Latvia's principal export partners in 2005 were Lithuania (11 percent), Estonia (10.8 percent), Germany (10.2 percent), UK (10.2 percent), Russia (7.9 percent), Sweden (7.8 percent), Denmark (5.3 percent), and Poland (5.3 percent).
Latvia is also historically, culturally and constitutionally divided into four or more distinct regions.
The nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth century is often regarded as a classical era of Latvian culture.
Demands for self-determination were at first confined to autonomy, but full independence was proclaimed in Riga on November 18, 1918, by the People's Council of Latvia.
People who arrived while Latvia was occupied by the USSR and their descendants born before 1991 must be naturalized to receive Latvian citizenship.
Fraudulent elections for a "People's Saeima" were held, and a puppet government headed by Augusts Kirhenљteins brought Latvia into the USSR.
Latvia's principal import partners are Germany (13.9 percent), Lithuania (13.6 percent), Russia (8.5 percent), Estonia (7.9 percent), Poland (6.4 percent), Finland (5.9 percent), Belarus (5.8 percent), and Sweden (5.1 percent) (2005 figures).
Latvia has been a NATO member since March 29, 2004.
By 900 C.E., four Baltic tribal cultures had developed: Couronians, Latgallians, Selonians, Semigallians (in Latvian: kurљi, latga?i, s??i and zemga?i).
The Saeima, Latvia's parliament, was again elected in 1993, and Russia completed its military withdrawal in 1994.
Across the European continent, Latvia's coast was known as a place for obtaining amber.
Today's Republic of Latvia regards itself as a continuation of the 1918-1940 republic.
More than 200,000 Latvian citizens died during World War II, including approximately 70,000 Latvian Jews murdered during the Nazi occupation.
The latest Russian census shows about 40,000 still living in Russia, but sources indicate that given the probability of an undercount, Latvians in Russia probably number about 50,000-60,000.
The Duchy of Courland became a Russian province (the Courland Governorate) in 1795, bringing all of what is now Latvia into Imperial Russia.
Latgalian language - a dialect of Latvian - is also protected by Latvian law as a historical variation of Latvian language.
Eastern Latvia was cleared of Red Army forces by Polish, Latvian, and German troops in early 1920.
Latvia exports wood and wood products, machinery and equipment, metals, textiles, foodstuffs with a total value of US$ 6.98 billion (2005).
An influx of laborers, administrators, military personnel and their dependents from Russia and other Soviet republics started and by 1959, the ethnic Latvian population had fallen to 62 percent.
In 2005 there were even fewer Latvians than in 1989, though their share of the population was larger - 1,357,099 (58.8 percent of the inhabitants).
Songs often made fun of the characteristics of Soviet life and were concerned about preserving Latvian identity.
According to the last official census of 1935, there were 93,479 Jews living in Latvia, representing about 5 percent of the population.
The Latvian government aspires to adopt the Euro as the country's currency on January 1, 2008.
A War of Independence followed the November declaration and led to a very chaotic period in Latvia's history.
During the Khrushchev Thaw, attempts by national communists, led by Eduards Berklavs, to gain a degree of autonomy for the republic and protect the rapidly deteriorating position of the Latvian language were suppressed.
Estonian and Latvian forces defeated the Germans at the Battle of C?sis in June 1919, and a massive attack by a German and Russian force under Pavel Bermondt-Avalov was repelled in November.
Officially, there are roughly 180 Muslims living in Latvia; the total number of Muslims in Latvia, however, is estimated to be from 500 to 12,000.
On October 5, 1939, Latvia was forced to accept a "mutual assistance" pact with the Soviet Union, granting the Soviets the right to station 25,000 troops on Latvian territory.
Latvia shares land borders with Estonia to the north and Lithuania to the south – and both Russia and Belarus to the east.
Russification began in Latgale after the 1863 January Uprising and spread to the rest of what is now Latvia by the 1880s.
The major goals of Latvia in the 1990s, to join NATO and European Union, were achieved in 2004.
The Young Latvians movement laid the groundwork for nationalism from the middle of the nineteenth century with many of its leaders looking to the Slavophiles for support against the prevailing German-dominated social order.
Latvia is largely fertile, low-lying plains, covered by (mostly) pine forest.
After the Cold War and dissolution of the Soviet Union, Latvia flexed its freedom and became a member state of the European Union on the former Socialist Republics holiday May 1, 2004.
Common species of wildlife in Latvia include deer, wild boar, fox, beaver, and wolves The Latvian climate is humid, continental and temperate, with temperatures varying on average from 23°F (-5°C) to 59°F (15°C).
The share of ethnic Latvians decreased from 77 percent (1,467,035) in 1935 to 52 percent (1,387,757) in 1989.
Latvia's request for Russia to recognize it as continuous with the first Latvian Republic and acknowledge consequences of Soviet occupation is an additional point of contention.
Latvian paramilitary and Auxiliary Police units established by occupation authority actively participated in the Holocaust.
After incorporation into the USSR, Latvian artists and writers had to follow the Socialist realism style of art.
Latvians and Livonians, the indigenous peoples of Latvia, now form about 60 percent of the population of 2,259,810 (July 2007 est.
At the end of the civil war in 1992, Mozambique ranked among the poorest countries in the world.
Most of the Baltic Germans left Latvia by agreement between Ulmanis' government and Nazi Germany after the conclusion of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.
Latvia has over 12,000 rivers, only 17 of which are longer than 60 miles (about 100 km), and over 3,000 small lakes, most of which are eutrophic.
Latvia (historically Lattonia, Lettonia, or Lettland), officially the Republic of Latvia (Latvian: Latvija or Latvijas Republika), is a country in Northern Europe.
The 1500s were a time of great changes for the inhabitants of Latvia, notable for the reformation and the collapse of the Livonian nation.
At 24,937 square miles (64,589 sq km), Latvia is slightly larger than Denmark, Estonia, the Netherlands, or Switzerland.
Another notable language of Latvia is the nearly extinct Livonian language, a Baltic-Finnic subbranch of the Uralic language family, that enjoys protection by law.
Latvia became a full-fledged member of the E.Un.
Latvian soldiers fought on both sides of the conflict, including in the Latvian Legion of the Waffen-SS, most of them conscripted by the occupying Nazi and Soviet authorities.
Across Europe, Latvia's coast was famous for its amber.
The official language of Latvia is Latvian, part of the Baltic language group of the Indo-European language family.
Latvians united against the Russian and German authorities that still controlled economic and civil society.
Prior to World War II, Latvia bordered eastern Poland, but as a result of boundary changes by the Soviet Union, this territory was attached to Belorussia.
The 100-seat unicameral Latvian parliament, the Saeima, is elected by direct, popular vote every four years.
Latvian elites fled the advance of armies in World War I, leaving working class Latvians to vote with the more extreme Bolshevik wing of the Russian National Congress in 1917.
The territory of Latvia has been populated since 9000 B.C.E.
After the Livonian War (1558-1583) today's Latvian territory came under Polish-Lithuanian rule.
The ancient Balts traded Latvian amber with Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire.
Latvia's coastline extends for 330 miles (531 kilometers).
Minorities from other countries such as Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, and Lithuania also live in Latvia.
Chief imports to Latvia include machinery and equipment, chemicals, fuels, vehicles for a total value of US$10.3 billion (2006).
Latvia has 329 miles (531 kilometers) of sandy coastline, and the ports of Liepaja and Ventspils provide important warm-water harbors for the Baltic coast.
The famous "route from the Vikings to the Greeks" mentioned in ancient chronicles stretched from Scandinavia through Latvian territory via the River Daugava to the ancient Rus and Byzantine Empire.
Approximately 54 percent of the ethnic Russians living in Latvia are citizens of Latvia.
Latvian amber was known in places as far away as Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire.