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Latvia: Table A. Chronology of Important Events
Country Study > Table A. Chronology of Important Events


CA. 2500-1500 B.C. - Finno-Ugric and proto-Baltic tribes settle on Baltic shores.

First Century-Sixth Century A.D. - Early Baltic peoples experience rapid cultural progress and expansion of trade with Roman Empire and Germanic tribes.

Eighth Century-Twelfth Century - Scandinavian Vikings and, subsequently, Slavic tribes engage in trade and war with Baltic peoples.

Thirteenth Century - Northern Estonia conquered by Danes and rest of Estonia and Latvia by Germans.

1253 - Mindaugas crowned king of Lithuania.

Fourteenth Century - Grand Duke Gediminas and his descendants expand Lithuania's territories southward to Black Sea.

1343-45 - Estonian peasant uprising prompts Danes to relinquish control of northern Estonia to Germans.

Sixteenth Century

1558-83 - Army of Russian tsar Ivan IV (the Terrible) invades Livonia; Sweden and Poland help repel invasion.

1569 - Lithuania unites with Poland, forming Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

1584 - Northern Estonia incorporated into Sweden's Duchy of Estland.

Seventeenth Century

1629 - Swedish-Polish struggle for control of Livonia ends with Poland's being forced to cede entire territory, except southeastern province of Latgale, to Sweden.

1632 - Tartu University founded by Swedes.

Eighteenth Century

1710 - Russian tsar Peter I (the Great) succeeds in wresting control of Estland and Livland (southern Estonia and northern Latvia) from Sweden.

1795 - Poland partitioned; Lithuania annexed by Russian Empire.

Nineteenth Century

1816-19 - Serfdom formally abolished in Estland and Livland.

Twentieth Century

1905 - Tsarist Russian authorities respond with violence and repression to Baltic demands for radical political change during Revolution of 1905.

1917 - Tsar Nicholas II abdicates Russian throne; tsarist regime collapses. Russian provisional government allows Estonia's territorial unification as one province. Bolsheviks take power in Russia and make significant political inroads in Baltic region.

1918 February - Estonia and Lithuania proclaim independence.

November - Latvia proclaims independence.

1918-20 - Baltic states engage in war to defend independence; Bolshevik, White Russian, German, Polish, and other forces struggle for control of territories. Lithuania fails to regain Polish-occupied Vilnius region.

1920 - Baltic states sign peace treaties with Soviet Russia; Moscow recognizes their independence and renounces all claims to their territories.

1920-22 - Land reform carried out in Baltic states. Democratic constitutions introduced.

1921 - Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania admitted to League of Nations.

1923 - Lithuania annexes Klaipeda region.

1924 - Soviet-backed communist coup attempt in Estonia fails.

1926-29 - Military coup in Lithuania; authoritarian regime gradually introduced.

1934 - State of emergency declared in Estonia and Latvia amidst growing political instability; parliaments suspended and authoritarian regimes introduced.

1939 August - Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact signed; Estonia, Latvia, and, soon, Lithuania assigned to Soviet sphere of influence.

October - Baltic states pressured into signing treaties allowing Moscow to station troops on their soil; Vilnius given back to Lithuania.

1940 - Red Army occupies Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania; pro-Soviet governments "elected," and Baltic states annexed to Soviet Union.

1941 June - Soviet authorities arrest and deport tens of thousands of Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians to Siberia; deportations interrupted by Nazi Germany's invasion of Soviet Union; Lithuanian resistance movement launches revolt against Soviet rule.

1941-45 - Baltic states under German occupation; Nazi regime institutes compulsory draft of Balts into labor or military service; Jews and Gypsies subjected to mass annihilation; nationalist and communist resistance movements active.

1944-45 - Soviet forces reoccupy Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania; hundreds of thousands of refugees flee to West.

1945-52 - Anti-Soviet guerrilla war in Baltic republics claims tens of thousands of casualties on both sides.

1947-51 - Agriculture collectivized in Baltic republics.

1949 March - Soviet authorities resume campaign of terror in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania; more than 100,000 people from Baltic republics deported to Siberia.

1953 - Repression eases after death of Joseph V. Stalin.

1959 - Nikita S. Khrushchev purges Eduards Berklavs and other national communists in Latvia.

1968 - Repression increases after Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia; dissident movement grows, particularly in Lithuania.

1970-82 - Period of stagnation under Leonid I. Brezhnev; living standards decline; Russification intensifies.

1972 - Lithuanian student Romas Kalanta immolates himself in protest against Soviet rule.

1973 - Publication of The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania begins.

1985 - Mikhail S. Gorbachev introduces policies of glasnost and perestroika .

1987-88 - Baltic dissidents hold public demonstrations in Tallinn, Riga, and Vilnius.

1988 April - Estonian Popular Front founded.

June - Estonian communist leader Karl Vaino removed. Sajudis founded in Lithuania.

October - Popular Front of Latvia holds first congress. Sajudis congress in Lithuania elects Vytautas Landsbergis chairman. Algirdas Brazauskas becomes Lithuanian communist leader.

November - Estonian Supreme Soviet adopts declaration of sovereignty.

1989 March - Soviet loyalist Intermovement founded in Estonia.

May - Lithuanian Supreme Soviet proclaims Lithuania's sovereignty.

July - Latvian Supreme Soviet adopts declaration of sovereignty.

August - Human chain forms from Tallinn to Vilnius as a protest on fiftieth anniversary of Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact. Intermovement stages strikes in Estonia.

December - Communist Party of Lithuania splits from Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

1990 February - Elections held for Congress of Estonia, rival parliament to Estonian Supreme Soviet.

March - Lithuanian Supreme Soviet elects Vytautas Landsbergis chairman of presidium; votes for declaration of independence. Estonian Supreme Soviet votes for transition to independence.

April - Moscow imposes economic blockade on Lithuania. Baltic Agreement on Economic Cooperation signed by Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

May - Latvian Supreme Council votes for transition to independence. Baltic countries renew 1934 Baltic Treaty on Unity and Cooperation.

June - Lithuanian Supreme Council agrees to six-month moratorium on independence declaration; Moscow lifts economic blockade.

1991 January - Lithuanian prime minister Kazimiera Prunskiene resigns after dispute with Vytautas Landsbergis. Soviet military intervention in Vilnius and Riga results in massacre of civilians.

February-March - Referenda in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania show overwhelming support for independence.

August - Estonian Supreme Council and Latvian Supreme Council vote for full independence following coup in Moscow; coup collapses; Baltic states restore diplomatic relations with many countries.

September - Soviet Union recognizes independence of Baltic states. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania admitted to United Nations.

November - Estonian Supreme Council decides to require naturalization of Soviet-era immigrants.

1992 January - Estonian prime minister Edgar Savisaar resigns; Tiit Vähi forms new government. Latvian Supreme Council reaffirms validity of Latvia's pre-Soviet borders.

June - New Estonian constitution adopted by referendum.

July - Lithuanian prime minister Gediminas Vagnorius resigns after vote of no confidence; replaced by Aleksandras Abisala.

September - Election of new parliament, Riigikogu, in Estonia yields center-right coalition government led by Fatherland Party (Isamaa).

October - Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party wins absolute majority of seats in Seimas; Algirdas Brazauskas elected chairman; Sajudis fares poorly. Lennart Meri elected president of Estonia; Mart Laar becomes prime minister.

October-November - Lithuania's new constitution approved by referendum and adopted by Seimas.

December - Seimas chairman Brazauskas appoints Bronislovas Lubys prime minister of Lithuania.

1993 February - Algirdas Brazauskas elected president of Lithuania.

March - Lithuanian prime minister Bronislovas Lubys resigns; replaced by Adolfas Slezevicius.

June - Political crisis in Estonia follows passage of Law on Aliens; measure amended after presidential veto. Latvia's Way finishes first in first post-Soviet national elections to Saeima.

July - Saeima restores 1922 constitution and elects Guntis Ulmanis president of Latvia; Valdis Birkavs becomes prime minister.

August - Russian military forces withdrawn from Lithuania.

October - Isamaa fares poorly in Estonia's first post-Soviet local elections; Tiit Vähi's Coalition Party finishes first.

1994 May - Latvian National Independence Movement finishes first in Latvia's first post-Soviet local elections; ex-communists fare worst.

July - Ruling coalition in Latvia breaks up; Birkavs government resigns.

August - Russian military forces withdrawn from Estonia and Latvia. Citizenship bill signed into law in Latvia; controversial restrictive quota on naturalization excluded.

September - Estonian prime minister Mart Laar loses vote of no confidence; Andres Tarand confirmed as prime minister. Maris Gailis confirmed as prime minister of Latvia.

1995 February - Latvia admitted to Council of Europe, after abandoning restrictive quotas on naturalization.

March - Coalition Party-Rural Union alliance finishes first in Estonian parliamentary elections; Russophone community gains representation. Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party fares poorly in local elections.

April - Tiit Vähi confirmed as Estonia's prime minister.

May - Latvia's Baltija Bank collapses.

July - Lithuanian economics minister Aleksandras Vasiliauskas resigns after cabinet dispute over economic reform.

September-October - Democratic Party Saimnieks finishes first in Latvian parliamentary elections; followed closely by far-right For Latvia.

October - Estonian interior minister Edgar Savisaar implicated in scandal; Vähi government resigns.

Data as of January 1995

Last Updated: January 1995

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Latvia was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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