|Currency||Latvian lat (LVL)|
|Area||total: 64,589 sq km |
water: 1,000 sq km
land: 63,589 sq km
|Population||2,366,515 (July 2002 est.)|
|Language||Latvian (official), Lithuanian, Russian, other|
|Religion||Lutheran, Muslim, Russian Orthodox|
Latvia is situated in Eastern Europe, one of the three Baltic States, Latvia is bordered by Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, Russia to the east, Belarus in the south east, and the Baltic Sea in the west. The highlight is the capital Riga, a World Heritage Site.
- Riga - the capital
- Ri-gas osta
Latvia has joined the European Union in 2004, which makes many things much simpler for the traveller.
The highest point in Latvia is Gaizinkalns, at 312m above sea level, just west of the town of Madona.
- Citizens of many countries, including Australia, Canada, the Unites States, New Zealand do not need a visa to enter Latvia for up to 90 days in a six month period. (Full list of countries (http://www.am.gov.lv/en/?id=136))
- As of May 1, 2004, Latvia is a member of the European Union, so citizens of EU countries will not need a visa regardless of their length of stay. (It seems, that there may be a transition period of several years, where Visa are still necessary for longer stays.) Full coverage travel (medical) Insurance appears to be required for entry into Latvia.
- Riga International Airport,  (http://www.riga-airport.com/). Located in Riga with arrivals and departures to various European (London, Munich, Oslo, etc) and Middle Eastern (Tel Aviv) cities as well as New York City.
- Ventspils International Airport, Moscow or St. Petersburg, Russia
- Minsk, Belarus
- Vilnius, Lithuania.
- Eurolines, 371 7214080, fax 7503134,  (http://www.eurolines.lv/en/index.php). Baltic Bus Lines operating as a part of the Eurolines organization with stops in most major Latvian cities.
- Unfortunally, Riga Sea Line doesn't exist no more. However, Estonian Tallink is looking forward to restart the route between Riga and Stockholm, Sweden.
Hitchhiking in Latvia is generally good. The roads around Riga present the largest obstacle, unless the city is your destination - there is no clean "drive-around" road, and considerable amount of local traffic makes hitching very difficult. The easiest way to get around Riga is to find a "cross-country" lift at the border with Lithuania or Estonia. License plate numbers/countries of origin are your friends.
Latvian or Lettish is an Indo-European language that shares its own Baltic branch of that linguistic family with Lithuanian. The language is spoken natively by most of the 1.4 million residents of Latvia, with some Russian also spoken by the Russian ethnic community and older generations. In addition, German and English are understood in urban centers.
See also: stub and needs your attention. Plunge forward and help it grow!