(pronounced "VAHY-rah VEE-ke FRAY-behr-guh")
"We are the inheritors of our past, but we are not slaves who should live in the shadow of our past. We are the builders of our own future."
The Republic of Latvia borders on the Baltic Sea, the Gulf of Riga, Estonia, Lithuania, Russia, and Belarus. A total land area of 63,688 sq km (24,590 sq mi) makes Latvia comparable in size to West Virginia.
In 2002, the population was estimated at 2.4 million people, of whom 58% are Latvians and 30% Russians; the remaining 12% are chiefly Belarusians, Ukrainians, Poles, and Lithuanians. The official language is Latvian. Most Latvians are Lutherans, but some are Roman Catholics or Baptists. Ethnic Russians generally belong to the Orthodox faith. Only a handful of Jewish congregations remain in existence.
The official currency is the lats . Per capita gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at US $8,300 in 2002. Latvia produces farm equipment, railroad cars, radios, telephone equipment, hosiery, washing machines, fish, and other foodstuffs. It exports machinery, agricultural products, light industrial goods, and chemicals. Its service sector has grown dramatically in recent years, now accounting for a majority of economic activity.
Pils laukums 3
Riga LV-1900, Latvia