Lativa, an independent country, is situated in north-eastern Europe with a coastline along the Baltic Sea; Latvia is geographically the middle of the three former Soviet Baltic republics.
It has language links with Lithuania to the south and historical and ecumenical ties with Estonia to the north. Latvia regained its independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and has enjoyed stability ever since. Presence of a large ethnic Russian minority is a sensitive issue.
Area: 64,589 km² (24,937 sq. mi.)
Terrain: Fertile low-lying plains predominate in central Latvia, highlands in Vidzeme and Latgale to the east, and hilly moraine in the western Kurzeme region. Forests cover one-third of the country, with over 3,000 small lakes and numerous bogs.
The climate is temperate and wet, with four seasons of almost equal length. January temperatures average -5°C (23°F); with July temperatures averaging 17°C (63°F).
Religions practiced in Latvia include Lutheran, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic. The language spoken is Latvian. Russian also is spoken by most people. The literacy rate is 99%.
Natural resources include peat, limestone, dolomite, amber, hydropower, wood, arable land.
Agriculture products are primarily grain, sugar beets, potatoes, vegetables; beef, pork, milk, eggs; fish. Industries include automotive industry, railroad cars, agricultural machinery, fertilizers, electronics, synthetic fibers, pharmaceuticals, processed foods, and textiles.
Latvia is a stable democracy and has one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union. On January 1, 2014, Latvia joined the euro zone. Most goods and services can be found in the capital of Latvia, Riga. However, in other areas outside of the capital, many western goods and services cannot be located.