A beautiful and peaceful country in the middle of the Baltic's facing the Baltic Sea.
Latvia has a long and tragic history, but it would be too much to go into too many details here. We would however like to highlight some events:
The first settlements along the coast line happened 2500 BC.
In year 1200 German crusaders invades Latvia and occupies the country for the next 700 years. One year after Riga is founded by the German bishop Albert.
Reformation is brought to Latvia in year 1522 by German preachers.
Riga acquires the rights of a free city in 1561.
Sweden occupies the northern part of Latvia including Riga in 1629 and in 1710 Russia conquers Sweden and Latvia falls under Russian control.
The very first Latvian Song Festival is held in Riga in 1873.
In the year 1918 Latvia declares independence and 3 years later it is recognised by the international community.
The first Latvian president Karlis Ulmanis from 1934 till 1940.
Latvia is first time occupied by Soviet in 1940 and the first deportations to Siberia starts.
The Nazis invades Latvia in 1942, but in 1944 the Soviet army occupies Latvia again.
Massive deportations to Siberia start in 1949 and one-third of the populations "disappear".
The first open protest against the Soviet rules is in 1987. One year later a human chain from Tallinn (Estonia) to Vilnius (Lithuania) is formed. People are standing hand by hand through all three countries.
The Supreme Council adopts a declaration restoring independence in 1990.
In 1991 Latvia gains its independence back. 51 years after a short period of freedom.
President Guntis Ulmanis and President of Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin sign a troop withdrawal agreement in 1994. 4 years later the last Russian troops leaves the country.
May 1st 2004 - Latvia joins the European Union.
Source: The Latvian Institute.