The one minute summary on Latvia

This is it: one minute to the best info on Latvia. This info alone will put you ahead of 99% of foreigners visiting Latvia, garner the admiration of the locals who will instantly want to be your friends, and the envy of your fellow travelers. Read on. You’ll make friends faster that way, become a traveler instead of simply being a tourist, and also enjoy your travels a lot more.

latvia photo

Photo by gtall1

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 28% of the population) remains of concern to Moscow. Latvia acceded to both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004; it joined the eurozone in 2014.

That was it. I promised one minute.

For other condensed info check also my other posts on local culture (don’t make the mistakes I made), local food or local drinks. And when you call your friends to tell them you were by far the most knowledgeable at the party, do that with confidence that you’ll not get hit with a 6.99 per minute bill. You’ll also pick the local food from the tray, and order a local drink with confidence.

  1. Cultural Mistakes To Avoid in  Latvia
  2. Does my current phone work in  Latvia ? Tips to cell phone usage in  Latvia
  3. Local food you should try in  Latvia and No miss drinks in  Latvia

Now, cheers to the most Latvia aware person at the cocktail party.

What are the key history moments for Latvia?

The one minute summary for Latvia 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.

Best places to see in Latvia

When thinking of Europe, the small nation of Latvia is probably not one of the first countries to spring to your mind. Buried under the big no-go blanket of the Soviet Union, it has yet to be properly discovered by the large tourist crowds.

If you manage to make it there, however, you might just find yourself most positively surprised by the charms of this Baltic country. Latvia’s dynamic capital, the historic city of Riga, is a great place to spend some time. It boasts a truly lovely old quarter, full of magnificent Jugendstil architecture, winding cobblestoned lanes and many steeples. Yet, it is a modern, metropolitan city with a vibrant nightlife and a strong economic impulse, to the extend that the rise of modernist buildings is threatening the old town’s World Heritage listing. Riga’s vibe gets under many travellers’ skins, perhaps for the strong contrasts between old and new or maybe because of the seemingly painless blend of Latvian and Russian cultures, as almost half of the city’s inhabitants are of Russian origin.

latvia photo

Photo by gtall1

To get a sense of the city, wander through its large, manicured parks, stroll through the historic quarter and then kick back in one of the many cafés or outdoor terraces. Among Riga’s best sights are the impressive Riga Cathedral, St. Peter’s Church and the bustling Central Market. Cognitive path in ?emeri National Park: view from the observation tower Although Riga is by far the country’s main tourist destination, there are a bunch of other places well worth a visit.

At just 40 km from the capital is Sigulda, with the nicely reconstructed Turaida Castle, an interesting castle museum as well as the deep Gutmanis Cave. The town is beautifully located in the Gauja valley and has been called the “Switserland of Latvia” for its steep cliffs and banks. It’s known for its winter sports opportunities and makes a great base for explorations of the fine nature around it. The coastal city of Liep?ja is known to Latvians as “the city where the wind is born”, for the sea breeze it constantly enjoys.

It has a nice beach and a charming town centre with a colorful mixture or architectural styles, from wooden houses and spacious parks to Art Nouveau and concrete, Soviet-era apartment buildings. Liep?ja’s neighbourhood of Karosta was built in the late 19th century as a naval base for Tsar Alexander III and was later used by the Soviet Baltic Fleet. Its splendid sea side panoramas, former military prison and fortress remains now make it a popular tourist sight. Cesis is one of the country’s oldest towns and has a charming centre with cobblestoned lanes, historic wooden building and a few impressive castles. Kuld?ga boasts Europe’s widest, though at two meters high unspectacular, water fall. It’s part of the Venta Rapid, one of Latvia’s natural monuments.

Despite its limited hight it’s still a nice sight and the town itself is worth exploring too. The colossal white Cathedral of Aglona is a worthwhile day trip from Daugavpils, the second largest city in the country. Jelgava has two fine sight in its baroque style Rund?le and Jelgava palaces. There are many interesting and old castles around Latvia. The Association of Latvian Castles, Palaces and Manors has links and photos on their website. Note that sometimes castles are reserved for private occasions.