Riga

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Riga

Rīga
Riga montage.jpg
From top, left to right: the Freedom Monument, the Riga City Council building, the House of the Blackheads, Livonian Square, and the Latvian National Opera
Relief Map of Latvia.jpg
Red pog.svg
Riga
Location within Latvia
Baltic states location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Riga
Location within the Baltics
Europe relief laea location map.jpg
Red pog.svg
Riga
Location within Europe
Coordinates: 56°56′56″N24°6′23″E / 56.94889°N 24.10639°E / 56.94889; 24.10639 Coordinates: 56°56′56″N24°6′23″E / 56.94889°N 24.10639°E / 56.94889; 24.10639
Country Latvia
Government
[1]
  Type City Council
  Mayor Mārtiņš Staķis
Area
[2]
   Capital city 304.03 km2 (117.39 sq mi)
  Land253.08 km2 (97.71 sq mi)
  Water50.95 km2 (19.67 sq mi)  15.8%
  Metro
7,292.8 km2 (2,815.8 sq mi)
Population
 (2021) [3]
   Capital city 614,618
  Density2,000/km2 (5,200/sq mi)
   Urban
931,918 [4]
   Metro
[5]
1,070,000
  Metro density146.7/km2 (380/sq mi)
   Demonym
Rīdzinieki
Ethnicity
 (2019) [6]
  Latvians47.1%
   Russians 36.4%
   Belarusians 3.7%
   Ukrainians 3.4%
   Poles 1.8%
   Lithuanians 0.8%
   Romani 0.1%
Time zone UTC+2 (EET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+3 (EEST)
Calling codes 66 and 67
GRP(nominal)2018 [7]
 - Total€16.4 billion
 - Per capita€25,820
HDI (2019)0.933 [8] very high
Website www.riga.lv
Historic Centre of Riga
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Edificios en la Plaza del Mercado, Riga, Letonia, 2012-08-07, DD 02.JPG
The old town of Riga
Criteria Cultural: i, ii
Reference 852
Inscription1997 (21st session)
Area438.3 ha
Buffer zone1,574.2 ha

Riga ( /ˈrɡə/ ; Latvian : Rīga [ˈriːɡa] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ), Livonian : Rīgõ) is the capital of Latvia and is home to 614,618 inhabitants (2021), [9] which is a third of Latvia's population. Being significantly larger than other cities of Latvia, Riga is the country's primate city. It is also the largest city in the three Baltic states and is home to one tenth of the three Baltic states' combined population. [10] 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 ft 3 in–32 ft 10 in) above sea level, [11] on a flat and sandy plain. [11]

Contents

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. [12] 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 2006 IIHF Men's World Ice Hockey Championships, 2013 World Women's Curling Championship and the 2021 IIHF World Championship. It is home to the European Union's office of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC). In 2017, it was named the European Region of Gastronomy.

In 2016, Riga received over 1.4 million visitors. [13] The city is served by Riga International Airport, the largest and busiest airport in the Baltic states. Riga is a member of Eurocities, [14] the Union of the Baltic Cities (UBC) [15] and Union of Capitals of the European Union (UCEU). [16]

Etymology

There are numerous and speculative theories for the origin of the name Riga:

However, the most reliably documented of these is the affirmation by German historian Dionysius Fabricius (1610) that Riga's name comes from its already established role in trade: [21] "Riga nomen sortita est suum ab aedificiis vel horreis quorum a litus Dunae magna fuit copia, quas livones sua lingua Rias vocare soliti." (in Latin) (The name Riga is given to itself from the great quantity which were to be found along the banks of the Duna of buildings or granaries which the Livs in their own language are wont to call Rias.), [22] the "j" in Latvian rīja (REE-eh) hardened to a "g" in German. English geographer Richard Hakluyt (1589) corroborates this account, calling Riga Rie, as pronounced in Latvian. [23]

History

Historical affiliations
Baltic coat of arms.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 Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth 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 the Soviet Union (1936-1955).svg  Soviet Union 1940–1941
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Nazi Germany 1941–1944
Flag of the Soviet Union.svg Flag of Latvian SSR.svg Soviet Union 1944–1990
Flag of Latvia.svg Republic of Latvia 1990–present

Founding

The river Daugava has been a trade route since antiquity, part of the Vikings' Dvina-Dnieper navigation route to Byzantium. [24] A sheltered natural harbour 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. [24] It was settled by the Livs, an ancient Finnic tribe.

The building of the Brotherhood of Blackheads is one of the most iconic buildings of Old Riga (Vecriga) Old Riga Buildings.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. [24] Riga's inhabitants occupied themselves mainly with fishing, animal husbandry, and trading, later developing crafts (in bone, wood, amber, and iron). [24]

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. [24] German traders began visiting Riga, establishing a nearby outpost in 1158.

Along with German traders the monk Meinhard of Segeberg [25] 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 baptised. [25] [24] Meinhard settled among the Livs, building a castle and church at Uexküll (now known as Ikšķile), upstream from Riga, and established his bishopric there. [25] The Livs, however, continued to practice paganism and Meinhard died in Uexküll in 1196, having failed in his mission. [26] In 1198, the Bishop Berthold arrived with a contingent of crusaders [26] and commenced a campaign of forced Christianization. [25] [24] Berthold died soon afterwards and his forces were defeated. [26]

The Church mobilised to avenge this defeat. Pope Innocent III issued a bull declaring a crusade against the Livonians. [26] 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 [24] [26] with 23 ships [27] and 500 Westphalian crusaders. [28] 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. [24]

Under Bishop Albert

The year 1201 also marked the first arrival of German merchants in Novgorod, via the Dvina. [29] To defend territory [30] and trade, Albert established the Order of Livonian Brothers of the Sword in 1202, which was open to nobles and merchants. [29]

The Christianization of the Livs continued. In 1207, Albert started to fortify the town. [29] [31] Emperor Philip invested Albert with Livonia as a fief [32] and principality of the Holy Roman Empire. [24] 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. [33] Until then, it had been customary for crusaders to serve for a year and then return home. [33]

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. [33] In 1211, Riga minted its first coinage, [24] and Albert laid the cornerstone for the Riga Dom. [34] Riga was not yet secure as an alliance of tribes failed to take Riga. [33] In 1212, Albert led a campaign to compel Polotsk to grant German merchants free river passage. [29] Polotsk conceded Kukenois (Koknese) and Jersika to Albert, also ending the Livs' tribute to Polotsk. [35]

Riga's merchant citizenry chafed and sought greater autonomy from the Church. In 1221, they acquired the right to independently self-administer Riga [30] and adopted a city constitution. [36]

That same year Albert was compelled to recognise Danish rule over lands they had conquered in Estonia and Livonia. [37] 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. [38] 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. [39]

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, [40] and Riga's citizens acquired the right to elect their magistrates and town councillors. [40] In 1226, Albert consecrated the Dom Cathedral, [24] built St. James's Church, [24] (now a cathedral) and founded a parochial school at the Church of St. George. [25]

In 1227, Albert conquered Oesel [41] and the city of Riga concluded a treaty with the Principality of Smolensk giving Polotsk to Riga. [42]

Albert died in January 1229. [43] He failed in his aspiration to be anointed archbishop [32] but the German hegemony he established over the Livonia would last for seven centuries. [33]

Riga in the 16th century Panorama of Riga, 1572.jpg
Riga in the 16th century

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.

Riga in 1650. Drawing by Johann Christoph Brotze Riga 1650.jpg
Riga in 1650. Drawing by Johann Christoph Brotze

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

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. [44] With the demise of the Livonian Order 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 Daugavgriva 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, [45] 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 ] timber export port in the Russian Empire and ranked the 3rd[ when? ] according to the external trade volume. [46] At the same time, Riga was also the third largest city in Russian Empire. [47]

German troops entering Riga during World War I. German troops Riga 1917.jpg
German troops entering Riga during World War I.
"Baltische Post" was a German language newspaper in Riga during the early 20th century. Baltische Post 25 October 1908.jpg
"Baltische Post" was a German language newspaper in Riga during the early 20th century.

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. [48] 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

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. [49] 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

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 Karlis 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 WWII. 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. [50] By the end of the war, the remaining Baltic Germans were expelled to Germany.

The Soviet Red Army re-entered 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 the war, Rīga's historical centre was heavily damaged because of 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 were subsequently demolished. A facsimile was constructed in 1995.

In 1989, the percentage of Latvians in Riga had fallen to 36.5%. [51]

21st century

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. [52] In the spring 2006, the thitherto biggest party of hospitality exchange service HC took place in Riga counting 430 participants from 36 countries. [53]

On November 21, 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. 54 people were killed. The Latvian President Andris Bērziņš described the disaster as "a large scale murder of many defenceless people". [54]

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

Geography

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. [57] 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. [58] The current names were confirmed on 28 December 1990. [59]

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

Climate

The climate of Riga is humid continental (Köppen Dfb). [60] The coldest months are January and February, when the average temperature is −5 °C (23  °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
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Record high °C (°F)10.2
(50.4)
13.5
(56.3)
20.5
(68.9)
27.9
(82.2)
30.1
(86.2)
33.8
(92.8)
34.1
(93.4)
33.6
(92.5)
29.3
(84.7)
23.4
(74.1)
17.2
(63.0)
11.5
(52.7)
34.1
(93.4)
Average high °C (°F)−2.3
(27.9)
−1.7
(28.9)
2.7
(36.9)
9.8
(49.6)
16.2
(61.2)
20.1
(68.2)
21.7
(71.1)
21.0
(69.8)
16.3
(61.3)
10.4
(50.7)
3.9
(39.0)
0.3
(32.5)
9.9
(49.8)
Daily mean °C (°F)−5.1
(22.8)
−4.7
(23.5)
−1.0
(30.2)
5.4
(41.7)
11.1
(52.0)
15.1
(59.2)
17.0
(62.6)
16.4
(61.5)
12.2
(54.0)
7.2
(45.0)
1.7
(35.1)
−2.1
(28.2)
6.1
(43.0)
Average low °C (°F)−7.8
(18.0)
−7.6
(18.3)
−4.7
(23.5)
1.0
(33.8)
5.9
(42.6)
10.0
(50.0)
12.3
(54.1)
11.8
(53.2)
8.0
(46.4)
4.0
(39.2)
−0.5
(31.1)
−4.4
(24.1)
2.3
(36.2)
Record low °C (°F)−33.7
(−28.7)
−34.9
(−30.8)
−23.3
(−9.9)
−11.4
(11.5)
−5.3
(22.5)
−1.2
(29.8)
4.0
(39.2)
0.0
(32.0)
−4.1
(24.6)
−8.7
(16.3)
−18.9
(−2.0)
−31.9
(−25.4)
−34.9
(−30.8)
Average precipitation mm (inches)33.7
(1.33)
27.0
(1.06)
27.9
(1.10)
41.1
(1.62)
42.5
(1.67)
59.9
(2.36)
74.3
(2.93)
73.1
(2.88)
78.9
(3.11)
60.2
(2.37)
57.3
(2.26)
46.0
(1.81)
620.9
(24.44)
Average precipitation days21.518.615.711.011.812.112.813.713.016.018.920.6185.7
Average relative humidity (%)87.985.279.469.767.772.074.276.781.185.190.289.479.9
Mean monthly sunshine hours 31.062.2127.1183.0263.5288.0263.5229.4153.093.039.021.71,754.4
Average ultraviolet index 0123565531003
Source: Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Agency (avg high and low), [61] NOAA (sun and extremes) [62] and Weather Atlas [63]

Government

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. He is assisted by one or more Vice Mayors (deputy mayors). The current mayor since October 2020 is Mārtiņš Staķis from Movement For!, which is a part of the Development/For!/Progressives faction. The three other parties in the governing coalition each received a Vice Mayor post.

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 3 governmental ministries until snap elections were held in 2020.

Demographics

With 614,618 inhabitants in 2021 as according to the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia, Riga is the largest city in the Baltic states, though its population has decreased from just over 900,000 in 1991. [9] Notable causes include emigration and low birth rates. According to the 2017 data, ethnic Latvians made up 44.03% of the population of Riga, while ethnic Russians formed 37.88%, Belarusians 3.72%, Ukrainians 3.66%, Poles 1.83% and other ethnicities 8.10%. By comparison, 60.1% of Latvia's total population was ethnically Latvian, 26.2% Russian, 3.3% Belarusian, 2.4% Ukrainian, 2.1% Polish, 1.2% are Lithuanian and the rest of other origins. [64]

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. In 2013 citizens of Latvia made up 73.1%, non-citizens 21.9% and citizens of other countries 4.9% of the population of Riga. [65] The proportion of ethnic Latvians in Riga increased from 36.5% in 1989 to 42.4% in 2010. In contrast, the percentage of Russians fell from 47.3% to 40.7% in the same time period. Latvians overtook Russians as the largest ethnic group in 2006. [6] Further projections show that the ethnic Russian population will continue a steady decline, despite higher birth rates, due to emigration.[ citation needed ]

Historic population figures

Historical population
YearPop.±%
1897282,200    
1913517,500+83.4%
1920185,100−64.2%
1930377,900+104.2%
1940353,800−6.4%
1945228,200−35.5%
YearPop.±%
1950482,300+111.3%
1959580,400+20.3%
1970731,800+26.1%
1979835,500+14.2%
1990909,135+8.8%
2000764,329−15.9%
YearPop.±%
2010709,145−7.2%
2015698,086−1.6%
2017704,476+0.9%
2020693,046−1.6%

Economy

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. [66] Riga Port is one of the largest in the Baltics. It handled a record 34 million tons of cargo in 2011 [67] and has potential for future growth with new port developments on Krievu Sala. [68] 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. [69]

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!») [70] [71] [72] [lower-alpha 1] On 28 July 1995, twenty Latvian banks with assistance of persons from the Paris Stock Exchange organized the Riga Stock Exchange which was the first Latvian stock exchange in Riga. [74]

Culture

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

Theatres

World Choir Games

Riga hosted the biannual 2014 World Choir Games from 9–19 July 2014 which coincided with the city being named European Capital of Culture for 2014. [79] [80] 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". [81] 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. [79] Choral workshops and festivals are also witnessed in the host cities and are usually open to the public. [82]

Architecture

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 Art Nouveau architecture, as well as a medieval old town. [83]

Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau building on Alberta iela designed by Mikhail Eisenstein Immeuble art nouveau (Riga) (7567163020).jpg
Art Nouveau building on Alberta iela designed by Mikhail Eisenstein

Riga has one of the largest collections of Art Nouveau buildings in the world, with at least 800 buildings. [83] 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. [84] In the period from 1857 to 1914 its population grew from 282,000 (256,200 in Riga itself and another 26,200 inhabitants beyond the city limits in patrimonial district and military town of Ust-Dvinsk) to 558,000 [ better source needed ] making it[ when? ] the 4th[ dubious ] largest city in the Russian Empire (after Saint Petersburg, Moscow and Warsaw) and its largest[ when? ] port. [84] 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. [85] Between 1910 and 1913, between 300 and 500 new buildings were built each year in Riga, most[ dubious ] of them in Art Nouveau style and most of them outside the old town. [85]

Sports

Riga has a rich basketball history. 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. [86]

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, so far, only time in the history of European basketball, clubs from the same city were concurrent European Men's and Women's club champions. [87]

In 2015, Riga was one of the hosts for EuroBasket 2015.

Sports clubs

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

Transport

One of the several Trolleybus types in Riga 25. trolejbuss Krisjana Valdemara ielas un Kalpaka bulvara krustojuma.jpg
One of the several Trolleybus types in Riga
A Skoda 15 T tram in Riga Riga, Skoda 15T.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. [90]

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. [91] [92] Another major construction project is the planned Riga Northern Transport corridor; [93] its first segment detailed project was completed in 2015. [94]

The Freeport of Riga facilitates cargo and passenger traffic by sea. Sea ferries connect Riga Passenger Terminal to Stockholm operated by Tallink. [95] Riga has one active airport that serves commercial airlines—the Riga International Airport (RIX), built in 1973. Renovation and modernization 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. [96] 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.

The former international airport of Riga, Spilve Airport, located 5 km (3.11 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 mnl. 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 the 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, [97] expected to be put into operation in 2024. [98] Latvian Railways (Latvian : Latvijas dzelzceļš or LDz) operates the Latvian Rail History Museum in Riga.

Universities

Notable people

Twin towns – sister cities

Riga is twinned with: [99]

See also

Other capitals of the Baltic States

Notes

  1. Richard L. Palmer, president of Cachet International, Inc., was the CIA station chief at the United States Embassy in Moscow from 1992 to 1994. [72] [73]

Related Research Articles

Latvia Country in Northern Europe

Latvia, officially known as the Republic of Latvia, is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is one of the Baltic states; and is bordered by Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, 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 ethno-linguistic group of the Balts; and speak Latvian, one of the only two surviving Baltic languages. Russians are a prominent minority in the country, at some 24% of the population.

History of Latvia Occurrences and people in Latvia throughout history

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.

The Livonian Brothers of the Sword was a Catholic military order established by Albert, the third bishop of Riga, in 1202. Pope Innocent III sanctioned the establishment in 1204 for the second time. The membership of the order comprised German "warrior monks" who fought Baltic and Finnic pagans in the area of modern-day Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Alternative names of the Order include Christ Knights, Swordbrothers, Sword Brethren, Order of the Brothers of the Sword, and The Militia of Christ of Livonia. The seal reads: +MAGISTRI ETFRM MILICIE CRI (Christi) DE LIVONIA.

Liepāja Republican city of Latvia

Liepāja is a city in western Latvia, located on the Baltic Sea. It is the largest city in the Kurzeme Region and the third largest city in the country after Riga and Daugavpils. It is an important ice-free port. The population in 2020 was 68,535 people.

Courland Place in Latvia

Courland is one of the historical and cultural regions in western Latvia. The largest city is Liepāja, the third largest city in Latvia. The regions of Semigallia and Selonia are sometimes considered as part of Courland as they were formerly held by the same duke.

Cēsis Town in Cēsis Municipality, Latvia

Cēsis, is a town in Latvia located in the northern part of the Central Vidzeme Upland. Cēsis is on the Gauja River valley, and is built on a series of ridges above the river overlooking the woods below. Cēsis was one of the candidate cities for the title of European Capital of Culture 2014.

Daugavpils Republican city of Latvia

Daugavpils is a city in south-eastern Latvia, located on the banks of the Daugava River, from which the city gets its name. It is the second-largest city in the country after the capital Riga, which is located some 230 kilometres to its north-west.

Ogre, Latvia Town in Ogre Municipality, Latvia

Ogre is the principal town of Ogre Municipality in Central Latvia, 36 kilometres east of the capital Riga, situated at the confluence of the Daugava and Ogre rivers. It has been a town since 1928. The population in 2020 was 23,273.

Salaspils Town in Salaspils Municipality, 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.

Livonians

The Livonians, or Livs, are a Balto-Finnic people indigenous to northern Latvia and southwestern Estonia. Livonians historically spoke Livonian, a Uralic language closely related to Estonian and Finnish. The last person to have learned and spoken Livonian as a mother tongue, Grizelda Kristiņa, died in 2013, making Livonian extinct. As of 2010, there were approximately 30 people who had learned it as a second language.

Jelgava Republican city of Latvia

Jelgava is a city in central Latvia about 41 kilometres southwest of Riga with 55,972 inhabitants (2019). It is the largest town in the region of Zemgale (Semigalia). Jelgava was the capital of the united Duchy of Courland and Semigallia (1578–1795) and the administrative center of the Courland Governorate (1795–1918).

Valka Town in Valka Municipality, Latvia

Valka is a town and municipality in northern Latvia, on the border with Estonia along both banks of the river Pedele.

Lielvārde Town in Ogre District, Latvia

Lielvārde, population 6328, is a town in Vidzeme, Latvia, the administrative centre of Lielvārde municipality on the right bank of the Daugava river, 52 km southeast of Riga.

Ikšķile Town in Ikskile District, Latvia

Ikšķile is a town in Latvia, the administrative centre of Ikšķile municipality. It was the first capital of the Roman Catholic Bishopric of Livonia, known by the German name of Üxküll. Saint Meinhard, known from the Livonian Chronicle of Henry, was the first bishop of Üxküll. In 1197 Berthold of Hanover, a Cistercian abbot of Loccum, was made the second bishop of Üxküll. Those days the town was the center of the upcoming crusading activities in the Livonian area. Bishop Berthold moved the episcopal see to Riga, but was killed by the Livs in battle.

Purvciems Neighborhood of Riga in Vidzeme Suburb, Latvia

Purvciems is a neighbourhood in the Vidzeme Suburb of Riga, Latvia. Its name literally translates as "marsh village". It is located on the east bank of the River Daugava, to the east of the City Centre and is defined roughly as the area between A. Deglava Iela and Ieriķu Iela. The area is characterised by apartment blocks from the late Soviet and the first years after the restoration of Latvian independence (1980s–1990s), though there is also some detached housing. The district is Latvian and Russian-speaking.

Livonian Crusade German and Danish conquest of medieval Livonia

The Livonian Crusade refers to the various Christianization campaigns in the area constituting modern Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia during the Papal-sanctioned Northern Crusades. It was conducted mostly by Germans from the Holy Roman Empire and Danes. It ended with the creation of the Terra Mariana and Duchy of Estonia. The lands on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea were the last corners of Europe to be Christianized.

History of Riga

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.

National Library of Latvia

The National Library of Latvia, also known as Castle of Light, is a national cultural institution under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture of Latvia. The National Library of Latvia was formed in 1919 after the independent Republic of Latvia was proclaimed in 1918. The first supervisor of the Library was Jānis Misiņš, a librarian and the founder of the Latvian scientific bibliography (1862–1945). The current building was designed in 1989 by noted Latvian-American architect Gunnar Birkerts (1925-2017), who emigrated to the United States and made his career there. It was constructed in the early 21st century and opened in 2014. Today the Library plays an important role in the development of Latvia's information society, providing Internet access to residents and supporting research and lifelong education.

Albert Street, Riga

Albert Street is a street in central Riga known for its Art Nouveau buildings. It was built in 1901 and named after Bishop Albert, who founded Riga in 1201.

The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Riga, Latvia.

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