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INTRODUCING LATVIA
Local Name: Latvija
Other Name(s): Latvijas Republika
Latvia is bordered by Estonia to the north, Russia to the east, Lithuania to the south and the Baltic Sea to the west. Its strategic location has made it an international crossroad for trade, commerce and cultural exchange since ancient times. Vikings followed the "Amber Road’" through Latvian territory along the Daugava River to reach Byzantium and the Mediterranean Sea.

One of the most economically well-off and industrialized parts of the Soviet Union when a coup against then Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev failed in 1991, the Baltic nations saw an opportunity to free themselves from Soviet domination and, following the actions of Lithuania and Estonia, Latvia declared its independence on August 21, 1991. Most other nations quickly recognized their independence, and on September 2, 1991, President Bush announced full diplomatic recognition for Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania.

A country that survived two world wars and 50 years behind the Iron Curtain, Latvia is very committed to the principles of freedom, democracy and international co-operation. It is also a country with a language, culture and attitude all its own – yet with a national identity shaped by its dynamic Baltic Sea region and woven through with diverse historical influences and is actively developing its special role in a rapidly changing, increasingly globalised world community.