Republic of Latvia

Republic of Latvia

Latvia in Brief

Flag of Latvia
Flag of Latvia

Latvian: Latvija
Lithuanian: Latvija
Estonian: Lati
German: Lettland
French: Lettonie
Spanish: Letonia
Russian: Латвия
Swedish: Lettland
Chinese: 拉脫維亞
Japanese: ラトビア
Arabic: لاتفيا

The Coat of Arms
The Coat of Arms


The Republic of Latvia was founded on November 18, 1918. It has been continuously recognised as a sovereign state since 1920 despite occupations and rule by the Soviet Union (1940-1941, 1945-1991) and Nazi Germany (1941-1945). On August 21, 1991 Latvia declared the restoration of its de facto independence, re-established international diplomatic ties, and joined the United Nations. Latvia joined the WTO in 1998 and in 2004 became a member of the European Union and NATO.

The name “Latvija” comes from the ancient Latgallians, one of four Indo-European Baltic tribes, who along with Couronians, Selonians and Semigallians formed the ethnic core of today’s Latvian people.

For more information about Latvian history visit

The Coat of Arms

Latvia’s coat of arms combines the traditional heraldic symbols of Latvian statehood and national identity – three stars, the sun, the sea and oak leaves. Latvia’s historical districts of Kurzeme and Zemgale are represented by a red lion, while Vidzeme and Latgale are depicted by a silver griffin.

For more information about Latvian symbols visit

The Flag

The crimson-white-crimson flag of Latvia is one of the oldest in the world and dates back to a battle near Cesis in the 13th century. According to one legend, it originated from a white sheet used to carry a mortally wounded Latvian tribal chief from the battlefield. Soaked with his blood on two sides, his soldiers hoisted the warrior’s sheet as a banner as it led them to victory.

For more information about Latvian symbols visit

National Holiday

November 18, the date of the proclamation of Latvia’s independence in 1918.

Text: © The Latvian Institute, 2012