Riga is Latvia’s capital city. In addition to being the capital, it is also the largest city by population, with over one-third of the country’s population living within the city.
Population Size of Riga
It is also the most populous across all of the Baltic states, boasting a population of 641,423 per 2017 data.
City Size and Population Density
The city has an overall area of 125 square miles (324 kilometers squared), with a population density of 5,100 people per square mile (2,000/km2). In addition to having a large population, Riga is also a popular tourist destination, with 2.3 million visitors coming to the city in 2016. The metro area, known as the Riga Planning Region, has a population that exceeds 1 million as of 2017.
Demographics of Riga Population
Over 44% of Riga residents are native to Latvia. Latvians made up 44.03% of the population of Riga, while ethnic Russians formed 37.88%, Belarusians 3.72%, Ukrainians 3.66%, Poles 1.83% and other ethnicities 8.10%. There is also a high percentage of Russian residents, making up over 37% of the population. Other ethnicities include Ukrainians, Poles and Belarusians. The high rate of Russians living in Riga is expected to decline in the years to come as emigration continues.
Latvia, with Riga as its capital city, declared its independence on 18 November 1918 after the Armistice forced a previous treaty to be renounced. Latvia was occupied by the Soviet Union in June 1940 and then was occupied by Nazi Germany in 1941–1944. The Rumbula massacre occurred near this time as well, very close to Riga.
Population Growth in Riga
Despite having the highest population in the country, it has actually declined from numbers posted in the 1990s. During that time, the population exceeded 900,000 but has dropped in recent years due to low birth rates and emigration. In fact, the city has been predicted to see its population cut in half by the year 2050 due to continued emigration and low birth rates.