Latvia, officially the Republic of Latvia (Latvian: Latvijas Republika), is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe, one of the three Baltic states. It is bordered by Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, Russia to the east, and Belarus to the southeast, as well as a maritime border to the west alongside Sweden. Latvia has 2,070,371 inhabitants and a territory of 64,589 km2 (24,938 sq mi). The country has a temperate seasonal climate.
Latvia is a democratic parliamentary republic established in 1918. The capital city is Riga, the European Capital of Culture 2014. Latvian is the official language. Latvia is a unitary state, divided into 118 administrative divisions, of which 109 are municipalities and 9 are cities.
Latvians and Livs are the indigenous people of Latvia. Latvian is an Indo-European language; it and Lithuanian are the only two surviving Baltic languages. Despite foreign rule from the 13th to 20th centuries, the Latvian nation maintained its identity throughout the generations via the language and musical traditions. Latvia and Estonia share a long common history. As a consequence of the Soviet occupation, both countries are home to a large number of ethnic Russians (26.9% in Latvia and 25.5% in Estonia), some of whom are non-citizens.
Latvia is historically predominantly Protestant Lutheran, except for the Latgale region in the southeast, which has historically been predominantly Roman Catholic. The Russian population has also brought a significant portion of Eastern Orthodox Christians.
The central institution of Latvia’s financial environment is the Bank of Latvia – Latvia’s central bank. According to the Law on the Bank of Latvia, the bank’s main goal is to execute Latvia’s monetary policy and to maintain price stability nationally. The Bank of Latvia also ensures the operation of the Credit Register. The bank grants legal persons registered in the Enterprise Register (except credit institutions) licenses for the purchasing and selling of foreign currency in the form of business activities, and controls compliance with its established procedures for purchasing and selling foreign currency.
Financial and capital markets are regulated by the Financial and Capital Market Commission (FCMC), established in 2000 to sustain stability and development and to promote free competition within financial markets. The FCMC has the authority to monitor and regulate all participants in financial and capital markets (investors, credit institutions, insurers, stock exchanges, depositories, brokers, etc.). The banking system comprises several types of credit institutions:
20 commercial bank and 10 branches of foreign banks operate in Latvia with total assets of approximately EUR 30 billion (2011). Latvia’s largest banks represent foreign investors from Sweden (Swedbank, SEB) and Finland (Nordea Bank), which makeup approximately 41 % of market share in total assets and account for more than 50 % of issued loans (2011). Only a few of the largest Latvian banks operate as universal credit institutions providing the full range of banking services to private individuals and corporate entities, with an extensive network of local branches and ATM terminals. Most banks provide a limited range of services to specific customer groups.
|Agriculture||grain, rapeseed, potatoes, vegetables; pork, poultry, milk, eggs; fish.|
|Manufacture||electronics, energy, aircraft.|
|Services (Including financial)||69.4% (2013 estimate)|
|URALCHEM Trading , SIA||Chemical goods, raw materials|
|Latvenergo , AS||Power industry, projecting, construction|
|ELKO Grupa , AS||Computer technique, software|
|ORLEN Latvija , SIA||Oil and oil products, biofuel|
|MAXIMA Latvija , SIA||Groceries|
|Rimi Latvia , SIA||Groceries|
|Latvijas G?ze , AS||Gas|
|Circle K Latvia SIA,||Fuel and gas filling stations|
|Liep?jas Metalurgs , AS||Hardware, constructions|
|LDZ CARGO , SIA||Transportation, forwarding, logistics|
The leading institutions operating in the securities market in Latvia are NASDAQ OMX Riga and the Latvian Central Depository. Through these two enterprises, market participants are provided with an environment for carrying out transactions with securities, the clearing and settlement of securities’ transactions, the listing of securities, and the operating of a central public securities register and a funded pension-fund register. NASDAQ OMX Riga is a part of the NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc., which is the world’s largest exchange company.
The Latvian economy entered a phase of fiscal contraction during the second half of 2008 after an extended period of credit-based speculation and unrealistic appreciation in real estate values. The national account deficit for 2007, for example, represented more than 22% of the GDP for the year while inflation was running at 10%.
Latvia's unemployment rate rose sharply in this period from a low of 5.4% in November 2007 to over 22%. In April 2010 Latvia had the highest unemployment rate in the EU, at 22.5%, ahead of Spain, which had 19.7%.
Paul Krugman, the Nobel Laureate in economics for 2008, wrote in his New York Times Op-Ed column on 15 December 2008:
"The most acute problems are on Europe's periphery, where many smaller economies are experiencing crises strongly reminiscent of past crises in Latin America and Asia: Latvia is the new Argentina "
However, by 2010, commentators noted signs of stabilization in the Latvian economy. Rating agency Standard & Poor's raised its outlook on Latvia's debt from negative to stable. Latvia's current account, which had been in deficit by 27% in late 2006 was in surplus in February 2010. Kenneth Orchard, senior analyst at Moody's Investors Service argued that:
"The strengthening regional economy is supporting Latvian production and exports, while the sharp swing in the current account balance suggests that the country's ‘internal devaluation’ is working."
The IMF concluded the First Post-Program Monitoring Discussions with the Republic of Latvia in July 2012 announcing that Latvia's economy has been recovering strongly since 2010, following the deep downturn in 2008–09. The real GDP growth of 5.5 percent in 2011 was underpinned by export growth and a recovery in domestic demand. The growth momentum has continued into 2012 and 2013 despite deteriorating external conditions, and the economy is expected to expand by 4.1 percent in 2014. The unemployment rate has receded from its peak of more than 20 percent in 2010 to around 9.3 percent in 2014.
The Republic of Latvia was founded on 18 November 1918. However, its de facto independence was interrupted at the outset of World War II. In 1940, the country was forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union, invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany in 1941, and re-occupied by the Soviets in 1944 to form the Latvian SSR for the next fifty years. The peaceful Singing Revolution, starting in 1987, called for Baltic emancipation of Soviet rule. It ended with the Declaration on the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia on 4 May 1990, and restoring de facto independence on 21 August 1991.
Latvia is a democratic and developed country and member of the European Union, NATO, the Council of Europe, the United Nations, CBSS, the IMF, NB8, NIB, OECD, OSCE, and WTO. For 2014, Latvia was listed 46th on the Human Development Index and as a high income country on 1 July 2014. It used the Latvian lats as its currency until it was replaced by the euro on 1 January 2014.
The lats was the currency of Latvia until it was replaced by the euro on 1 January 2014. A two-week transition period during which the lats was in circulation alongside the euro ended on 14 January 2014. The lats were first introduced in 1922, replacing the Latvian rublis at a rate of 1 lats = 50 rub?i. In 1940, Latvia was occupied by the USSR and the Soviet ruble at par replaced the lats.
Coins were issued in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 sant?mu, 1, 2 and 5 lati. The 1, 2 and 5 sant? mu were in bronze, the 10, 20 and 50 sant? mu were nickel, while coins of 1 lats and above were in silver. Coins were issued in denominations of 1 sant? ms, 2 and 5 sant? mi, 10, 20 and 50 sant?mu, 1 lats and 2 lati. Besides standard coins in the list below and coins for collectors, there were a number of coins that were issued only once and were rarely found in circulation – three commemorative circulation coins in denominations of 2, 10 and 100 latu (the later two of which were, respectively, silver and gold), a 100 lats gold bullion coin, a standard issue 2 lats coin that was gradually taken out of circulation starting from 1999 due to safety issues and a series of limited design 1 lats coins that were issued twice a year from 2004 to 2013, and once in 2001 and 2003.
The Latvian Bank issued notes from 1922 in denominations of 20, 25, 50, 100 and 500 latu. They also issued 10 latu notes, which were 500 rubli notes overprinted with the new denomination. The government issued currency notes from 1925 in denominations of 5, 10 and 20 latu. All banknotes were 130 × 65 mm in size.
|National Song||"Dievs, svētī Latviju!"|
|GDP / GDP Rank||50.622 Billion USD|
|GDP Growth Rate||2.7 Percent|
|GDP Per Captial||$25709.805 (PPP)|
< 1.0% Muslims
< 1.0% Hindus
< 1.0% Buddhists
< 1.0% Jews
< 1.0% Other Religions
President – Raimonds Vējonis
Prime Minister – Krišjānis Kariņš
|Website||Go to the web|
|Public Debt||34.339 Percent|
|Unemployment Rate||9.883 Percent|
|Labor Force (Occupation)||-|