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Rīga (Latvian)
Reiga (Latgalian)
Rīgõ (Livonian)
Capital city and state city
Latvija Riga 2021.svg
Riga highlighted in red inside of Latvia
Relief Map of Latvia.jpg
Red pog.svg
Location within Latvia
Baltic states location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within the Baltics
Europe relief laea location map.jpg
Red pog.svg
Location within Europe
Coordinates: 56°56′56″N24°6′23″E / 56.94889°N 24.10639°E / 56.94889; 24.10639
Country Latvia
  Type City Council
  MayorVilnis Ķirsis [2]
  Capital city and state city 304 km2 (117 sq mi)
  Land253.05 km2 (97.70 sq mi)
  Water50.95 km2 (19.67 sq mi)  15.8%
3,359 km2 (1,297 sq mi)
 (2024) [4]
  Capital city and state city 605,273
  Density2,000/km2 (5,200/sq mi)
920,643 [5]
  Metro density260/km2 (670/sq mi)
Rigan (Rīdzinieks)
  Capital city and state city €17.6 billion
  Metro€21.3 billion
Time zone UTC+2 (EET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+3 (EEST)
Calling codes 66 and 67
City budget €1.26 billion [9]
HDI (2021)0.929 [10] very high
Website riga.lv
Official name Historic Centre of Riga
Criteriaii, i
Reference no. [11]
UNESCO region Europe

Riga ( /ˈrɡə/ REE-gə) [lower-alpha 1] is the capital, primate, and the largest city of Latvia, as well as the most populous city in the Baltic States. Home to 605,273 inhabitants, the city accounts for a third of Latvia's total population. The population of Riga metropolitan area, which stretches beyond the city limits, is estimated at 860,142 (as of 2023). The city lies on the Gulf of Riga at the mouth of the Daugava river where it meets the Baltic Sea. Riga's territory covers 307.17 km2 (118.60 sq mi) and lies 1–10 m (3–33 ft) above sea level [12] on a flat and sandy plain. [12]


Riga was founded in 1201, and is a former Hanseatic League member. Riga's historical centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, noted for its Art Nouveau/Jugendstil architecture and 19th century wooden architecture. [13] Riga was the European Capital of Culture in 2014, along with Umeå in Sweden. Riga hosted the 2006 NATO Summit, the Eurovision Song Contest 2003, the 2013 World Women's Curling Championship, and the IIHF Men's World Ice Hockey Championships in 2006, 2021, and 2023. It is home to the European Union's office of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC). In 2017, it was named as the European Region of Gastronomy.

In 2019, Riga received over 1.4 million foreign visitors. [14] The city is served by Riga International Airport, the largest and busiest airport in the Baltic States. Riga is a member of Eurocities, [15] the Union of the Baltic Cities (UBC), [16] and Union of Capitals of the European Union (UCEU). [17]


The precise origin of the name is unknown, however there are numerous and speculative theories for the origin of the name Riga:

However, the most reliably documented explanation is the affirmation by German historian Dionysius Fabricius (1610) that Riga's name comes from its already established role in trade: [22] "Riga obtained its name from the buildings or warehouses found in great number along the banks of the Duna, which the Livs in their own language are accustomed to call Riae". [23] [lower-alpha 2] The "j" in Latvian rīja hardened to a "g" in German. English geographer Richard Hakluyt (1589) corroborates this account, calling Riga as Rie, as pronounced in Latvian. [24] This is further supported by the fact that Riga is called Riia in Estonian (a language closely related to Livonian).


Historical affiliations

Flag of the State of the Teutonic Order.svg Terra Mariana (condominium of Archbishops of Riga and Livonian Order) 1201–1561
Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg Imperial Free City 1561–1582
Choragiew krolewska krola Zygmunta III Wazy.svg Poland–Lithuania 1582–1629
Flag of Sweden.svg Swedish Empire 1629–1721
Flag of Russia.svg Russian Empire 1721–1917
Flag of the German Empire.svg German Empire 1917–1918
Flag of Latvia.svg Republic of Latvia 1918–1940
Flag of Latvian SSR (1940).svg  Latvian SSR 1940–1941
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg Nazi Germany 1941–1944
Flag of Latvian SSR (1940).svg Flag of Latvian SSR.svg  Latvian SSR 1944–1990
Flag of Latvia.svg Republic of Latvia 1990–present


The river Daugava has been a trade route since antiquity, part of the Vikings' Dvina–Dnieper navigation route to Byzantium. [25] A sheltered natural harbor 15 km (9.3 mi) upriver from the mouth of the Daugava—the site of today's Riga—has been recorded, as Duna Urbs, as early as the 2nd century. [25] It was settled by the Livs, a Finnic tribe.

The building of the Brotherhood of Blackheads is one of the most iconic buildings of Old Riga (Vecriga). Plaza del Ayuntamiento, Riga, Letonia, 2012-08-07, DD 10.JPG
The building of the Brotherhood of Blackheads is one of the most iconic buildings of Old Riga (Vecrīga).

Riga began to develop as a centre of Viking trade during the early Middle Ages. [25] Riga's inhabitants engaged mainly in fishing, animal husbandry, and trading, later developing crafts, including bone, wood, amber, and iron. [25]

The Livonian Chronicle of Henry testifies to Riga having long been a trading centre by the 12th century, referring to it as portus antiquus (ancient port), and describes dwellings and warehouses used to store mostly flax, and hides. [25] German traders began visiting Riga, establishing a nearby outpost in 1158.

Along with German traders the monk Meinhard of Segeberg [26] arrived to convert the Livonian pagans to Christianity. Catholic and Orthodox Christianity had already arrived in Latvia more than a century earlier, and many Latvians had been baptized. [25] [26] Meinhard settled among the Livs, building a castle and church at Uexküll (now known as Ikšķile), upstream from Riga, and established his bishopric there. [26] The Livs, however, continued to practice paganism and Meinhard died in Uexküll in 1196, having failed in his mission. [27] In 1198, the Bishop Berthold arrived with a contingent of crusaders [27] and commenced a campaign of forced Christianization. [25] [26] Berthold died soon afterwards and his forces were defeated. [27]

The Church mobilized to avenge this defeat. Pope Innocent III issued a bull declaring a crusade against the Livonians. [27] Bishop Albert was proclaimed Bishop of Livonia by his uncle Hartwig of Uthlede, Prince-Archbishop of Bremen and Hamburg in 1199. Albert landed in Riga in 1200 [25] [27] with 23 ships [28] and 500 Westphalian crusaders. [29] In 1201, he transferred the seat of the Livonian bishopric from Uexküll to Riga, extorting agreement to do this from the elders of Riga by force. [25]

Under Bishop Albert

The year 1201 also marked the first arrival of German merchants in Novgorod, via the Dvina. [30] To defend territory [31] and trade, Albert established the Order of Livonian Brothers of the Sword in 1202, which was open to nobles and merchants. [30]

The Christianisation of the Livs continued. In 1207, Albert started to fortify the town. [30] [32] King Philip invested Albert with Livonia as a fief [33] and principality of the Holy Roman Empire. [25] To promote a permanent military presence, territorial ownership was divided between the Church and the Order, with the Church taking Riga and two-thirds of all lands conquered and granting the Order a third. [34] Until then, it had been customary for crusaders to serve for a year and then return home. [34]

Albert had ensured Riga's commercial future by obtaining papal bulls which decreed that all German merchants had to carry on their Baltic trade through Riga. [34] In 1211, Riga minted its first coinage, [25] and Albert laid the cornerstone for the Riga Dom. [35] Riga was not yet secure as an alliance of tribes failed to take Riga. [34] In 1212, Albert led a campaign to compel Polotsk to grant German merchants free river passage. [30] Polotsk conceded Kukenois (Koknese) and Jersika to Albert, also ending the Livs' tribute to Polotsk. [36]

Riga's merchant citizenry chafed and sought greater autonomy from the Church. In 1221, they acquired the right to independently self-administer Riga [31] and adopted a city constitution. [37]

That same year Albert was compelled to recognise Danish rule over lands they had conquered in Estonia and Livonia. [38] Albert had sought the aid of King Valdemar of Denmark to protect Riga and Livonian lands against Liv insurrection when reinforcements could not reach Riga. The Danes landed in Livonia, built a fortress at Reval (Tallinn) and set about conquering Estonian and Livonian lands. The Germans attempted, but failed, to assassinate Valdemar. [39] Albert was able to reach an accommodation with them a year later, however, and in 1222 Valdemar returned all Livonian lands and possessions to Albert's control. [40]

Albert's difficulties with Riga's citizenry continued; with papal intervention, a settlement was reached in 1225 whereby they no longer had to pay tax to the Bishop of Riga, [41] and Riga's citizens acquired the right to elect their magistrates and town councillors. [41] In 1226, Albert consecrated the Dom Cathedral, [25] built St. James's Church, [25] (now a cathedral) and founded a parochial school at the Church of St. George. [26]

In 1227, Albert conquered Oesel [42] and the city of Riga concluded a treaty with the Principality of Smolensk giving Polotsk to Riga. [43]

Albert died in January 1229. [44] He failed in his aspiration to be anointed archbishop [33] but the German hegemony he established over the Livonia would last for seven centuries. [34]

Hanseatic League

In 1282, Riga became a member of the Hanseatic League. The Hansa was instrumental in giving Riga economic and political stability, thus providing the city with a strong foundation which endured the political conflagrations that were to come, down to modern times.

Holy Roman Empire, Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Swedish and Russian Empires

Riga in the 16th century Panorama of Riga, 1572.jpg
Riga in the 16th century
Riga in 1650. Drawing by Johann Christoph Brotze. Riga 1650.jpg
Riga in 1650. Drawing by Johann Christoph Brotze.

As the influence of the Hanseatic League waned, Riga became the object of foreign military, political, religious and economic aspirations. Riga accepted the Reformation in 1522, ending the power of the archbishops. In 1524, iconoclasts targeted a statue of the Virgin Mary in the cathedral to make a statement against religious icons. It was accused of being a witch, and given a trial by water in the Daugava river. The statue floated, so it was denounced as a witch and burnt at Kubsberg. [45] With the demise of the Livonian Order (1561) during the Livonian War, Riga for twenty years had the status of a free imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire before it came under the influence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth by the Treaty of Drohiczyn, which ended the war for Riga in 1581. In 1621, during the Polish–Swedish War (1621–1625), Riga and the outlying fortress of Daugavgrīva came under the rule of Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, who intervened in the Thirty Years' War not only for political and economic gain but also in favour of German Lutheran Protestantism. During the Russo-Swedish War (1656–1658), Riga withstood a siege by Russian forces.

Riga remained one of the largest cities under the Swedish crown until 1710, [46] a period during which the city retained a great deal of autonomous self-government. In July 1701, during the opening phase of the Great Northern War, the Crossing of the Düna took place nearby, resulting in a victory for king Charles XII of Sweden. Between November 1709 and June 1710, however, the Russians under Tsar Peter the Great besieged and captured Riga, which was at the time struck by a plague. Along with the other Livonian towns and gentry, Riga capitulated to Russia, but largely retained their privileges. Riga was made the capital of the Governorate of Riga (later, Livonia). Sweden's northern dominance had ended, and Russia's emergence as the strongest Northern power was formalised through the Treaty of Nystad in 1721. At the beginning of the 20th century Riga was the largest[ dubious discuss ] timber export port in the Russian Empire and ranked the 3rd[ when? ] according to the external trade volume. [47] [48]

During these many centuries of war and changes of power in the Baltic, and despite demographic changes, the Baltic Germans in Riga had maintained a dominant position. By 1867, Riga's population was 42.9% German. [49] Riga employed German as its official language of administration until the installation of Russian in 1891 as the official language in the Baltic provinces, as part of the policy of Russification of the non-Russian-speaking territories of the Russian Empire, including Congress Poland, Finland and the Baltics, undertaken by Tsar Alexander III. More and more Latvians started moving to the city during the mid-19th century. The rise of a Latvian bourgeoisie made Riga a centre of the Latvian National Awakening with the founding of the Riga Latvian Association in 1868 and the organisation of the first national song festival in 1873. The nationalist movement of the Neo-Latvians was followed by the socialist New Current during the city's rapid industrialisation, culminating in the 1905 Revolution led by the Latvian Social Democratic Workers' Party.

World War I

Baltische Post (written with long s) was a German language newspaper in Riga during the early 20th century. Baltische Post 25 October 1908.jpg
Baltische Post (written with long s) was a German language newspaper in Riga during the early 20th century.
German troops entering Riga during World War I German troops Riga 1917.jpg
German troops entering Riga during World War I

The 20th century brought World War I and the impact of the Russian Revolution of 1917 to Riga. As a result of the battle of Jugla, the German army marched into Riga on 3 September 1917. [50] On 3 March 1918, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed, giving the Baltic countries to Germany. Because of the armistice with Germany of 11 November 1918, Germany had to renounce that treaty, as did Russia, leaving Latvia and the other Baltic States in a position to claim independence. Latvia, with Riga as its capital city, thus declared its independence on 18 November 1918. Between World War I and World War II (1918–1940), Riga and Latvia shifted their focus from Russia to the countries of Western Europe. The United Kingdom and Germany replaced Russia as Latvia's major trade partners. The majority of the Baltic Germans were resettled in late 1939, prior to the occupation of Estonia and Latvia by the Soviet Union in June 1940.

World War II and Soviet era

Damaged House of the Blackheads and St. Peter's Church during World War II Damaged buildings of the Riga Old Town and St. Peter's Church during the World War II, 1939-1945.jpg
Damaged House of the Blackheads and St. Peter's Church during World War II

During World War II, Latvia was occupied by the Soviet Union in June 1940 and then was occupied by Nazi Germany in 1941–1944. On 17 June 1940, the Soviet forces invaded Latvia occupying bridges, post/telephone, telegraph, and broadcasting offices. Three days later, Latvian president Kārlis Ulmanis was forced to approve a pro-Soviet government which had taken office. On 14–15 July, rigged elections were held in Latvia and the other Baltic states, The ballots held the following instructions: "Only the list of the Latvian Working People's Bloc must be deposited in the ballot box. The ballot must be deposited without any changes." The alleged voter activity index was 97.6%. Most notably, the complete election results were published in Moscow 12 hours before the election closed. Soviet electoral documents found later substantiated that the results were completely fabricated. The Soviet authorities, having regained control over Riga and Latvia imposed a regime of terror, opening the headquarters of the KGB, massive deportations started. Hundreds of men were arrested, including leaders of the former Latvian government. The most notorious deportation, the June deportation took place on 13 and 14 June 1941, estimated at 15,600 men, women, and children, and including 20% of Latvia's last legal government. Similar deportations were repeated after the end of World War II. The building of the KGB located at 61 Brīvības iela, known as 'the corner house', is now a museum. Stalin's deportations also included thousands of Latvian Jews. (The mass deportation totalled 131,500 across the Baltics.)

During the Nazi occupation, the Jewish community was forced into the Riga Ghetto and a Nazi concentration camp was constructed in Kaiserwald. On 25 October 1941, the Nazis relocated all Jews from Riga and the vicinity to the ghetto. Most of Latvia's Jews (about 24,000) were killed on 30 November and 8 December 1941 in the Rumbula massacre. [51] By the end of the war, the remaining Baltic Germans were expelled to Germany.

Soldiers of the Soviet Red Army in front of the Freedom Monument in Riga in 1944 Red Army soldiers in Riga. October 1944.jpg
Soldiers of the Soviet Red Army in front of the Freedom Monument in Riga in 1944

The Soviet Red Army reconquered Riga on 13 October 1944. In the following years the massive influx of labourers, administrators, military personnel, and their dependents from Russia and other Soviet republics started. Microdistricts of the large multi-storied housing blocks were built to house immigrant workers.

By the end of World War II, Riga's historical centre was heavily damaged from constant bombing. After the war, huge efforts were made to reconstruct and renovate most of the famous buildings that had been part of the skyline of the city before the war. Such buildings were, amongst others, St. Peter's Church which lost its wooden tower after a fire caused by the Wehrmacht (renovated in 1954). Another example is the House of the Blackheads, completely destroyed, its ruins subsequently demolished; a facsimile was constructed in 1995.

In 1989, the percentage of Latvians in Riga had fallen to 36.5%. [52]

21st century

Flower laying ceremony at the Freedom Monument in 2012 Ministru prezidents Valdis Dombrovskis noliek ziedus pie Brivibas pieminekla (7141677177).jpg
Flower laying ceremony at the Freedom Monument in 2012

In 2004, the arrival of low-cost airlines resulted in cheaper flights from other European cities such as London and Berlin, and consequently a substantial increase in numbers of tourists. [53]

On 21 November 2013, the roof of a supermarket collapsed in Zolitūde, one of the neighbourhoods of the city, possibly as a result of the weight of materials used in the construction of a garden on the roof. Fifty-four people were killed. Latvian President Andris Bērziņš described the disaster as "a large-scale murder of many defenceless people". [54]

Modern highrises of Riga View from Latvian Academy of Sciences building.09.jpg
Modern highrises of Riga

Riga was the European Capital of Culture in 2014. [55] During Latvia's Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2015, the 4th Eastern Partnership Summit took place in Riga. [56]

Following the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Saeima voted to suspend the functioning of a section of an agreement between Latvia and Russia regarding the preservation of memorial structures on 12 May, [57] in the next day the Riga City Council also voted to demolish the Monument to the Liberators of Soviet Latvia and Riga from the German Fascist Invaders. [58] On 20 May, a rally called "Getting Rid of Soviet Heritage" took place in Riga to call for removing Soviet monuments in Latvia, it was attended by approximately 5,000 people. [59] The demolition began 22 August 2022 and on 25 August 2022, the obelisk was toppled. [60] [61] [62] In 2022, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the street on which the Embassy of the Russian Federation is located was renamed "Independent Ukraine Street." [63] [64]


Riga is the largest city in the three Baltic states: (Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia). [65] [ citation needed ] [66] Riga is home to approximately one tenth of the three Baltic countries' combined population. [67]

Administrative divisions

Riga's administrative divisions consist of six administrative entities: Central, Kurzeme and Northern districts and the Latgale, Vidzeme and Zemgale suburbs. Three entities were established on 1 September 1941, and the other three were established in October 1969. [68] There are no official lower-level administrative units, but the Riga City Council Development Agency is working on a plan, which officially makes Riga consist of 58 neighbourhoods. [69] The current names were confirmed on 28 December 1990. [70]

Riga Skyline Panorama, Latvia - Diliff.jpg
Panorama over Riga from St. Peter's Church


The climate of Riga is humid continental (Köppen Dfb). [71] The coldest months are January and February, when the average temperature is −2.1  °C (28  °F ) but temperatures as low as −20 to −25 °C (−4 to −13 °F) can be observed almost every year on the coldest days. The proximity of the sea causes frequent autumn rains and fogs. Continuous snow cover may last eighty days. The summers in Riga are mild and rainy with an average temperature of 18 °C (64 °F), while the temperature on the hottest days can exceed 30 °C (86 °F).

Climate data for Riga (1991–2020 normals, extremes 1885–present)
Record high °C (°F)10.2
Mean maximum °C (°F)5.9
Mean daily maximum °C (°F)−0.1
Daily mean °C (°F)−2.1
Mean daily minimum °C (°F)−4.5
Mean minimum °C (°F)−16.4
Record low °C (°F)−33.7
Average precipitation mm (inches)46.5
Average snowfall cm (inches)25.0
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0mm)119878109109121111115
Average relative humidity (%)85.982.476.068.266.369.
Mean monthly sunshine hours 36.664.2141.2203.6286.7282.2291.2250.4166.795.536.124.41,878.8
Average ultraviolet index 0123565531003
Source 1: Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Agency (temperature, precipitation and sunshine) [72] [73]
Source 2: NOAA (precipitation days, humidity 1991–2020), [74] Weather Atlas, [75] and World Weather Online (snowfall) [76]
Coastal temperature data for Riga (Daugavgrīva)
Average sea temperature °C (°F)1.0
Source 1: Seatemperature.org [77]


Riga City Council Riga - City Hall.jpg
Riga City Council

The head of the city government in Riga is the mayor, or officially the Chairman of the Riga City Council. The mayor is elected by the city council. He or she is assisted by one or more Vice Mayors (deputy mayors). The current mayor is Vilnis Ķirsis, who was elected on 17 August 2023 from New Unity, with support from "Coalition for Cooperation", consisting of New Unity, National Alliance/Latvian Regional Alliance (NA/LRA), Code for Riga, Honor to server Riga and For Latvia's Development factions.

The city council is a democratically elected institution and is the final decision-making authority in the city. The Council consists of 60 members or deputies who are elected every four years. The Presidium of the Riga City Council consists of the Chairman of the Riga City Council and the representatives delegated by the political parties or party blocks elected to the City Council. From February to October 2020, the offices of the Mayor and Vice Mayors were suspended and the council itself had been dissolved and replaced by an interim administration of representatives from three governmental ministries until snap elections were held in 2020.


Riga population pyramid in 2022 Riga population pyramid in 2022.svg
Riga population pyramid in 2022
Historical population
Source: pop-stat.mashke.org [78]

With 605,800 inhabitants in 2022 as according to the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia, Riga was the largest city in the Baltic states, though its population has decreased from just over 900,000 in 1991 [79] and the population of Vilnius has just outnumbered that of Riga. Notable causes include emigration and low birth rates. According to the 2022 data, ethnic Latvians made up 47.4% of the population of Riga. Russians formed 35.7%, Belarusians 3.6%, Ukrainians 3.5%, Poles 1.7%, other ethnicities consisted 8.2%. By comparison, 63.0% of Latvia's total population was ethnically Latvian, 24.2% Russian, 3.1% Belarusian, 2.2% Ukrainian, 1.9% Polish, 1.1% are Lithuanian and the rest of other origins.

Upon the restoration of Latvia's independence in 1991, Soviet-era immigrants (and any of their offspring born before 1991) were not automatically granted Latvian citizenship because they had migrated to the territory of Latvia during the years when Latvia was part of the Soviet Union. The proportion of ethnic Latvians in Riga increased from 36.5% in 1989 to 47.4% in 2022. In contrast, the percentage of Russians fell from 47.3% to 35.7% in the same time period. In 2022 citizens of Latvia made up 79.0%, non-citizens 15.3% and citizens of other countries 5.6% of the population of Riga.


Riga is one of the key economic and financial centres of the Baltic states. Roughly half of all the jobs in Latvia are in Riga and the city generates more than 50% of Latvia's GDP as well as around half of Latvia's exports. The biggest exporters are in wood products, IT, food and beverage manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, transport and metallurgy. [80] Riga Port is one of the largest in the Baltics. It handled a record 34 million tons of cargo in 2011 [81] and has potential for future growth with new port developments on Krievu Sala. [82] Tourism is also a large industry in Riga and after a slowdown during the global economic recessions of the late 2000s, grew 22% in 2011 alone. [83]

Riga was intended to become the global financial centre in the former Soviet Union. One bank, which provided high levels of secrecy for its customers, promoted itself as "We are closer than Switzerland!" (Russian: «Мы ближе, чем Швейцария!»). [84] [85] [86] [lower-alpha 3] On 28 July 1995, twenty Latvian banks with assistance of persons from the Paris Stock Exchange organised the Riga Stock Exchange which was the first Latvian stock exchange in Riga. [88]


The Latvian National Opera Opera Nacional, Riga, Letonia, 2012-08-07, DD 15.JPG
The Latvian National Opera


World Choir Games

Riga hosted the biannual 2014 World Choir Games from 9 to 19 July 2014 which coincided with the city being named European Capital of Culture for 2014. [93] [94] The event, organised by the choral foundation, Interkultur, takes place at various host cities every two years and was originally known as the "Choir Olympics". [95] The event regularly sees over 15,000 choristers in over 300 choirs from over 60 nations compete for gold, silver and bronze medals in over 20 categories. The competition is further divided into a Champions Competition and an Open Competition to allow choirs from all backgrounds to enter. [93] Choral workshops and festivals are also witnessed in the host cities and are usually open to the public. [96]


Riga Castle Riga Castle seen across the river Daugava .jpg
Riga Castle

The radio and TV tower of Riga is the tallest structure in Latvia and the Baltic States, and one of the tallest in the European Union, reaching 368.5 m (1,209 ft). Riga centre also has many great examples of Gothic revival architecture, such as the Kalpaka Boulevard Library, and a bevy of Art Nouveau architecture, as well as a medieval old town. [97]

Art Nouveau

Riga has one of the largest collections of Art Nouveau buildings in the world, with at least 800 buildings. [97] This is due to the fact that at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, when Art Nouveau was at the height of its popularity, Riga experienced an unprecedented financial and demographic boom. [98] In the period from 1857 its population grew from 282,000 (256,200 in Riga itself and another 26,200 inhabitants beyond the city limits in the patrimonial district and military town of Ust-Dvinsk) to 472,100 in 1913. [99] [100] The middle class of Riga used their acquired wealth to build imposing apartment blocks outside the former city walls. Local architects, mostly graduates of Riga Technical University, adopted current European movements and in particular Art Nouveau. [101] Between 1910 and 1913, between 300 and 500 new buildings were built each year in Riga, many of them in Art Nouveau style and most of them outside the old town. [101]


Riga has a rich basketball history. In 1937, as the defending champions, in hosted the second edition of the EuroBasket tournament. In the 1950s, Rīgas ASK became the best club in the Soviet Union and also in Europe, winning the first three editions of the European Cup for Men's Champions Clubs from 1958 to 1960. [102]

In 1960, ASK was not the only team from Riga to take the European crown. TTT Riga clinched their first title in the European Cup for Women's Champion Clubs, turning Riga into the capital city of European basketball because for the first and, to date, only time in the history of European basketball, clubs from the same city were concurrent European men's and women's club champions. [103]

In 2015, Riga was one of the hosts for EuroBasket 2015 and will host for the third time in 2025.

Sports clubs

Arena Riga, home to multiple sports clubs of Riga Arena Riga.jpg
Arena Riga, home to multiple sports clubs of Riga
Dissolved Football Clubs
  • Skonto FC – Skonto FC was a football club established in 1991. The club won fourteen successive Latvian Higher League titles. For a long time it provided the core of the Latvian national football team. Following financial problems, the club was demoted to the Latvian First League in 2016 and went bankrupt in December of that year and subsequently dissolved.
  • JFK Olimps – JFK Olimps played in the top division of Latvian football. The club was founded in 2005 and dissolved in 2012. According to a study from January 2011, the club was the youngest team in Europe, with an average age of 19.02 years.

Sports facilities

Skonto Stadium Skonto Stadions.jpg
Skonto Stadium

Sports events


One of the several trolleybus types in Riga 16-08-31-Skoda 24Tr Irisbus Riga-RR2 4505.jpg
One of the several trolleybus types in Riga
A Skoda 15 T tram in Riga Riga tram 57201 2020-03.jpg
A Škoda 15 T tram in Riga
Riga is a large hub in the Passenger Train network: commuter train frequency in 2016. Latvia railways frequency of commuter trains 2016.svg
Riga is a large hub in the Passenger Train network: commuter train frequency in 2016.

Riga, with its central geographic position and concentration of population, has always been the infrastructural hub of Latvia. Several national roads begin in Riga, and European route E22 crosses Riga from the east and west, while the Via Baltica crosses Riga from the south and north.

As a city situated by a river, Riga also has several bridges. The oldest-standing bridge is the Railway Bridge, which is also the only railroad-carrying bridge in Riga. The Stone Bridge (Akmens tilts) connects Old Riga and Pārdaugava; the Island Bridge (Salu tilts) connects Maskavas Forštate and Pārdaugava via Zaķusala; and the Shroud Bridge (Vanšu tilts) connects Old Riga and Pārdaugava via Ķīpsala. In 2008, the first stage of the new Southern Bridge (Dienvidu tilts) route across the Daugava was completed, and was opened to traffic on 17 November. [106]

The Southern Bridge was the biggest construction project in the Baltic states in 20 years, and its purpose was to reduce traffic congestion in the city centre. [107] [108] Another major construction project is the planned Riga Northern transport corridor; [109] its first segment detailed project was completed in 2015. [110]

The Freeport of Riga facilitates cargo and passenger traffic by sea. Sea ferries connect Riga Passenger Terminal to Stockholm operated by Tallink. [111] Riga has one active airport that serves commercial airlines—the Riga International Airport (RIX), built in 1973. It is the primary hub of AirBaltic and a base for RyanAir. [112] Renovation and modernisation of the airport was completed in 2001, coinciding with the 800th anniversary of the city. In 2006, a new terminal extension was opened. Extension of the runway was completed in October 2008, and the airport is now able to accommodate large aircraft such as the Airbus A340, Boeing 747, 757, 767 and 777. Another terminal extension is under construction as of 2014. [113] The annual number of passengers has grown from 310,000 in 1993 to 4.7 million in 2014, making Riga International Airport the largest in the Baltic States. A new multi-modal hub is planned around the airport with a Rail Baltica station and airport city development planned. [114] [115]

The former international airport of Riga, Spilve Airport, located 5 km (3 mi) from Riga city centre, is used for small aircraft, pilot training and recreational aviation. Riga was also home to a military air base during the Cold WarRumbula Air Base.

Public transport in the city is provided by Rīgas Satiksme which operates a large number of trams, buses and trolleybuses on an extensive network of routes across the city. In addition, up until 2012 many private owners operated minibus services, after which the City Council established the unified transport company Rīgas mikroautobusu satiksme, establishing a monopoly over the service.

Riga International Coach Terminal provides domestic and international connections by coach.

As the population of Riga city started to approach 1 million people in the 1980s, the city became eligible (under the Soviet standards of the time) for the construction of a subway system Riga Metro, which would have been paid for by the Soviet government. However, the population decline and shortage of funding following Latvian independence put an end to this plan.

Riga is connected to the rest of Latvia by domestic trains operated by the national carrier Passenger Train, whose headquarters are in Riga. The main railway station is the Riga Central Station. It has stops for public transport along the streets Satekles iela, 13. janvāra iela Marijas iela, and Merķeļa iela. There are also international rail services to Russia and Belarus, and plans to revive passenger rail traffic with Estonia. International overnight service is with Latvia Express trains (Latvian : Latvijas Ekspresis). A TEN-T project called Rail Baltica envisages building a high-speed railway line via Riga connecting Tallinn to Warsaw using standard gauge, [116] expected to be put into operation in 2024. [117] Latvian Railways (Latvian : Latvijas dzelzceļš or LDz) operates the Latvian Rail History Museum in Riga.


Notable people

Public service

Isaiah Berlin, 1983 IsaiahBerlin1983.jpg
Isaiah Berlin, 1983
Sergei Eisenstein, early 1920s Sergei Eisenstein 03.jpg
Sergei Eisenstein, early 1920s
Elina Garanca, 2012 Elina Garanca (cropped).jpg
Elīna Garanča, 2012
Johann Gottfried Herder, painted in 1785 Johann Gottfried Herder 2.jpg
Johann Gottfried Herder, painted in 1785
Baroness von Krudener and her son Paul, painted in 1786 KauffmannKruedener.jpg
Baroness von Krüdener and her son Paul, painted in 1786
Vera Mukhina, 1937 Nesterov-Mukhina.jpg
Vera Mukhina, 1937
Jelena Ostapenko, 2022 Ostapenko RG22 (4) (52144317609).jpg
Jeļena Ostapenko, 2022
Wilhelm Ostwald, 1913 Wilhelm Ostwald by Nicola Perscheid.jpg
Wilhelm Ostwald, 1913
Mikhail Tal, 1962 Mikhail Tal 1962.jpg
Mikhail Tal, 1962

The Arts



Twin towns – sister cities

Riga is twinned with: [122]

Riga also cooperates with:

See also

Other capitals of the Baltic states


  1. Latvian: Rīga, [ˈriːɡa] , Livonian: Rīgõ, Russian: Рига [ˈrʲigə]
  2. Latin original: "Riga nomen sortita est suum ab aedificiis vel horreis quorum a litus Dunae magna fuit copia, quas livones sua lingua Rias vocare soliti".
  3. Richard L. Palmer, president of Cachet International, Inc., was the CIA station chief at the United States Embassy in Moscow from 1992 to 1994. [86] [87]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Daugava</span> River in Europe

The Daugava or Western Dvina is a large river rising in the Valdai Hills of Russia that flows through Belarus and Latvia into the Gulf of Riga of the Baltic Sea. The Daugava rises close to the source of the Volga. It is 1,020 km (630 mi) in length, of which 352 km (219 mi) are in Latvia and 325 km (202 mi) in Russia. It is a westward-flowing river, tracing out a great south-bending curve as it passes through northern Belarus.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Latvia</span> Country in Northern Europe

Latvia, officially the Republic of Latvia, is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is one of the three Baltic states, along with Estonia to the north and Lithuania to the south. It borders Russia to the east, Belarus to the southeast, and shares a maritime border with Sweden to the west. Latvia covers an area of 64,589 km2 (24,938 sq mi), with a population of 1.9 million. The country has a temperate seasonal climate. Its capital and largest city is Riga. Latvians belong to the ethnolinguistic group of the Balts and speak Latvian, one of the only two surviving Baltic languages, a branch of the Indo-European language family. Russians are the most prominent minority in the country, at almost a quarter of the population.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of Latvia</span>

The history of Latvia began around 9000 BC with the end of the last glacial period in northern Europe. Ancient Baltic peoples arrived in the area during the second millennium BC, and four distinct tribal realms in Latvia's territory were identifiable towards the end of the first millennium AD. Latvia's principal river Daugava, was at the head of an important trade route from the Baltic region through Russia into southern Europe and the Middle East that was used by the Vikings and later Nordic and German traders.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jūrmala</span> Republican state city of Latvia

Jūrmala is a state city in Latvia, about 25 kilometres west of Riga. Jūrmala is a resort town stretching 32 km and is sandwiched between the Gulf of Riga and the Lielupe River. It has a 33 km stretch of white-sand beach and is the fifth-largest city in Latvia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Liepāja</span> City in Courland, Latvia

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Daugavpils</span> Republican city of Latvia

Daugavpils is a state city in southeastern Latvia, located on the banks of the Daugava River, from which the city derives its name. The parts of the city to the north of the river belong to the historical Latvian region of Latgale, and those to the south lie in Selonia. It is the second-largest city in the country after the capital Riga, which is located some 230 kilometres northwest and is the ninth most populous city in the Baltic states.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic</span> Constituent republic of the Soviet Union (1940–1941; 1944–1990)

The Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic, also known as Soviet Latvia or simply Latvia, was de facto one of the constituent republics of the Soviet Union between 1940–1941 and 1944–1990.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ventspils</span> Republican city of Latvia

Ventspils is a state city in northwestern Latvia in the historical Courland region of Latvia, and is the sixth largest city in the country.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kuldīga</span> Town in Latvia

Kuldīga is a town in the Courland region of Latvia, in the western part of the country. It is the center of Kuldīga Municipality with a population of approximately 13,500.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Salaspils</span> Town in Latvia

Salaspils is a town in Latvia, the administrative centre of Salaspils Municipality. The town is situated on the northern bank of the Daugava river, 18 kilometers to the south-east of the city of Riga.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Livonians</span> Ethnic group in the Baltics

The Livonians, or Livs, are a Balto-Finnic people indigenous to northern and northwestern Latvia. Livonians historically spoke Livonian, a Uralic language closely related to Estonian and Finnish. Initially, the last person to have learned and spoken Livonian as a mother tongue, Grizelda Kristiņa, died in 2013, making Livonian a dormant language. In 2020, it was reported that newborn Kuldi Medne had once again become the only living person who speaks Livonian as their first language. As of 2010, there were approximately 30 people who had learned it as a second language.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Latvia national football team</span> Mens association football team representing Latvia

The Latvia national football team represents Latvia in men's international football, and is controlled by the Latvian Football Federation, the governing body for football in Latvia. They have never qualified for the FIFA World Cup, but did qualify for the European Championship in 2004 under head coach Aleksandrs Starkovs.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Historical Latvian Lands</span> Regions of Latvia

Historical Latvian Lands or formerly Cultural regions of Latvia are several areas within Latvia formally recognised as distinct from the rest of the country. These are: Kurzeme (Courland), Zemgale, Latgale, Vidzeme, and Sēlija (Selonia). While some of these regions are seen purely as culturally distinct, others have historically been parts of different countries and have been used to divide the country for administrative and other purposes.

Koknese is a town in Aizkraukle Municipality in the Vidzeme region of Latvia, on the right bank of the Daugava River. It has a population of nearly 3,000.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of Riga</span> Aspect of Lativian history

The history of Riga, the capital of Latvia, begins as early as the 2nd century with a settlement, the Duna urbs, at a natural harbor not far upriver from the mouth of the Daugava River. Later settled by Livs and Kurs, it was already an established trade center in the early Middle Ages along the Dvina-Dnieper trade route to Byzantium. Christianity had come to Latvia as early as the 9th century, but it was the arrival of the Crusades at the end of the 12th century which brought the Germans and forcible conversion to Christianity; the German hegemony instituted over the Baltics lasted until independence—and is still preserved today in Riga's Jugendstil architecture.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Latvia–Lithuania relations</span> Bilateral relations

Latvia–Lithuania relations are bilateral international relations between Latvia and Lithuania. Latvia has an embassy in Vilnius, and Lithuania has an embassy in Riga. The two states share 588 kilometres (365 mi) of common border. Both countries are full members of the NATO and European Union.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Estonia–Latvia relations</span> Bilateral relations of Estonia and Latvia

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lucavsala</span> Island and neighbourhood in Riga, Latvia

Lucavsala is an island located on the Daugava River in Riga, Latvia. It has a population of 98.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Victory Park (Riga)</span> Park in Riga, Latvia

Victory Park is a park in Riga, located on the left bank of the Daugava, in the district of Āgenskalns.The modern area of the park is 36.7 hectares.


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