Top tip: Rest up with the rich Russians
Situated on the Baltic coast, Latvia shares borders with Lithuania the south, Estonia to the north, the Russian Federation in the east and Belarus in the southeast. The landscape is relatively flat. A long sandy coastline gives way in places to undulating sand dunes and low coastal cliffs. In Latgale, in the east, the scenery is quite different, with rolling hills, dozens of lakes, and dense forest. Latvia also boasts approximately 12,000 rivers, the longest of which, the Daugava runs through Riga. The country’s best-known nature reserve, the Gauja National Park, has the Gauja river running through it.
To the west the Latvian coast has a maritime climate, while the east has a continental climate. Between June and September, days are pleasingly warm and often sunny. Winters are long and harsh, with temperatures in Riga rarely rising above freezing between December and March. Even as late as April temperatures can be as low as 5ºC. Rain falls throughout the year with the heaviest downpours in August. Snowfall is during the winter.
Facts and Figures
|Area||64,589 sq km (24,938 sq miles).|
|Capital||Riga – population 739,232 (2003).|
|Language||Latvian is the official language. Russian is the mother tongue of over 30 per cent of the population and is understood by most people.|
|Religion||Predominantly Protestant with 19 per cent of the population being Roman Catholic. There is also a Russian Orthodox minority.|
|Time||GMT + 2.|
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