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Geography and nature of Latvia

Geography and nature of Latvia

The Latvian region map

Silhuette of Old Riga  ©Photo: Sandra Īriste/Latvian Institute
Silhuette of Old Riga
©Photo: Sandra Īriste/Latvian Institute

Latvia is the central country of the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and is located in North-eastern Europe on the east coast of the Baltic Sea. Its geographic coordinates are 57°00’N latitude and 25°00’E longitude. It consists of fertile lowland plains and moderate hills, with most of its territory less than 100 metres above sea level. It has an extensive network of rivers, thousands of lakes and hundreds of kilometres of undeveloped seashore lined by pine forests, dunes, and continuous white sand beaches.

Fact Numbers
Area 64,589 sq.km or 24,937 sq.miles.
Regions Kurzeme, Zemgale, Vidzeme, Latgale.
Total national border length 1,862 km.
Length of Latvia’s Baltic coastline 494 km.
Largest lake Lubāns, 80.7 sq.km.
Deepest lake Drīdzis, 65.1 metres.
Longest river within Latvian territory the Gauja, 452 km.
Largest river to flow through Latvian territory the Daugava, total length 1,005 km, of which 352 km within Latvian territory.
Highest point Gaiziņkalns, 311.6 metres.
Metric units 1 km = 0.62 mile; 1 m = 39.37 inches

Location

Latvia is bordered by Estonia to the north, Russia to the east, Lithuania to the south and the Baltic Sea to the west. Its strategic location has made it an international crossroad for trade, commerce and cultural exchange since ancient times. Vikings followed the ‘Amber Road’ through Latvian territory along the Daugava River to reach Byzantium and the Mediterranean Sea.

Climate

Latvia’s weather features a temperate maritime climate, with mild summers, moderate winters and frequently high levels of humidity and precipitation.

  • Summer: June – August.
  • Winter: December – February.
  • The average temperature:
    In summer: 15.8°C (in the capital 16.1°C),
    In winter: -4.5°C (in the capital -3.8°C).
  • The warmest month: July,
  • The coldest month: January.
  • The average precipitation amount:
    In summer: 195 mm,
    In winter: 116 mm.

Nature

With over 44 percent of its territory covered by forests, a vast network of free flowing rivers and thousands of lakes, Latvia is one of Europe’s best preserved havens for a wide variety of wildlife. Over 27 thousand species of flora and fauna thrive in natural settings that are still relatively undisturbed by man. Many rare species, such as the black stork and lesser spotted eagle, make their homes in Latvia’s mixed forests, marshes and meadows. There is also an abundance of otters, beavers, lynx and wolves, as well as great concentrations of deer, elk, fox and wild boar. Bird-watching is particularly rewarding in Latvia, especially in the coastal areas and wetlands during annual migration periods.

For more information about nature in Latvia visit: http://www.latvia.lv/library/nature-and-ecotourism-latvia

 Text: © The Latvian Institute, 2012