Latvia Society and Culture

By | November 9, 2021

Social development

Until its independence on September 6, 1991, Latvia was integrated into the welfare and social security system in force in the remaining republics of the former Soviet Union. In other words, citizens enjoyed extensive social coverage that included medical assistance, unemployment insurance, pensions for disability and work accidents, study and training grants and, above all, job stability.


In the period 1990 – 1991, according to topschoolsintheusa, 303,570 school-age children of both sexes attended the 787 secondary schools in the country, while more than 360,000 students attended the 140 vocational schools and specialized institutes. The 11 universities in Latvia hosted 44,050 students in the same period.


In 1989 there were 121 newspapers circulating in the country, of which 67 were written in Latvian, 48 in Russian and six in Latvian and Russian, in addition to 110 periodicals (43 in Latvian, 45 in Russian and 22 in Latvian and Russian). Among the most widely read newspapers in Latvia were Ciña (The Struggle), published in Riga, the capital of the country, an organ of the Communist Party of Latvia; Diena (The Day), published in Riga, organ of the Latvian Supreme Soviet and the Council of Ministers and Latvijas Jaunatne (Latvian Youth), organ of the Latvian Communist Youth.


Cross-country collective racing, cycling competitions, skiing and motorcycle racing are very popular in Latvia. The pride of Latvia are the Olympic and world champions Inesse Jaunseme and Yanisa Lusis, javelin throwers ; the gymnast Liudmila Kackalda ; Vera Zozulia and Janis Kipurs, sled runners. The latter, along with Muscovite Vladimir Kozlov, won the gold medal in pairs at the Winter Olympics in Calgary.


The Baltic Republic has owned, since 1988, its own air transport company, Avialat, independent of the Soviet system and founded as a private company, whose plans include internal routes in Soviet territory and flights to Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Tel-Aviv and other European capitals.


Latvia, like the other two Baltic republics, has a rich cultural tradition, which is expressed in its poets, in the development of song and music and cinema. One of the most popular figures is the Latvian pianist and composer Raymond Pauls. In 40 years, Riga film studios have produced more than 150 feature films.

Latvian began to be written in the 16th century. The first document written in Latvian is a translation of Luther’s catechism, in 1547. The progressive Germanization to which the Baltic countries were subjected from the 13th century reduced the national literature to oral traditions. The most important testimonies of this period are the lyrical songs (harmful) and fantastic stories.

Fishing in Latvia is very important and varied: sturgeon, from which excellent caviar is obtained, salmon, which was formerly smoked in the city of Riga, cod, eels and freshwater fish such as grayling.


Wood was the only material used by Latvians for their oldest constructions, and stone did not arrive until the 12th century, with the construction of the Ikchkil church. From there, Latvian architecture evolved under the influence of the Scandinavian countries, Germany and Russia, successively, until it reached the modern buildings of today. In Soviet times, the Koljozir house, built in 1950 in the capital Riga, is a skyscraper.

Capital and most important cities

Riga: Capital of Latvia, it has 915 thousand residents and is located on the west bank of the Dvina River. It is a commercial port and industrial center. It was founded in 1223 and in 1253 it was already an archdiocesan seat. Riga joined the Han-sethic League in 1282. In 1561 it was annexed by Poland, in 1621 by Sweden and in 1710 by Russia. It is capital of the independent republic of Latvia (1919 – 1940) and was occupied on numerous occasions by the Germans in the course of the two world wars. Later it was the capital of the socialist republic of Latvia. It has a castle (1330), a Duomo (13th century), a cathedral (San Pedro, 1290, rebuilt in the 16th century) and the church of San Juan (13th-9th centuries).

The Latvian baroque style has its most characteristic expressions in Riga, such as the Dammenstem house, built at the end of the 17th century, and the churches of Pasien, Dagda, and Kráslava. After Russia’s annexation of the Baltic countries, architecture and the arts soon reflected this new influence. In 1919 the Riga Academy of Fine Arts was founded.

Liépaia: It is the second most important city after the capital, it is located on the Baltic Sea coast and is an important port from which cereals and wood are exported.

In 1914 the city was bombed and later occupied by the Germans. In 1919 the Latvian government was established there on the occasion of the Soviet invasion. In 1939 it was ceded as a base to the USSR and then annexed, together with Latvia, in 1940. It was later occupied by the Germans in 1941 and retaken by the Soviets in 1944. It concentrates important iron and steel industries, machine-building industries and ships.

Latvian history in literature

  • The contemporary village in Soviet Latvia (1965 – 1975).
  • The monograph of G. Strads and M. Svarane, Master and Kurzeme and Vidzeme bracero in the middle of the nineteenth century, published in Riga in 1973, was awarded the Academic Award already. Zutis.
  • Essays on the Economic History of Latvia, is a work in two volumes (Riga, 1971).
  • Monograph Soviet Historiography of Latvia by researchers A. Birón and V. Doroshenko, published in 1970.
  • Archeology of the Latvian RSS [1] , by the authors A. Stuban, E. Mugureuidi, E. Snore, Ya. Graudonis, among others.
  • Histirico-ethnographic Atlas of the Latvian SSR, which is part of the Histirico-Ethnographic Atlas of the USSR [2] .

The struggle for the triumph of the great October Socialist Revolution is reflected both in books and articles and in documentary publications. Among the list of writings we can mention:

  • Collective work History of Latvian shooters, published in 1970 in Latvian, and two years later in Russian, in Riga. Contrary to the nationalist assertions of bourgeois authors, Soviet historians have shown that the majority of Latvian shooters, under the leadership of the Bolshevik Party, were consistent internationalists and staunch fighters.
  • The academic A. Drizul, published VI Lenin and Revolutionary Latvia, also in Riga, 1970. The work clarifies the role of Lenin in the development of the revolutionary movement, in the creation of the revolutionary social democracy of Latvia and its successor: the Communist Party of Latvia.
  • Spreslis prepared the monograph Participation of Latvian Workers in the Civil War in Soviet Russia (1918-1921), detailing the contributions of the landless workers and peasants of Latvia, in the struggle against the counterrevolution of the interior and the outside.
  • Iscolat Protocol : Executive Committee of the Latvian Soviets, 1917-1918.
  • Zagar wrote the monograph Socialist transformations in the Latvian SSR in the years 1940-1941, a work completed in 1974 that covers the nationalization of industry, agrarian reform, the demolition of the bourgeois machinery, among other topics.
  • In 1970, the collective investigation The Struggle of the Latvian People in the Years of the Great Patriotic War (1914-1945) was published in Riga, in Latvian and Russian. The work was awarded the National Prize of the Latvian SSR.

Latvia Society and Culture