Geographic and Governmental Profile of Latvia

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 28% 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
Continent / Subcontinent
Europe
Area
total:
64,589 sq km
rank:
124
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
maritime; wet, moderate winters
Terrain
low plain
Elevation extremes
lowest point:
Baltic Sea 0 m
highest point:
Gaizina 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)
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Irrigated land
8 sq km
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
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
110 municipalities (novadi, singular-novads) and 9 cities
municipalities:
Adazu Novads, Aglonas Novads, Aizkraukles Novads, Aizputes Novads, Aknistes Novads, Alojas Novads, Alsungas Novads, Aluksnes Novads, Amatas Novads, Apes Novads, Auces Novads, Babites Novads, Baldones Novads, Baltinavas Novads, Balvu Novads, Bauskas Novads, Beverinas Novads, Brocenu Novads, Burtnieku Novads, Carnikavas Novads, Cesu Novads, Cesvaines Novads, Ciblas Novads, Dagdas Novads, Daugavpils Novads, Dobeles Novads, Dundagas Novads, Durbes Novads, Engures Novads, Erglu Novads, Garkalnes Novads, Grobinas Novads, Gulbenes Novads, Iecavas Novads, Ikskiles Novads, Ilukstes Novads, Incukalna Novads, Jaunjelgavas Novads, Juanpiebalgas Novads, Jaunpils Novads, Jekabpils Novads, Jelgavas Novads, Kandavas Novads, Karsavas Novads, Keguma Novads, Kekavas Novads, Kocenu Novads, Kokneses Novads, Kraslavas Novads, Krimuldas Novads, Krustpils Novads, Kuldigas Novads, Lielvardes Novads, Ligatnes Novads, Limbazu Novads, Livanu Novads, Lubanas Novads, Ludzas Novads, Madonas Novads, Malpils Novads, Marupes Novads, Mazsalacas Novads, Mersraga Novads, Nauksenu Novads, Neretas Novads, Nicas Novads, Ogres Novads, Olaines Novads, Ozolnieku Novads, Pargaujas Novads, Pavilostas Novads, Plavinu Novads, Preilu Novads, Priekules Novads, Priekulu Novads, Raunas Novads, Rezeknes Novads, Riebinu Novads, Rojas Novads, Ropazu Novads, Rucavas Novads, Rugaju Novads, Rujienas Novads, Rundales Novads, Salacgrivas Novads, Salas Novads, Salaspils Novads, Saldus Novads, Saulkrastu Novads, Sejas Novads, Siguldas Novads, Skriveru Novads, Skrundas Novads, Smiltenes Novads, Stopinu Novads, Strencu Novads, Talsu Novads, Tervetes Novads, Tukuma Novads, Vainodes Novads, Valkas Novads, Varaklanu Novads, Varkavas Novads, Vecpiebalgas Novads, Vecumnieku Novads, Ventspils Novads, Viesites Novads, Vilakas Novads, Vilanu Novads, Zilupes Novads
cities:
Daugavpils, Jekabpils, Jelgava, Jurmala, Liepaja, Rezekne, Riga, Valmiera, Ventspils
Independence
4 May 1990 (declared); 6 September 1991 (recognized by the Soviet Union)
National holiday
Independence Day, 18 November (1918); note - 18 November 1918 was the date Latvia declared independence from Soviet Russia and established its statehood; 4 May 1990 was the date it declared its 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 21 August 1991; multiple amendments since
Legal system
civil law system with traces of socialist legal traditions and practices
International law organization participation
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
Suffrage
18 years of age; universal for Latvian citizens
Executive branch
chief of state:
President Andris BERZINS (since 8 July 2011)
head of government:
Prime Minister Valdis DOMBROVSKIS (since 12 March 2009)
cabinet:
Cabinet of Ministers nominated by the prime minister and appointed by Parliament
elections:
president elected by Parliament for a four-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 2 June 2011 (next to be held in 2015); prime minister appointed by the president, confirmed by Parliament
election results:
Andris BERZINS elected president; parliamentary vote - Andris BERZINS 53, Valdis ZATLERS 41
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 17 September 2011 (next to be held in September 2015)
election results:
percent of vote by party - SC 28.4%, Zatlers 20.8%, Unity 18.8%, National Alliance 13.9%, ZZS 12.2%, other 5.9%; seats by party - SC 31, Zatlers 22, Unity 20, National Alliance 14, ZZS 13
Judicial branch
Supreme Court (judges' appointments are confirmed by parliament); Constitutional Court (judges' appointments are confirmed by parliament)
Political parties and leaders
Greens and Farmers Union or ZZS [Augusts BRIGMANIS]; Harmony Center or SC [Nils USAKOVS, Janis URBANOVICS]; National Alliance (alliance of TB/LNNK, All For Latvia!) [Gaidis BERZINS, Raivis DZINTARS]; Unity [Solvita ABOLTINA]; Zatlers' Reform Party [Valdis ZATLERS]
Political pressure groups and leaders
Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia [Peteris KRIGERS], Employers' Confederation of Latvia [Vitalijs GAVRILOVS], Farmers' Parliament [Juris LAZDINS]
International organization participation
Australia Group, BA, BIS, CBSS, CE, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, EU, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, 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, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador Andris RAZANS
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:
1 Samnera Velsa St, Riga LV-1510
mailing address:
Embassy of the United States of America, 1 Samnera Velsa St, Riga, LV-510, Latvia
telephone:
[371] 6710-7000
FAX:
[371] 6710-7001
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
National symbol(s)
white wagtail (bird)
National anthem
name:
"Dievs, sveti Latviju!" (God Bless Latvia)
lyrics/music:
Karlis BAUMANIS
adopted 1920, restored 1990; the song was first performed in 1873 while Latvia was a part of Russia; the anthem was banned during the Soviet occupation from 1940 to 1990
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

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