Education in Latvia

Latvia – education

Immediately after independence, new education legislation was passed in 1991, based partly on the country’s 1922 constitution and partly on the desire to break with the massive Soviet-era Russification of Latvian education. However, the Russian minority in the country, like similar groups, has the right to education in their own mother tongue.

The education system, which is based on a nine-year compulsory schooling, comprises a three-year pre-school, which is applied for by approximately 38% (1994), a four-year primary school and a five-year primary school. This is followed by either a three-year general secondary school or vocational training lasting two to five years; these youth educations are completed by approximately 80%. The five state universities and the other higher education institutions, which in total are sought by approximately 1.5% of the population, gained considerable autonomy in the 1990’s, just as several private higher education institutions have been established.

OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Latvia


POPULATION: 2,068,000 (Source: COUNTRYaah)

AREA: 64,589 km²

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE (S): Latvian, Lithuanian, Russian, Belarusian, Ukrainian, others

RELIGION: Protestants 17%, Catholics 15%, Russian Orthodox 8%, Jews 1%, others 59%

COIN: euro (EUR)



POPULATION COMPOSITION: lighter 59%, Russians 29%, Belarusians 4%, Ukrainians 3%, Poles 2%, Lithuanians 1%, others 2%

GDP PER residents: 5023 USD (2007)

LIFE EXPECTANCY: men 66 years, women 78 years (2007)




Latvia is a Baltic Republic. Latvia is the middle of the three Baltic countries that regained independence in connection with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Slavic-speaking minorities, mostly Russians, make up over a third of the population and control a significant part of private business. Despite the reorientation to the west, the neighborhood with Russia remains an important economic and political factor. Latvian language is related to Lithuanian.

  • Find two-letter abbreviation for each independent country and territory, such as LV which stands for Latvia.

Latvia – Constitution

Latvia is a democratic, parliamentary republic. The constitution dates from 1922. It was restored in 1993 and amended in 1997.

Legislative power lies with the parliament, Saeima. It has 100 members elected in direct elections according to the ratio method for a four-year period. There is a blocking limit of 5%. All Latvian citizens over the age of 18 have the right to vote. In order to meet the strong international criticism of the exclusion of the Russian minority, it was agreed in 1998 that everyone born in Latvia after 1991 should have the right to vote.

The executive power rests with a president who is the head of state. The president is elected by parliament by secret ballot for four years and cannot be re-elected immediately. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President and must be approved by Parliament. The other members of the government are elected by the Prime Minister.

Latvia – economy

After the annexation of the Baltic states by the Soviet Union in 1940, Latvia became part of the Soviet planned economy.. Relatively large and advanced industries were established in the country, primarily due to its relatively well-developed infrastructure. Latvia, which in the interwar years was highly integrated into the world economy, then became totally dependent on the Soviet Union, and economic and political relations with the rest of the world were reduced to a minimum. When Latvia regained its independence in 1991, a market reform program was launched, which, in addition to the gradual privatization of state-owned enterprises, entailed a rapid liberalization of trade and prices. The transition to a market economy combined with the collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in a dramatic decline in GDP, hyperinflation and high unemployment. As part of the monetary stabilization of the economy, in 1992 Latvia introduced a parallel currency to the Russian ruble,lat. In 1994, the latency was tied to SDR (Special Drawing Rights), the World Bank’s currency basket. Shortly afterwards, the currency was made freely exchangeable for commercial transactions. Inflation has since been brought under control; it was as low as 1.4% in 2002, but rose to approximately 7% in 2004-05.

In 1994, the country experienced economic progress for the first time since the system change, but a deep crisis in the financial sector, where the largest bank in the Baltics went bankrupt, leading to a new decline in GDP the following year. The crisis led to a strengthening of supervision of the financial sector and a significant reduction in the number of banks. Economic policy has generally been tightened since 1995, and public finances are also fairly in balance; debt amounted to 11% of GDP in 2005. The economy grew again from 1996, and since 2000, due to large external investments, Latvia has experienced annual growth rates of 6-8% and a fall in unemployment to 7.5% (2005). Unofficially, however, it is estimated to be significantly higher, and the reform process has so far had major social costs; Latvians have the worst living conditions in the EU. The country became a member ofWTO in 1999, by the EU in 2004 and is expected to join EMU in 2008. Economic growth has led to increasing imports and triggered a trade deficit, which since 1996 has been approximately 20% of GDP.

Russia remained Latvia’s largest trading partner in the 1990’s, and the Russian crisis of 1998 hit the country hard, but it managed to reorient foreign trade. In 2005, Lithuania, Germany and Estonia were larger trading partners than Russia, with the EU accounting for 80% of Latvia’s foreign trade. In 2005, Denmark’s exports to Latvia amounted to DKK 1.4 billion. DKK, while imports from there were 5.3 billion. In the period 1991-2004, Denmark supported Latvia with a total of DKK 1.3 billion. kr.

Latvia – social conditions

The transition from a planned economy to a market economyafter independence in 1991, a sharp fall in production both in industry and in agriculture led to high unemployment and a general fall in living standards as a result. The changed property conditions created large economic gaps in the community. To a very large extent, the old communist elite succeeded in taking over the former state-owned enterprises and transforming themselves into a new upper class, while in 1996 90% of the population lived below the official poverty line. However, there was a very large informal (black) sector in the economy, which is why both living standards and employment rates were estimated to be up to 50% higher than the officially stated one. The communist system gave the right to work and pension. With the market economy and its consequences, it became necessary to introduce tax-based social benefits. Based on Western welfare models, but with much lower benefits, unemployment benefits, sickness benefits, child benefits and housing benefits were introduced on an ad hoc basis. In 1994, social benefits accounted for more than 40% of the state budget. The retirement age was previously 55 years for women and 60 for men. In 1995, however, a new pension system was adopted; it is gradually implemented and involves variable retirement age, minimum pension and income-related benefits. Check youremailverifier for Latvia social condition facts.

Latvia – health conditions

Next to Russia, Latvia has the lowest life expectancy for men in Europe, namely 67 years (2008). For women, it is 77 years old, and the difference is among the largest in the world. Infant mortality was 8.77 per 1000 live births in 2008 against 13.0 in 1985.

There is a high mortality rate from cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality is increasing. Mortality due to accidents, poisonings, including alcohol, and suicide is also high.

In 1995, Latvia spent 4.2% of GDP on health care, the lowest in the Baltics. In relation to the salary level, there is a high deductible for patients for all inquiries to the health service. Latvia has 30 doctors and 111 hospital beds per. 10,000 residents, ie. and approximately twice as large hospital capacity as in Denmark.

Latvia – legal system

Like the other eastern countries, Latvia has implemented a radical change in legislation since 1991, which in several respects has brought the country back to its pre- Soviet state of law.

The new constitution of 1991 reintroduced the constitution of the country from 1922, and an addition from December 1991 contains the new rules on Latvian citizenship. Foreigners can obtain Latvian citizenship if they have lived in Latvia for five years after 4.5.1990, speak Latvian, know the main features of Latvia’s constitution and history and know the national anthem.

Their economy must be stable, they must renounce their previous citizenship and they must swear an oath of allegiance to Latvia. Marriage with a light does not make him a Latvian citizen. Former members of the KGB, the Soviet Union army or other bodies of the Soviet Union can never obtain citizenship.

Of these demands, knowledge of the Latvian language is what has caused the greatest anguish to the large Russian-speaking part of the population.

The Latvian Civil Code of 1937 was reintroduced in 1992 and has since been amended several times. It is strongly influenced by the continental civil justice systems, in particular the French Civil Code and the German PGI.

Latvia – mass media

German-language newspapers were founded in the mid-1800’s. and was read by the German nobility, academics and merchants. The first Latvian newspaper, Latviešu Avīzes, was published in 1822-1915. This and the following Latvian newspapers were part of the national revival around the Unglettic movement. Both German and Latvian newspapers and publications suffered under Russian censorship. In the interwar period, the authoritarian regime curtailed freedom of the press, and after Latvia’s incorporation into the Soviet Union, the media became one-sided and subordinate to the Communist Party. Independent mass media first emerged and grew strongly during the perestroika and independence struggle in the late 1980’s.

In 1994, 257 dailies and 213 periodicals were published, many in Russian or in double editions for the minority. The leading daily newspaper is Diena (circulation 62,000; Russian edition 16,820 (2006)). The English-language The Baltic Times (until 1996 The Baltic Observer, circulation approximately 6000) and the news agency Baltic News Service cover the whole of the Baltics. The state media includes the news agency LETA as well as radio with three and television with two programs. In addition, Radio Free Europe and until 1996 the Russian Ostankino TV. There are private radios as well as municipal, regional and private TV stations.

Latvia – visual arts and architecture

After the German crusaders entered, the first buildings were built in stone, Ikšķile Church near Riga from 1185; the later brick churches of St. Peter, St. James and the large cathedral Doma Baznīca, originally built in Gothic style, dominated the cityscape of 1200-ts Riga. The magnificent castles of Jelgava and Rundāle were built in 1736-70 by the Italian-Russian architect BF Rastrelli. In the late 1800’s. The Latvian-born architect JF Baumanis (1834-91) began the construction of residential properties, stylistically characterized by the eclecticism of the time. Art Nouveau style characterized the architecture until the First World War, in the famous Albertagade in Riga. The founding of the Latvian state in 1918 was marked at the Freedom Monument Brīvības Piemineklis, built in 1935. Functionalism and neo-eclecticism were parallel styles until World War II. After the war, impulses from Soviet architecture were prevalent, and later the construction of social housing dominated. Postmodern tendencies were first seen in rural areas as attempts to define regionalism as style using traditional building elements, especially sloping roofs. Deconstructivism and a free classicism dominated Latvian architecture in the late 1990’s.

The country’s visual arts and crafts developed in earnest during the 1800’s and 1900’s. In the late 1700’s. many Latvian artists received their education in St. Petersburg and in Western Europe. The Latvian Academy of Arts was founded in 1918. The French-inspired artists J. Rozentāls (1866-1916), J. Valters (1869-1932) and V. Purvītis (1872-1945) are considered to be the real founders of Latvian art with landscape paintings in impressionist style. The country’s artists have largely absorbed the modern Western European art trends of the 1900’s. Artisans have also made a name for themselves internationally.

Latvia – literature

The oldest surviving book in Latvian is a Catholic catechism from 1585. Ernst Glück’s (1652-1705) Bible translation from 1691 set the standard for the language of literature. Indriķis the Blind (1783-1828), whose complete poems were published in 1806, is considered Latvia’s first poet. The country’s popular song treasure, the so-called dainas, which can be traced back to the 1200’s, was long despised, but during his work in Riga, Johann Gottfried von Herder contributedto a reassessment, including a committee in his collection of folk songs from 1778. The systematic collection was continued by Latvian academics, in particular Krišjānis Barons (1835-1923). There are a total of approximately 1.2 million recorded dainas, and they have been the core of the great singing competitions since 1873. The national revival was also expressed in Auseklis ‘(eg. Miķelis Krogzemis, 1850-79) romantic ballads and in Andrejs Pumpurs’ epic The Bear Killer from 1888. The Kaudzīte Brothers ( Reinis, 1839-1920, and Matīss, 1848-1926) published in 1879 Latvia’s first significant novel, The Time of the Land Surveyors.

The realistic breakthrough is mainly due to Rudolf Blaumanis, who also contributed to the development of the national theater. In the early 1900-t. and in part also in Latvia’s first period of independence, Jānis Rainis was a central figure in poetry and drama. His wife, Aspazija (egl. Elza Rosenberga, 1868-1943), also had a great influence on modern Latvian poetry, drama and public debate. WW2and the Soviet takeover drove many writers into exile, the fairytale poet Kārlis Skalbe (1879-1945), the author Jānis Jaunsudrabiņš (1877-1962) and the cultural philosopher Zenta Mauriņa (1897-1978). The Soviet regime’s grip on literature loosened in the 1960’s, and a new, experimental generation emerged. Vizma Belševica (b. 1931-2005 da. Selection of poems: Love, simply, 1992), Ojārs Vācietis (1933-83), Imants Ziedonis (b. 1933) and others expressed an indirect critique of systems in their reflective prose and poetry.

Many Latvian writers were involved in the “popular fronts” of the 1980’s. When the country regained its independence in 1991, they – as in all post-communist societies – had to find a new foothold on the terms of the market economy. The anthology 11 Latvian Poets (1980) is available in Danish, all with their debut in the 1970’s.

Latvia – dance

The folk dance in Latvia is an important part of the national culture. Since 1958, the Latvian Folklore Archive has carried out an extensive systematic collection and research of Latvian dance and published several dance descriptions based on the sources. In the period 1950-70, folk dance was one of the few forms of national manifestation and was especially practiced as a stage performance. Since 1960, song and dance festivals have been held regularly. In the resumption of Latvian folk culture in the 1980’s and 1990’s, folk dance has been widespread.

Latvia – music

Latvian folk music has ancient roots and is linked to work and to life and year celebrations in the countryside. The preserved song repertoire is very large. The melodies are modal and often move in asymmetrical beats. Whistles, bagpipes and the citing instrument kokle (see kantele) belong to the oldest layer of folk music. The newer fiddle music has the violin as its main instrument and has features in common with the Danish. Today, folk music is continued, especially by revival groups and in associations.

Riga’s flourishing Protestant cultural life in the 16th and 17th centuries. included both church and secular music. In the German theater in Riga, from the late 1700’s. performed operas and given chamber concerts. The first Latvian song festival took place in 1873, and composers arranged Latvian folk melodies for choir. The choral movement quickly became very widespread and became a strong factor in the preservation of the Latvian language and identity under Russian rule. 1918-40 there was a lively music life in Riga. The music from the period is predominantly national romantic.

In the events leading up to Latvia’s independence in 1991, mass rallies and national anthems played a major role. After 1991, several original Latvian composers have become known in the West, including Pēteris Vasks (b. 1946) and Pēteris Plakidis (b. 1947).

Latvia Education