Maritime; wet, moderate winters
Population: 2,178,443 (July 2013 est.)
Languages: Latvian (official) 58.2%, Russian 37.5%, Lithuanian and other 4.3% (2000 census)
Lutheran 19.6%, Orthodox 15.3%, other Christian 1%, other 0,.4%, unspecified 63.7% (2006)
Latvia is a small, open economy with exports contributing nearly a third 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.
Austerity & the Euro (:46)
Many Latvians enjoy local mineral spas. One of the most famous is in Kemeri, near Riga. The local mineral water and mud have been used for medicinal therapy for almost 300 years. Since the winters are cold, housing is built accordingly, with firewood as the main source of heat. Government-operated railroads are the primary way for people to get around in Latvia.
Parliamentary System (:49)
US Military Presence/Support
Latvia is a strong ally of the United States and member of NATO. A relatively small amount of aid ($10.3 million in 2013) is provided by the U.S. to support a number of Latvian military programs.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) (1:07)