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Krišjānis Barons · Krišjānis Valdemārs · Andrejs Pumpurs · Oskars Kalpaks · Jānis Čakste · Zigfrīds Anna Meierovics · Kārlis Ulmanis
Total population
c. 1,540,000
Regions with significant populations
   1,340,143 [1] (2009)

 United Kingdom:
   30,000 - 200,000[2]
 United States:
   87,564 [1]
Incl. partial decent.

   28,520 [2]; [3]; [4]
   27,870 [5]
Incl. partial decent.

   25,000 [6]
Incl. partial decent.

   18,938 [7]
Incl. partial decent.

   14,000 [8]


Christian(divided among Lutheranism, Roman Catholicism and large non-religious population, Dievturi minority.

Related ethnic groups

Lithuanians, Kursenieki, Latgalians

Latvians or Letts (Latvian: latvieši; Livonian: laett), the indigenous Baltic people of Latvia, occasionally refer to themselves by the ancient name of Latvji, which may have originated from the word Latve which is a name of the river that presumably flowed through what is now eastern Latvia. A Finnic-speaking tribe known as the Livs settled among the Latvians and modulated the name to "Latvis," meaning "forest-clearers," which is how medieval German settlers also referred to these peoples. The German colonizers changed this name to "Lette" and called their initially small colony Livland. The Latin form, Livonia, gradually referred to the whole territory of the modern-day Latvia as well as southern Estonia, which had fallen under German dominion. Latvians and Lithuanians are the only surviving members of the Baltic peoples and Baltic languages of the Indo-European family.

Latvian culture has experienced historical, cultural and religious influences, over centuries during Germanic and Scandinavian colonization and settlement. Eastern Latvia (Latgale), however, retains a strong Polish and Russian cultural and linguistic influence. This highly literate society places strong emphasis upon education, which is free and compulsory until age 18. Average school expectancy for 5-year-olds (from pre-primary to higher education) was 17,8 in 2006[3]. Most of the religious Latvians belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church but Eastern Latvia (Latgale) is predominantly Roman Catholic. In the late 18th century, a small but vibrant Herrnhutist movement played a significant part in the development of Latvian literary culture, before it was absorbed in to the mainstream Lutheran denomination.

The national language of the Latvian people is Latvian. Latvians living in the diaspora outside the former Soviet Union speak the primary language of their host countries, e.g. English in the USA or Australia, Swedish in Sweden, etc.


  1. ^ Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia, 2009
  2. ^ Estimates vary significantly for the population of Latvian britons
  3. ^ Eurydice network (16/07/2009). "Key Data on Education 2009: a view on Europe’s educational systems". Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA P9 Eurydice). p. 3. Retrieved December 26, 2009. 

See also



Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




  1. Plural form of Latvian.



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