Where in the World Is: Latvia?
There’s a lot to learn about Latvia. It may be small, but it’s mighty, with a robust history of hardy fisherfolk, pagan traditions and a lengthy struggle against tyranny. And in 2016 it was feted by Lonely Planet, which declared it to be the #5 country in the world to visit in 2016!
Here are some of Latvia’s stats:
- On the Baltic Sea, right across from the southern tip of Sweden
- Sandwiched between the other Baltic countries (Estonia and Lithuania), with Russia to the east and Belarus to the southeast
- The capital, Riga, is 525 miles west of Moscow
- About the size of Ireland, with Riga Bay taking a big bite out of the upper left-hand corner of the otherwise rectangular country
- Illegally occupied by and incorporated into the USSR in 1940, along with Estonia and Lithuania
- Won by Nazi Germany in 1941, reclaimed by the USSR in 1945
- In August 1989, two million people formed a human chain stretching across Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, calling for secession
- Regained independence in 1991
- In 2014, The Ethical Traveler named Latvia one of the 10 Most Ethical Destinations on Earth and The Huffington Post gave 18 Reasons Latvia is Europe’s Best Kept Secret
- Latvia has the largest percentage of Russian speakers in the EU
- Riga has a young mayor, Nils Usakovs, a Russian-speaker, born in 1976, elected in 2009, and committed to communication between ethnic groups
- Riga was a European Capital of Culture 2014
- Already a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in 2014 the city presented a special menu of classical concerts, operas, ballets, world premieres of new Latvian compositions, art exhibits and museum expositions
- Reopened in 2016 after extensive renovations, Riga’s Latvian National Museum of Art with the country’s largest collection of Latvian art
- Concerts on the Dom Cathedral 1884 Walcker Organ, one of the biggest in Europe, with 6,768 pipes
- Latvian Symphony Orchestra performing in the 14th century Great Guild Hall
- Open-air Ethnographic Museum festival, with masters of over 18 different crafts demonstrating spoon-carving, beekeeping, embroidery and other Latvian specialties
- Ligo! National Solstice Festival, with bonfires and beer
- The finest collection of art nouveau buildings in Europe
- Every five years since 1873, Riga holds a huge folk song and dance festival, listed since 2008 on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
- Watch a video of the 2013 festival in Riga
Travel to Latvia with MIR
MIR has more than two decades of Baltics travel experience, offering on-the-ground support and quality you can trust and guides and tour managers that clients rave about.
You can explore the history, culture, and landmarks of Latvia on these MIR itineraries:
MIR specializes in personalized, private journeys, and we love to take your ideas and weave them into a trip tailored especially for you. Travel wherever, however, and with whomever you like, relying on our expert assistance. Contact us to find out more about our custom and private travel expertise – each trip handcrafted to your interests, dates and pace.
Chat with a MIR destination specialist today by phone (1-800-424-7289) or email to start planning your visit to Latvia.
Top photo credit: Peter Guttman – The sun sets over the rooftops of Riga, Latvia
PUBLISHED: March 2, 2016