Latvia, from the Vikings to the Greeks


Lovely Riga, Queen of the Baltics













"At the beginning of this era the territory known today as Latvia became famous as a trading crossroads. The famous "route from the Vikings to the Greeks" mentioned in ancient chronicles stretched from Scandinavia through Latvian territory via the Daugava River to the ancient Rus and Byzantine Empire." - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Latvia

I've begun this thing that when we have a large number of visitors from far flung countries - or to what the editors see as far flung - we cover the land in some way, shape or form and showcase it a bit, in whatever way you can showcase without being a travel stiff. 


From the CIA factbook: The name "Latvia" originates from the ancient Latgalians, one of four eastern Baltic tribes that formed the ethnic core of the Latvian people (ca. 8th-12th centuries A.D.). The region subsequently came under the control of Germans, Poles, Swedes, and finally, Russians. A Latvian republic emerged following World War I, but it was annexed by the USSR in 1940 - an action never recognized by the US and many other countries. Latvia reestablished its independence in 1991 following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Although the last Russian troops left in 1994, the status of the Russian minority (some 28% of the population) remains of concern to Moscow. Latvia joined both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004.


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. Latvia's economy experienced GDP growth of more than 10% per year during 2006-07, but entered a severe recession in 2008 as a result of an unsustainable current account deficit and large debt exposure amid the softening world economy. Triggered by the collapse of the second largest bank, GDP plunged 18% in 2009. The economy has not returned to pre-crisis levels despite strong growth, especially in the export sector in 2011-12. The IMF, EU, and other international donors provided substantial financial assistance to Latvia as part of an agreement to defend the currency's peg to the euro in exchange for the government's commitment to stringent austerity measures. The IMF/EU program successfully concluded in December 2011. The government of Prime Minister Valdis DOMBROVSKIS remained committed to fiscal prudence and reducing the fiscal deficit from 7.7% of GDP in 2010, to 2.7% of GDP in 2012. The majority of companies, banks, and real estate have been privatized, although the state still holds sizable stakes in a few large enterprises, including 99.8% ownership of the Latvian national airline. Latvia officially joined the World Trade Organization in February, 1999 and the EU in May 2004. Latvia intends to join the euro zone in 2014.

Economy - overview:
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. Latvia's economy experienced GDP growth of more than 10% per year during 2006-07, but entered a severe recession in 2008 as a result of an unsustainable current account deficit and large debt exposure amid the softening world economy. Triggered by the collapse of the second largest bank, GDP plunged 18% in 2009. The economy has not returned to pre-crisis levels despite strong growth, especially in the export sector in 2011-12. The IMF, EU, and other international donors provided substantial financial assistance to Latvia as part of an agreement to defend the currency's peg to the euro in exchange for the government's commitment to stringent austerity measures. The IMF/EU program successfully concluded in December 2011. The government of Prime Minister Valdis DOMBROVSKIS remained committed to fiscal prudence and reducing the fiscal deficit from 7.7% of GDP in 2010, to 2.7% of GDP in 2012. The majority of companies, banks, and real estate have been privatized, although the state still holds sizable stakes in a few large enterprises, including 99.8% ownership of the Latvian national airline. Latvia officially joined the World Trade Organization in February, 1999 and the EU in May 2004. Latvia intends to join the euro zone in 2014.



GDP (purchasing power parity):
$37.04 billion (2012 est.)country comparison to the world: 107
$35.46 billion (2011 est.)
$33.62 billion (2010 est.)
note: data are in 2012 US dollars
$27.19 billion (2012 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
4.5% (2012 est.)country comparison to the world: 73
5.5% (2011 est.)
-0.3% (2010 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$18,100 (2012 est.)country comparison to the world: 75
$17,100 (2011 est.)
$15,000 (2010 est.)
note: data are in 2012 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 4.4%
industry: 26.3%
services: 69.3% (2012 est.)
Labor force:
1.139 million (2012 est.)country comparison to the world: 140
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 8.8%
industry: 24%
services: 67.2% (2010 est.)
Unemployment rate:
14.3% (2012 est.)country comparison to the world: 141
12.8% (2011 est.)
Population below poverty line:
NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.7%
highest 10%: 27.6% (2008)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
35.2 (2010)country comparison to the world: 88
32 (1999)
Investment (gross fixed):
22.2% of GDP (2012 est.)country comparison to the world: 68
Budget:
revenues: $9.451 billion
expenditures: $10.18 billion (2012 est.)
Taxes and other revenues:
34.8% of GDP (2012 est.)country comparison to the world: 71
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
-2.7% of GDP (2012 est.)country comparison to the world: 99
Public debt:
44% of GDP (2012 est.)country comparison to the world: 79
43.7% of GDP (2011 est.)
note: data cover general government debt, and includes debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities, including sub-sectors of central government, state government, local government, and social security funds
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.5% (2012 est.)country comparison to the world: 55
4.4% (2011 est.)
Central bank discount rate:
3.5% (31 December 2011 est.)country comparison to the world: 98
3.5% (31 December 2010 est.)
Commercial bank prime lending rate:
6% (31 December 2012 est.)country comparison to the world: 136
6.39% (31 December 2011 est.)
Stock of narrow money:
$8.237 billion (31 December 2012 est.)country comparison to the world: 81
$8.174 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
Stock of broad money:
$12.09 billion (31 December 2012 est.)country comparison to the world: 101
$12.12 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
Stock of domestic credit:
$19.76 billion (31 December 2012 est.)country comparison to the world: 86
$21.08 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
$1.076 billion (31 December 2011)country comparison to the world: 106
$1.252 billion (31 December 2010)
$1.824 billion (31 December 2009)
Agriculture - products:
grain, rapeseed, potatoes, vegetables; pork, poultry, milk, eggs; fish
Industries:
processed foods, processed wood products, textiles, processed metals, pharmaceuticals, railroad cars, synthetic fibers, electronics
Industrial production growth rate:
9% (2011 est.)country comparison to the world: 17
Current account balance:
$-462.9 million (2012 est.)country comparison to the world: 93
$-363 million (2011 est.)
Exports:
$12.49 billion (2012 est.)country comparison to the world: 85
$12.03 billion (2011 est.)
Exports - commodities:
food products, wood and wood products, metals, machinery and equipment, textiles
Exports - partners:
Russia 15.7%, Lithuania 14.9%, Estonia 11.2%, Germany 6.9%, Sweden 5.2%, Poland 4.9% (2011)
Imports:
$15.92 billion (2012 est.)country comparison to the world: 85
$14.83 billion (2011 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, consumer goods, chemicals, fuels, vehicles
Imports - partners:
Lithuania 16.6%, Germany 11%, Russia 7.7%, Poland 7.2%, Estonia 6.8%, Italy 4.2%, Finland 4.1% (2011)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$6.925 billion (31 December 2012 est.)country comparison to the world: 81
$6.383 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
Debt - external:
$35.34 billion (31 December 2012 est.)country comparison to the world: 65
$37.49 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$13.36 billion (31 December 2012 est.)country comparison to the world: 79
$12.11 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$1.037 billion (31 December 2012 est.)country comparison to the world: 76
$887 million (31 December 2011 est.)
Exchange rates:
lati (LVL) per US dollar -
0.55 (2012 est.)
0.5 (2011 est.)
0.53 (2010 est.)
0.51 (2009)
0.47 (2008) 













All Data From The (CIA) World Fact Book

Latvia, Europe Economic Data, GDP, Purchasing Power, Utilities, Government of Latvia, Economics of Latvia, Data on Latvia, Intelligence on Latvia