Singing and music are characteristic of Latvia’s cultural life. The first song festival was held in the country’s capital, Riga, in 1873 and has since continued every five years. The highlight is a giant chorus in the open air. And they are just one of the many song and dance festivals that attract thousands of visitors from home and abroad. It is said that there is a folk song for every light.
Fifty years ago, Latvia’s economy was dependent on the fishing industry and agriculture, but the Soviets, who controlled the country from 1940-1991, imported heavy industry. Now that the Latvians have shaken off Russia’s dominance, the country is privatizing these industries. At the same time in Riga, entrepreneurs are launching new businesses, giving the city a shot of energy and dynamism among the old art nouveau buildings. Riga is cozy and beautiful and has a well-preserved old town. According to COUNTRYAAH, Latvia is one of the countries starting with letter L.
Despite the many ancient castles and churches that tower well-preserved around the country, relatively few tourists come to Latvia, and the Latvian artists and writers are quite unknown outside the country’s borders. Yet the people of Latvia are deeply proud of their culture, which is several hundred years old.
- CAPITAL CITY: Riga
- LANGUAGE: Latvian
- CURRENCY: Euro (EUR)
- AREA: 64,589 km2
- POPULATION: 1,973,700 (2014 estimate)
People and community
You can live anywhere in Latvia with a family that speaks either Latvian or Russian. Over half of the population of the major Latvian cities is Russian. No matter where you live, there are plenty of opportunities to learn both languages. Latvian families like to visit cottages in their own country on both weekends and holidays. It is also common for several generations to live under the same roof.
According to TOPSCHOOLSINTHEUSA, the school year runs from September to May. A normal school week lasts from Monday to Friday and starts at 8 and ends at. 15. Public schools teach in either Russian or Latvian, and it depends on your host family which school you want to be placed in. Some of the hard subjects are Latvian language and literature, Latvian history and mathematics. You also have the option of choosing electives.
Latvian belongs to a Baltic branch of the Indo-European language family. It is spoken by less than half of the population as a first language and is considered endangered. There is a large Russian community in Latvia, which is why Russian is widespread. Latvian teenagers enjoy learning and speaking English and will surely want to help you learn Latvian. Having a basic knowledge of English will be helpful. AFS will also support you by providing language lessons, lessons and materials.
Meals make up family time, so make sure you are home for dinner. Latvian food varies depending on the region. Holidays and seasons often symbolize traditions or beliefs. Meat and potatoes are an important part of the diet along with smoked fish, dairy products, eggs and grains – and cakes. Soups and sausages are also very popular. In summer and autumn, pies with fresh berries are popular.