Latvia Geography, Climate, Areas, Cities


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Latvia Geography

The information below contains geography information for Latvia, including climate, weather, cities, and area information. You can also check out the Latvia Country Page for additional resources.

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    Area: 64,100 sq. km. (25,640 sq. mi.); about the size of West Virginia.
    Cities (2002): Capital--Riga (739,232). Other cities--Daugavpils (112,609); Liepaja (86,985); Jelgava (65,754); Jurmala (55,156); Ventspils (44,010); Rezekne (37,777).
    Terrain: Fertile low-lying plains predominate in central Latvia, highlands in Vidzeme and Latgale to the east, and hilly moraine in the western Kurzeme region. Forests cover one-third of the country, with over 3,000 small lakes and numerous bogs.
    Land use: 20% arable land, 8% meadows and pastures, 45% forest and woodland, 26.7% other.
    Climate: Temperate, with four seasons of almost equal length. January temperatures average -5oC (23oF); July 17oC (63oF). Annual precipitation averages 57 centimeters (23 in.).

    Geography of Latvia
    Between 55.40 and 58.05 latitude and 20.58 and 28.14 longitude, Latvia lies on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea on the level northwestern part of the rising East European platform. About 98% of the country lies under 200m elevation (640 ft.). The damp climate resembles New England's. With the exception of the coastal plains, the Ice Age divided Latvia into three main regions: the morainic Western and Eastern uplands and the Middle lowlands. Latvia holds over 12,000 rivers, only 17 of which are longer than 60 miles, and over 3,000 small lakes, most of which are eutrophic. Woodland, more than half of which is pine, covers 41% of the country. Other than peat, dolomite, and limestone, natural resources are scarce. Latvia holds 531km (329 mi.) of sandy coastline, and the ports of Liepaja and Ventspils provide important warm-water harbors for the Baltic littoral, although the Bay of Riga itself is rather polluted.

    Today, Latvia is slightly larger than Denmark, Estonia, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. Its strategic location has instigated many wars between rival powers on its territory. As recently as 1944, the U.S.S.R. granted Russia the Abrene region on the Livonian frontier.