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About Latvia

Read more about Latvia's geography, history and society.




  • Capital: Riga, 611,824 inhabitants (2022).
  • Area: 64,537 km2 (Denmark: 42.924 km2).
  • Population: 1,88 mil. (2022).
  • Growth in population: -0.9% (2021), -0.8% (2020), -0.64% (2019), -0.8 % (2018).
  • Ethnic groups: 63% Latvians, 24.2% Russians, 3.1% Belarussians, 2.2% Ukrainians, 1.9% Poles, 1.1% Lithuanians and 4.5% Others/Unspecified (2022).
  • Language: Latvian is the official language.
  • Religion: Lutheranism (37%), Catholicism (18%) Orthodoxy (13%), No religion (31%).



  • GDP pr. capita: 17,865 € (2021).
  • Growth in GDP: 4.5% (2021), -5.6% (2020), 2.2% (2019) 4.8% (2018).
  • Currency: Euro, €.
  • Unemployment: 6.3% (2022).
  • Inflation: 16.5% (2022).



The area that today includes the three Baltic countries was, at the end of the Migration Period and until the beginning of the 13th century, a collection area for many smaller tribes. In the 13th century, the crusades of the Teutonic Knights began, and in 1201 the German bishop Albert founded the fortress of Riga. The area was then united under the Teutonic Order, and Riga later became part of the Hanseatic League. Denmark was also present in parts of Latvia at that time. A legend tells that the town of Valmiera in northern Latvia is named after King Valdemar, when the Danes won a major battle in this town in 1219. The victory was important for the Danish conquest of Estonia and Livonia, i.e. also parts of Latvia.

In 1868 the Latvian Society was founded in Riga and since then played a major role in the national revival. Latvia was declared an independent republic on 18 November 1918, after which a complicated and bloody war of independence ensued. The Latvian government succeeded in gaining power, but not without help from friendly neighboring countries. Denmark already recognized Latvia's independence in 1921 and also played a minor role in the Latvian War of Independence (1918-1920), since 200 Danish volunteer soldiers participated in the freedom struggle in 1919. Full international recognition was achieved in 1922. In the interwar years, Riga experienced great prosperity; the level was on par with Finland.

On May 4, 1990, the parliament, the Supreme Council, declared Latvian independence. In the elections to the Supreme Council in May 1990, the People's Front of Latvia won an absolute majority, and the Soviet annexation was immediately declared illegal. The Soviet Union refused to recognize Latvia's desire for independence, and Soviet special forces attacked the Latvian Ministry of the Interior, resulting in several deaths. In a referendum on Latvia's independence in March 1991, 73.7% voted for independence. Latvia's Supreme Council reiterated its declaration of independence on 21 August 1991. Three days later, Denmark resumed diplomatic relations with Latvia.



Latvia's population has been constantly declining since the independence in 1991 where the population back then was 2.8 mil. Today the population is 1.8 mil. Latvia has a population density of approx. 30 people per km2 (Denmark: 135 people per km2).

Riga is the largest city with 611,824 inhabitants. This is followed by Daugavpils (82,046), Liepāja (68,535), Jelgava (56,062), Jūrmala (49,687) and Ventspils (33,906) (2020 figures). Around a third of the population thus lives in Riga.



The Constitution of 1922, Satversme, entered into force in 1993 after the first free parliamentary election following Latvia's regained independence in 1991. The Constitution provides the framework for a parliamentary democracy with a president elected by the parliament for a 4-year term. Formally, the president has predominantly ceremonial powers, but in practice can have considerable influence in foreign and domestic politics, as the president has the right to propose new legislation. The Parliament, called the Saeima, consists of 100 members elected for a 4-year term. The members are elected directly, and the distribution of seats takes place proportionally to the number of voters in the five regional constituencies. Latvia has a threshold of 5% in parliamentary elections.

Latvia's local administration is divided into 36 municipalities and seven major cities, which together make up 43 local constituencies. Local politicians are also directly elected for a period of four years, and the number of seats is proportional to the number of inhabitants in a constituency. For municipal councils and city councils, the number of members varies from 13 (larger cities with less than 50,000 inhabitants) to 23 (municipalities with more than 60,000 inhabitants). An exception, however, is the Riga City Council, which consists of 60 members. 



  • President: Edgars Rinkēvičs since 8 July 2023.
  • Prime Minister: Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš (New Unity/Jaunā Vienotība).
  • Acting Foreign Minister: Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš (New Unity/Jaunā Vienotība).
  • Defence Minister: Ināra Mūrniece (National Alliance/Nacionālā Apvienība).
  • Speaker of the Saeima: Edvards Smiltēns (United List/ Apvienotais Saraksts).


100 years of diplomatic relations

In 2021 we celebrated 100 years of Denmark's de jure recognition of the Republic of Latvia and the establishment of diplomatic relations between Denmark and Latvia in 1921. Denmark recognized Latvia on 7 February 1921 and was among the first countries to recognize Latvia.

2021 was also the 30th anniversary of the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1991 (August 24). Denmark was also among the very first to re-establish diplomatic relations with Latvia after independence in 1991. During the year, a number of events were held in connection with the 100th year and the 30th year. More information below.

Read the story of Danish volunteer soldiers' participation in Latvia's independence struggle here.

Read more about Denmark's role in the re-establishment of Latvia's independence here.

Read about the 100-year anniversary of diplomatic relations between Denmark and Latvia here.


New vision for the future cooperation

On 4 June 2021, the foreign ministers from Denmark, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania presented a new shared vision for the future cooperation.
The occasion is the 100-year anniversary of diplomatic relations between Denmark and the Baltic States. The cornerstones of the vision are the fight for common fundamental values, security and defence and strengthened cooperation on climate and the green transition. Read the full declaration below.

Joint Statement on the Occasion of the 100th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Denmark and Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – a vision for the future cooperation

This year, we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Denmark and Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, determined to further consolidate the strong relationship and close friendship that our countries have enjoyed to date. While we are connected by geography, we are also bound together by common values, mutual interests as well as extensive economic and cultural relations and people-to-people contacts. 
The year 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of Denmark's recognition of the Baltic States after their independence in 1918. Additionally, 2021 is the 30th anniversary of the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Denmark and Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania after the Baltic countries regained their independence. Denmark never recognised the annexation of the Baltic States by the Soviet Union and was one of the first countries to support Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in their struggle for freedom and to restore diplomatic relations. On 26 August 1991, the four foreign ministers, Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, Lennart Meri, Jānis Jurkāns, and Algirdas Saudargas, signed a joint communiqué in Copenhagen, which stated that “a long dark chapter of the Baltic history has finally come to an end. We rejoice at this momentous event. The Baltic people are again masters in their own houses”. Today, in Copenhagen, we highlight the special historical ties between our countries and reaffirm our strong bond of cooperation.

Our cooperation has developed significantly over the last 30 years. This is in part due to the Baltic nations’ significant societal development as well as the impressive international integration, not least through membership of the EU and NATO. The double anniversary is an opportunity to look ahead and further develop our cooperation. By seeking new areas of cooperation to jointly meet the global challenges, we also contribute to the common objective of making the Nordic-Baltic region a more competitive, sustainable and innovative region. 

Our security is indivisible. Therefore, we share the common goal of preserving the security and stability in the Baltic Sea Region and the entire Euro-Atlantic area together with Allies and partners. Our common efforts in NATO and through NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence, the Baltic Air Policing mission, the Multinational Division North and NATO Force Integration Unit demonstrate our resolve and solidarity in support of each other as close Allies. We will develop and strengthen our cooperation on security, deterrence and defence, including on countering hybrid threats. We will continue to promote the security of our region through NATO and through stronger NATO-EU cooperation. We will also continue to contribute to international security through active participation in international operations and missions, in which we often work closely together, such as our shared efforts in NATO Mission Iraq, currently led by Denmark, where Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania contribute to the Danish force protection unit. 

We are strongly committed to the common European values. 30 years ago, Denmark supported the Baltic States in their fight for democracy and freedom. Today, our four nations are strong democracies, and we are jointly committed to defending and promoting the EU’s founding values, not least democracy and the rule of law. Building on our own strong democratic foundation, we will also work together to support the countries in our Eastern neighbourhood in their struggle for freedom, democracy and human rights. Our recent cooperation and common efforts regarding the situation in Belarus and Ukraine are important examples. Europe as a whole will not be free and at peace as long as our Eastern partners’ sovereignty and their fundamental rights and choices are being undermined and international law is violated. We will safeguard democratic principles and human rights globally and regionally, including through relevant multilateral fora such as the UN. As we honour the 100th anniversary of the birth of Andrei Sakharov and look forward to a restart of the Sakharov hearings on human rights, we maintain our strong political support for freedom, and we will continue to work together to support civil society, the free and pluralistic media and human rights organisations in our neighbourhood.

We agree to take ambitious steps to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement. We will work closely together to promote a just green transition of our societies by sharing our experiences, solutions and know-how. In particular, our cooperation to advance onshore and offshore wind energy in the Baltic Sea is of key importance, also as a means of addressing energy security. Internationally, we will engage in strong climate and energy diplomacy to promote a just global green transition, phase out coal and to push the world’s biggest economies to make sustainable changes and advocate for adherence to the highest international standards of nuclear safety and environmental protection in third countries. We will improve the sustainable development of farming, food and rural areas and bolster environmental care. At the same time, we will serve as an example, showing that an ambitious green transition is achievable, while simultaneously creating jobs and economic growth.

One of our biggest current challenges is to secure an economic recovery from COVID-19. We are committed to use the European Recovery and Resilience Facility to ensure a strong and socially balanced economic recovery, fostering job-creation and advancing the green and digital transition of our societies. This is also a unique opportunity for increased mutually beneficial commercial cooperation. In this regard, we also underline the need to ensure strict implementation, enforcement and strengthening of the Single Market rules as well as working expeditiously on removing existing barriers and addressing vulnerabilities shown by COVID-19. Strengthened cooperation within higher education and research should also act as a catalyst in reaching the twin ambitions of green and digital transition, with a focus on the European economic recovery, innovation, competitiveness and opening up of data. Building on the core principle of excellence, we are committed to enhance our collective efforts within higher education and research to reach our common goals. 

We are committed to building a future with responsible, democratic and secure technology in Europe and globally. Through innovative and responsible technological solutions, we can improve the lives of our people and strengthen our societies and economies. Responsible technology will be crucial if we are to solve some of the greatest challenges of the 21st century such as climate change and fair terms for markets and employment. At the same time, we recognise that technology also entails risks that require our attention, including cyberattacks, disinformation and authoritarian surveillance. We will continue to work together in the EU with all Member States to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, including through cooperation on accelerated production of vaccines as a means to overcome the health crisis and to ensure the return to normal life for our citizens.  

We will continue to support the strong cultural ties between our countries and our people. The Danish Cultural Institute opened the first international cultural institute in the Baltic States in Riga in 1990. This happened already during the Baltic struggle to regain independence and before formal diplomatic ties could be reestablished. Still today, the Danish Cultural Institute promotes important cultural exchange and people-to-people contacts.  We encourage our citizens to participate in the many cultural activities in Kaunas as the city becomes European Capital of Culture in 2022.   

In achieving the goals outlined above, we will make use of our multifaceted cooperation – bilaterally, through regional cooperation formats, including Nordic-Baltic cooperation and the Council of the Baltic Sea States, and through relevant multilateral fora. As small states, we acknowledge that we can best promote our common values and safeguard our interests through strong cooperation in multilateral institutions. Therefore, our collaboration within the EU, NATO, UN and other organisations will continue to be the cornerstones of our cooperation.