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Latvia is a north European nation that lies in Baltic region. It shares its borders with Estonia in north, Lithuania in south and in east with Russia and Belarus. The population of is around 2.1 mill and area 64589 square miles. The national capital Riga is the largest in the Baltic States housing more than 30% of population of the country. It is an important seaport and also a major industrial, commercial, cultural and financial center. It also has region’s largest international airport.
The national currency is Lats and One (1) Latvian Lats is normally approximately Two (2) USD. The language of the country is Latvian and majority of population has been historically practicing protestant Christianity, except for the Latgalia which has a majority of Roman Catholic followers. The majority ethnic group of the nation is primarily Latvians who count around 62% of the total population, followed by Russians whose number represent around 27% of population. Other small ethnic groups are constituted by Belarusian, Ukrainians, Polish and Lithuanians, etc.
The climate is humid and a temperate that is primarily influenced by oceanic weather. Summers last from month of June to August with temperatures staying on an average of 15 to 16 degrees Celsius and warmest month being August, while winters can be experienced though sometimes harsh in months of December to February with the temperatures ranging around -4.5 centigrade. The coldest month can be January.
This Baltic state was under the occupation of erstwhile USSR until 1991, when finally it declared its independence on August 21, 1991 that was in almost in tandem with collapse of Soviet Union. Independence from the communist rule ushered Latvia into a new era of economic liberalization. Post the collapse of USSR, the swing of the country’s majority went into leanings on more liberal western hemisphere of nations even as Latvia formally joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1999. This country became an active member of NATO on March 29 2004. Latvia also became member of European Union (EU) on May 1 2004.
Besides all these premium organizations, this former Warsaw pact member is also a full time member of many international organizations prominent being United Nations (UN), Council of Europe, OSCE, IMF, Schengen Area, Council of the Baltic Sea States, Nordic Investment Bank, etc.
On the economic front, the nation’s policy has taken a complete U-Turn from the state owned enterprise to a 100 % private participation. Privatization of complete set-up including 98% of medium and small sized corporations, barring some critical and sensitive large establishments has been achieved. This change over has brought rich returns for the private sector as well as overall performance of the economy in achieving a more efficient and productive economic performance. Private sector today amounts to almost 68% of national GDP.
Since 2000 this Baltic state has been one of the fastest growing EU economies and is driven by consumption. During 2008-10 global slowdown hit this Baltic state and it was one of the EU nations where the impact was quite widespread. But development has been quite rapid and since 2011 a fair level of stabilization has been achieved on the economic front.
The Latvian government aims to integrate the country’s local currency within the EU’s premise and convert the system into EURO by the year 2014. This is expected to drive in richer results in economic perspective as the nation is part of single market bloc.