Modified & Updated: 23 Sep 2023

Latvia City of Riga

Latvia, a beautiful Baltic country in Northern Europe, is known for its rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and vibrant culture. From its charming capital city to its picturesque countryside, Latvia has much to offer. In this article, we will explore 18 intriguing facts about Latvia that will give you a deeper understanding of this fascinating country.

Table of Contents

Geographic Location

Latvia is located in Northern Europe and is one of the three Baltic states, along with Estonia and Lithuania. It is bordered by Estonia to the north, Russia to the east, Belarus to the southeast, and Lithuania to the south.

Riga, the Capital City

The capital and largest city of Latvia is Riga. Situated on the Gulf of Riga, it is not only the political and economic center of the country but also a vibrant cultural hub. Riga’s historic center, known as the Old Town, is a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its well-preserved medieval architecture.


The official language of Latvia is Latvian. It is part of the Baltic language group and is closely related to Lithuania. Latvian is known for its unique phonetic features and is considered one of the oldest living languages in the world.

Euro as the Currency

Latvia adopted the euro as its official currency in 2014, replacing the Latvian lats. This transition has facilitated trade and travel within the Eurozone and further integrated Latvia into the European Union.

Rich Cultural Heritage

Latvia has a diverse cultural heritage influenced by its history and neighboring countries. Traditions, folklore, music, and dance play an essential role in Latvian culture. The country is particularly renowned for its choral singing tradition, with numerous choirs and festivals celebrating this art form.

Latvian Song and Dance Festival

The Latvian Song and Dance Festival is a grand cultural event held every five years in Riga. It brings together thousands of participants who showcase their singing and dancing talents. This festival has been recognized by UNESCO as a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity.

The Baltic Sea Coastline

Latvia boasts a stunning coastline along the Baltic Sea, stretching for about 498 miles (800 kilometers). The pristine sandy beaches, charming fishing villages, and picturesque coastal landscapes attract locals and tourists alike.

Riga Central Market

Riga Central Market is one of the largest and most vibrant outdoor markets in Europe. Housed in five giant zeppelin hangars, the market offers a wide variety of fresh produce, local delicacies, clothing, and handicrafts. It is a must-visit destination for food enthusiasts and those seeking an authentic shopping experience.

Latvia Turaida Castle
Image from Baltic Tour

The Beautiful Jurmala

Jurmala, a popular seaside resort town, is located just 25 kilometers west of Riga. Known for its long sandy beaches, picturesque wooden villas, and relaxing spas, Jurmala offers a tranquil retreat for locals and visitors.

Latvia’s National Symbols

The national flag of Latvia consists of three horizontal stripes—maroon at the top, white in the middle, and maroon at the bottom. The maroon color symbolizes bravery, while white represents purity and the desire for peace.

The national emblem of Latvia features a shield with a rising sun, a silver helmet, and oak leaves. It represents Latvian bravery, courage, and strength.

The Baltic Way

In 1989, nearly two million people from Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia joined hands to form a human chain that spanned approximately 420 miles (675 kilometers) across the three Baltic states. Known as the Baltic Way, this peaceful demonstration called for independence from the Soviet Union and became a symbol of nonviolent resistance.

The Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum

The Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum, located on the outskirts of Riga, showcases the country’s rural heritage. The museum features traditional Latvian farmsteads, wooden buildings, and exhibits displaying folk costumes, crafts, and everyday objects.

Latvian Cuisine

Latvian cuisine is a blend of local flavors, seasonal ingredients, and influences from neighboring countries. Traditional dishes include grey peas with bacon, potato pancakes, rye bread, and various dairy products. Latvians also enjoy hearty soups and dishes made with locally sourced fish and mushrooms.

Rundāle Palace

Rundāle Palace is a magnificent Baroque and Rococo-style palace located in the southern part of Latvia. Designed by the renowned Italian architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli, who also designed the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, the palace is surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens and is a popular tourist attraction.

Amber, the Baltic Gold

Latvia is known for its amber, often referred to as “Baltic gold.” Amber is a fossilized tree resin that can be found along the Baltic Sea coast. Latvians have a deep appreciation for amber and use it in jewelry, art, and traditional crafts.

Latvia The Freedom Monument
Image from Baltic Study

Gauja National Park

Gauja National Park is the largest and oldest national park in Latvia, covering an area of over 90,000 hectares. The park is characterized by its diverse landscapes, including deep river valleys, dense forests, and historical sites such as medieval castles and ruins.

Winter Sports

Latvia is a country with a passion for winter sports. The Latvian bobsleigh team has achieved notable success in international competitions, and the country has produced talented ice hockey players who have excelled on the global stage.

Midsummer Celebrations

Midsummer, known as Jāņi in Latvia, is one of the most important and widely celebrated holidays. It takes place on the shortest night of the year, around June 23rd. Latvians gather to participate in traditional rituals, sing songs, dance, and enjoy bonfires. It is a festive occasion that symbolizes the victory of light over darkness.


In conclusion, Latvia offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. From its vibrant capital city to its picturesque countryside, there is something for everyone to explore and enjoy. Whether you’re fascinated by its rich cultural heritage, enchanted by its stunning landscapes, or eager to indulge in its traditional cuisine, Latvia is a destination that will leave a lasting impression. Plan your visit to this Baltic gem and experience the warmth and charm of Latvian hospitality.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the population of Latvia?

As of the latest data, the population of Latvia is approximately 1.9 million people.

Is Latvia a member of the European Union?

Yes, Latvia became a member of the European Union in 2004.

What is the climate like in Latvia?

Latvia has a temperate seasonal climate, characterized by warm summers and cold winters. The country experiences all four seasons, with significant variations in temperature and precipitation.

Can I visit Latvia without a visa?

The visa requirements for visiting Latvia depend on your nationality. Citizens of the European Union and many other countries do not require a visa for short visits. It is recommended to check with the Latvian embassy or consulate in your country for the most up-to-date visa information.

What are some famous Latvians?

Latvia has produced many notable individuals in various fields. Some famous Latvians include the composer Richard Wagner, the artist Mark Rothko, and the conductor Mariss Jansons.