Photos of Latvia

A side view of Saint Peter's Church in Riga.

Introduction

Background

Several eastern Baltic tribes merged in medieval times to form the ethnic core of the Latvian people (ca. 8th-12th centuries A.D.). The region subsequently came under the control of Germans, Poles, Swedes, and finally, Russians. A Latvian republic emerged following World War I, but it was annexed by the USSR in 1940 - an action never recognized by the US and many other countries. Latvia reestablished its independence in 1991 following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Although the last Russian troops left in 1994, the status of the Russian minority (some 26% of the population) remains of concern to Moscow. Latvia acceded to both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004; it joined the euro zone in 2014 and the OECD in 2016. A dual citizenship law was adopted in 2013, easing naturalization for non-citizen children.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Eastern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, between Estonia and Lithuania

Geographic coordinates

57 00 N, 25 00 E

Area

total: 64,589 sq km

land: 62,249 sq km

water: 2,340 sq km

country comparison to the world: 124

Area - comparative

slightly larger than West Virginia

<p>slightly larger than West Virginia</p>

Land boundaries

total: 1,370 km

border countries (4): Belarus 161 km, Estonia 333 km, Lithuania 544 km, Russia 332 km

Coastline

498 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: limits as agreed to by Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Sweden, and Russia

continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation

Climate

maritime; wet, moderate winters

Terrain

low plain

Elevation

highest point: Gaizina Kalns 312 m

lowest point: Baltic Sea 0 m

mean elevation: 87 m

Natural resources

peat, limestone, dolomite, amber, hydropower, timber, arable land

Land use

agricultural land: 29.2% (2018 est.)

arable land: 18.6% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.1% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 10.5% (2018 est.)

forest: 54.1% (2018 est.)

other: 16.7% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

12 sq km (2012)

note: land in Latvia is often too wet and in need of drainage not irrigation; approximately 16,000 sq km or 85% of agricultural land has been improved by drainage

Population distribution

largest concentration of people is found in and around the port and capital city of Riga; small agglomerations are scattered throughout the country

Natural hazards

large percentage of agricultural fields can become waterlogged and require drainage

Geography - note

most of the country is composed of fertile low-lying plains with some hills in the east

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Latvian(s)

adjective: Latvian

Ethnic groups

Latvian 62.7%, Russian 24.5%, Belarusian 3.1%, Ukrainian 2.2%, Polish 2%, Lithuanian 1.1%, other 1.8%, unspecified 2.6% (2021 est.)

Languages

Latvian (official) 56.3%, Russian 33.8%, other 0.6% (includes Polish, Ukrainian, and Belarusian), unspecified 9.4%; note - data represent language usually spoken at home (2011 est.)

major-language sample(s):
World Factbook, neaizstājams avots pamata informāciju. (Latvian)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

Latvian audio sample:

Religions

Lutheran 36.2%, Roman Catholic 19.5%, Orthodox 19.1%, other Christian 1.6%, other 0.1%, unspecified/none 23.5% (2017 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 15.32% (male 148,120/female 140,028)

15-24 years: 9% (male 87,372/female 81,965)

25-54 years: 40.41% (male 380,817/female 379,359)

55-64 years: 14.77% (male 125,401/female 152,548)

65 years and over: 20.5% (male 128,151/female 257,471) (2020 est.)

This is the population pyramid for Latvia. A population pyramid illustrates the age and sex structure of a country's population and may provide insights about political and social stability, as well as economic development. The population is distributed along the horizontal axis, with males shown on the left and females on the right. The male and female populations are broken down into 5-year age groups represented as horizontal bars along the vertical axis, with the youngest age groups at the bottom and the oldest at the top. The shape of the population pyramid gradually evolves over time based on fertility, mortality, and international migration trends. <br/><br/>For additional information, please see the entry for Population pyramid on the Definitions and Notes page.

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 59

youth dependency ratio: 26.1

elderly dependency ratio: 32.9

potential support ratio: 3 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 44.4 years

male: 40.5 years

female: 48 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 16

Birth rate

8.96 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 205

Death rate

14.63 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 2

Net migration rate

-5.32 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 205

Population distribution

largest concentration of people is found in and around the port and capital city of Riga; small agglomerations are scattered throughout the country

Urbanization

urban population: 68.4% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: -0.68% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

628,000 RIGA (capital) (2021)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.07 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.82 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.5 male(s)/female

total population: 0.86 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

27.3 years (2019 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

19 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 124

Infant mortality rate

total: 4.93 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 5.34 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 4.5 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 178

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 75.65 years

male: 71.19 years

female: 80.33 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 116

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 98.8% of population

rural: 98.2% of population

total: 98.6% of population

unimproved: urban: 1.2% of population

rural: 1.8% of population

total: 1.4% of population (2017 est.)

Physicians density

3.19 physicians/1,000 population (2017)

Hospital bed density

5.6 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 98.9% of population

rural: 84.6% of population

total: 94.3% of population

unimproved: urban: 1.1% of population

rural: 15.4% of population

total: 5.7% of population (2017 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

<100 (2019 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: intermediate (2020)

vectorborne diseases: tickborne encephalitis

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 99.9%

male: 99.9%

female: 99.9% (2015)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 16 years

male: 16 years

female: 17 years (2018)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 12.4%

male: 14.2%

female: 10.1% (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 111

Environment

Environment - current issues

while land, water, and air pollution are evident, Latvia's environment has benefited from a shift to service industries after the country regained independence; improvements have occurred in drinking water quality, sewage treatment, household and hazardous waste management, as well as reduction of air pollution; concerns include nature protection and the management of water resources and the protection of the Baltic Sea

Environment - international agreements

party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Heavy Metals, Air Pollution-Multi-effect Protocol, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 2006, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 12.72 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 7 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 1.85 megatons (2020 est.)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 94.4 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 25.2 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 61.5 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

34.94 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Climate

maritime; wet, moderate winters

Land use

agricultural land: 29.2% (2018 est.)

arable land: 18.6% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.1% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 10.5% (2018 est.)

forest: 54.1% (2018 est.)

other: 16.7% (2018 est.)

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0% of GDP (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 125

Urbanization

urban population: 68.4% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: -0.68% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: intermediate (2020)

vectorborne diseases: tickborne encephalitis

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 857,000 tons (2015 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 181,941 tons (2015 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 21.2% (2015 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Latvia

conventional short form: Latvia

local long form: Latvijas Republika

local short form: Latvija

former: Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic

etymology: the name "Latvia" originates from the ancient Latgalians, one of four eastern Baltic tribes that formed the ethnic core of the Latvian people (ca. 8th-12th centuries A.D.)

Government type

parliamentary republic

Capital

name: Riga

geographic coordinates: 56 57 N, 24 06 E

time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

etymology: of the several theories explaining the name's origin, the one relating to the city's role in Baltic and North Sea commerce is the most probable; the name is likely related to the Latvian word "rija," meaning "warehouse," where the 'j' became a 'g' under the heavy German influence in the city from the late Middle Ages to the early 20th century

Administrative divisions

36 municipalities (novadi, singular - novads) and 7 state cities (valstpilsetu pasvaldibas, singular valstspilsetas pasvaldiba)

municipalities: Adazi, Aizkraukle, Aluksne, Augsdaugava, Balvi, Bauska, Cesis, Dienvidkurzeme, Dobele, Gulbene, Jekabpils, Jelgava, Kekava, Kraslava, Kuldiga, Limbazi, Livani, Ludza, Madona, Marupe, Ogre, Olaine, Preili, Rezekne, Ropazi, Salaspils, Saldus, Saulkrasti, Sigulda, Smiltene, Talsi, Tukums, Valka, Valmiera, Varaklani, Ventspils

cities: Daugavpils, Jelgava, Jurmala, Liepaja, Rezekne, Riga, Ventspils

Independence

18 November 1918 (from Soviet Russia); 4 May 1990 (declared from the Soviet Union); 6 September 1991 (recognized by the Soviet Union)

National holiday

Independence Day (Republic of Latvia Proclamation Day), 18 November (1918); note - 18 November 1918 was the date Latvia established its statehood and its concomitant independence from Soviet Russia; 4 May 1990 was the date it declared the restoration of Latvian statehood and its concomitant independence from the Soviet Union

Constitution

history: several previous (pre-1991 independence); note - following the restoration of independence in 1991, parts of the 1922 constitution were reintroduced 4 May 1990 and fully reintroduced 6 July 1993

amendments: proposed by two thirds of Parliament members or by petition of one tenth of qualified voters submitted through the president; passage requires at least two-thirds majority vote of Parliament in each of three readings; amendment of constitutional articles, including national sovereignty, language, the parliamentary electoral system, and constitutional amendment procedures, requires passage in a referendum by majority vote of at least one half of the electorate; amended several times, last in 2019

Legal system

civil law system with traces of socialist legal traditions and practices

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Latvia

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Egils LEVITS (since 8 July 2019)

head of government: Prime Minister Krisjanis KARINS (since 23 January 2019)

cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers nominated by the prime minister, appointed by Parliament

elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by Parliament for a 4-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 29 May 2019 (next to be held in 2023); prime minister appointed by the president, confirmed by Parliament

election results: Egils LEVITS elected president; Parliament vote - Egils LEVITS 61 votes, Didzis SMITS 24, Juris JANSONS 8; Krisjanis KARINS confirmed prime minister 61-39

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Parliament or Saeima (100 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by party list proportional representation vote; members serve 4-year terms)

elections: last held on 6 October 2018 (next to be held in October 2022)

election results: percent of vote by party - SDPS 19.8%, KPV LV 14.3%, JKP 13.6%, AP! 12%, NA 11%, ZZS 9.9%, V 6.7%, other 12.7%; seats by party - SDPS 23, KPV LV 16, JKP 16, AP! 13, NA 13, ZZS 11, V 8; composition - men 69, women 31, percent of women 31%

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court (consists of the Senate with 36 judges); Constitutional Court (consists of 7 judges)

judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges nominated by chief justice and confirmed by the Saeima; judges serve until age 70, but term can be extended 2 years; Constitutional Court judges - 3 nominated by Saeima members, 2 by Cabinet ministers, and 2 by plenum of Supreme Court; all judges confirmed by Saeima majority vote; Constitutional Court president and vice president serve in their positions for 3 years; all judges serve 10-year terms; mandatory retirement at age 70

subordinate courts: district (city) and regional courts

Political parties and leaders

Development/For! or AP! [Daniels PAVLUTS, Juris PUCE]
National Alliance "All For Latvia!"-"For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK" or NA [Raivis DZINTARS] New Conservative Party or JKP [Janis BORDANS]
Social Democratic Party "Harmony" or SDPS [Nils USAKOVS] Union of Greens and Farmers or ZZS [Armands KRAUZE] Unity or V [Arvils ASERADENS]
Who Owns the State? or KPV LV [Artuss KAIMINS]

International organization participation

Australia Group, BA, BIS, CBSS, CD, CE, EAPC, EBRD, ECB, EIB, EMU, ESA (cooperating state), EU, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (NGOs), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, NATO, NIB, NSG, OAS (observer), OIF (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, Schengen Convention, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Maris SELGA (since 16 September 2019)

chancery: 2306 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 328-2840

FAX: [1] (202) 328-2860

email address and website:
embassy.usa@mfa.gov.lv

https://www2.mfa.gov.lv/en/usa

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador John Leslie CARWILE (since 5 November 2019)

embassy: 1 Samnera Velsa Street (former Remtes), Riga LV-1510

mailing address: 4520 Riga Place, Washington DC  20521-4520

telephone: [371] 6710-7000

FAX: [371] 6710-7050

email address and website:
askconsular-riga@state.gov

https://lv.usembassy.gov/

Flag description

three horizontal bands of maroon (top), white (half-width), and maroon; the flag is one of the older banners in the world; a medieval chronicle mentions a red standard with a white stripe being used by Latvian tribes in about 1280

National symbol(s)

white wagtail (bird); national colors: maroon, white

National anthem

name: "Dievs, sveti Latviju!" (God Bless Latvia)

lyrics/music: Karlis BAUMANIS

note: adopted 1920, restored 1990; first performed in 1873 while Latvia was a part of Russia; banned during the Soviet occupation from 1940 to 1990

Economy

Economic overview

Latvia is a small, open economy with exports contributing more than half of GDP. Due to its geographical location, transit services are highly-developed, along with timber and wood-processing, agriculture and food products, and manufacturing of machinery and electronics industries. Corruption continues to be an impediment to attracting foreign direct investment and Latvia's low birth rate and decreasing population are major challenges to its long-term economic vitality.

Latvia's economy experienced GDP growth of more than 10% per year during 2006-07, but entered a severe recession in 2008 as a result of an unsustainable current account deficit and large debt exposure amid the slowing world economy. Triggered by the collapse of the second largest bank, GDP plunged by more than 14% in 2009 and, despite strong growth since 2011, the economy took until 2017 return to pre-crisis levels in real terms. Strong investment and consumption, the latter stoked by rising wages, helped the economy grow by more than 4% in 2017, while inflation rose to 3%. Continued gains in competitiveness and investment will be key to maintaining economic growth, especially in light of unfavorable demographic trends, including the emigration of skilled workers, and one of the highest levels of income inequality in the EU.

In the wake of the 2008-09 crisis, the IMF, EU, and other international donors provided substantial financial assistance to Latvia as part of an agreement to defend the currency's peg to the euro in exchange for the government's commitment to stringent austerity measures. The IMF/EU program successfully concluded in December 2011, although, the austerity measures imposed large social costs. The majority of companies, banks, and real estate have been privatized, although the state still holds sizable stakes in a few large enterprises, including 80% ownership of the Latvian national airline. Latvia officially joined the World Trade Organization in February 1999 and the EU in May 2004. Latvia also joined the euro zone in 2014 and the OECD in 2016.

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$59.102 billion (2019 est.)

$57.912 billion (2018 est.)

$55.672 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 108

Real GDP growth rate

2.08% (2019 est.)

4.2% (2018 est.)

3.23% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 132

Real GDP per capita

$30,898 (2019 est.)

$30,050 (2018 est.)

$28,664 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 67

GDP (official exchange rate)

$34.084 billion (2019 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

2.8% (2019 est.)

2.5% (2018 est.)

2.9% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 143

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: A- (2014)

Moody's rating: A3 (2015)

Standard & Poors rating: A+ (2020)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 3.9% (2017 est.)

industry: 22.4% (2017 est.)

services: 73.7% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 61.8% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 18.2% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 19.9% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 1.5% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 60.6% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -61.9% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

wheat, milk, rapeseed, barley, oats, potatoes, rye, beans, pork, poultry

Industries

processed foods, processed wood products, textiles, processed metals, pharmaceuticals, railroad cars, synthetic fibers, electronics

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 7.7%

industry: 24.1%

services: 68.1% (2016 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.2%

highest 10%: 26.3% (2015)

Budget

revenues: 11.39 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 11.53 billion (2017 est.)

Public debt

36.3% of GDP (2017 est.)

37.4% of GDP (2016 est.)

note: data cover general government debt, and includes debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities, including sub-sectors of central government, state government, local government, and social security funds

country comparison to the world: 147

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$222 million (2019 est.)

-$99 million (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 102

Exports

$20.444 billion (2019 est.)

$20.007 billion (2018 est.)

$19.153 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 80

Exports - partners

Lithuania 16%, Estonia 10%, Russia 9%, Germany 7%, Sweden 6%, United Kingdom 6% (2019)

Exports - commodities

lumber, broadcasting equipment, whiskey and other hard liquors, wheat, packaged medicines (2019)

Imports

$22.049 billion (2019 est.)

$21.397 billion (2018 est.)

$20.096 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 78

Imports - partners

Russia 21%, Lithuania 14%, Germany 9%, Poland 7%, Estonia 7% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, broadcasting equipment, cars, packaged medicines, aircraft (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$4.614 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$3.514 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 97

Debt - external

$40.164 billion (2019 est.)

$42.488 billion (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 75

Exchange rates

euros (EUR) per US dollar -

0.82771 (2020 est.)

0.90338 (2019 est.)

0.87789 (2018 est.)

0.885 (2014 est.)

0.7634 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2020)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 227,616

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 11.96 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 121

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 2,071,814

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 108.83 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 149

Telecommunication systems

general assessment:

recent efforts focused on bringing competition to the telecommunications sector; the number of fixed-line phones is decreasing as mobile-cellular telephone service expands; EU regulatory policies, and framework provide guidelines for growth; government adopted measures to build a national fiber broadband network, partially funded by European Commission; new competition in mobile markets with extensive LTE-A technologies and 5G service growth; developing sophisticated digital economy with e-commerce and e-government widely available; operator working on cable to Sakhalin in Russia’s Far East (2021)

(2020)

domestic: fixed-line 12 per 100 and mobile-cellular 109 per 100 subscriptions (2019)

international: country code - 371; the Latvian network is now connected via fiber-optic cable to Estonia, Finland, and Sweden

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced downturn, particularly in mobile device production; many network operators delayed upgrades to infrastructure; progress towards 5G implementation was postponed or slowed in some countries; consumer spending on telecom services and devices was affected by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home became evident, and received some support from governments

Broadcast media

several national and regional commercial TV stations are foreign-owned, 2 national TV stations are publicly owned; system supplemented by privately owned regional and local TV stations; cable and satellite multi-channel TV services with domestic and foreign broadcasts available; publicly owned broadcaster operates 4 radio networks with dozens of stations throughout the country; dozens of private broadcasters also operate radio stations

Internet users

total: 1,607,711

percent of population: 83.58% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 129

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 508,894

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 26.73 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 84

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 3 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 53

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 4,058,762 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 4.01 million mt-km (2018)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 18

over 3,047 m: 1

2,438 to 3,047 m: 3

1,524 to 2,437 m: 4

914 to 1,523 m: 3

under 914 m: 7 (2017)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 24

under 914 m: 24 (2013)

Heliports

1 (2013)

Pipelines

1,213 km gas, 417 km refined products (2018)

Railways

total: 1,860 km (2018)

narrow gauge: 34 km 0.750-m gauge (2018)

broad gauge: 1,826 km 1.520-m gauge (2018)

country comparison to the world: 75

Roadways

total: 70,244 km (2018)

paved: 15,158 km (2018)

unpaved: 55,086 km (2018)

country comparison to the world: 70

Waterways

300 km (navigable year-round) (2010)

country comparison to the world: 92

Merchant marine

total: 66

by type: general cargo 16, oil tanker 9, other 41 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 109

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Riga, Ventspils

Military and Security

Military and security forces

National Armed Forces (Nacionalie Brunotie Speki): Land Forces (Latvijas Sauszemes Speki), Naval Force (Latvijas Juras Speki, includes Coast Guard (Latvijas Kara Flote)), Air Force (Latvijas Gaisa Speki), National Guard (2021)

Military expenditures

2.27% of GDP (2020 est.)

2.03% of GDP (2019)

2.06% of GDP (2018)

1.59% of GDP (2017)

1.44% of GDP (2016)

country comparison to the world: 46

Military and security service personnel strengths

the National Armed Forces of Latvia have approximately 6,500 active duty troops (5,500 Land Forces; 500 Naval Force/Coast Guard; 500 Air Force; note - some Land Forces are considered joint forces); 8,200 National Guard (2021)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the Latvian military's inventory is limited and consists of a mixture of Soviet-era and more modern--mostly second-hand--European and US equipment; since 2010, it has received  limited amounts of equipment from several European countries, as well as the US (2020)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for voluntary male and female military service; no conscription (abolished 2007); under current law, every citizen is entitled to serve in the armed forces for life (2019)

Military - note

Latvia officially became a member of NATO in 2004

since 2017, Latvia has hosted a multi-national NATO ground force battlegroup as part of the Alliance’s Enhanced Forward Presence initiative; the battlegroup is led by Canada and had about 1,500 troops on a continuous rotational basis as of 2021

NATO also has provided air protection for Latvia since 2004 through its Air Policing mission; NATO member countries that possess air combat capabilities voluntarily contribute to the mission on 4-month rotations

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Russia demands better Latvian treatment of ethnic Russians in Latvia; boundary demarcated with Latvia and Lithuania; the Latvian parliament has not ratified its 1998 maritime boundary treaty with Lithuania, primarily due to concerns over oil exploration rights; as a member state that forms part of the EU's external border, Latvia has implemented the strict Schengen border rules with Russia

Refugees and internally displaced persons

stateless persons: 209,167 (2020); note - individuals who were Latvian citizens prior to the 1940 Soviet occupation and their descendants were recognized as Latvian citizens when the country's independence was restored in 1991; citizens of the former Soviet Union residing in Latvia who have neither Latvian nor other citizenship are considered non-citizens (officially there is no statelessness in Latvia) and are entitled to non-citizen passports; children born after Latvian independence to stateless parents are entitled to Latvian citizenship upon their parents' request; non-citizens cannot vote or hold certain government jobs and are exempt from military service but can travel visa-free in the EU under the Schengen accord like Latvian citizens; non-citizens can obtain naturalization if they have been permanent residents of Latvia for at least five years, pass tests in Latvian language and history, and know the words of the Latvian national anthem

Illicit drugs

transshipment and destination point for cocaine, synthetic drugs, opiates, and cannabis from Southwest Asia, Western Europe, Latin America, and neighboring Baltic countries; despite improved legislation, vulnerable to money laundering due to nascent enforcement capabilities and comparatively weak regulation of offshore companies and the gaming industry; CIS organized crime (including counterfeiting, corruption, extortion, stolen cars, and prostitution) accounts for most laundered proceeds