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Introduction: 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 30% of the population) remains of concern to...

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Economic Overview: The global financial and economic crisis has hit the Latvian economy extremely hard. After years of double-digit growth, mainly funded by external borrowing by the country's banks, the lack of further readily available credit brought the economy to a halt. Latvia's GDP contracted by 18 per cent in 2009 and a further 0.3 per cent in 2010. The Latvian economy is now recovering, with a predicted growth of 3.3 per cent in 2011. Unemployment has risen 3 percentage points to16.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2011.

On 23 December 2008 the IMF approved a 27-month Stand-By Arrangement for Latvia to support the country's efforts ...

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History: By the 10th century, the area that is today Latvia was inhabited by several Baltic tribes who had formed their own local governments. In 1054, German sailors who shipwrecked on the Daugava River inhabited the area, which initiated a period of increasing Germanic influence. The Germans named the territory Livonia. In 1201, Riga, the current capital of Latvia, was founded by the Germanic Bishop ...

See More from the U.S. State Department's Background Notes
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International Relations: Latvia's Relations with the UK

The UK has historically strong links with Latvia. Latvia’s struggle for independence in 1918 was assisted by the Royal Navy (supported by the French navy). The UK never recognised de jure Latvia’s annexation into the Soviet Union in 1940, and recognised the re-independence along with the rest of the EU partners on 27 August 1991. Diplomatic relations between the UK and Latvia were restored in early September 1991 and the British Embassy re-opened in Riga in October of the same year in the building it had occupied prior to Soviet occupation. The UK gave development assistance to Latvia on ...

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