Latvia Geography

What is the terrain and geography like in Latvia?

Overview:

The Republic of Latvia is situated on the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Riga, bordered by Estonia to the northeast, Russia and Belarus to the east, and Lithuania to the southwest. Its 25,499 square-mile area is about the size of West Virginia in the U.S. or Belgium and the Netherlands combined in Europe. Grassland, marshy meadows, low hills, and rolling plains make up most of the country, which has an average elevation of 292 feet above sea level. Pine, oak, and birch forests cover about one quarter of the country. Latvia is rich in lakes and rivers. It has a coastline of 307 miles, half lying on the Baltic Sea and half on the Gulf of Riga.

Geography - note:

most of the country is composed of fertile low-lying plains with some hills in the east

Climate:

Only three European countries-Estonia, Finland, and Iceland-are farther north in their entirety than Latvia, which has latitude of between 55° and 58° and a longitude of between 20° and 28°. During most of December and January, the sun does not rise until after 9 a.m. and sets as early as 3 p.m. On the other hand, to compensate, the longest day of summer lasts almost 18 hours. In spite of its northern location, daytime winter temperatures average only slightly below freezing because of the Baltic Sea and the Gulf Stream. Daytime summer temperatures average about 70°F. The maritime climate also accounts for the country's frequent cloud cover and considerable precipitation (average per year is about 25 inches).

Latvia Use of Natural Resources

Latvia Environment

Climate:

Only three European countries-Estonia, Finland, and Iceland-are farther north in their entirety than Latvia, which has latitude of between 55° and 58° and a longitude of between 20° and 28°. During most of December and January, the sun does not rise until after 9 a.m. and sets as early as 3 p.m. On the other hand, to compensate, the longest day of summer lasts almost 18 hours. In spite of its northern location, daytime winter temperatures average only slightly below freezing because of the Baltic Sea and the Gulf Stream. Daytime summer temperatures average about 70°F. The maritime climate also accounts for the country's frequent cloud cover and considerable precipitation (average per year is about 25 inches).

Terrain:

low plain

Natural Resources:

peat, limestone, dolomite, amber, hydropower, wood, arable land

Natural Hazards:

NA

Irrigated Land:

3 Square Miles
8 Square Kilometers

Environmental Issues:

Latvia's environment has benefited from a shift to service industries after the country regained independence; the main environmental priorities are improvement of drinking water quality and sewage system, household and hazardous waste management, and reduction of air pollution; in 2001, Latvia closed the EU accession negotiation chapter on environment committing to full enforcement of EU environmental directives by 2010

Environment - International Agreements:

party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Latvia Geography

Geographic Location Europe
Total Area 24,938 Square Miles
64,589 Square Kilometers
Land Area 24,034 Square Miles
62,249 Square Kilometers
Water Area 903 Square Miles
2,340 Square Kilometers
Land Boundaries 859 Miles
1,382 Kilometers
Irrigated Land 3 Square Miles
8 Square Kilometers
Border Countries Belarus 141 km, Estonia 339 km, Lithuania 453 km, Russia 217 km
Coastline 309 Miles
498 Kilometers
Geographic Coordinates 57 00 N, 25 00 E
Terrain low plain
Highest Point 312 Meters
Highest Point Location Gaizinkalns 312 m
Lowest Point Location Baltic Sea 0 m
Natural Resources peat, limestone, dolomite, amber, hydropower, wood, arable land
Time Zone UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
Daylight saving time +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
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