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Map of Latvia


Location: Eastern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, between Estonia and Lithuania

Geographic coordinates: 57 00 N, 25 00 E

Map references: Europe

total: 64,100 sq km
land: 64,100 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly larger than West Virginia

Land boundaries:
total: 1,150 km
border countries: Belarus 141 km, Estonia 339 km, Lithuania 453 km, Russia 217 km

Coastline: 531 km

Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation

Climate: maritime; wet, moderate winters

Terrain: low plain

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Baltic Sea 0 m
highest point: Gaizinkalns 312 m

Natural resources: minimal; amber, peat, limestone, dolomite

Land use:
arable land: 27%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 13%
forests and woodland: 46%
other: 14% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 160 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: NA

Environment—current issues: air and water pollution because of a lack of waste conversion equipment; Gulf of Riga and Daugava River heavily polluted; contamination of soil and groundwater with chemicals and petroleum products at military bases

Environment—international agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements


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Population: 2,385,396 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 19% (male 227,634; female 218,321)
15-64 years: 66% (male 754,416; female 829,801)
65 years and over: 15% (male 113,925; female 241,299) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: -1.41% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 8.14 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 15.78 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: -6.47 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.9 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.47 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 17.44 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 67.11 years
male: 61.02 years
female: 73.5 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.2 children born/woman (1998 est.)

noun: Latvian(s)
adjective: Latvian

Ethnic groups: Latvian 56.5%, Russian 30.4%, Byelorussian 4.3%, Ukrainian 2.8%, Polish 2.6%, other 3.4%

Religions: Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Russian Orthodox

Languages: Lettish (official), Lithuanian, Russian, other

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 100%
male: 100%
female: 99% (1989 est.)


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Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Latvia
conventional short form: Latvia
local long form: Latvijas Republika
local short form: Latvija
former: Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic

Data code: LG

Government type: parliamentary democracy

National capital: Riga

Administrative divisions: 26 counties (singular—rajons) and 7 municipalities*: Aizkraukles Rajons, Aluksnes Rajons, Balvu Rajons, Bauskas Rajons, Cesu Rajons, Daugavpils*, Daugavpils Rajons, Dobeles Rajons, Gulbenes Rajons, Jekabpils Rajons, Jelgava*, Jelgavas Rajons, Jurmala*, Kraslavas Rajons, Kuldigas Rajons, Leipaja*, Liepajas Rajons, Limbazu Rajons, Ludzas Rajons, Madonas Rajons, Ogres Rajons, Preilu Rajons, Rezekne*, Rezeknes Rajons, Riga*, Rigas Rajons, Saldus Rajons, Talsu Rajons, Tukuma Rajons, Valkas Rajons, Valmieras Rajons, Ventspils*, Ventspils Rajons

Independence: 6 September 1991 (from Soviet Union)

National holiday: Independence Day, 18 November (1918)

Constitution: the 1991 Constitutional Law which supplements the 1922 constitution, provides for basic rights and freedoms

Legal system: based on civil law system

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal for Latvian citizens

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Guntis ULMANIS (since 7 July 1993)
head of government: Prime Minister Guntars KRASTS (since 7 August 1997)
cabinet: Council of Ministers nominated by the prime minister and appointed by the Parliament
elections: president elected by Parliament for a three-year term; election last held 18 June 1996 (next to be held by NA June 1999); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: Guntis ULMANIS elected president in the first round of balloting; percent of parliamentary vote—Guntis ULMANIS 53%, Ilga KREITUSE 25%

Legislative branch: unicameral Parliament or Saeima (100 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve three-year terms)
elections: last held 30 September-1 October 1995 (next to be held 3 October 1998)
election results: percent of vote by party—Saimnieks 18%, LC 17%, For Latvia 16%, TB 14%, LNNK 8%, Unity 8%, LSZ/LKDS 7%, Harmony 6%, Socialist 6%; seats by party - Saimnieks 18, LC 17, For Latvia 16, TB 14, LNNK 8, Unity 8, LSZ/LKDS 7, Harmony 6, Socialist 6

Judicial branch: Supreme Court, judges' appointments are confirmed by the Parliament

Political parties and leaders: Democratic Party "Saimnieks" or DPS [Ziedonis CEVERS, chairman]; Latvia's Way or LC [Andrei PANTELEJEVS]; Popular Movement For Latvia or TKL [Joachim SIEGERIST]; For Fatherland and Freedom or TVB [Maris GRINBLATS], merged with LNNK; Latvian Unity Party or LVP [Alberis KAULS]; Latvian National Conservative Party or LNNK [Andrejs KRASTINS]; Green Party or LZP [Olegs BATAREVSK]; Latvian Farmers Union or LZS [Andris ROZENTALS]; Christian Democrat Union or LKDS [Talavs JUNDZIS]; National Harmony Party or TSP [Janis JURKANS]; Latvian Socialist Party or LSP [Sergejs DIAMANIS]; Latvian Liberal Party or LLP [J. DANOSS]; Political Association of the Underprivileged or MPA [B. PELSE, V. DIMANTS, J. KALNINS]; Latvian Democratic Labor Party or LDDP [J. BOJARS]; Party of Russian Citizens or LKPP [V. SOROCHIN, V. IVANOV]; Christian People's Party or KTP (formerly Peoples Front of Latvia or LTF) [Uldis AUGSTKALNS]; Political Union of Economists or TPA [Edvins KIDE]; Latvian National Democratic Party or LNDP [A. MALINS]; "Our Land" or MZ [M. DAMBEKALNE]; Anticommunist Union or PA [P. MUCENIEKS]; Latvian Social-Democratic Workers Party or LSDSP [Janis DINEVICS]; Party for the Defense of Latvia's Defrauded People; Latvian Independence Party or LNP [Valdis KONOVALOVS]
note: former Prime Minister Andris SKELE announced 18 December 1997 that he is forming a new, as yet unnamed, party

International organization participation: BIS, CBSS, CCC, CE, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, EU (applicant), FAO, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO (correspondent), ITU, OSCE, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WEU (associate partner), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO (applicant)

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Ojars Eriks KALNINS
chancery: 4325 17th Street NW, Washington, DC 20011
telephone: [1] (202) 726-8213, 8214
FAX: [1] (202) 726-6785

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Larry C. NAPPER
embassy: Raina Boulevard 7, LV-1510, Riga
mailing address: American Embassy, Riga, PSC 78, Box R, APO AE 09723
telephone: [371] (2) 210-0005, 782-0046
FAX: [371] (2) 722-6530, 782-0047

Flag description: three horizontal bands of maroon (top), white (half-width), and maroon


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Economy—overview: In 1997 Latvia scored the most impressive economic achievements since independence in 1991, with GDP growing by 6% and inflation at 7.4%. GDP is expected to grow 5% in 1998 and inflation to range between 6% and 7%. In 1997 Latvia continued its strict fiscal policy and apparently ended the year with a small fiscal surplus, reflecting higher-than-expected income from customs revenues, excise and business taxes, and restraints on government spending. Foreign direct investment (FDI) in 1997 was a record $880 million by yearend. Prospects for increasing FDI in 1998 are good if Latvia privatizes at least some of its large companies, including Venspils Nafta (the state oil company). Although Latvia was disappointed that it was not included among the five Central and East European states invited to start EU accession talks in spring 1998, it is likely to join the WTrO in 1998. Latvia's growing current account and trade deficits remain a cause for concern, reaching nearly 10% by yearend. Latvia's trade deficit may even reach 22% of GDP in 1998.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$10.4 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 6% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$4,260 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 9%
industry: 34%
services: 57% (1995)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 7.4% (1997 est.)

Labor force:
total: 1.4 million (1997)
by occupation: industry 41%, agriculture and forestry 16%, services 43% (1990)

Unemployment rate: 7% (1996)

revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA, including capital expenditures of $NA

Industries: buses, vans, street and railroad cars, synthetic fibers, agricultural machinery, fertilizers, washing machines, radios, electronics, pharmaceuticals, processed foods, textiles; dependent on imports for energy, raw materials, and intermediate products

Industrial production growth rate: 2% (1996 est.)

Electricity—capacity: 2.035 million kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 4.095 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 2,300 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: grain, sugar beets, potatoes, vegetables; meat, milk, eggs; fish

total value: $1.4 billion (f.o.b., 1996)
commodities: wood and wood products, textiles, foodstuffs
partners: Russia, other CIS, Germany, Sweden, UK

total value: $2.3 billion (c.i.f., 1996)
commodities: fuels, machinery and equipment, chemicals
partners: Russia, other CIS, Germany, Sweden, UK, Finland

Debt—external: $NA

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $122 million (1993)
note: commitments from the West and international institutions, $525 million (1992-95)

Currency: 1 Latvian lat (LVL) = 100 santims; introduced NA March 1993

Exchange rates: lats (LVL) per US$1—0.595 (January 1998), 0.581 (1997), 0.551 (1996), 0.528 (1995), 0.560 (1994), 0.675 (1993)

Fiscal year: calendar year


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Telephones: 660,000 (1993 est.)

Telephone system: service is better than in most of the other former Soviet republics
domestic: an NMT-450 analog cellular telephone network covers 75% of Latvia's population
international: international traffic carried by leased connection to the Moscow international gateway switch, through the new Ericsson digital telephone exchange in Riga, and through the Finnish cellular net; Sprint data network carries electronic mail

Radio broadcast stations: 25 (unknown type)

Radios: 1.4 million (1993 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 30

Televisions: 1.1 million (1993 est.)


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total: 2,412 km
broad gauge: 2,379 km 1.520-m gauge (271 km electrified) (1992)
narrow gauge: 33 km 0.750-m gauge (1994)

total: 60,046 km
paved: 22,998 km
unpaved: 37,048 km (1995 est.)

Waterways: 300 km perennially navigable

Pipelines: crude oil 750 km; refined products 780 km; natural gas 560 km (1992)

Ports and harbors: Daugavpils, Liepaja, Riga, Ventspils

Merchant marine:
total: 24 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 293,799 GRT/440,575 DWT
ships by type: cargo 2, oil tanker 18, refrigerated cargo 4 (1997 est.)

Airports: 50 (1994 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 36
2,438 to 3,047 m: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 27 (1994 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 14
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 10 (1994 est.)




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