Latvia Demographics

What is the population of Latvia?

Population 1,881,232
Population Growth Rate -0.61%
Urban Population 67.700000
Population in Major Urban Areas RIGA (capital) 701,000
Nationality Noun Latvian(s)
Ethnic Groups Latvian 57.7%, Russian 29.6%, Belarusian 4.1%, Ukrainian 2.7%, Polish 2.5%, Lithuanian 1.4%, other 2% (2002)
Language Note Latvian (official) 56.3%, Russian 33.8%, other 0.6% (includes Polish, Ukrainian, and Belarusian), unspecified 9.4%; note - data represent language usually spoken at home.

Latvia Learning

What is school like in Latvia?


School in Latvia consists of 12 years: 4 years of primary school, 5 years of secondary school and 3 years of high school. It is a general practice that pupils of all 12 grades study in the same building. Schools in Riga and other major cities of Latvia are bigger than those in rural areas. On average a school in a city has 500 pupils, while a typical town or village school has around 200 pupils. There are approximately 200 schools in Latvia, from which 100 are located in Riga, as half of the Latvian population lives in its capital. Schools in Riga are constantly renovated and improved both by private and public funding. Schools in rural areas are generally older.

A typical classroom of a primary school has fifteen desks (each desk for two pupils). There is a big blackboard on the wall, a teacher’s table with a chair, several green flowers and a cupboard where some books are located. On a wall, generally near the entrance, there is an announcement board, where some of children’s drawings, announcements and Birthday congratulations may be placed. Generally, there are no toys, puzzles and TVs in a classroom. Every school has one specific classroom with computers, which, however, is available starting with secondary school for IT lessons.

Classrooms are spacious and light. Even in old schools parents are often happy to volunteer for repainting floors and walls during summer holidays, in order to improve their children’s school experience. Not all the schools have enough study books and manuals to distribute to pupils. Therefore, they are forced to share one book for every two students or they are asked to acquire it by themselves. Books are comparatively expensive and not all the parents can afford buying them. Schools in Riga and other major cities usually have a well-equipped computer class, while schools in rural areas might not have computers at all or have very old computers. Gyms for physical education classes are well-equipped. Schools have enough staff to ensure children’s education. Quality of food in school canteens (cafeterias) is usually poor. While some children have lunch in a school canteen, many parents prefer to prepare a lunch box at home, as a sandwich prepared by parents is much tastier and healthier than a school canteen soup. However, generally a school is a well-equipped and secure place for children.

Education Culture

Education definitely plays a central role in the lives of children in Latvia. Almost all the children go to a kindergarten, where apart from playing, they may start reading, counting, drawing, singing, dancing and/or doing sports. Generally, parents try to educate children at home as well, but certainly there are many exceptions, particularly those where parents suffer from alcoholism.

Music, art and hand craft are obligatory subjects in a Latvian school. Drama and dancing are often offered as after-school disciplines for a separate fee.


A usual school day of a Latvian child starts at 8:00 am and lasts till 13:00. Children go to school every working day from Monday to Friday. They have 5-6 classes with a 20 minute lunch break and a 40 minute class in fresh air during which they can play outside on a playground. Every class lasts for 40 minutes, and breaks between classes range from 5 till 20 minutes. On average, a primary school grade has 20-30 pupils. A primary school teacher teaches: Mathematics, Literature, Latvian and/or Russian (Russian is the first language of approximately 40% of the Latvian population). Physical education, music and art are obligatory subjects as well, which are taught by other teachers. Children do not speak English as a primary language at home, but English classes are offered starting with the first grade. Unfortunately, it is very hard if not impossible to learn English at school during all 12 grades in Latvia for one important reason: teachers are paid a comparatively low salary in Latvia. People who know English well prefer to work as translators or private English teachers, but they do not become school teachers. As a result, English teachers do not usually do not know the language, and therefore, they are not able to provide adequate knowledge to children.

Almost all the children who complete the first 4 grades of school move on to secondary education; an obligatory school education consists of 9 grades in Latvia.

Discipline management in schools depends on a teacher’s personality and character. Children do not respect all the teachers, but only those who manage to establish the right contact with them or who are so strict that children are afraid to be noisy. However, there are also those teachers where the class discipline is unacceptable. A headmaster is generally respected by pupils. He/she is a person who is able to solve difficult situations, but who children are slightly afraid of: in case a child does not behave in the appropriate manner during a lesson, the worst “punishment” a pupil may have from a teacher’s side is visiting a headmaster’s study.

Uniforms are not obligatory in Latvia. Some schools, such as Pushkin Lyceum in Riga, create internal rules and expect boys and girls to arrive in black and white outfit on a daily basis. However, this is not a common practice.

Children greet teachers and other adults by saying “Labrit” (Good morning) or “Labdien” (Good day), or their equivalent in Russian, depending whether it is a Russian or a Latvian school. The government has introduced a number of laws which no longer permit children from Russian families to get education in the Russian language. The majority of subjects must be taught in Latvian even in Russian schools. This creates a number of problems, as there are not enough Latvian teachers, but those teachers who have always taught their subjects in Russian often have a poor knowledge of the Latvian language. However, they are still forced to teach in Latvian, and it is clear that the quality of education suffers significantly.

A typical lunch in a school canteen consists of soup, meat and vegetables, juice and a small dessert. Canteens of Latvian schools are known for poor quality food.

Latvia Population Comparison

Latvia Health Information

What are the health conditions in Latvia?

Life Expectancy at Birth 73.190000
Death Rate - deaths/1,000 population 13.6
Infant Mortality Rate - total deaths/1,000 live births 8.080000
Health Expenditures - percent of GDP 6.7%
Physicians Density - physicians/1,000 population 2.9
Hospital Bed Density - beds/1,000 population 5.3
Major Infectious Diseases - degree of risk intermediate
Drinking Water Source - percent of urban population improved 99.600000
Maternal Mortality Rate - deaths/100,000 live births 34
Mean Age for Mother's First Birth (age 25-49) 26.4
Contraceptive Prevalence Rate - female 12-49 67.8%
Total Fertility Rate - children born/woman 1.34
Obesity - adult prevalence rate 24.9%
Sanitation Facility Access - percent of urban population improved 82.100000

Latvia Life Expectancy

How long do people live in Latvia?

Life Expectancy at Birth 73.190000
Median Age 41.200000
Contraceptive Prevalance Rate - female 12-49 67.8%
Infant Mortality Rate 8.080000
Maternal Mortality Rate - deaths/100,000 live births 34
Total Fertility Rate - children born/woman 1.34

Latvia median age, birth rate and death rates

Birth Rate - births/1,000 population 10
Median Age 41.200000
Net Migration Rate - migrant(s)/1,000 population -2.36
Population Growth Rate -0.61%
Sex Ratio at Birth - male/female 1.050000
Age Structure 15.010000
Contraceptive Prevalance Rate - female 12-49 67.8%
Infant Mortality Rate 8.080000
Maternal Mortality Rate - deaths/100,000 live births 34
Mother's mean age at first birth 26.4
Total Fertility Rate - children born/woman 1.34

Latvia Medical Information

What are the health conditions in Latvia?

Medical Facilities and Health Information

The quality of medical care in Latvia continues to improve, but still often falls short of Western standards. Latvia has many highly trained medical professionals, but hospitals and clinics still suffer from a lack of equipment and resources. The 2008-2009 economic crisis has resulted in further strains in health service budgets. Many doctors speak at least some English. There are few private clinics in major cities that offer services equal to Western European or U.S. standards. Elderly travelers and those with health problems may be at increased risk.

Western-quality dental care can be obtained in Riga. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services, particularly if immigration status in Latvia is unclear.

Ambulance service for emergencies is available by dialing 113; however, response time is poor in rural areas. Air ambulance service is available for medical evacuations; however, it is very expensive and advance payment or guarantee letter from an insurance company is required before a patient is transported.

Pharmaceuticals sold in Latvia are produced by companies certified in accordance with EU standards. Products of most major pharmaceutical manufacturers are sold in pharmacies in Latvia; however, they will not necessarily be labeled the same as in the United States and instructions are often not printed in English.

Tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme disease are widespread throughout the country. Those intending to visit parks or forested areas in Latvia are urged to speak with their health care practitioners. Tick-borne encephalitis vaccinations are given as a series of three doses, and are not available in the United States. There are no vaccines against Lyme disease. Hepatitis A is also a significant problem in Latvia.

Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Latvia.

Health Expenditures - percent of GDP


Hospital Bed Density - beds/1,000 population


Physicians Density - physicians/1,000 population


Latvia Education

What is school like in Latvia?

Education Expenditures - percent of GDP 5%
Literacy - female 99.8%
Literacy - male 99.8%
Literacy - total population 99.7%
Literacy Definition age 15 and over can read and write
Total School Life Expectancy - (primary to tertiary) 16.000000

Latvia Literacy

Can people in Latvia read?

Literacy - female 99.8%
Literacy - male 99.8%
Literacy - total population 99.7%
Literacy Definition age 15 and over can read and write

Latvia Crime

Is Latvia a safe place to visit?

Crime Information

Latvia is a relatively safe country, and crime is generally non-violent in nature; however, serious violent assaults and robberies have occurred. Harassment of foreigners, ethnic minorities, and homosexuals has also occurred in Latvia.

The Riga Tourist Police Unit has a 24/7 English-speaking operator at 371 6718 1818 and English-speaking officers who frequently patrol the Old City. The most common crimes encountered by foreign tourists are purse snatching, pick-pocketing, and mugging, especially during the summer tourism season. Tourists -- particularly those carrying backpacks -- are targeted by individuals or small groups of thieves working together. Riga’s Old Town (Vecriga), Central train station (Dzelzcela stacija), Central bus station (Autoosta) and Central market (Centraltirgus) are crowded public places that are targeted by thieves.

Please be aware that there are numerous scam artists targeting foreigners in the tourist pubs and restaurants. You should pay special attention to the drink prices at bars. There have been instances of travelers being charged exorbitant prices. Bills have been as high as several thousand dollars for drinks, and in some establishments the management may use force to secure payment.

If possible, you should avoid walking alone at night and avoid using ATMs after dark.

In addition, Internet crime is a growing concern in Latvia. Common fraudulent schemes involve both Internet auction sites and Internet job-search sites. In the first scam, criminals offer you valuable items for sale at low prices on Internet auctions and request that your payments are sent by wire transfer to a bank in Latvia or through a fraudulent escrow site that they have created themselves. In this scheme, your money passes through a bank in Latvia and is quickly withdrawn at an ATM or transferred to a bank in another country. It is very difficult in these cases to discover the identities of the account holders or recover the funds.

The second common scam involves identity theft through false job offers. In this scheme, a company claiming to be located in Latvia, but which has a non-existent address, offers you employment as a U.S.-based agent or freight forwarder. When you respond to the job offer, commonly posted on one of several popular Internet job sites, you are asked for a Social Security Number and other identifying information under the guise of conducting a background check.

Latvia Penalties for Crime

Criminal Penalties

Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal to bring back into the United States, but by buying them you may also be breaking local law. While you are traveling in another country, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen.

Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own, and criminal penalties vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. For example, you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods abroad. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States.

If you do something illegal in Latvia, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. Persons violating Latvian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking illegal drugs in Latvia are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.

Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements with certain countries, and customary international law, if you are arrested in Latvia, you have the option to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the U.S. Embassy of your arrest, and to have communications from you forwarded to the U.S. Embassy.

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