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Latvia Travel Guide

The Republic of Latvia is an eastern European country, which is surrounded by Estonia to the north, Russia to the east, Lithuania and Belarus to the south and the Baltic Sea to the west. The total area of Latvia is of 64,589 square kilometres and has about 2.4 million folk living within the region, who are mainly of Latvian, Russian and Belarusian descent and Lutheran, Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic faith. The inhabitants speak Russian and Latvian and to earn a crust make their money from household appliances, machinery, textiles and agriculture, trading with countries such as Russia, Finland and the UK.

A self-governing country between WWI and WWII, but in 1940, was overruled by the USSR. Latvia later decided to gain independence from the Soviet nations, in 1990, and was the first of the soviet states to do so, but it took Moscow another 2 years to actually acknowledge the proclamation. Another 2 years later, Latvia rid itself of Russian troops, which provided the country with the chance to restructure its economy for amalgamation into Western European businesses, coming together with both NATO and the European Union in 2004.

Visitors touring around Latvia should have a look round the capital of Riga, an area filled with plenty of hustle and bustle. The place sits close to the Daugava River and is a city whose structures have withstood 50 years of seclusion, most of which are very old German buildings, in the region of Old Riga. There is also a 1330 castle and a church with a lift, taking visitor up to the spire, where they can take in panoramic views. Going east of the old town, travellers will find beautiful 19th century parks and broad thoroughfares, with the Freedom Monument being the regions milestone. Lastly is Riga’s New Town, a place where all the wheeling and dealing and residential areas are situated, with a very busy market nearby, where tourists can buy amongst other things, a few take-home souvenirs. Out of the capital, Riga has vast stretches of unspoilt coastline and forests, where tourists can enjoy some outdoor activity. In the colder months, the Gauja valley is the place to go, with a ski jump at Valmiera and a bobsleigh run at Sigulda. Outdoor skating is also available in Riga but only allows skating when temperatures drop below -3°C. Water enthusiasts will be able to try out some canoeing on the Abava, Salaca and Gauja rivers and those people into horse riding can book a hack in Sigulda, to ride around Gauja National Park. Last but not least, bird buddies can go on bird watching trips via private companies in Baldone, located 12 miles south of Riga.

To get around Latvia, visitors need to jump on a bus, tram, trolley and train or grab a taxi ride. Buses are the most used form of transport as they are cheap, regular and virtually travel everywhere, but not many travel to lesser-known areas. Another great way to get about is by car and for those very short distances, bicycle, both of which are available for hire in Riga. Getting to Latvia is possible from many European countries, which fly direct to Riga airport, with other countries including Asia, Australia and North America having to make connections en route. There are also many buses from European countries travelling directly into Riga, with trains available to Latvia from Minsk and St Petersburg, Moscow and Daugavpils. The weather in Latvia is at its best from April through September, as there are more sunlight hours, fun festivals and water sports to enjoy, but watch out for July and August, as this is the really busy tourist season.

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