Latvia is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. In the north it is bordered by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania, to the east by the Russian Federation, and to the southeast by Belarus. In the west across the Baltic Sea lies Sweden. Its total area is 24,938 square miles and the capital and largest city is Riga. There are four cultural and historical regions of Latvia. Their boundaries are not very precise and can vary in different sources.
The administrative divisions are since 2009, one-level municipalities, 9 republican cities and 109 municipalities. For a balanced development of all regions to obtain, there in 2009, five regions made. Which are: Riga Region, Kurzeme Region, Latgale Region, Zemgale Region and Vidzeme Region.
Latvia has a parliamentary democracy, with President Valdis Zatlers as head of state. The Latvian government is formed by a coalition, with the prime minister as head of government, currently Valdis Dombrovskis.(2010)
There is a rich heritage of traditional folklore in Latvia, mainly consisting of folk songs, created in more than a thousand years, more than 1.2 million text and 30,000 melodies of folk songs are quoted. A form of traditional architecture in Latvia is log houses, a house typically made from logs that have not been milled into conventional lumber. In the different regions varies the position of the houses. In the west of Latvia, are the houses in the villages around a square in a circle, but standing alone farms are popular. In the east of Latvia, the influence of Russia can be seen, the villages become more popular and houses are built along a main road.
Riga is home to the largest concentration of Jugendstil, German Art Nouveau, architecture in the world. The Old Town and the area around the Freedom Monument, mostly built between 1860 and 1914, is really interesting. The merchants-to-be had their guild in the House of Blackheads, now a part of this building in the tourist information office, the rest is a fascinating museum. The oldest church in Riga dates from 1209, it is the St. Peters church.
Latvians often eat two times a day a warm meal. Smoked fish is one of the most popular dishes in Latvia, eel and herring are often on the menu. Lam is a delicacy and milk products, eggs, potatoes and cereals are also frequently eaten. Riga Black Balsam is a drink that is made only in Latvia, the drink has a high alcohol content.
Latvia has a serenity and charm rarely found elsewhere in Europe, the National Park Slîtere has beautiful beaches, wetlands and dunes covered with trees. The lighthouse offers a spectacular view. At the Venta River near Kuldiga you find Latvia’s highest waterfall flows, there is also a nice picnic place. In the attractive center of Riga it can be fun shopping in the many shops in the shopping street. The malls are open 7 days a week from 10:00 to 22:00.
Jelgava is in the midst of Latvia, it lies in a fertile area on the banks of the river Lielupe. The city is regularly flooded at high tide and is surrounded by a moat that protects old fortifications. The city is a hub of rail links and is of economic importance to the grain trade. In Jelgava is the palace of Bartolomeo Rastrelli, where the sarcophagi of the royal house of Courland lie.