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With Andra, you will explore Riga with a local guide who speaks French.


Pre-World War I (1900-1918)

Early 20th Century

During this time, Latvia was a part of the Russian Empire, known as Livonia, and was under Russian politics and culture. However, within the Latvian population, a growing sense of nationalism began to emerge, fueled by a resurgence of Latvian culture and language.

1905: The Russian Revolution

The events of the Russian Revolution of 1905 also had an impact in Latvia, where uprisings and strikes erupted. One of the most notable demonstrations occurred in Riga, where thousands of workers protested against harsh working conditions and demanded political reforms.

1914-1918: World War I

Latvia was deeply affected by World War I, which saw fighting between Russian and German forces on its territory. During the war, many Latvians were forcibly conscripted into the armies of both sides, and the population suffered from famine and other hardships.

1917: February and October Revolutions

The events of the Russian Revolution of 1917 also impacted Latvia. The February Revolution led to the collapse of the tsarist regime, while the October Revolution saw the Bolsheviks seize power. These upheavals contributed to the emergence of a Latvian independence movement.

November 18, 1918

Declaration of Independence: Following the Russian revolution and the collapse of the Russian Empire, Latvia proclaimed its independence on November 18, 1918. However, the Latvian War of Independence followed, with fighting against German and Bolshevik Russian forces lasting until 1920.

Notable Artists and Personalities

Amidst these political and social upheavals, Latvian culture continued to thrive. Artists like painter Jānis Rozentāls and composer Jāzeps Vītols played significant roles in the development of Latvian cultural identity.


During World War I, Latvia became a refuge for many Russian artists and intellectuals fleeing revolutionary turmoil in Petrograd (today Saint Petersburg). This helped enrich the Latvian cultural scene and strengthen the sense of national identity.

Les tirailleurs Lettons de la première guerre mondiale


1919-1920: Latvian War of Independence

After proclaiming its independence, Latvia had to fight to defend it against German and Bolshevik Russian forces. Through the resistance of its armed forces and support from the international community, Latvia succeeded in repelling the aggressors and consolidating its independence.

1920s: State Consolidation

During the 1920s, Latvia undertook political, economic, and social reforms to strengthen its newly formed state. It adopted a democratic constitution in 1922, establishing a parliamentary system and civil rights for all citizens.

1930s: Economic Crisis and Rise of Totalitarianism

The Great Depression of the 1930s hit Latvia hard, causing economic and social unrest. In this climate of instability, radical political movements emerged, including far-right and communist movements. In 1934, Prime Minister Kārlis Ulmanis seized power in an authoritarian manner, ending parliamentary democracy and establishing an authoritarian regime.

Notable Artists and Personalities

The interwar period was characterized by cultural vibrancy in Latvia. Iconic figures such as poet Rainis and composer Andrejs Jurjāns continued to enrich the country's artistic and intellectual scene.


During the 1930s, Latvia became a significant cultural and artistic center in Northern Europe, attracting intellectuals and artists from across the Baltic region. Riga, in particular, emerged as a cosmopolitan city with a vibrant cultural life.

World War II and Occupation (1939-1945)

1939-1940: Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and Soviet Occupation

In 1939, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact divided Eastern Europe between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. Latvia was coerced into signing a mutual defense treaty with the USSR, paving the way for Soviet occupation in June 1940. Soviet authorities swiftly imposed a communist regime in Latvia, suppressing political opposition and persecuting dissenters.

1941-1944: Nazi Occupation and the Holocaust

In 1941, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union and occupied Latvia. During the Nazi occupation, the Nazis orchestrated the systematic extermination of Latvian Jews, as well as other ethnic groups and minorities. Thousands of people were killed in mass shootings or deported to concentration camps.

1944-1945: Return of Soviet Occupation

At the end of World War II, the Red Army regained control of Latvia, reinstating Soviet occupation. This marked the beginning of a period of political repression and terror, where communist authorities eliminated any opposition and suppressed all forms of dissent.

Riga à l'époque soviétique

Soviet Era (1945-1991)

1945-1953: Stalinist Terror Regime

Under the Soviet regime, Latvia endured severe political repression, including mass arrests, deportations, and summary executions. The forced collectivization of agriculture and the nationalization of industry also had a devastating impact on the Latvian economy and society.

1950s-1960s: Reconstruction and Resistance

Despite pressures from the Soviet regime, Latvia managed to rebuild its economy and maintain its culture and national identity. Underground resistance movements emerged, fighting against the occupation and seeking to preserve Latvian language and culture.

1970s-1980s: Nationalist Movement and Perestroika

In the 1970s and 1980s, a Latvian nationalist movement gained momentum, calling for the restoration of independence and recognition of national rights. Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika policy also paved the way for greater political space and freedom of expression in Latvia.

Restoration of Independence (1991)

1991: Declaration of Independence

On May 4, 1990, the Latvian Parliament proclaimed the restoration of Latvia's independence, thereby ending over 50 years of Soviet occupation. This declaration of independence was followed by a tumultuous transition period marked by ethnic and political tensions.

1991-1994: Transition to Democracy

Following the declaration of independence, Latvia embarked on democratic and economic reforms to consolidate its status as a sovereign state. The country reinstated a democratic parliamentary system, adopted a new constitution, and undertook economic reforms to transition from a planned economy to a market economy.

1990s-2000s: European Integration and NATO

Latvia sought closer ties with the West after its independence, becoming a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 2004 and the European Union the same year. These memberships bolstered Latvia's security and stability while offering new economic and political opportunities.

1990s-2000s: Reconstruction and Reforms

Latvia experienced a period of reconstruction and reforms in the years following its independence. The Latvian economy opened up to foreign investment, stimulating economic growth and development. However, this period was also marked by challenges, including the difficult transition from a planned economy to a market economy and the struggle against corruption.


During the 1990s, Latvia undertook radical reforms to liberalize its economy and privatize state-owned enterprises inherited from the Soviet era. This led to a period of economic turbulence but ultimately paved the way for sustained economic growth in the following years.

La fierté et les drapeaux Lettons

Contemporary Era (2010s-2020s)

2014: Annexation of Crimea and tensions with Russia

Tensions between Latvia and Russia escalated following the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014. Latvia, sharing a land border with Russia, expressed concerns about regional security and strengthened its cooperation with NATO and the European Union.

2014-2020: Demographic challenges and migration

Latvia faced demographic challenges, including population decline and significant emigration to other European Union countries in search of better economic opportunities. The Latvian government implemented policies to encourage the return of emigrants and attract new immigrants while seeking to strengthen family policies to encourage birth rates.

2019: Legislative elections and change of government

In 2019, Latvia held legislative elections that led to a change of government. A coalition of pro-EU and pro-NATO parties came into power, ending several years of governance by populist and nationalist parties.

2020: COVID-19 pandemic and response

Like many other countries, Latvia faced the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The Latvian government implemented strict measures to contain the spread of the virus, including temporary lockdowns and travel restrictions. Despite these challenges, Latvia managed to keep the number of cases relatively low compared to other European countries.

Latvia continues to face challenges and opportunities in an ever-changing world, but remains committed to strengthening its democracy, economy, and national identity within the framework of the European Union and NATO.



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