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Wednesday, 27 August 2014
 
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Riga Information

GEOGRAPHY

Latvia is located in northeastern Europe on the Baltic Sea coast. It is one of the three Baltic
States with Estonia bordering it to the north and Lithuania to the south. Latvia also shares
borders with the Russian Federation to the east and Belarus to the southeast. With an area
of 64,589 sq. km (24,938 sq. miles) Latvia has a coastline on the Baltic Sea that stretches
for 494 km. Forests cover 44% of the country and there are some 2,300 lakes in Latvia.

MAJOR CITIES (population)

Riga (731762), Daugavpils (110379), Liepaja (86264), Jelgava (66136), Jurmala (55603),
Ventspils (44017), Rezekne (36798).

POPULATION

Total population: 2.3 million. Ethic composition: Latvians - 57.7%, Russians - 29.6%,
Belarussians - 4.1%, Ukrainians - 2.7%, Poles - 2.5%, Lithuanians - 1.4%, Others - 2%.

REGIONS

Cuturally and historically Latvia is divided into four regions: Kurzeme (www.kurzeme.lv) in
the west with its long beaches of white sand, Vidzeme (www.vidzeme.com) in the north with
rolling hills and picturesque landscapes, Latgale (www.latgale.lv) in the east with hundreds
of blue lakes and Zemgale (www.zemgale.lv) in the middle with its lush green meadows.

CLIMATE

The country has a moderate climate with four distinct seasons. July is the warmest month
of the year with an average temperature of +17.5 degrees C, but it can get as warm as
+ 30 degrees C. Winters are snowy with an average temperature of -4.9 degrees C, but
temperature can sometimes drop well below -20 degrees C.
(weather forecasts: www.meteo.lv).

TIME

GMT +2, from April to November GMT +3

CAPITAL

Capital city - Riga (www.rigatourism.com, www.inspirationriga.com) was founded at the mouth
of the Daugava River in 1201. Since 1997 the central part of Riga has been included in the
UNESCO World Heritage List. Riga is a dynamic place, the largest city in the Baltics, constantly
changing and named "the city of inspiration". Riga is the heart and centre of Latvia.
Almost a third of the nation lives here. The influence of 800 years of Riga's history can be seen
in an amzing  variety of architecture: starting with unique wooden architecture and the lavish
Art Nouveau buildings of Alberta Street to the medieval churches and castles of the Old City.
Riga is culturally vibrant with its museums, art galleries, concert halls, theatres and clubs.
Should you wish to escape the bustle of the city, you can hide away in its numerous parks or
take just a short and be in the countryside.

LANGUAGE

The official language of Latvia is Latvian. Latvian is a Baltic language, belongs to the
Indo-European language group and uses the Latin alphabet. Latvian is a non-Slavic and a
non-Germanic language, similar only to Lithuanian. Russian is understood and spoken by a
large part of the population. English and German are also commonplace, especially among the
young.

RELIGION

Latvia is predominantly a Lutheran country with Roman Catholicism dominating the east of the
country. There is also a significant Russian Orthodox minority.

HISTORY

The territory of Latvia has been inhabited since at least 2,000 BC. Latvia's geographical location
between East and West has historically made it attractive to foreign kings and conquerors.
Germans, Swedes, Poles and Russians have all rules here, each leaving their cultural imprint
on the country. Latvia was first declared an independent state on November 18, 1918. This day
is now celebrated as a national holiday. During World War II Latvia was annexed by the Soviet
Union and remained part of it for half a century. Following the so-called "Singing Revolution"
Latvia regained its independence in 1991, then became a full member of the European Union
and NATO in 2004.

POLITICS

Latvia is a democratic parliamentary republic with one legislative house - the Saeima, which
has 100 members. The head of state is the President, elected by the Saeime. The President
chooses the Prime Minister who in turn has to win the approval of the Saeima. The Cabinet of
Ministers consists of 17 Ministers and is led by the Prime Minister.

CURRENCY

The Latvian national currency is the Lats (Ls or LVL); 1 Lats = 100 santims.
Exchage rate: 1 EUR = 0.7028 LVL approx (check banks for latest rates).

MEDICAL CARE

Travellers with medical insurance are entitled to medical care in Latvia. There are no mandatory
vaccinations required for foreigners entering Latvia. If you plan hiking in the countryside or in the
forest between March and October, a vaccine against tick borne encephalitis is advisable.

VISA AND DOCUMENTS REQUIRED

Passengers who visit Latvia require a valid identity card or passport. Latvia, as EU member,
signed the Schengen Agreement on December 21, 2007, so the physical border expired for
travel within Schengen countries.

Visa regulations are subject to change. To get the latest information contact your local Latvian
Embassy or Ministry of Foreign Affairs Consular Department (www.mfa.gov.lv) at least three
weeks before travelling.

MAIL

Yellow post boxes are easy to spot on the streets. Stamps are sold at post offices
(www.pasts.lv) and kiosks. Express mail and telegram services are also available. Delivery
time for mail from Latvia to Europe is 2-7 days, to America/Australia 10-14 days. Postal rates:
a letter to Europe costs 0.45 LVL, a letter to Russia, America, Australia costs 0.50 LVL
(subject to change - check post office for current rates)

TELEPHONE SERVICES

The country code for Latvia is +371, followed by a 7- or 8-digit number. There are several mobile
operators in Latvia.

FOOD AND ENTERTAINMENT

Whatever your taste and expectations, Latvia is likely to satisfy them. The cuisine varies from
local traditional food to international and gourmet dishes, presenting European, Asian,
American and African menus. Products are fresh and natural. Riga's famous clubs offer a
varied scene with everything from blues concerts to non-stop dancing. During the summer
months the streets become active and hundreds of street side cafes appear offering refreshing
drinks and meals.

PAYMENTS

The credit card is accepted in Latvia. Almost everywhere you will be able to pay with a credit
card. In the larger cities ATM’s can be found accepting all major bank cards. Outside the larger
cities it is advisable to have sufficient cash available. Changing euros and other currencies is
possible at all banks and small currency (more expensive) exchange offices. You can also
exchange money in some hotels, but often at a (very) unfavorable rate.

BUSINESS HOURS

Most banks are open from Monday to Friday from 9.00 am to 16.00 pm. Some banks are open
on Saturdays from 9.00 am to 12.30 pm. Post offices are open weekdays from 9.00 am to
18.00 pm, and Saturday from 9:00 to 13:00. Store hours during the week from 10.00 am to
19.00 pm and on Saturday from 10.00 to 16.00 hours. Food Shops and supermarkets are
usually open from 8.00 am to 19.00 pm. There are several food stores in Riga with a 24-hour
service and some big shopping malls are open daily until 22:00.

VOLTAGE

The Baltic countries are using the metric system. The current electricity used is 220 V/50 Hz AC.
Sockets are the round two pin type which are standard through most of continental Europe.

SOME LATVIAN WORDS

Goodmorning: Labrīt
Goodafternoon: Labdien
Hello: Sveiki
Please: Lūdzu
Thank you: Paldies

SIGHTSEEING

Historic Old Town (Vec Riga)
Riga Central Market
Orthodox Church
Freedom Monument
Elizabeths Street / Alberta Street
City of Jurmela
Dinner in Lido

TRANSPORTATION

Latvia has road, rail, air and boat connections with neighboring countries and many countries in
Europe. Air Baltic as well as Ryanair does serve Riga from many European countries with a
direct flight. Return ticket costs start around 125 euros depending on the destination. From the
airport you can get taxis and buses to the center. The price for a taxi to the center is
approximately 8 to 10 lat (12-15 euros). There are enough taxis in the larger cities and they are
reliable. Private taxis are not always metered. It would be advisable to agree about the price in
advance. From 22.00 hours to 06.00 hours, the rates are 50 percent higher.
Air Baltic has daily scheduled flights from Riga to the capital of Estonia, Tallinn and Lithuania,
Vilnius. In many cases, travel by air on these routes is cheap and time saving since the flight is
only 40 minutes. International train connections are quite slow. Eurolines offers an alternative
to train and air travel, with a good and comfortable bus and a total journey time of about four
hours between Riga and the capital of Estonia or Lithuania. The road network is fairly extensive.
Most main roads outside Riga do have two lanes and traffic run well. For example a distance of
over 200 km from Riga and Ventspils port can be done within two and a half hours. Modern cars
can be rented at well-known companies such as Hertz, Avis and National, which are
represented at the airport of Riga.

HOTELS

There is good hotel accommodation available in all price ranges in the capital of Latvia, Riga.
We have selected the following accommodation for you:

MARITIM PARK HOTEL RIGA

The name MARITIM is synonymous with outstanding, first class standards, an elegant
ambience, gourmet culinary specialities, personal service and heart-warming hospitality.
MARITIM Park Hotel Riga is a four star hotel, located next to the picturesque Uzvaras Park
within a walking distance to the Old Town of Riga. The hotel guests will appreciate the easy
access to the Riga Airport as well as the Riga centre. This hotel will satisfy the needs and
expectations of business and leisure travellers alike. An ideal tram connection allows
reaching National Opera, Art Nouveau Riga and city centre shopping areas within
2-3 minutes and the Central Market, Railway and Bus Stations just in few minutes.
The new e-ticket for Riga public transport is cheap and very easy to use.

 
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