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State

Capital

Latvia

Riga

Currency unit

Lat

Connections

Baltic

Borders

EU

NATO

Nordic

USSR

War
 

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

History

One of the three Baltic states formerly part of the Soviet Union. Like Estonia it was once a Swedish colony. All three were ruled by Russia until 1918.

Inter-War independence
As part of the Brest-Litovsk treaty they were occupied by the Germans and were then independent from 1919 until 1939. During this period a democratic government was overthrown by a military dictatorship which had much in common with the Nazis.

In 1939 they were occupied by the Soviet Union and in 1940 by the Germans. During the German occupation many Latvians appear to have supported the Nazis and assisted in the deportation of the Jews.

Stalin claimed that they had joined the Soviet Union at their own request, but present democratically elected governments deny this. Western governments never recognized the incorporation but took no practical steps. In 1990 all three declared independence, but only made this effective in September 1991.

The Latvian language has some affinity with Lithuanian, the only other member of its linguistic group.

There is a large Russian minority (who might be a majority) who have resisted independence as they feared they would be expelled back to Russia. What seems likely is that many of them will gradually move voluntarily.

Riga was an important Soviet port and outlet to a relatively ice free sea. This is a reason why the Soviet Union was unwilling to allow these states to become independent - access to the Baltic.

In early 1991 while the Gulf War was occupying the attention of western governments the Soviet government appeared to be trying to assert central control through the military and by setting up a "National Salvation Committee" as a cover in order to bypass the elected government.

On 20 January 1991 Soviet Interior troops (Black Berets) used force to take over the Latvian Interior (police) ministry building. They declared that they represented the National Salvation Committee. However, the elected government continued in office.

Although the Baltic states have achieved independence they may find themselves very weak and perhaps under the influence of Germany. Admitted to membership of the UN in September 1991. Russian fascists are calling for the renewal of the empire.

The rise of Nationalists in Russia leads Latvians to fear future attack by Russia, perhaps in the form of unofficial paramilitary or criminal groups. The government signed the agreement to be an associate of NATO in February 1994.

A few Russian troops remained as late as March 1994. However complete independence was achieved and application was made to join the EU and NATO. Latvia joined the EU in 2004.

Languages

Lettish (Latvian)

Russian

 History

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

Politics

Multi party elections have been held and a non-Communist government elected. It is too soon to tell whether it will develop into a genuine multi-party system as at present the nationalist Party has an overwhelming majority. Small countries of this kind tend to form dictatorships, especially if they feel threatened by large neighbors or suffer from poor economic conditions. There seems to have been a revival of the fascist ideology of the past, especially in the attempt to drive out the Russian residents.

 History

 Politics

 Green

 Rights

Economics

Latvia had a slightly more advanced economy than the Soviet Union. Privatization of land has already been announced and locally controlled businesses show signs of being more entrepreneurial than in Russia. However most industries were controlled by Soviet ministries and conformed to the Central Plan, while it lasted. It will be hard to break away from the Soviet and Russian economic area, even with the assistance of Sweden and other Nordic countries.

Russia still threatens to cut off gas and oil supplies.

Latvia was badly affected by the 2008-9 financial catastrophe after accumulating huge government and private loans. The country is probably the worst affected of all EU countries.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Rights

Green/Ecology

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

Human Rights

The rights of non-Latvian minorities, mainly Russian, may be of concern.

Climate effects

Last revised 17/12/09


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