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Latvian History

The country of Latvia was first settled around 9,000 BC and throughout their history till 1989, they have been occupied by Vikings, Prussians, Germans, Polish, Lithuanians, Swedes, and Russians due to their strategic importance in Eastern Europe.

The countries capital, Riga was founded in 1201 by the Teutonic colonists and from then become the most important city in the country. In the 19th century under Russian influence Latvia become one of the most advanced areas of the empire, which led to a sense of Latvian nationalism from the 1850s onwards. This paid off for them as after years of struggle and fighting they finally gained their independence from Russia in 1920 and which was recognised by the international community in 1921.

Latvia’s independence was short lived, as when World War II started and the Nazi’s were invading France, the Soviets took over Latvia. In 1941 Nazi Germany took over the country and in these years of war saw tens of thousands of people massacred, which included over 25,000 Jews killed in just two days outside the capital of Riga. In 1944 the Soviets took over the country once again and this saw over 2/3 of the nation’s intellectuals flee to the West, as if they didn’t they would have been sent to Siberia to die there.

When Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the late 1980s he was more moderate then his predecessors, which saw Latvians starting to voice their opinions again without reproductions. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Latvia finally found their independence in August 1991.Since their independence in 1991, Latvia has become a member of the United Nations, NATO and European Union. In 2001, Riga celebrated its 800th birthday.

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