Located in the Baltic region of Northern Europe, Latvia is a member of the European Union and home to Latvians, Livonians, as well as a number of ethnic Russians. Its capital city is Riga and the country’s population is just shy of 2 million people, as of the 2018 estimate.
Its political history has included Swedish, Polish and Russian rule, most recently as part of the Soviet Union for 45 years after WWII and until its independence in 1990. Latvians have continued to maintain their cultural identity throughout foreign occupation through their language and musical traditions. Latvia has a temperate climate composed of forests, as well as arable land. Common species of wildlife include wild boar, moose and wolves. The white wagtail is the national bird of Latvia.
The Latvian economy, which experienced a high growth rate in the 2000s, suffered much the same as others in 2008 and is still trying to recover and stabilize. The unemployment rate has improved and its GDP has recovered some of its earlier momentum. The transportation sector is around 14% of its GDP, given its prime location between larger economies such as the Nordic states and Russia.