. It was a member of the League of Nations (1921–1946) and the Baltic Free Trade Area (1994–2004). Latvia is also a member of the Council of the Baltic Sea States and Nordic Investment Bank, and is together with Estonia and Lithuania involved in trilateral Baltic States cooperation and Nordic-Baltic cooperation.
Sources: Latviatravel, Wikitravel, Lonelyplanet
The Latvian climate is humid, continental and temperate owing to the maritime influence of the Baltic Sea. Summers are warm, and the weather in spring and autumn is fairly mild. Latvian winters on the other hand, can be extreme due to the northern location of the country. Precipitation is common throughout the year, with the heaviest rainfalls occurring in July. During severe spells of winter weather, Latvia is dominated by cold winds from Russia’s interior, and severe and persistent snowfalls are very common.
Geographically speaking, Latvia is located in very stable place, as there aren't earthquakes, hurricanes, water floods or volcanoes.
Since the year 2000 Latvia has had one of the highest (GDP) growth rates in Europe. However, the chiefly consumption-driven growth in Latvia resulted in the collapse of the Latvian GDP in late 2008 and early 2009, exacerbated by the global economic crisis and shortage of credit. Latvian economy fell 18% in the first three months of 2009, the biggest fall in the European Union
Privatization in Latvia is almost complete. Virtually all of the previously state-owned small and medium companies have been successfully privatized, leaving only a small number of politically sensitive large state companies. Latvian privatization efforts have led to the development of a dynamic and prosperous private sector, which accounted for nearly 68% of GDP in 2000.
Growth started to return to these economies in the second half of 2010, but with capital inflows now well below pre-crisis levels they have now entered a lengthy and difficult adjustment process. With domestic demand well below earlier highs and still struggling, exports have now become the prime mover of economic growth. Since the recovery in external demand has produced a rapid return to earlier export peaks the impression of a return to earlier economic dynamism has been created.
Strong year-on-year increases in exports have moved headline GDP numbers forward, but as 2011 continues annual export growth rates will drop substantially, and may even get stuck at a snail’s pace, meaning that the respective economies will be struggling to find growth, create jobs, and maintain the servicing of their external debt.
The most worrying piece of evidence found by macroeconomic researchers was the failure of capital investment to rebound alongside exports (May 2011). In part this is understandable, since a lot of the earlier capital investment was in property, but this offers only part of the explanation, since for these economies to really take off as export driven strong new investment growth in plant and equipment will be needed. In order for these economies to attract investment in sufficient volume they will need to recover a large part of the competitiveness lost between 2005 and 2008, when wage growth far outpaced productivity gains. However, given the difficulties faced in lowering the exchange rate, they can only realistically try to recover lost ground through sustained productivity improvements, a lengthy and slow process, and in the meantime the debt and population ageing problems keep ticking away
The Latvian transport sector is around 14% of GDP. Transit between Russia and the West is big and particularly significant. Key ports are in Riga, Ventspils, and Liepāja. Most transit traffic uses these and half the cargo is crude oil and oil products.
Latvia plans to introduce the Euro as the country's currency but, due to the inflation being above EMU's guidelines, the government's official target is now January 1, 2014.
Sources: Wikipedia, latviaeconomy.blogspot
The International tourism; number of arrivals in Latvia was 1,323,000 in 2009, according to a World Bank report, published in 2010. The International tourism; number of arrivals in Latvia was reported at 1,684,000 in 2008.
The value for International tourism, number of arrivals in Latvia was 1,373,000 as of 2010. Over the past 15 years, the maximum value was reached in 2008 and it was 1,684,000 of overseas tourism arrivals.
Tourism in Latvia is getting bigger every year as people are starting to visit this beautiful land which has only been open for a little nearly 20 years now after the country gained its independence from the former Soviet Union.
The main tourist destination in Latvia is the capital city of Riga and the nearby community on the sea called Jurmala. Riga is a cultural city which holds beauty, great cuisine, a wide array of small motels and hotels, combined with great architecture. The smaller towns within Latvia in the countryside have many attractions, a great deal of them can be found on Latvia’s 500km beautiful coastline and each town offers its own distinct travel value. In the western portion of Latvia is the Kurzeme region and is becoming one of the more attractive tourist destinations as it boasts beautiful cities on the coast and gorgeous natural attractions. Let's add here also, that for bird lovers, Latvia is a favorite bird watching country.
A little off the beaten tourist path is the eastern region of Latvia called the Latgale region. The Latgale region of the country offers a view into the past as you can still see many of the farmers carting their produce to the markets by horse. In the middle of Latgale is Latvia's second largest city called Daugavpils. The city of Daugavpils is full of open green spaces has a baroque charm as well as the Latgalian warmth.
In the capital of Riga the tourist possibilities are endless with many great hotels, nightclubs, and natural and historical attractions. Riga has an international airport so you can fly into Riga from around the world. Riga can also be reached by train and ferry as well. Food, alcohol, and local made crafts are very inexpensive on the whole but imported goods are just as pricey as in other countries.
Riga has a great nightlife and all night entertainment venues, where discos to its many bars are the main highlights. A nice aspect of Riga is the fact that it can be managed on foot so you go from one place in the city to another relatively easily.
Staying in Riga there are many options from hostels, hotels, exclusive hotels, bed and breakfasts, and apartment rentals. No matter what your budget is and how long your stay is Riga will have anything you are looking for.
Credit cards are accepted widely throughout Latvia and cash payments are only acceptable in Euros.
Sources: TradingEconomics, Indexmundi
Car Hire in Latvia with MisterHire.Com
There are lots of places to explore in Latvia, and car hire is the best way to get to them; beautiful coastal towns and beaches, the caves and castles of the Gauja valley and the capital of Riga are all worth a visit. The Gulf of Riga and the Baltic Sea both have stunning beaches, which are a must see. There are countless nature parks to explore, with picturesque forests and lakes to enjoy. Car hire in Latvia will help you to discover this beautiful country.
Latvia's attractions are ideal for exploring by car and the driving conditions are generally quite good. The roads are generally in good condition and car ownership in Latvia is among the lowest in Europe so traffic levels are low.
From small compact cars to medium sized saloons and 4x4 Jeep options, we present many car hire deals to you at competitve all inclusive prices in Latvia. We supply hire cars in various Latvian locations where you may easily collect your rental car. Pick up points include Riga, Liepaja and Ventspils Airports as well as towns and cities centre deliveries. Whether you are travelling to Latvia for business or a combination of business and pleasure, we trust we have the car rental options and prices you'll require for a carefree appointments and/or holidays. We did the hard work and constantly monitor and present to you the best inclusive car rental rates all over Latvia, so you don't have to by comparing and presenting the best prices from all the main suppliers like Avis, Sixt, Europcar, Budget as well as other carefully selected associates with local knowledge and support.
Our rates include insurance, collision damage and theft waiver, local taxes and unlimited mileage so there are no costly and hidden surprises when you have reached your pre-selected Latvia rental car pick up location. If you would require some optional extras for your trip such as baby seats and/or extra drivers, these options are easily found and neatly presented to you during our secure Online Booking Process.
Some Essential Driving Information for Latvia
Road signs and road markings are minimal in Latvia, so it is essential that you plan your route prior to embarking on your journey. As traffic drives on the right, dipped headlights must be used during the daylight hours. It must also be noted that seat belts are compulsory in front and rear seats and since road signs and road markings are minimal in existence in Latvia so far, it is essential that you plan your route prior to embarking on your journey.
Generally speaking, speed limits in Latvia are:
• Towns and cities: 50 km/h (31 mph)
• Open Roads : 90 km/h (56 mph)
• Motorways : 90-100 km/h (56-62 mph)
Drink Driving Limits
50mL/100mL* (compared to UK's 80mL/100mL of blood)
(*): 50 Millilitres of Alcohol per 100 Millilitres of blood