Latvia

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Introduction

The “Switzerland of the Baltic”, as Latvia is usually named for the high standard of living and for the magnificent alpine landscapes, is a small country in northeast Europe. Its capital Riga is an important cultural, political and economic centre.

 

Capital

Riga (715.978 in 2009)

Surface

64.589 km²

Population

2.267.886 in 2009

Density

35 /km²

Currency

Lat
1 Euro = 0.71 Lat
1 Lat = 1.42 Euro

Time zone

GMT+2

Language

Latvian is the official language. Russian and English are widely spoken.

Religion

Lutheran, catholic and orthodox.

Entry requirements

Neither a passport nor visa (if for tourist purposes) is required for European citizens of the Member States. A valid identity card is sufficient.

Travelling with pets

Small sized pets like cats, dogs and ferrets must travel with animal passport (in force since 2004) and have an identification microchip or tattoo. Also, they must be vaccinated against rabies. For more information consult: www.wet.agri.ee (Veterinary and food board).

Health and safety

Both private and public health structures are generally lower than the European standards. No vaccination is required, although it is advisable to vaccinate against meningitis and encephalitis. It is advisable to bring the magnetic card for health assistance. General safety is good, there are no particular danger zones.

Climate

Latvia enjoys a semi continental humid climate. Inland and on the coast of Curland the weather is windy, winters are cold and summers cool and short. The gulf of Riga is characterised by milder temperatures respect to the rest of the Country.

Form of government

Independent from the Soviet Union since 6th September 1991, Latvia is a parliamentary republic.

Economy

Latvia is characterised by a slow economy. The only sector that has seen a certain development from the proclamation of independence is the tertiary sector connected with services, to the detriment of agriculture and manufacture. The key export sectors are wood and derived products, metal items, mechanical and electrical equipment, motorcycles and tractors.

Electricity

Voltage: 220 V, frequency 50 Hz. It is advisable to bring an adapter.

Posts, banks and telephone

Post offices are open Monday to Friday from 8 am to 18 pm, they are open also on Saturday. Banks are open from 9.00 am to 17.00 or 18.00 pm Monday to Friday. Saturday they stay closed. In the biggest centres they are open non-stop.
Mobile phone coverage is good.
Country code: 00371
Useful numbers:
European emergency number: 112