Information om Lettland

02.12.2014. 19:09


The Republic of Latvia was founded in 1918. Its state symbols have survived through a century of nation building, wars, occupations and liberations. They embody the history, culture and values of those who have lived here by the Baltic Sea for thousands of years. The oak tree, amber, water and land are just some of the many natural symbols that appear in Latvian designs and decorations.


Latvians are the descendants of the early Baltic peoples who first settled along the Baltic Sea 4,000 years ago. From the 13l century on Riga became a major Hanseatic trading centre in Livonia, while in the 17l century the Duchy of Kurzeme was a major sea power. As part of 19th century Czarist Russia, Latvia was a centre of industry. Independence was established in 1918, and after Soviet occupation, restored again in 1991.


Nearly 1 million of Latvia's 2.3 million inhabitants live and work in the bustling capital of Riga, which straddles the mouth of the River Daugava. Daugavpils (112,000), Liepaja (86,000) and Jelgava (66,000) are the next largest. Ventspils (44,000) on the Western coast is also Latvia's busiest port. Yet regardless of their size, almost all of Latvia's 77 cities, as well as towns and villages offer rich historical legacies, picturesque settings and diverse architectural and cultural influences.


Latvia's capital of Riga is one of the Baltic Sea's most beautiful and historic cities. Its rich architectural heritage reveals over 800 years of cultural, economic and political vitality and has earned it recognition as a UNESCO Cultural Heritage site. Riga is also famous for its Jugendstil architecture. While history is lovingly preserved in this former Hanseatic city, it continues to grow and develop a distinctly modern character as well.


Latvia's cultural life bristles with the old and the new, the traditional and modern, the classical and the avante garde. Latvians idolize their artists, composers, writers and performers, and regularly fill stadiums, concert halls and theatres to enjoy a wide variety of cultural events. In Latvia today, local, European and global cultural influences continue to bring new surprises - from the 2003 Eurovision Song Contest to the hundred year old tradition of the massive Latvian Song and Dance festivals.


Latvia's ports of Riga, Ventspils and Liepaja anchor Latvia's vital shipping and transit industry, and continue to expand their trading ties with the EU, Russia and other countries. With one of the fastest growing economies in Europe today, the capital of Riga is re-emerging again as a major financial, trade and business centre in the Baltic Sea region. Traditional industries such as timber, construction and food processing are now strengthened by dynamic growth in information technologies, electronics, and the pharmaceutical and chemical industries.


Latvia's diverse historical, cultural and natural treasures are just beginning to be discovered and explored by tourists from around the world. Riga's historic Old Town, spectacular architecture and bustling night life are just part of what Latvia offers. Outside of Riga, there are unspoiled beaches, vast forests and picturesque villages that offer a variety of sites and sounds. For tourists, Latvia is 'The Land that Sings'


With large forests and carefully protected national parks, Latvia is a haven for a wide variety of wildlife. Over 27 thousands of species of flora and fauna thrive in natural settings throughout Latvia. Many rare species, such as the black stork, make their homes in Latvia's forests, marshes and meadows. Latvia's natural beauty is full of life and .. .and many surprises.


The richness and diversity of the Latvian landscape has provided sustenance as well as spiritual enrichment to Latvia's inhabitants for centuries. Less than half of Latvia's territory has been cultivated for agricultural use - the rest is covered by natural forests, marshes and fields. Once all of Europe looked like this. Today, Latvia continues to preserve and protect a very special balance between man and nature.


The Baltic Sea has played a major role in Latvia's history, economy and culture. Latvia has three major ports - Riga, Ventspils and Liepaja. Yet between these cities, white sand beaches, flowing dunes and stately pine forests stretch along 494 kilometres of protected coastline. The sea shapes Latvia's moderate oceanic climate and offers endless opportunities for rest and recreation along its un-crowded shores.


Latvia's 3,000 year old cultural traditions are still a vital part of Latvian life today. The Midsummer solstice celebration of 'Jani' is just one of many holidays that continues to enrich the social lives of contemporary Latvians. Musical festivals, crafts fairs and historical re-enactments attract the young and the old from all walks of life, and provide a look at values and traditions that have disappeared in many other parts of the world . In Latvia, traditions are not just a tourist attraction - they are a part of everyday life.


Christianity came to Latvia with the Crusades in the 12th century, bringing Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism and eventually Russian Orthodox believers. Riga's Dome Cathedral, begun in 1211, is just one of many spectacular churches built over the last 800 years. Most Protestant churches are located in northern and western Latvia, while Roman Catholic cathedrals are common throughout the southeast. The beautifully renovated Aglona Basilica was visited by Pope John Paul II in 1993.


Latvians are avid athletes and their achievements in ice hockey, football and the Olympic Games have spread Latvia's name around the world. Latvian fans are equally well known for their good natured patriotism and unbridled enthusiasm at international sporting events. Summer or winter, in the water or on snowy hills, all Latvians enjoy some kind of sporting activity throughout the year.


Latvian food is steeped in traditions shaped by its northern climate, rich farm and forest lands, and free access to the Baltic Sea. Historically, bread, pork, poultry, fish, and wild game were the main staples of Latvian country kitchens, and remain a central part of holiday celebrations in cities and rural areas today. Thanks to Latvia's multi-cultural heritage, international influences offer variety and spice to menus of Riga's many new restaurants.

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