Latvian climate and geography

Latvia is located towards the eastern shores of Baltic Sea. The Baltic Sea is located on the northwestern part of east European platform. The location of the country is between Estonia and Lithuania. Almost 98% of the country lies below 200m elevation. The country was divided by the ice age into three main regions. They include the middle lowlands, eastern uplands and moronic western. The country has more than 12,000 rivers but only 17 of the rivers are longer than 100kilometers. It has more than 3,000 small lakes. Most of the lakes are eutrophic. Major rivers you can visit in Latvia include Lielupe, Daugava, Venta, Gauja and Salaca. The country has woodlands where more than half of them are made up of pinewoods. The pinewoods cover over 41% of the landmass. It has 531 kilometers of sandy coastline. The ports of Ventispils and Liepaja provide important warm harbors for the Baltic coast. The country has a lot tourist can enjoy but it has few mineral resources.

Latvian climate and geography

Weather & climate

Towards the west coast the country experiences maritime climate. The hinterland towards the east experiences continental climate. You will experience warm days between June and September. They are sunny which make it easy for tourists to enjoy outdoors. The country experiences long winters which are very harsh. In winter temperatures rarely rise above freezing. This is experienced between December and March. In April they can be as low as 5ºC. Rainfall in Latvia is distributed throughout the year. The heaviest rainfall is experienced in the month of august. You will experience more rainfall during winter months.

Required clothing

Considering the harsh climatic condition of Latvia, you need to be prepared with the right clothing before you visit the area. Summer months people wear light to medium clothes. During summer you will have to wear heavyweight clothes. The heavy clothes can be worn throughout spring and autumn. You will need heavy clothing to protect yourself during the heavy winter months.

Weather in Riga

Riga is the capital of Latvia. The city lies just 12km from the Baltic Sea. The city can experience long winter which is dark and bitter. Spring and summer days have long hours of daytime. When the sun shines, people flock to numerous city parks to enjoy themselves. People enjoy summer days a lot. If you are a tourist, you will have an opportunity to interact with many locals in different cafes and entertainment joints during summer.

Geography

The country borders the Russian federation towards the east, Belarus in the southeast, Estonia in the north and Lithuania in the south. It has five major regions. They include Kurzeme in the west, Riga in the north, Zemgale in the west, Latgale in the east and Vidzeme also in the east. Latvia is reasonably flat. The coastline consists of sand dunes and low sea cliffs. There are plenty of dense forests in the country for you to enjoy woodlands if you love woods. It can be a great destination for those who will like to adventure in the cold woods.

 

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Latvian Culture and People

Before you travel to Latvia, you need to learn Latvian culture and people. First, where is Latvia? Latvia is a country in Eastern Europe. It borders Baltic Sea in between Estonia and Lithuania. Its capital is Riga. The climate of the country is maritime and moderate winters. According to 2014 census, it had a population of 2,165,165 people. The ethnic makeup of the country include Russian 29.6%, Latvian 57.7% Belarusian 4.1%, polish 2.5%, Ukrainian 2.7% and Lothian from 1.4% . The religions in the country include Lutheran, Russian orthodox and roman catholic. The form of government in the country is parliamentary democracy.

Language in Latvia

The official language of the country is Latvian. The language belongs to the Baltic language group of the Indo European language family. Another language in Latvia which is about to get extinct is the Livonian language which is of the Baltic sub branch. The Livonia language enjoys protection by the law. The Latvalian language is also protected by law and is considered an historical variation of Latvian. Russian is the minority language spoken.

Religion

The Latvian once ascribed as naturalists. They believed in natural deities. The pagan religion is no longer considered. It can be manifested in legends, folk songs and festivals. Christianity arrived in Latvia in the 12th century. The Russian orthodox religion took hold in the 18the century. The effect of the religion on the population decreased due to discrimination and harassment during the Russian communist occupation. In today’s Latvia, the constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Majority of the population belong to the Lutheran church.

A Nation of Singers

The country is referred to as a singing nation. Most of the citizens have sung in different occasions in their lives. The country has song festivals where people gather and sing in a given period of time where they compete. There are several thousand singers who compete in the festival. Folk songs are highly treasured in the country. They are used to distinguish the Latvian culture. Dating back to 1.2 million years, more than 30,000 texts of melodies have been identified.

The Family

Family is a form of social center. Even when living in urban settings, you will find Latvians living in a group of extended family in an apartment. Most families in the country have one or two children. Family members get both emotional and financial support from the family. Parents offer financial assistance to children even if they are grownups. The children are expected to take care of the elderly. Hierarchical Society

People are respected due to their age ad position. Older people are granted respect because they are viewed as wise. Senior members are expected to make decisions which are at the best interest of the group. Latvians are private people. Family life is kept secret from business life. They are formal and reserved when dealing with outsiders.

Meeting and Greeting

A quick handshake with direct eye contact is a traditional form of greetings in Latvia. They are not quick to smile; they will warm up after they get to know you more. Tittles are mostly used to denote s. They give gifts during different occasions such as Christmas and other important events. Flowers are used when someone is mourning.

 

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Spending Your Holidays in Latvia

From all the destinations in the world, Europe is a dream place for many of tourists from all over the world, whether you wish to enjoy your honeymoon or just want to relish a leisure trip with your family or simply have a business meeting, Latvia in Europe is the great destination. Well, you can go to Latvia whenever you wish to, but the ideal time to see this incredible country is during the summer season. You can make the most of your holidays at the time of the summer as you enjoy the long days on the golden sandy seashore, a pleasurable bathe in the Baltic Sea or you can go for an adventurous hiking in flourishing dense green forests out there. For whatever purpose you can imagine enjoying your vacations at Latvia, it is really an ideal destination for all the fun lovers in the world.
Latvia has the longest white sandy seashore in Europe making it an excellent destination for summer holidays. On reaching Latvia, you can go to the country’s leading coastal beach resort next to Riga, that is, Jurmula. Here you can enjoy swimming and sunbathing in fresh and clean water which is a lifetime remembrance. Even if you don’t like swimming, the amazing sights in Cape Kolka are worth watching. You can spend some weeks in Liepaja which is the third biggest city of Latvia. It is a host city for yearly rock celebrations and largest beach party. Liepaja is also popular for its fascinating coastal line which is quite famous for beach parties. You can spend a whole night there and dance and mix with your family or friends and enjoy the company of some of the most welcoming people that the world has ever had. Visiting Liepaja is a perfect idea as you will experience the fun that is just unparallel.

Latvia is known for outdoor visits too. You can see the largest and one of the most famous national parks, The Gauja National Park. You can enjoy the bicycling and the thrilling hiking ways in this National Park. You can experience observing the amazing wildlife and natural rock formations which are other lovely sights in Latvia. Apart from the amazing attractions and natural scenic beauty, Latvia has a comfortable climate which suits nearly all who come here. Also, the known summer festivals in Latvia is the Jani festival which is enjoyed with big pomp and merrymaking. You would see bonfires and events during the Jani festive event. It is a public holiday for all people in Latvia and is enjoyed for the day of summer solstice. The people wear traditional wreaths and choose herbs as a cultural practice. The other great occasion that is celebrated with great fun in the month of August is the Cesis festival. For this occasion, as a sign of respect to the city’s medieval heritage, there are several shows on the medieval knights. You can even enjoy the various art exhibits of Latvian traditions held in several towns along with classical shows and concerts that keep you busy all through the day.

There are several ways to enjoy in this exciting country in Europe. Latvia is indeed worth visiting at least once in life.

 

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And now for a video tour of Riga, enjoy the video below.

Latvian Food and Drink

Latvian food has a lot of foreign elements. The young country borrows a lot from its neighboring countries. There is a wide variety of contemporary and traditional food and drink options especially Riga, its capital. Latvian food has always been a bit fatty, heave, high in calories and low in spices. However there are still options for those who trying to avoid fatty foods. There are also some vegan restaurants.

Latvian food is hardly complete without pork. Karbonade ar kaulu(grill pork chops), cukas stilbs (pork knuckles) and karbonade (pork schnitzel) are all favorites. Try grudenis (pig’s head stew), cukas kajas ( pig’s feet) and cukas ausis (pig’s ears) for more exotic pig dishes. Potatoes are served with almost all Latvian foods. They can be boiled, fried or boiled then friend and mashed.

 

A typical Latvian menu has:

Appetizers

Vegetable tarts. These are some delicious tarts with either carrots or potato filling.

Bacon rolls. They are half-moon-shaped rolls stuffed with onions, eggs and bacon. They are served with a cup of chicken broth. This is the foundation of Latvian food. It is best when served straight from the oven.

 

Soups

Meatball soup. It’s an absolutely delicious soup made from meatballs.

Cold beet soup. This soup is typical for all Eastern Europe meals. It is totally mouth watering.

 

Main dish

Groats Porridge. This is grain porridge with potatoes and streaky bacon. The combination can be nothing short of delicious. It is at times served as a starter but people also have it for lunch.

Herring with cottage cheese and potatoes. This is a combination of the three most typical Latvian foods. It makes the ultimate Latvian dish.

 

Desserts

Potato Pancakes. You can’t resist these. They are crispy and salty with berry jam and sour cream.

Layered rye bread. It comprises of airy layered substance that is made of rye breadcrumbs, cranberry jam and whipped cream. It is an exclusively Latvian delicacy. Actually its second name is Latvian Ambrosia.

Cranberry Pudding. It’s some sweet farina porridge with cranberries as light as air and it instantly melts in the mouth.

For the best ingredients, visit a market in Riga

 

Drinks

There are plenty of Latvian beer and liquor to wash down your meal. There are also some fresh natural juices made using wild berries.

Black Balsam. This is an alcoholic and also herbal drink which has been in existence for over 300 years. The specific procedure of preparing it is a very closely guarded secret. Things used to make it include: bitter orange, ginger, peel, oak bark and cognac. It can be drunk on its own, with vodka or with coffee. It is the most popular among locals and tourists as well.

Kvass is a drink prepared using grains which are in their early fermentation stage.

Brengulu and Bralis are the best brands of Latvian beer. For a cheaper and still great alternative consider Uzavas beer.

The legal alcohol drinking age in Riga is 18 years. You should also know that drinking or being in possession of an open can or bottle of alcohol in parks, streets and public places in general is not allowed in Riga.

 

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For a video perspective on Latvian food, enjoy the short video below!

Latvian History- A Brief Overview

Introduction

Latvian history is characterized by repeated occupation for over eight centuries mainly due to its central location in European trade routes which made it a highly contested region from the 11th century onwards. Germany controlled the country from the 13th to the 16th centuries, followed by Poland in the 16th century, and then the Swedes took over from the early 17th century to the 18th century before it finally became a part of Russia in 1721.

In the early part of the 20th century (1918), Latvia declared independence for the first time although this period was marked by instability- first a civil war that lasted two years, and which was closely followed by two more decades of political instability.

The Great War

At the start of World War II, Latvia came under the control of the USSR before being occupied by Nazi Germany in 1940, which lasted until the end of the war. During this period, over 90,000 Gypsies and Jews were tortured and murdered in the infamous Nazi concentration camps.

The Cold War Era

After the defeat of Nazi Germany, the USSR resumed control of Latvia. During this time, the forced adoption of Soviet policies coupled with immigration from other areas of the USSR dramatically changed Latvian culture. To begin with, Russian was officially adopted as the country’s second language with its citizens forced to adopt Russian farming methods. In addition, the USSR based many of its factories in the country, especially Riga, inevitably precipitating a shift to manufacturing as the core of the Latvian economy.

Latvian Independence

In 1987, the first protests against Russian rule began to be witnessed when over 5,000 people gathered in the capital, Riga. Subsequent widespread demonstrations followed throughout the rest of the country in 1988, culminating in over two million Baltic States’ citizens creating a human chain as a symbol for calls for independence in 1989.

During this time, the PLF (Popular Front of Latvia) was gaining support and momentum and in 1989, they voiced their support for the independence of Latvia. In 1990, the party won a majority in the elections but it would not be until 21st August 1991 that the country would declare its independence. On 6th September 1991, Russia officially recognized Latvia as an independent state and a week later, the newly established country became a member of the United Nations.

Post-Independence Latvia

In the present day, Latvia still retains the economic and cultural influences from each of the countries that have been involved in its centuries of occupation, but most importantly, it has still held on to its unique Latvian culture. However, language still remains a contested social issue even though Latvian is recognized as the country’s official language. The foregoing notwithstanding, other languages are still widely spoken- with Russian being the first language for a somewhat sizeable minority of this Baltic state.

Agriculture and manufacturing remain the largest economic activities in the country despite an economic downturn experienced in 2008 which curtailed the progress of what had been up to that point, Europe’s fastest growing economy. Today, Latvia has largely recovered from this economic contraction although unemployment still remains high relative to where it was before 2008.

 

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