Riga

Riga (/ˈriːɡə/; Latvian: Rīga [ˈriːɡa] (listen), Livonian: Rīgõ) is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 637,827 inhabitants (2018),[5] it is also the largest city in the three Baltic states, home to one third of Latvia's population and one tenth of the three Baltic states' combined population.[11] The city lies on the Gulf of Riga, at the mouth of the Daugava river. Riga's territory covers 307.17 km2 (118.60 sq mi) and lies 1–10 m (3 ft 3 in–32 ft 10 in) above sea level,[12] on a flat and sandy plain.[12]

Riga was founded in 1201 and is a former Hanseatic League member. Riga's historical centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, noted for its Art Nouveau/Jugendstil architecture and 19th century wooden architecture.[13] Riga was the European Capital of Culture during 2014, along with Umeå in Sweden. Riga hosted the 2006 NATO Summit, the Eurovision Song Contest 2003, the 2006 IIHF Men's World Ice Hockey Championships and the 2013 World Women's Curling Championship. It is home to the European Union's office of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC).

In 2016, Riga received over 1.4 million visitors.[14] It is served by Riga International Airport, the largest and busiest airport in the Baltic states. Riga is a member of Eurocities,[15] the Union of the Baltic Cities (UBC)[16] and Union of Capitals of the European Union (UCEU).[17]

Rīga

Rīga
From top, left to right: the Freedom Monument, the Riga City Council building, the House of the Blackheads, Līvu Square, and the Latvian National Opera
From top, left to right: the Freedom Monument, the Riga City Council building, the House of the Blackheads, Līvu Square, and the Latvian National Opera
Rīga is located in Latvia
Rīga
Rīga
Location within Latvia
Rīga is located in Baltic states
Rīga
Rīga
Location within the Baltics
Rīga is located in Europe
Rīga
Rīga
Location within Europe
Coordinates: 56°56′56″N 24°6′23″E / 56.94889°N 24.10639°ECoordinates: 56°56′56″N 24°6′23″E / 56.94889°N 24.10639°E
Country Latvia
Government
 • TypeCity council
 • MayorNone[1]
Area
 (2002)[3]
 • City324 km2 (125 sq mi)
 • Land275.5 km2 (106.4 sq mi)
 • Water48.50 km2 (18.73 sq mi)  15.8%
 • Metro
10,133 km2 (3,912 sq mi)
Population
(2018)[5]
 • City615 369
 • Urban
939,325[4]
 • Metro1,069,871
 • Metro density101.4/km2 (263/sq mi)
 • Demonym
Rīdzinieki
Ethnicity
 (2018)[7]
 • Latvians47.0%
 • Russians36.8%
 • Belarusians3.7%
 • Ukrainians3.4%
 • Poles1.8%
 • Lithuanians0.8%
 • Romanies0.1%
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+3 (EEST)
Calling codes66 and 67
GDP(nominal)2016[8][9]
 - Total€13.5 billion($27 billion, PPP)
 - Per capita€21,000($42,500, PPP)
HDI (2017)0.878[10]very high
Websitewww.riga.lv
Historic Centre of Riga
UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Old Town of Riga
The old town of Riga
CriteriaCultural: i, ii
Reference852
Inscription1997 (21st Session)
Area438.3 ha
Buffer zone1,574.2 ha

Etymology

One theory about the origin of the name Riga is that it is a corrupted borrowing from the Liv ringa meaning loop, referring to the ancient natural harbour formed by the tributary loop of the Daugava River.[18][19] The other is that Riga owes its name to this already-established role in commerce between East and West,[20] as a borrowing of the Latvian rija, for threshing barn, the "j" becoming a "g" in German — notably, Riga is called Rie by English geographer Richard Hakluyt (1589),[21][22] and German historian Dionysius Fabricius (1610) confirms the origin of Riga from rija.[21][23] Another theory could be that Riga was named after Riege, the German name for the River Rīdzene, a tributary of the Daugava.[24]

Another theory is that Riga's name is introduced by the bishop Albert, initiator of christening and conquest of Livonian and Baltic people. He introduced also an explanation of city name as derived from Latin rigata ("irrigated") that symbolizes an "irrigation of dry pagan souls by Christianity".[25]

History

Founding

The river Daugava has been a trade route since antiquity, part of the Vikings' Dvina-Dnieper navigation route to Byzantium.[21] A sheltered natural harbour 15 km (9.3 mi) upriver from the mouth of the Daugava — the site of today's Riga — has been recorded, as Duna Urbs, as early as the 2nd century.[21] It was settled by the Livs, an ancient Finnic tribe.[18]

Old Riga Buildings
The building of the Brotherhood of Blackheads is one of the most iconic buildings of Old Riga (Vecrīga)

Riga began to develop as a centre of Viking trade during the early Middle Ages.[21] Riga's inhabitants occupied themselves mainly with fishing, animal husbandry, and trading, later developing crafts (in bone, wood, amber, and iron).[21]

The Livonian Chronicle of Henry testifies to Riga having long been a trading centre by the 12th century, referring to it as portus antiquus (ancient port), and describes dwellings and warehouses used to store mostly flax, and hides.[21] German traders began visiting Riga, establishing a nearby outpost in 1158.

Along with German traders the monk Meinhard of Segeberg[20] also arrived to convert the Livonian pagans to Christianity. Catholic and Orthodox Christianity had already arrived in Latvia more than a century earlier, and many Latvians baptised.[20][21] Meinhard settled among the Livs, building a castle and church at Ikšķile, upstream from Riga, and established his bishopric there.[20] The Livs, however, continued to practice paganism and Meinhard died in Ikšķile in 1196, having failed in his mission.[26] In 1198, the Bishop Berthold arrived with a contingent of crusaders[26] and commenced a campaign of forced Christianization.[20][21] Berthold died soon afterwards and his forces defeated.[26]

The Church mobilised to avenge the issuance of a bull by Pope Innocent III declaring a crusade against the Livonians.[26] Bishop Albert was proclaimed Bishop of Livonia by his uncle Hartwig of Uthlede, Prince-Archbishop of Bremen and Hamburg in 1199. Albert landed in Riga in 1200[21][26] with 23 ships[27] and 500 Westphalian crusaders.[28] In 1201, he transferred the seat of the Livonian bishopric from Ikšķile to Riga, extorting agreement to do this from the elders of Riga by force.[21]

Under Bishop Albert

The year 1201 also marked the first arrival of German merchants in Novgorod, via the Dvina.[29] To defend territory[30] and trade, Albert established the Order of Livonian Brothers of the Sword in 1202, which was open to nobles and merchants.[29]

The Christianization of the Livs continued. In 1207, Albert started to fortify the town.[29][31] Emperor Philip invested Albert with Livonia as a fief[32] and principality of the Holy Roman Empire.[21] To promote a permanent military presence, territorial ownership was divided between the Church and the Order, with the Church taking Riga and two-thirds of all lands conquered and granting the Order a third.[33] Until then, it had been customary for crusaders to serve for a year and then return home.[33]

Albert had ensured Riga's commercial future by obtaining papal bulls which decreed that all German merchants had to carry on their Baltic trade through Riga.[33] In 1211, Riga minted its first coinage,[21] and Albert laid the cornerstone for the Riga Dom.[34] Riga was not yet secure as an alliance of tribes failed to take Riga.[33] In 1212, Albert led a campaign to compel Polotsk to grant German merchants free river passage.[29] Polotsk conceded Kukenois (Koknese) and Jersika to Albert, also ending the Livs' tribute to Polotsk.[35]

Riga's merchant citizenry chafed and sought greater autonomy from the Church. In 1221, they acquired the right to independently self-administer Riga[30] and adopted a city constitution.[36]

That same year Albert was compelled to recognise Danish rule over lands they had conquered in Estonia and Livonia.[37] Albert had sought the aid of King Valdemar of Denmark to protect Riga and Livonian lands against Liv insurrection when reinforcements could not reach Riga. The Danes landed in Livonia, built a fortress at Reval (Tallinn) and set about conquering Estonian and Livonian lands. The Germans attempted, but failed, to assassinate Valdemar.[38] Albert was able to reach an accommodation with them a year later, however and, in 1222, Valdemar returned all Livonian lands and possessions to Albert's control.[39]

Albert's difficulties with Riga's citizenry continued; with papal intervention, a settlement was reached in 1225 whereby they no longer had to pay tax to the Bishop of Riga,[40] and Riga's citizens acquired the right to elect their magistrates and town councillors.[40] In 1226, Albert consecrated the Dom Cathedral,[21] built St. James's Church,[21] (now a cathedral) and founded a parochial school at the Church of St. George.[20]

In 1227, Albert conquered Oesel[41] and the city of Riga concluded a treaty with the Principality of Smolensk giving Polotsk to Riga.[42]

Albert died in January 1229.[43] He failed in his aspiration to be anointed archbishop[32] but the German hegemony he established over the Baltic would last for seven centuries.[33]

Panorama of Riga, 1572
Riga in the 16th century

Hanseatic League

In 1282, Riga became a member of the Hanseatic League. The Hansa was instrumental in giving Riga economic and political stability, thus providing the city with a strong foundation which endured the political conflagrations that were to come, down to modern times.

Riga 1650
Riga in 1650. Drawing by Johann Christoph Brotze

Holy Roman Empire, Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Swedish and Russian Empires

As the influence of the Hanseatic League waned, Riga became the object of foreign military, political, religious and economic aspirations. Riga accepted the Reformation in 1522, ending the power of the archbishops. In 1524, iconoclasts targeted a statue of the Virgin Mary in the Cathedral to make a statement against religious icons. It was accused of being a witch, and given a trial by water in the Daugava River. The statue floated, so it was denounced as a witch and burnt at Kubsberg.[44] With the demise of the Livonian Order during the Livonian War, Riga for twenty years had the status of a Free Imperial City of the Holy Roman Empire before it came under the influence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth by the Treaty of Drohiczyn, which ended the war for Riga in 1581. In 1621, during the Polish–Swedish War (1621–1625), Riga and the outlying fortress of Daugavgriva came under the rule of Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, who intervened in the Thirty Years' War not only for political and economic gain but also in favour of German Lutheran Protestantism. During the Russo-Swedish War (1656–1658), Riga withstood a siege by Russian forces.

Riga remained the largest city in Sweden until 1710, a period during which the city retained a great deal of autonomous self-government. In that year, in the course of the Great Northern War, Russia under Tsar Peter the Great besieged plague-stricken Riga. Along with the other Livonian towns and gentry, Riga capitulated to Russia, but largely retained their privileges. Riga was made the capital of the Governorate of Riga (later: Livonia). Sweden's northern dominance had ended, and Russia's emergence as the strongest Northern power was formalised through the Treaty of Nystad in 1721. Riga became an industrialised port city of the Russian empire, in which it remained until World War I. By 1900, Riga was the third largest city in Russia after Moscow and Saint Petersburg in terms of the number of industrial workers and number of theatres.

German troops Riga 1917
German troops entering Riga during World War I.

During these many centuries of war and changes of power in the Baltic, and despite demographic changes, the Baltic Germans in Riga had maintained a dominant position. By 1867, Riga's population was 42.9% German.[45] Riga employed German as its official language of administration until the installation of Russian in 1891 as the official language in the Baltic provinces, as part of the policy of Russification of the non-Russian speaking territories of the Russian Empire, including Congress Poland, Finland and the Baltics, undertaken by Tsar Alexander III. More and more Latvians started moving to the city during the mid-19th century. The rise of a Latvian bourgeoisie made Riga a centre of the Latvian National Awakening with the founding of the Riga Latvian Association in 1868 and the organisation of the first national song festival in 1873. The nationalist movement of the Neo-Latvians was followed by the socialist New Current during the city's rapid industrialisation, culminating in the 1905 Revolution led by the Latvian Social Democratic Workers' Party.

World War I

The 20th century brought World War I and the impact of the Russian Revolution of 1917 to Riga. As a result of the battle of Jugla, the German army marched into Riga on 3 September 1917.[46] On 3 March 1918, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed, giving the Baltic countries to Germany. Because of the Armistice with Germany of 11 November 1918, Germany had to renounce that treaty, as did Russia, leaving Latvia and the other Baltic States in a position to claim independence. Latvia, with Riga as its capital city, thus declared its independence on 18 November 1918. Between World War I and World War II (1918–1940), Riga and Latvia shifted their focus from Russia to the countries of Western Europe. The United Kingdom and Germany replaced Russia as Latvia's major trade partners. The majority of the Baltic Germans were resettled in late 1939, prior to the occupation of Estonia and Latvia by the Soviet Union in June 1940.

World War II

During World War II, Latvia was incorporated in the Soviet Union in June 1940 and then was occupied by Nazi Germany in 1941–1944. On June 17, 1940, the Soviet forces invaded Latvia occupying bridges, post/telephone, telegraph, and broadcasting offices. Three days later, Latvian president Karlis Ulmanis was forced to approve a pro-Soviet government which had taken office. On July 14–15, rigged elections were held in Latvia and the other Baltic states, The ballots held following instructions: "Only the list of the Latvian Working People's Bloc must be deposited in the ballot box. The ballot must be deposited without any changes." The alleged voter activity index was 97.6%. Most notably, the complete election results were published in Moscow 12 hours before the election closed. Soviet electoral documents found later substantiated that the results were completely fabricated. Tribunals were set up to punish "traitors to the people" - those who had fallen short of the "political duty" of voting Latvia into the USSR and those who failed to have their passports stamped for so voting were allowed to be shot in the back of the head. The Soviet authorities, having regained control over Riga and Latvia imposed a regime of terror, opening the headquarters of the KGB, massive deportations started. Hundreds of men were arrested, including leaders of the former Latvian government. The most notorious deportation, the June deportation took place on June 13 and June 14, 1941, estimated at 15,600 men, women, and children, and including 20% of Latvia's last legal government. Similar deportations were repeated after the end of WWII. The building of the KGB located in Brīvības iela 61, known as 'the corner house', is now a museum. Stalin's deportations also included thousands of Latvian Jews. (The mass deportation totalled 131,500 across the Baltics.) Similar atrocities were made after the Nazi occupation of Latvia when the city's Jewish community was forced into the Riga Ghetto and a Nazi concentration camp was constructed in Kaiserwald. On 25 October 1941, the Nazis relocated all Jews from Riga and the vicinity to the ghetto. Most of Latvia's Jews (about 24,000) were killed on 30 November and 8 December 1941 in the Rumbula massacre.[47] By the end of the war, the remaining Baltic Germans were expelled to Germany.

The Soviet Red Army re-entered Riga on 13 October 1944. In the following years the massive influx of labourers, administrators, military personnel, and their dependents from Russia and other Soviet republics started. Microdistricts of the large multi-storied housing blocks were built to house immigrant workers.

By the end of the war, Rīga's historical centre was heavily damaged because of constant bombing. After the war, huge efforts were made to reconstruct and renovate most of the famous buildings that were part of the skyline of the city before the war. Such buildings were, amongst others: St. Peter's Church which lost its wooden tower after a fire caused by the Wehrmacht (renovated in 1954). Other example is The House of the Blackheads, completely destroyed, its ruins were subsequently demolished. A facsimile was subsequently constructed in 1995.

In 1989, the percentage of Latvians in Riga had fallen to 36.5%.[48]

21st century

In 2004, the arrival of low-cost airlines resulted in cheaper flights from other European cities such as London and Berlin and consequently a substantial increase in numbers of tourists.[49]

In November 2013, the roof of a supermarket collapsed, possibly as a result of the weight of materials used in the construction of a garden on the roof. At least 54 people were killed. The Latvian President Andris Berzins described the disaster as "a large scale murder of many defenceless people".[50]

Riga was the European Capital of Culture in 2014.[51] During the Latvia's Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2015 the 4th Eastern Partnership Summit took place in Riga.[52]

Geography

Riga, Latvia
The river Daugava flows through Riga

Administrative divisions

Riga's administrative divisions consist of six administrative entities: Central, Kurzeme and Northern Districts and the Latgale, Vidzeme and Zemgale Suburbs. Three entities were established on 1 September 1941, and the other three were established in October 1969.[53] There are no official lower level administrative units, but the Riga City Council Development Agency is working on a plan, which officially makes Riga consist of 58 neighbourhoods.[54] The current names were confirmed on 28 December 1990.[55]

Panorama over Riga from St. Peter's Church
Panorama over Riga from St. Peter's Church

Climate

The climate of Riga is humid continental (Köppen Dfb). The coldest months are January and February, when the average temperature is −5 °C (23 °F) but temperatures as low as −20 to −25 °C (−4 to −13 °F) can be observed almost every year on the coldest days. The proximity of the sea causes frequent autumn rains and fogs. Continuous snow cover may last eighty days. The summers in Riga are mild and rainy with the average temperature of 18 °C (64 °F), while the temperature on the hottest days can exceed 30 °C (86 °F).

Government

The head of the city government in Riga is the mayor. Incumbent mayor Nils Ušakovs, who is a member of the Harmony party, took office on 1 July 2009.

The city council is a democratically elected institution and is the final decision-making authority in the city. The Council consists of 60 members who are elected every four years. The Presidium of the Riga City Council consists of the Chairman of the Riga City Council and the representatives delegated by the political parties or party blocks elected to the City Council.

Demographics

With 639,630 inhabitants in 2016 as according to the Central statistical administration of Latvia,[5] Riga is the largest city in the Baltic States, though its population has decreased from just over 900,000 in 1991.[5] Notable causes include emigration and low birth rates. According to the 2017 data, ethnic Latvians made up 44.03% of the population of Riga, while ethnic Russians formed 37.88%, Belarusians 3.72%, Ukrainians 3.66%, Poles 1.83% and other ethnicities 8.10%. By comparison, 60.1% of Latvia's total population was ethnically Latvian, 26.2% Russian, 3.3% Belarusian, 2.4% Ukrainian, 2.1% Polish, 1.2% are Lithuanian and the rest of other origins.[58]

Upon the restoration of Latvia's independence in 1991, Soviet era immigrants (and any of their offspring born before 1991) were not automatically granted Latvian citizenship because they had migrated to the territory of Latvia during the years when Latvia was part of the Soviet Union. In 2013 citizens of Latvia made up 73.1%, non-citizens 21.9% and citizens of other countries 4.9% of the population of Riga.[59] The proportion of ethnic Latvians in Riga increased from 36.5% in 1989 to 42.4% in 2010. In contrast, the percentage of Russians fell from 47.3% to 40.7% in the same time period. Latvians overtook Russians as the largest ethnic group in 2006.[7] Further projections show that the ethnic Russian population will continue a steady decline, despite higher birth rates, due to emigration.

Historic population figures

Note. Population in thousands.

Economy

Riga is one of the key economic and financial centres of the Baltic States. Roughly half of all the jobs in Latvia are in Riga and the city generates more than 50% of Latvia's GDP as well as around half of Latvia's exports. The biggest exporters are in wood products, IT, food and beverage manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, transport and metallurgy.[60] Riga Port is one of the largest in the Baltics. It handled a record 34 million tons of cargo in 2011[61] and has potential for future growth with new port developments on Krievu Sala.[62] Tourism is also a large industry in Riga and after a slowdown during the global economic recessions of the late 2000s, grew 22% in 2011 alone.[63]

Latvias Banka

Bank of Latvia

Riga stock exchange

Riga Stock Exchange early 20th century. Now The Art Museum Riga Bourse

Culture

Theatres

  • The Latvian National Opera was founded in 1918. The repertoire of the theatre embraces all opera masterpieces. The Latvian National Opera is famous not only for its operas, but for its ballet troupe as well.[64]
  • The Latvian National Theatre was founded in 1919. The Latvian National Theatre preserves the traditions of Latvian drama school. It is one of the biggest theatres in Latvia.[65]
  • The Mikhail Chekhov Riga Russian Theatre is the oldest professional drama theatre in Latvia, established in 1883. The repertoire of the theatre includes classical plays and experimental performances of Russian and other foreign playwrights.
  • The Daile Theatre was opened for the first time in 1920. It is one of the most successful theatres in Latvia. This theatre is distinguished by its frequent productions of modern foreign plays.[66]
  • Latvian State Puppet Theatre was founded in 1944. This theatre presents shows for children and adults.[67]
  • The New Riga Theatre was opened in 1992. It has an intelligent and attractive repertoire of high quality that focused on a modern, educated and socially active audience.

World Choir Games

Riga hosted the biannual 2014 World Choir Games from 9–19 July 2014 which coincided with the city being named European Capital of Culture for 2014.[68][69] The event, organised by the choral foundation, Interkultur, takes place at various host cities every two years and was originally known as the "Choir Olympics".[70] The event regularly sees over 15'000 choristers in over 300 choirs from over 60 nations compete for gold, silver and bronze medals in over 20 categories. The competition is further divided into a Champions Competition and an Open Competition to allow choirs from all backgrounds to enter.[68] Choral workshops and festivals are also witnessed in the host cities and are usually open to the public.[71]

Architecture

The radio and TV tower of Riga is the tallest structure in Latvia and the Baltic States, and one of the tallest in the European Union, reaching 368.5 m (1,209 ft). Riga centre also has many great examples of Art Nouveau architecture, as well as a medieval old town.

Art Nouveau

Immeuble art nouveau (Riga) (7567163020)
Art Nouveau building on Alberta iela designed by Mikhail Eisenstein

It is generally recognized that Riga has largest collection of Art Nouveau buildings in the world. This is due to the fact that at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, when Art Nouveau was at the height of its popularity, Riga experienced an unprecedented financial and demographic boom.[72] In the period from 1857 to 1914 its population grew from 282,000 (256,200 in Riga itself and another 26,200 inhabitants beyond the city limits in patrimonial district and military town of Ust-Dvinsk) to 558,000 making it the 4th largest city in the Russian Empire (after Saint Petersburg, Moscow and Warsaw) and its largest port.[72] The middle class of Riga used their acquired wealth to build imposing apartment blocks outside the former city walls. Local architects, mostly graduates of Riga Technical University, adopted current European movements and in particular Art Nouveau.[73] Between 1910 and 1913, between 300 and 500 new buildings were built each year in Riga, most of them in Art Nouveau style and most of them outside the old town.[73]

Sports

Riga has a rich basketball history. In the 1950s ASK Riga became the best club in the Soviet Union and also in Europe, winning the first three editions of the European Cup for Men's Champions Clubs from 1958 to 1960.[74]

In 1960, ASK was not the only team from Riga to take the European crown. TTT Riga clinched their first title in the European Cup for Women's Champion Clubs, turning Riga into the capital city of European basketball because for the first and, so far, only time in the history of European basketball, clubs from the same city were concurrent European Men's and Women's club champions.[75]

In 2015, Riga was one of the hosts for EuroBasket 2015.

Sports clubs

Sports facilities

Sports events

Transport

25. trolejbuss Krišjāņa Valdemāra ielas un Kalpaka bulvāra krustojumā
One of the several Trolleybus types in Riga

Riga, with its central geographic position and concentration of population, has always been the infrastructural hub of Latvia. Several national roads begin in Riga, and European route E22 crosses Riga from the east and west, while the Via Baltica crosses Riga from the south and north.

As a city situated by a river, Riga also has several bridges. The oldest standing bridge is the Railway Bridge, which is also the only railroad-carrying bridge in Riga. The Stone Bridge (Akmens tilts) connects Old Riga and Pārdaugava; the Island Bridge (Salu tilts) connects Maskavas Forštate and Pārdaugava via Zaķusala; and the Shroud Bridge (Vanšu tilts) connects Old Riga and Pārdaugava via Ķīpsala. In 2008, the first stage of the new Southern Bridge (Dienvidu tilts) route across the Daugava was completed, and was opened to traffic on 17 November.[77]

The Southern Bridge was the biggest construction project in the Baltic states in 20 years, and its purpose was to reduce traffic congestion in the city centre.[78][79] Another major construction project is the planned Riga Northern Transport Corridor;[80] its first segment detailed project was completed in 2015.[81]

The Freeport of Riga facilitates cargo and passenger traffic by sea. Sea ferries currently connect Riga Passenger Terminal to Stockholm operated by Tallink.[82]

Riga, Škoda 15T
A Škoda 15 T tram in Riga

Riga has one active airport that serves commercial airlines—the Riga International Airport (RIX), built in 1973. Renovation and modernization of the airport was completed in 2001, coinciding with the 800th anniversary of the city. In 2006, a new terminal extension was opened. Extension of the runway was completed in October 2008, and the airport is now able to accommodate large aircraft such as the Airbus A340, Boeing 747, 757, 767 and 777. Another terminal extension is under construction as of 2014.[83] The annual number of passengers has grown from 310,000 in 1993 to 4.7 million in 2014, making Riga International Airport the largest in the Baltic States.

The former international airport of Riga, Spilve Airport, located 5 km (3.11 mi) from Riga city centre, is currently used for small aircraft, pilot training and recreational aviation. Riga was also home to a military air base during the Cold WarRumbula Air Base.

Public transportation in the city is provided by Rīgas Satiksme which operates a large number of trams, buses and trolleybuses on an extensive network of routes across the city. In addition, up until 2012 many private owners operated minibus services, after which the City Council established the unified transport company Rīgas mikroautobusu satiksme, establishing a monopoly over the service.

Riga is connected to the rest of Latvia by trains operated by the national carrier Passenger Train, whose headquarters are in Riga. There are also international rail services to Russia and Belarus, and plans to revive passenger rail traffic with Estonia. A TEN-T project called Rail Baltica envisages building a high-speed railway line via Riga connecting Tallinn to Warsaw using standard gauge,[84] expected to be put into operation in 2024.[85]

Riga International Coach Terminal provides domestic and international connections by coach.

Universities

Notable residents

Sister cities

Riga maintains sister city relationships with the following cities:[86]

See also

References

Notes

  1. ^ https://www.delfi.lv/news/national/politics/usakovu-oficiali-atstadina-no-rigas-mera-amata.d?id=50966565
  2. ^ "Riga City Council". Riga City Council. Retrieved 22 July 2009.
  3. ^ "Riga in Figures". Riga City Council. Retrieved 2 August 2007.
  4. ^ http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui/show.do?dataset=urb_lpop1&lang=en
  5. ^ a b c d "RESIDENT POPULATION BY STATISTICAL REGION, CITY AND COUNTY". Centrālā statistikas pārvalde. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  6. ^ https://www.geo.lu.lv/fileadmin/user_upload/lu_portal/projekti/gzzf/Konferences/EGEA/Krisjane_Zira_Rigas_aglomeracija.pdf#page=10
  7. ^ a b "Table ISG191. RESIDENT POPULATION BY ETHNICITY AND BY STATISTICAL REGION AND CITY AT THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR 2018". Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  8. ^ "2.1. Gross Domestic Product – Stratēģijas Uzraudzības Sistēma". sus.lv.
  9. ^ https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2018/02/weodata/weorept.aspx?sy=2016&ey=2016&scsm=1&ssd=1&sort=country&ds=.&br=1&pr1.x=40&pr1.y=20&c=941&s=PPPEX&grp=0&a=
  10. ^ https://hdi.globaldatalab.org/areadata/shdi/
  11. ^ "Latvia in Brief". Latvian Institute. 2011. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  12. ^ a b "Riga Municipality Portal". Copyright © 2003–2009, www.riga.lv/LV/Channels/ Riga Municipality. Retrieved 27 July 2009.
  13. ^ "Historic Centre of Riga – UNESCO World Heritage Centre". UNESCO. 1997. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
  14. ^ "Tourism in Latvia 2017" (PDF). www.csb.gov.lv. Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 February 2018. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  15. ^ "EUROCITIES – the network of major European cities". Eurocities. Retrieved 8 November 2011.
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External links

Arēna Rīga

Arena Riga (Latvian: Arēna Rīga) is an indoor arena in Riga, Latvia. It is primarily used for ice hockey, basketball and concerts. Arena Riga holds a maximum of 14,500 and was completed in 2006. It was built to be used as one of the venues for the 2006 IIHF World Championship, the other being Skonto Arena.

It has been home to the Kontinental Hockey League club Dinamo Riga since 2008. During the years the Arena has also hosted many well-known artists from all over the world.

The arena hosted the 'D' group of Eurobasket 2015.

BK VEF Rīga

VEF Rīga is a Latvian professional basketball team that is based in Riga, Latvia. VEF Rīga is a five-time Latvian Basketball League champions.

Daugava

The Daugava (Latgalian: Daugova) or russian name Западная Двина ( Western Dvina) is a river rising in the Valdai Hills, flowing through Russia, Belarus, and Latvia and into the Gulf of Riga. The total length of the river is 1,020 km (630 mi); 325 km (202 mi) are in Russia.

Dinamo Riga

Dinamo Riga (Latvian: Rīgas Dinamo) is a professional ice hockey team based in Riga, Latvia. It is a member of the Kontinental Hockey League. Dinamo Riga is one of the six KHL teams that are not located in the Russian Federation. The club has an affiliated club HK Rīga, which plays in the MHL.

The club was re-founded on 7 April 2008 as a successor of a former hockey team (also named "Dinamo Riga"), which was founded in 1946, but ceased to exist in 1995. Since being re-established, Dinamo Riga plays their home games at the Arēna Rīga, which can accommodate attendance of 10,300 spectators.

Eurovision Song Contest 2003

The Eurovision Song Contest 2003 was the 48th edition of the annual Eurovision Song Contest. It took place in Riga, Latvia, following Marie N's win at the 2002 contest in Tallinn, Estonia with the song "I Wanna". It was the first win and hosting of the competition for Latvia with only their third participation after debuting at the 2000 contest.

Latvijas Televīzija (LTV) chose the Skonto Hall as the venue after conducting a bidding process among several cities and venues in Latvia. The hosts for the contest were the previous year's winner Marie N and former Latvian representative at the 2000 contest, Renārs Kaupers, who competed in the contest as part of the band Brainstorm. The design of the contest was built around the theme "Magical rendez-vous", which represented the meeting of the various European nations coming to Latvia and encountering Latvia's versatile landscapes. Twenty-six countries participated, which saw the return of Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway and Poland after having been relegated from competing the previous year, Portugal returning to the contest after withdrawing the previous year, while Ukraine participated in the contest for the first time. Denmark, Finland, Lithuania, Macedonia and Switzerland were required to withdraw due to their poor results in the 2002 contest.

The winner for 2003 was Turkey with the song "Everyway That I Can" sung by Sertab Erener, written by legendary Turkish rock guitarist Demir Demirkan and Erener herself. The song scored 167 points, narrowly beating Belgium into second place with a margin of 2 points and Russia into third place with a margin of 3 points. This was the first win for Turkey at the Eurovision Song Contest. Norway and Sweden rounded out of the top five, placing fourth and fifth respectively. The United Kingdom achieved their worst result to date, coming in last place (26th) and scoring no points from any of the twenty-six voting nations., however they avoided relegation due to being one of the "Big Four" countries at the time. The 2003 contest was the last contest to take place on one evening. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) revealed that it would be adding a semi-final show to the competition in order to accommodate the growing number of interested countries wishing to take part in the contest. This was also the last contest in which a relegation system was used to determine which countries would participate in the following year's contest. The contest also marked the first time in the history of the competition where all participants were participating for the first time; there were no returning artists that had already competed in the contest on a previous occasion. As the Belgian entry was sung in an imaginary language, this was the first time the contest featured a song not performed in English or a native language to the country.

FK Daugava (2003)

FK Daugava Rīga was a Latvian football club, based at the Daugava Stadium in Riga. They play in the Latvian Higher League. The current manager of the team is Armands Zeiberliņš.

From the club's foundation in 2003 till 2009 the club was known as FK Jūrmala. In 2010, they changed their name to FK Jūrmala-VV, but in March 2012 the club moved to Riga, changing its name to FK Daugava Rīga.

Governorate of Livonia

The Governorate of Livonia (Russian: Лифляндская губерния, translit. Lifljandskaja gubernija; German: Gouvernement Livland / Livländisches Gouvernement; Latvian: Vidzemes guberņa, after the Latvian inhabited Vidzeme region; Estonian: Liivimaa kubermang) was one of the Baltic governorates of the Russian Empire, now divided between the Republic of Latvia and the Republic of Estonia.

Gulf of Riga

The Gulf of Riga, Bay of Riga, or Gulf of Livonia (Latvian: Rīgas jūras līcis, Estonian: Liivi laht, Russian: Рижский залив) is a bay of the Baltic Sea between Latvia and Estonia.

The island of Saaremaa (Estonia) partially separates it from the rest of the Baltic Sea. The main connection between the gulf and the Baltic Sea is the Irbe Strait.

The Gulf of Riga, as a sub-basin of the Baltic, also includes the Väinameri Sea in the West Estonian archipelago.

History of Latvia

The history of Latvia began around 9000 BC with the end of the last glacial period in northern Europe. Ancient Baltic peoples arrived in the area during the second millennium BC, and four distinct tribal realms in Latvia's territory were identifiable towards the end of the first millennium AD. Latvia's principal river Daugava, was at the head of an important trade route from the Baltic region through Russia into southern Europe and the Middle East that was used by the Vikings and later Nordic and German traders.

In the early medieval period, the region's peoples resisted Christianisation and became subject to attack in the Northern Crusades. Latvia's capital city Riga, founded in 1201 by Germans at the mouth of the Daugava, became a strategic base in a papally-sanctioned conquest of the area by the Livonian Brothers of the Sword. It was to be the first major city of the southern Baltic and, after 1282, a principal trading centre in the Hanseatic League.

By the 16th century, Baltic German dominance in Terra Mariana was increasingly challenged by other powers. Due to Latvia's strategic location and prosperous trading city of Riga, its territories were a frequent focal point for conflict and conquest between at least four major powers: the State of the Teutonic Order, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Sweden and Russian Empire. The last period of external hegemony began in 1710, when control over Riga and parts of modern-day Latvia switched from Sweden to Russia during the Great Northern War. Under Russian control, Latvia was in the vanguard of industrialisation and the abolition of serfdom, so that by the end of the 19th century, it had become one of the most developed parts of the Russian Empire. The increasing social problems and rising discontent that this brought meant that Riga also played a leading role in the 1905 Russian Revolution.

The First Latvian National Awakening began in the 1850s and continued to bear fruit after World War I when, after two years of struggle in the Latvian War of Independence, Latvia finally won sovereign independence, as recognised by Soviet Russia in 1920 and by the international community in 1921. The Constitution of Latvia was adopted in 1922. Political instability and effects of the Great Depression led to the May 15, 1934 coup d'état by Prime Minister Kārlis Ulmanis. Latvia's independence was interrupted in June–July 1940, when the country was occupied and incorporated into the Soviet Union. In 1941 it was invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany, then reconquered by the Soviets in 1944–45.

From the mid-1940s Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic was subject to Soviet economic control and saw considerable Russification of its peoples. However, Latvian culture and infrastructures survived and, during the period of Soviet liberalisation under Mikhail Gorbachev, Latvia once again took a path towards independence, eventually succeeding in August 1991 to be recognised by Russia the following month. Since then, under restored independence, Latvia has become a member of the United Nations, entered NATO and joined the European Union.

Latvia's economy suffered greatly during the Great Recession which caused the 2008 Latvian financial crisis. Worsening economic conditions and better job opportunities in Western Europe have caused a massive Latvian emigration.

Jūrmala

Jūrmala (Latvian pronunciation: [juːrmala] (listen) "seaside") is a city in Latvia, about 25 kilometres (16 miles) west of Riga. Jūrmala is a resort town stretching 32 km (20 miles) and sandwiched between the Gulf of Riga and the Lielupe River. It has a 33 km (21 miles) stretch of white-sand beach, and a population of 56,646, making it the fifth largest city in Latvia.

While Latvia was part of the Soviet Union, Jūrmala was a favorite holiday-resort and tourist destination for high-level Communist Party officials, particularly Leonid Brezhnev and Nikita Khrushchev. Although it has many amenities such as beach-houses and concrete hotels remain, some have fallen into disrepair. Jūrmala remains a tourist attraction with long beaches facing the Gulf of Riga and romantic wooden houses in the Art Nouveau style.

Latvia

Latvia ( or (listen); Latvian: Latvija [ˈlatvija]), officially the Republic of Latvia (Latvian: Latvijas Republika), is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. Since its independence, Latvia has been referred to as one of the Baltic states. It is bordered by Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, Russia to the east, and Belarus to the southeast, and shares a maritime border with Sweden to the west. Latvia has 1,957,200 inhabitants and a territory of 64,589 km2 (24,938 sq mi). The country has a temperate seasonal climate.After centuries of Swedish, Polish and Russian rule, a rule mainly executed by the Baltic German aristocracy, the Republic of Latvia was established on 18 November 1918 when it broke away and declared independence in the aftermath of World War I. However, by the 1930s the country became increasingly autocratic after the coup in 1934 establishing an authoritarian regime under Kārlis Ulmanis. The country's de facto independence was interrupted at the outset of World War II, beginning with Latvia's forcible incorporation into the Soviet Union, followed by the invasion and occupation by Nazi Germany in 1941, and the re-occupation by the Soviets in 1944 (Courland Pocket in 1945) to form the Latvian SSR for the next 45 years.

The peaceful Singing Revolution, starting in 1987, called for Baltic emancipation from Soviet rule and condemning the Communist regime's illegal takeover. It ended with the Declaration on the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia on 4 May 1990, and restoring de facto independence on 21 August 1991. Latvia is a democratic sovereign state, parliamentary republic and a very highly developed country according to the United Nations Human Development Index. Its capital Riga served as the European Capital of Culture in 2014. Latvian is the official language. Latvia is a unitary state, divided into 119 administrative divisions, of which 110 are municipalities and nine are cities. Latvians and Livonians are the indigenous people of Latvia. Latvian and Lithuanian are the only two surviving Baltic languages.

Despite foreign rule from the 13th to 20th centuries, the Latvian nation maintained its identity throughout the generations via the language and musical traditions. However, as a consequence of centuries of Russian rule (1710–1918) and later Soviet occupation, Latvia is home to a large number of ethnic Russians (26.9% in Latvia), some of whom (14.1% of Latvian residents) have not gained citizenship, leaving them with no citizenship at all. Until World War II, Latvia also had significant minorities of ethnic Germans and Jews. Latvia is historically predominantly Lutheran Protestant, except for the Latgale region in the southeast, which has historically been predominantly Roman Catholic. The Russian population are largely Eastern Orthodox Christians.

Latvia is a member of the European Union, Eurozone, NATO, the Council of Europe, the United Nations, CBSS, the IMF, NB8, NIB, OECD, OSCE, and WTO. For 2014, the country was listed 46th on the Human Development Index and as a high income country on 1 July 2014. A full member of the Eurozone, it began using the euro as its currency on 1 January 2014, replacing the Latvian lats.

Latvia national football team

The Latvia national football team (Latvian: Latvijas futbola izlase) represents the country in international football competitions, such as the World Cup and the European Championships. It is controlled by the Latvian Football Federation, the governing body for football in Latvia. They have never qualified for the World Cup, but they have, however, qualified for the European Championship in 2004, under Aleksandrs Starkovs.

Latvia, alongside its Baltic rivals, Lithuania and Estonia, has also participated in the local sub-regional Baltic Cup tournament, which takes place every two years, and in which Latvia is the current champion, having won the tournament in 2018. Latvia has won the Baltic Cup championship a record of 13 times, more than any other country in the history of the tournament.

Latvia's current home ground is the Daugava Stadium in Riga.

Latvian Football Cup

The Latvian Football Cup (Latvian: Latvijas kauss) is the main "knockout" cup competition in Latvian football. It started in 1937 replacing the previous knockout tournament – Riga Football Cup.

The competition is a knockout (single elimination) tournament.

During the Soviet occupation (1940–1941, 1944–1991) it served as a qualification tournament for the Soviet Cup.

Latvian Higher League

Latvian Higher League or Virslīga is a professional football league and the top tier of association football in Latvia. Organised by the Latvian Football Federation, the Higher League is contested by 9 clubs. The full name of the league is Optibet Virslīga for sponsorship reasons since 2019.

National Library of Latvia

The National Library of Latvia (Latvian: Latvijas Nacionālā bibliotēka) also known as Castle of Light (Gaismas pils) is a national cultural institution under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture of Latvia. The National Library of Latvia was formed in 1919 after the independent Republic of Latvia was proclaimed in 1918. The first supervisor of the Library was Jānis Misiņš, a librarian and the founder of the Latvian scientific bibliography (1862–1945).

Today the Library plays an important role in the development of Latvia's information society, providing Internet access to residents and supporting research and lifelong education.

Peace of Riga

The Peace of Riga, also known as the Treaty of Riga (Polish: Traktat Ryski), was signed in Riga on 18 March 1921, between Poland, Soviet Russia (acting also on behalf of Soviet Belarus) and Soviet Ukraine. The treaty ended the Polish–Soviet War.The Soviet-Polish borders established by the treaty remained in force until World War II. They were later redrawn during the Yalta Conference and Potsdam Conference.

Riga International Airport

Riga International Airport (Latvian: Starptautiskā lidosta "Rīga"; IATA: RIX, ICAO: EVRA) is the international airport of Riga, the capital of Latvia, and the largest airport in the Baltic states with direct flights to 100 destinations in 30 countries. It serves as a hub for airBaltic, SmartLynx Airlines, RAF-Avia and as one of the base airports for Wizz Air. The Latvian national carrier airBaltic is the biggest in the airport, followed by Ryanair.

The airport is located in the Mārupe Municipality west of Riga and is a state-owned joint-stock company, with the owner of all shares being the government of Latvia. The holder of the state capital share is Latvia's Ministry of Transport. AirBaltic and the Latvian Civil Aviation Agency both maintain their head offices at Riga International Airport.

Riga Masters (snooker)

The Riga Masters or Riga Open until 2016 (also known as the Kaspersky Riga Masters for sponsorship reasons) is a ranking snooker tournament. The tournament started in 2014 as a part of the Players Tour Championship and was staged at the Arena Riga in Riga, Latvia. It has been the opening ranking event of the season since becoming a ranking event in 2016. Neil Robertson is the reigning champion.

Skonto FC

Skonto FC was a Latvian football club, founded in 1991. The club played at the Skonto Stadium in Riga. Skonto won the Virsliga in the first 14 seasons of the league's resumption (15 in total), and often provided the core of the Latvia national football team. With those 14 national championships in a row, they set a European record, men and women's football combined, until the women of Faroese club KÍ Klaksvík won their 14th championship in row in 2013.Following financial problems, the club was demoted to the Latvian First League in 2016 and went bankrupt in December of that year.

Climate data for Riga
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 10.2
(50.4)
13.5
(56.3)
20.5
(68.9)
27.9
(82.2)
30.1
(86.2)
32.5
(90.5)
34.1
(93.4)
33.6
(92.5)
29.3
(84.7)
23.4
(74.1)
17.2
(63.0)
11.5
(52.7)
34.1
(93.4)
Average high °C (°F) −2.3
(27.9)
−1.7
(28.9)
2.7
(36.9)
9.8
(49.6)
16.2
(61.2)
20.1
(68.2)
21.7
(71.1)
21.0
(69.8)
16.3
(61.3)
10.4
(50.7)
3.9
(39.0)
0.3
(32.5)
9.9
(49.8)
Daily mean °C (°F) −5.1
(22.8)
−4.7
(23.5)
−1.0
(30.2)
5.4
(41.7)
11.1
(52.0)
15.1
(59.2)
17.0
(62.6)
16.4
(61.5)
12.2
(54.0)
7.2
(45.0)
1.7
(35.1)
−2.1
(28.2)
6.1
(43.0)
Average low °C (°F) −7.8
(18.0)
−7.6
(18.3)
−4.7
(23.5)
1.0
(33.8)
5.9
(42.6)
10.0
(50.0)
12.3
(54.1)
11.8
(53.2)
8.0
(46.4)
4.0
(39.2)
−0.5
(31.1)
−4.4
(24.1)
2.3
(36.2)
Record low °C (°F) −33.7
(−28.7)
−34.9
(−30.8)
−23.3
(−9.9)
−11.4
(11.5)
−5.3
(22.5)
−1.2
(29.8)
4.0
(39.2)
0.0
(32.0)
−4.1
(24.6)
−8.7
(16.3)
−18.9
(−2.0)
−31.9
(−25.4)
−34.9
(−30.8)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 33.7
(1.33)
27.0
(1.06)
27.9
(1.10)
41.1
(1.62)
42.5
(1.67)
59.9
(2.36)
74.3
(2.93)
73.1
(2.88)
78.9
(3.11)
60.2
(2.37)
57.3
(2.26)
46.0
(1.81)
620.9
(24.44)
Average precipitation days 21.5 18.6 15.7 11.0 11.8 12.1 12.8 13.7 13.0 16.0 18.9 20.6 185.7
Average relative humidity (%) 87.9 85.2 79.4 69.7 67.7 72.0 74.2 76.7 81.1 85.1 90.2 89.4 79.9
Mean monthly sunshine hours 31.0 62.2 127.1 183.0 263.5 288.0 263.5 229.4 153.0 93.0 39.0 21.7 1,754.4
Source #1: Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Agency (avg high and low)[56]
Source #2: NOAA (sun and extremes)[57]

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