Latvia, formerly known as the Republic of Latvia, can be found on the northwest edge of Europe and shares a border with Russia. Its capital city is Riga, which also holds the title as the country’s largest city.
By geographical size, Latvia is the 122nd largest country by landmass, with just less than 25,000 square feet of land. Latvia shares its borders with a few European countries. Lithuania and Belarus can be found to the south and Estonia to the north. Its eastern border is shared with Russia. To the west, Latvia has a coast with the Baltic Sea and is also home to the Gulf of Riga.
The geography of Latvia is typical of western Europe, with few outstanding features. The most prominent areas of land are either plains that have notable thick forests. The country is mostly flat, with its highest point being Gaizinkalns, which is just more than 1,000 feet tall.
Latvia is home to several rivers, which have specific important roles in Latvia’s history. There are five large, notable rivers to be found: the Lielupe, the Guaja, the Venta, the Daugava, and the Salaca.
The climate of Latvia is divided into four distinct seasons, and are similar to what is found in the United States. The springs and falls are comfortable and cool, the summers are warm or hot, and the winters are cool, cold, and frequently bring large amounts of snow. Precipitation amounts are largely impacted by the country’s proximity to the Baltic Sea, with areas of the country receiving significant rainfall or snow throughout the year.
The population of Latvia is just shy of 2 million making it the 148th largest country in the world by population.
The ethnic layout of the country primarily is reflective of its location in Europe. The largest ethnic group are Latvians at approximately 60% of the population identifying as such. The next largest group claim Russian heritage and represent about 25% of the population, while the remaining ethnic mix claim nearby countries to be their heritage, such as Belarus and Ukraine.
Christianity is by far the dominant religion in Latvia, with just shy of 80% of the population identifying as Christians. They are split among three denominations; Evangelical, Roman Catholic, and Russian Orthodox. The other largest belief group comes in at more than 20%, which state that they don’t identify with any particular religion. The remaining population aligns with paganism, Judaism, and Islam.