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Latvia: An Overview
The Unitary Parliamentary Republic of Latvia is strategically located in North Europe even as it’s a part of the Baltic region. This beautiful and nature-blessed nation has common borders with Estonia in the north, Lithuania in the south, & with Belarus & Russia in the east. With a population of roughly 2.1 million people, Latvia is spread over 64589 square miles. The apex world body--the United Nations (UN)—ranks the country with a “Very High” Human Development Index (HDI).
The nation’s capital is Riga even while it’s is the biggest city amongst the Baltic States, accommodating a staggering 30% of the nation’s total populace. A major seaport, and also a famed industrial, commercial, cultural & financial center, Riga’s claim to fame also rests on the fact that it also boasts of the area’s biggest global airport.
Lats is Latvia’s national currency, and One (1) Latvian Lats roughly equals Two (2) USD. Latvian is the nation’s main language, and a major section of the Latvian populace has been involved with protestant Christianity since long. However, in the Latgalia, the followers of Roman Catholic are in majority.
Latvians are the dominant ethnic group and they account for as much as 62% of the entire populace. Russians follow them comprising nearly a little above one-fourth (27%) of the populace. Other minor ethnic groups comprise of the Belarusian, Ukrainians, Polish and Lithuanians, etc. Remarkably, the nationals of Latvia are culturally associated with the Lithuanians.
The nation’s climate is temperate & humid and mainly affected by the oceanic weather. While summers continue from June to August, with the average temperatures hovering from to 16 degrees Celsius; winters continue from December to February even as the temperatures hover close to -4.5 centigrade. August is the hottest and January is the coldest month in the country.
Latvia: A Key Member of Major World Organizations
Latvia--earlier under the administrative control of the erstwhile USSR--broke free from the communist Union and received independence on August 21, 1991 even as during the same year USSR disintegrated.
With independence, the Baltic state embraced--though gradually at first--economic liberalization even while it found its interests more in sync with the liberal Western World. That its umbilical cord with the USSR had finally broken--to a large extent--became evident in 1999 when it officially became a part of the World Trade Organization (WTO). This development was followed by another major development that showed the nation had enthusiastically embraced the western world and its military, political and economic policies when on March 29, 2004 the Baltic nation became a dynamic member of the NATO. Soon after joining this powerful military world group, Latvia also became a key member of the European Union (EU), on May 1 2004.
This former Warsaw pact member is also a permanent member of several renowned world groups and associations and bodies, such as the United Nations (UN), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Schengen Area, Nordic Investment Bank, & Council of the Baltic Sea States.
With the passage of time, the Latvian economy has seen many changes even as it has taken a dramatic turn from the state controlled and managed enterprise to a 100 % private involvement.
The privatization of the entire set-up having 98% of medium and small sized groups--excluding some vital & sensitive big groups--has been achieved even while the said transformation has led to handsome returns for the private sector. The national economy has also benefited tremendously becoming comparatively well-organized & more productive with the passage of time. Significantly, the private sector, presently, amounts to nearly 68% of the national GDP.
Since 2000, Latvia has been one of the quickest developing EU economies and is inspired by consumption. During 2008-10, when the global meltdown hit the world, Latvia was one of the few countries of the EU wherein the impact was quite extensive. However, the nation has bounced back since then, and made good progress on the economic front. Since 2011, it has also achieved a reasonable level of stabilization.
The Latvian administration is committed to integrate the nation’s local currency inside the EU’s premise, and change the system into EURO by the next year, i.e., the year 2014. It is likely to lead to better results from economic viewpoints with the reason being--and as mentioned before--the country is a part of single market community.