Latvia’s history, as a crossroads of east and west, Hanseatic and European, has produced a society that is cosmopolitan, western-oriented and multilingual. Latvians are well educated and ambitious. Logistically and culturally, Latvia is well suited as a business hub in Northern Europe, making it ideal as a base for east-west trade.
Ultimately, opportunity must be in balance with stability. In the recent past, Latvia provided both - diverse business opportunities with the security of the EU and NATO. Currently, Latvia has one of the highest GDP growth rates in Europe. An essential instrument for assessing the business environment and comparing it at international level is the international study carried out by the World Bank - “Doing Business”. In the recent study “Doing Business 2016” Latvia ranks 22nd among 189 countries. A point worth noting is that by the ease of doing business Latvia ranks 10th among the EU Member States. The World Bank has recognized Latvia as one of the TOP 30 global leaders that have carried out significant reforms related to the improvement of business environment the performance in the fields of business start-up, contractual obligations and registration of real estate.
Latvia has an abundance of potential business ventures, largely increased by the great entrepreneurial spirit running through the country. However, it is not just the potential of Latvia that makes investing so appealing; it is also Latvia’s location within Europe’s most dynamic regional market, the Baltic Sea region with access to 100 million affluent consumers.
Today, many attractive merger and acquisition possibilities are available in a variety of sectors such as renewable energy, woodworking, construction materials, industrial real estate, banking, insurance and others. In addition, Latvian companies and research institutions are eager to set up new joint ventures with international partners.
Geography and climate
Latvia is strategically located on the Baltic Sea and shares borders with Estonia, Lithuania, Russia and Belarus. Its territory covers 64,573 sq km and is composed of low-lying plains, with vast forests covering over 40% of the country. Latvia is renowned for its beautiful landscape and unpolluted environment. There is an abundance of rivers and lakes, as well as a beautiful coastline, which combine to make this land exciting from a recreational perspective.
Latvia is an important center connecting the Baltic states. Vilnius and Tallinn, capital cities of Lithuania and Estonia, respectively, are easily accessible by car, rail or air. Latvia’s location serves as a main transport route connecting Russia with Western Europe.
The ports of Riga, Liepaja and Ventspils are active with shipments from throughout the region and remain navigable during the winter months.
Latvia has a temperate maritime and continental climate. The average summer temperature in the capital is approximately +18°C (about 64°F) and the average winter temperature is -5°C (about 23°F). The warmest month is July, the coldest February. The weather in autumn and spring is relatively mild.
Population and language
Currently, the population of Latvia is 2 million, with a population density of about 31 inhabitants per square kilometre. Riga, the capital of Latvia and the largest city in the Baltic States, has approximately 641 thousand inhabitants, representing 32% of the country’s population. Other major cities include Daugavpils, Jelgava, Liepaja and Ventspils. 62% of the population are Latvian, 26% are Russian and the rest are Belarusian, Ukrainian and other nationalities.
The official language is Latvian though Russian, English and German are widely spoken.
Political system in Latvia
Latvia is an independent democratic republic represented by a parliamentary body, the Saeima, whose members are elected in a four-year cycle. The Saeima elects the president who holds office for a period of four years. The Saeima also has the right to legislate under the provisions stated in the constitution (‘Satversme’). Bills may be submitted to the Saeima by the president, the cabinet or committees of the Saeima, by not less than five members of the Saeima, or by one-tenth of the electorate.
The most recent elections of the Saeima were held on 4 October 2014. The next elections will take place in October 2018.
The president represents the State in all international relations, nominates the prime minister and appoints diplomatic representatives of Latvia. The president promulgates the decisions of the Saeima and has the right to initiate legislation.
The prime minister who is nominated by the president nominates ministers to form the government. When the prime minister submits the list of cabinet ministers and the proposed government activity plan to the Saeima and receives a vote of confidence, the appointees become official and start to fulfill their duties.