Latvia

Latvia (Latvian: Latvija), is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. Since its independence, Latvia has been referred to as one of the Baltic states. It is bordered by Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, Russia to the east, Belarus to the southeast, and shares a maritime border with Sweden to the west. Latvia gained independence in 1918 only to lose it initially to Germany in 1941 and then the Soviet Union in 1944. Along with the other Baltic States, Latvia sought independence again with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Latvia’s bid for independence was characterised by the “singing revolution” in 1987 which led to a declaration of independence in 1990 and full independence a year later. Latvia is a well developed society both economically and culturally. Latvia is a member of the European Union, Euro zone, NATO, the Council of Europe, the United Nations, OECD, WTO among others.

Before Soviet occupation in 1940, ethnic Latvians constituted about three-fourths of the country’s population. Today they make up about three-fifths of the population, and Russians account for about one-fourth. The official language of Latvia is Latvian; however, nearly one-third of the population speaks Russian. Along with Estonia issues remain about citizenship for the Russian minority.

Border Facts:

Latvia-Estonia Border: This border, 339km in length, begins in the east at the tripoint between the towns of Misso (Estonia), Pededze (Latvia) and Palkino (Russia). The border runs mostly from east to west. It crosses the town of Valga-Valka and ends at the coast by the Baltic Sea between the villages of Ainaži (Latvia) and Ikla (Estonia). Latvia gained independence in 1918, two years before neighbouring Estonia. In 1920, when Estonia gained independence in turn, the border between the two countries was established. The position of the border was recognised by the representatives of the two countries, based upon the ethnicity of the inhabitant populations. In 1940, the two countries were placed under military occupation and annexed by the USSR, resulting in the disappearance of the border. During this period, the USSR appropriated the towns of Pechory and Abrene (Latvia). Because of this, when the two countries regained their independence in 1991, the re-established border was 32km shorter. Cross border collaboration is well established.

Latvia-Russia Border: The length of the border is 214 km. From 1925 to 1945 Abrene County was part of the Republic of Latvia. On 16 January 1945, the area was transferred from the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic to Pskov Oblast and renamed Pytalovsky District. Ever since Latvia regained independence, Latvia claimed the previous Latvian territory, on the basis of the 1920 Treaty of Riga. In 2007 a treaty on the Russian-Latvian state border was signed and ratified, and the Pytalovsky District remains part of Russia. Since 2017 the border has been demarcated with 648 border posts every 440m (approx).

Latvia- Belarus Border: The Latvia Belarus border is 172.9 km long. It spans from the tripoint with Lithuania to the tripoint with Russia. The current border between the republics of Belarus (CIS member) and Latvia (EU member) was established after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and confirmed in 1994 and again in 2013.  For about 16.6 km (10.3 mi), the border runs along the Daugava River. It also crosses the Lake Rychy and an island in the lake.

Latvia – Lithuania Border: The Latvia-Lithuania border is 453km long. It begins at the crossing between the borders of Belarus, Latvia and Lithuania, on Lake Drūkšiai near the town of Visaginas (Lithuania), and ends in the Baltic Sea. Running from east to west, a 30-kilometre portion is formed by the river Sventoji (Baltic). The border region is relatively sparsely populated, containing around 3 million inhabitants. The existance of the border dates back to the middle ages, however the current border dates from 1918. The two Baltic Republics jointly participate in the Interreg IV A “Latvia-Lithuania” programme, whose objective is to promote the sustainable socio-economic development of the cross-border region.

Latvian Tripoints

NumberNamecountries TYPEcoordinates LINKS
1 EELVRU Estonia-Latvia-Russia Wet57°31’05″N
27°21’05″E
Deeleman (2015)
Hering (2003)
Krogh (2003)
Palmberg (2003)
2BYLTLV Belarus – Lithuania- Latvia Dry55°40’50″N
26°37’49″E
Deeleman (2015)
Hering (2003)
Krogh (2003)
Pamberg (2003)
3BYLVRUBelarus – Latvia – Russia Wet56°10’12″N
28°09’04″E
Deeleman (2015)
(2015)
Hering (2003)
Krogh (2003)
Pamberg (2003)

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