Several eastern Baltic tribes merged in medieval times to form 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 26% of the population) remains of concern to Moscow. Latvia acceded to both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004; it joined the euro zone in 2014.



Eastern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, between Estonia and Lithuania

Geographic coordinates

57 00 N, 25 00 E

Map references



total: 64,589 sq km
land: 62,249 sq km
water: 2,340 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly larger than West Virginia

Land boundaries

total: 1,370 km
border countries (4): Belarus 161 km, Estonia 333 km, Lithuania 544 km, Russia 332 km


498 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: limits as agreed to by Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Sweden, and Russia
continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation


maritime; wet, moderate winters


low plain


mean elevation: 87 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Baltic Sea 0 m
highest point: Gaizina Kalns 312 m

Natural resources

peat, limestone, dolomite, amber, hydropower, timber, arable land

Land use

agricultural land: 29.2%
arable land 18.6%; permanent crops 0.1%; permanent pasture 10.5%
forest: 54.1%
other: 16.7% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

12 sq km
note: land in Latvia is often too wet and in need of drainage not irrigation; approximately 16,000 sq km or 85% of agricultural land has been improved by drainage (2012)

Natural hazards


Environment - current issues

Latvia's environment has benefited from a shift to service industries after the country regained independence; improvements have occurred in drinking water quality, sewage treatment, household and hazardous waste management, as well as reduction of air pollution

Environment - international agreements

party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note

most of the country is composed of fertile low-lying plains with some hills in the east

People and Society


noun: Latvian(s)
adjective: Latvian


1,965,686 (July 2016 est.)

Ethnic groups

Latvian 61.1%, Russian 26.2%, Belarusian 3.5%, Ukrainian 2.3%, Polish 2.2%, Lithuanian 1.3%, other 3.4% (2013 est.)


Latvian (official) 56.3%, Russian 33.8%, other 0.6% (includes Polish, Ukrainian, and Belarusian), unspecified 9.4%
note: represents lanugage usually spoken at home (2011 est.)


Lutheran 19.6%, Orthodox 15.3%, other Christian 1%, other 0.4%, unspecified 63.7% (2006)

Age structure

0-14 years: 15.01% (male 151,290/female 143,710)
15-24 years: 9.9% (male 100,416/female 94,244)
25-54 years: 42.07% (male 409,921/female 417,074)
55-64 years: 13.77% (male 119,844/female 150,860)
65 years and over: 19.25% (male 123,467/female 254,860) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 52.2%
youth dependency ratio: 22.7%
elderly dependency ratio: 29.5%
potential support ratio: 3.4% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 43.3 years
male: 39.5 years
female: 46.6 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

-1.07% (2016 est.)

Birth rate

9.9 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

14.4 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

-6.2 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Population distribution

largest concentration of people is found in and around the port and capital city of Riga; small agglomerations are scattered throughout the country


urban population: 67.4% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: -0.67% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

RIGA (capital) 621,000 (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.79 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.48 male(s)/female
total population: 0.85 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

18 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 5.3 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.7 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 74.5 years
male: 69.9 years
female: 79.3 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.51 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Health expenditures

5.9% of GDP (2014)

Physicians density

3.58 physicians/1,000 population (2012)

Hospital bed density

5.9 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Drinking water source

urban: 99.8% of population
rural: 98.3% of population
total: 99.3% of population
urban: 0.2% of population
rural: 1.7% of population
total: 0.7% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 90.8% of population
rural: 81.5% of population
total: 87.8% of population
urban: 9.2% of population
rural: 18.5% of population
total: 12.2% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

0.67% (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

6,800 (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

400 (2015 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: intermediate
vectorborne diseases: tickborne encephalitis (2016)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

25.6% (2014)

Education expenditures

4.9% of GDP (2013)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.9%
male: 99.9%
female: 99.9% (2015 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 16 years
male: 16 years
female: 17 years (2014)

Mother's mean age at first birth

26.9 (2013 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 19.6%
male: 19.4%
female: 20% (2014 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Latvia
conventional short form: Latvia
local long form: Latvijas Republika
local short form: Latvija
former: Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic
etymology: 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.)

Government type

parliamentary republic


name: Riga
geographic coordinates: 56 57 N, 24 06 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Administrative divisions

110 municipalities (novadi, singular - novads) and 9 cities
municipalities: Adazu Novads, Aglonas Novads, Aizkraukles Novads, Aizputes Novads, Aknistes Novads, Alojas Novads, Alsungas Novads, Aluksnes Novads, Amatas Novads, Apes Novads, Auces Novads, Babites Novads, Baldones Novads, Baltinavas Novads, Balvu Novads, Bauskas Novads, Beverinas Novads, Brocenu Novads, Burtnieku Novads, Carnikavas Novads, Cesu Novads, Cesvaines Novads, Ciblas Novads, Dagdas Novads, Daugavpils Novads, Dobeles Novads, Dundagas Novads, Durbes Novads, Engures Novads, Erglu Novads, Garkalnes Novads, Grobinas Novads, Gulbenes Novads, Iecavas Novads, Ikskiles Novads, Ilukstes Novads, Incukalna Novads, Jaunjelgavas Novads, Jaunpiebalgas Novads, Jaunpils Novads, Jekabpils Novads, Jelgavas Novads, Kandavas Novads, Karsavas Novads, Keguma Novads, Kekavas Novads, Kocenu Novads, Kokneses Novads, Kraslavas Novads, Krimuldas Novads, Krustpils Novads, Kuldigas Novads, Lielvardes Novads, Ligatnes Novads, Limbazu Novads, Livanu Novads, Lubanas Novads, Ludzas Novads, Madonas Novads, Malpils Novads, Marupes Novads, Mazsalacas Novads, Mersraga Novads, Nauksenu Novads, Neretas Novads, Nicas Novads, Ogres Novads, Olaines Novads, Ozolnieku Novads, Pargaujas Novads, Pavilostas Novads, Plavinu Novads, Preilu Novads, Priekules Novads, Priekulu Novads, Raunas Novads, Rezeknes Novads, Riebinu Novads, Rojas Novads, Ropazu Novads, Rucavas Novads, Rugaju Novads, Rujienas Novads, Rundales Novads, Salacgrivas Novads, Salas Novads, Salaspils Novads, Saldus Novads, Saulkrastu Novads, Sejas Novads, Siguldas Novads, Skriveru Novads, Skrundas Novads, Smiltenes Novads, Stopinu Novads, Strencu Novads, Talsu Novads, Tervetes Novads, Tukuma Novads, Vainodes Novads, Valkas Novads, Varaklanu Novads, Varkavas Novads, Vecpiebalgas Novads, Vecumnieku Novads, Ventspils Novads, Viesites Novads, Vilakas Novads, Vilanu Novads, Zilupes Novads
cities: Daugavpils, Jekabpils, Jelgava, Jurmala, Liepaja, Rezekne, Riga, Valmiera, Ventspils


4 May 1990 (declared); 6 September 1991 (recognized by the Soviet Union)

National holiday

Independence Day, 18 November (1918); note - 18 November 1918 was the date Latvia established its statehood and its concomitant independence from Soviet Russia; 4 May 1990 was the date it declared the restoration of Latvian statehood and its concomitant independence from the Soviet Union


history: several previous (pre-1991 independence); note - following the restoration of independence in 1991, parts of the 1922 constitution were reintroduced 4 May 1990 and fully reintroduced 6 July 1993
amendments: proposed by two-thirds of Parliament members or by petition of one-tenth of qualified voters submitted through the president; passage requires at least two-thirds majority vote of Parliament in each of three readings; amendment of constitutional articles including national sovereignty, language, the parliamentary electoral system, and constitutional amendment procedure requires passage by majority vote of at least half of the electorate in a referendum; amended several times, last in 2014 (2016)

Legal system

civil law system with traces of socialist legal traditions and practices

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Latvia
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Raimonds VEJONIS (since 8 July 2015)
head of government: Prime Minister Maris KUCINSKIS (since 11 February 2016); Deputy Prime Minister Arvils ASERADENS (since 11 February 2016)
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers nominated by the prime minister, appointed by Parliament
elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by Parliament for a 4-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 3 June 2015 (next to be held in 2019); prime minister appointed by the president, confirmed by Parliament
election results: Raimonds VEJONIS elected president; Parliament vote - Raimonds VEJONIS 55 of 100

Political pressure groups and leaders

Employers' Confederation of Latvia [Vitalijs GAVRILOVS]
Farmers' Parliament [Juris LAZDINS]
Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia [Peteris KRIGERS]

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Parliament or Saeima (100 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote; members serve 4-year terms)
elections: last held on 4 October 2014 (next to be held in October 2018)
election results: percent of vote by party - SC 23%, Unity 21.9%, ZZS 19.5%, NA 16.6%, NSL 6.9%, LRA 6.7%, other 5.4%; seats by party - SC 24, Unity 23, ZZS 21, NA 17, LRA 8, NSL 7

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of the Senate with 27 judges and Supreme Court of Chambers with 22 judges); Constitutional Court (consists of 7 judges)
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges nominated by chief justice and confirmed by the Saeima; judges serve until age 70, but term can be extended 2 years; Constitutional Court judges - 3 nominated by Saeima members, 2 by Cabinet ministers, and 2 by plenum of Supreme Court; all judges confirmed by Saeima majority vote; Constitutional Court president and vice president serve in their positions for 3 years; all judges serve 10-year terms; mandatory retirement at age 70
subordinate courts: district (city) and regional courts

Political parties and leaders

Alliance of Regions or LRA [Martins BONDARS]
For Latvia from the Heart or NSL [Inguna SUDRABA]
Social Democratic Party "Harmony" or SC [Nils USAKOVS]
National Alliance "All For Latvia!"-"For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK" or NA [Gaidis BERZINS, Raivis DZINTARS]
Union of Greens and Farmers or ZZS [Augusts BRIGMANIS]
Unity [Solvita ABOLTINA]

International organization participation

Australia Group, BA, BIS, CBSS, CD, CE, EAPC, EBRD, ECB, EIB, EMU, ESA (cooperating state), EU, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (NGOs), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, NATO, NIB, NSG, OAS (observer), OIF (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, Schengen Convention, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Andris TEIKMANIS (since 16 September 2016)
chancery: 2306 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 328-2840
FAX: [1] (202) 328-2860

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Nancy Bikoff PETTIT (since 8 September 2015)
embassy: 1 Samnera Velsa St, Riga LV-1510
mailing address: Embassy of the United States of America, 1 Samnera Velsa St, Riga, LV-1510, Latvia
telephone: [371] 6710-7000
FAX: [371] 6710-7050

Flag description

three horizontal bands of maroon (top), white (half-width), and maroon; the flag is one of the older banners in the world; a medieval chronicle mentions a red standard with a white stripe being used by Latvian tribes in about 1280

National symbol(s)

white wagtail (bird); national colors: maroon, white

National anthem

name: "Dievs, sveti Latviju!" (God Bless Latvia)
lyrics/music: Karlis BAUMANIS
note: adopted 1920, restored 1990; first performed in 1873 while Latvia was a part of Russia; banned during the Soviet occupation from 1940 to 1990


Economy - overview

Latvia is a small, open economy with exports contributing more than half 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

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 col

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 progra

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$50.87 billion (2016 est.)
$49.61 billion (2015 est.)
$48.29 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$27.95 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

2.5% (2016 est.)
2.7% (2015 est.)
2% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$25,700 (2016 est.)
$25,000 (2015 est.)
$24,100 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Gross national saving

19.6% of GDP (2016 est.)
20.7% of GDP (2015 est.)
21.5% of GDP (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 61.2%
government consumption: 17.8%
investment in fixed capital: 21%
investment in inventories: 1.5%
exports of goods and services: 56.7%
imports of goods and services: -58.2% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 3.3%
industry: 23.2%
services: 73.6% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

grain, rapeseed, potatoes, vegetables; pork, poultry, milk, eggs; fish


processed foods, processed wood products, textiles, processed metals, pharmaceuticals, railroad cars, synthetic fibers, electronics

Industrial production growth rate

2.6% (2016 est.)

Labor force

968,700 (2016 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 8.8%
industry: 24%
services: 67.2% (2010 est.)

Unemployment rate

9.6% (2016 est.)
9.9% (2015 est.)

Population below poverty line


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)
32 (1999)


revenues: $9.766 billion
expenditures: $10.11 billion (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

34.9% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-1.2% of GDP (2016 est.)

Public debt

38.4% of GDP (2016 est.)
36.4% of GDP (2015 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

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

-0.4% (2016 est.)
0.2% (2015 est.)

Central bank discount rate

0.05% (31 December 2013)
0.3% (31 December 2012)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

4.5% (31 December 2016 est.)
4.5% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$11.66 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$10.3 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money

$13.76 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$12.53 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$16.03 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$15.39 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

$1.115 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
$1.076 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$1.252 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Current account balance

-$560 million (2016 est.)
-$332 million (2015 est.)


$11.22 billion (2016 est.)
$11.4 billion (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

foodstuffs, wood and wood products, metals, machinery and equipment, textiles

Exports - partners

Lithuania 17.8%, Russia 11.5%, Estonia 11.1%, Germany 6.3%, Poland 5.6%, Sweden 5.2%, UK 5%, Denmark 4% (2015)


$13.6 billion (2016 est.)
$13.74 billion (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

machinery and equipment, consumer goods, chemicals, fuels, vehicles

Imports - partners

Lithuania 16.9%, Germany 11.2%, Poland 10.5%, Russia 8.1%, Estonia 7.7%, Finland 5.2%, Netherlands 4% (2015)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$7.507 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$7.893 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Debt - external

$40.02 billion (31 March 2016 est.)
$38.19 billion (31 March 2015 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home

$16.41 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$15.71 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad

$2.651 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$2.391 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Exchange rates

lati (LVL) per US dollar -
0.9129 (2016 est.)
0.9012 (2015 est.)
0.9012 (2014 est.)
0.7525 (2013 est.)
0.55 (2012 est.)


Electricity - access

electrification - total population: 100% (2016)

Electricity - production

5 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

6.8 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

3 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - imports

5.3 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

3 million kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

26.3% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

70.2% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

3.5% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

58.95 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

60 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

35,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

15,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

49,220 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

950 million cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

950 million cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

7.6 million Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 395,602
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 20 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 2.579 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 130 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: recent efforts focused on bringing competition to the telecommunications sector; the number of fixed lines is decreasing as mobile-cellular telephone service expands
domestic: number of telecommunications operators has grown rapidly since the fixed-line market opened to competition in 2003; combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular subscribership roughly 150 per 100 persons
international: country code - 371; the Latvian network is now connected via fiber-optic cable to Estonia, Finland, and Sweden (2015)

Broadcast media

several national and regional commercial TV stations are foreign-owned, 2 national TV stations are publicly owned; system supplemented by privately owned regional and local TV stations; cable and satellite multi-channel TV services with domestic and forei (2007)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 1.573 million
percent of population: 79.2% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 3
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 47
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 2,527,368
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 2,277,996 mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

YL (2016)


42 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 18
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 7 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 24
under 914 m: 24 (2013)


1 (2013)


gas 928 km; refined products 415 km (2013)


total: 2,239 km
broad gauge: 2,206 km 1.520-m gauge
narrow gauge: 33 km 0.750-m gauge (2008)


total: 72,440 km
paved: 14,707 km
unpaved: 57,733 km (2013)


300 km (navigable year round) (2010)

Merchant marine

total: 11
by type: cargo 3, chemical tanker 1, passenger/cargo 4, petroleum tanker 2, roll on/roll off 1
foreign-owned: 3 (Estonia 3)
registered in other countries: 79 (Antigua and Barbuda 16, Belize 9, Comoros 2, Dominica 2, Georgia 1, Liberia 5, Malta 8, Marshall Islands 19, Russia 2, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 15) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Riga, Ventspils


Military branches

National Armed Forces (Nacionalo Brunoto Speku): Land Forces (Latvijas Sauszemes Speki), Navy (Latvijas Juras Speki; includes Coast Guard (Latvijas Kara Flotes)), Latvian Air Force (Latvijas Gaisa Speki), Latvian Home Guard (Latvijas Zemessardze) (2011)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for voluntary male and female military service; no conscription; under current law, every citizen is entitled to serve in the armed forces for life (2012)

Military expenditures

0.91% of GDP (2014)
0.99% of GDP (2013)
0.92% of GDP (2012)
1.05% of GDP (2011)
0.92% of GDP (2010)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Russia demands better Latvian treatment of ethnic Russians in Latvia; boundary demarcated with Latvia and Lithuania; the Latvian parliament has not ratified its 1998 maritime boundary treaty with Lithuania, primarily due to concerns over oil exploration rights; as a member state that forms part of the EU's external border, Latvia has implemented the strict Schengen border rules with Russia

Refugees and internally displaced persons

stateless persons: 252,195 (2015); note - individuals who were Latvian citizens prior to the 1940 Soviet occupation and their descendants were recognized as Latvian citizens when the country's independence was restored in 1991; citizens of the former Soviet Union residing in Latvia who have neither Latvian nor other citizenship are considered non-citizens (officially there is no statelessness in Latvia) and are entitled to non-citizen passports; children born after Latvian independence to stateless parents are entitled to Latvian citizenship upon their parents' request; non-citizens cannot vote or hold certain government jobs and are exempt from military service but can travel visa-free in the EU under the Schengen accord like Latvian citizens; non-citizens can obtain naturalization if they have been permanent residents of Latvia for at least five years, pass tests in Latvian language and history, and know the words of the Latvian national anthem

Illicit drugs

transshipment and destination point for cocaine, synthetic drugs, opiates, and cannabis from Southwest Asia, Western Europe, Latin America, and neighboring Balkan countries; despite improved legislation, vulnerable to money laundering due to nascent enforcement capabilities and comparatively weak regulation of offshore companies and the gaming industry; CIS organized crime (including counterfeiting, corruption, extortion, stolen cars, and prostitution) accounts for most laundered proceeds