The ancestors of the Latvians were the Finno-Ugric peoples and the Balts, who lived in the current territory of Latvia even before our era. Since 1198, these lands have become the object of a crusade declared by the Pope. After several battles, Latvia, together with Estonia, became part of the Roman Empire under the name Livonia and was baptized. In 1282, Riga, and later Cēsis, Limbaži, Koknes and Valmiera, were accepted into the union of North German trading cities (“Hanseatic League”), which contributed to the rapid development of this region. After the defeat of the Teutonic Order in 1410 in the Battle of Grunwald, Latvia passed to Poland. Check a2zdirectory for old history of Latvia.
In the second half of the 16th century, four states claimed the territory of Latvia: Russia, Sweden, Denmark and Lithuania. Sweden achieved the greatest success in diplomacy and, at the beginning of the 17th century, she subjugated the country. Latvia became one of the most developed parts of Sweden, and Riga became its main city. At this time, the consolidation of individual peoples (Latgalians, villages, Semigallians, Curonians and Livs) gradually took place into a single, speaking the same language, Latvian people. After the defeat of Sweden in the Northern War, Latvia became part of the Russian Empire. Already in 1817-1819, serfdom was abolished in the greater territory of present-day Latvia, and in 1887 the teaching of the Russian language in all schools was introduced by law.
During the First World War, the territory of the country was occupied by Germany. Latvian fighters, called “Latvian riflemen”, fought on the side of Russia and due to their heroism were known throughout Europe. In 1918, German troops were withdrawn from the territory of Latvia, and the post-war confusion served as a good background for the creation of an independent state. At the end of 1918, Latvia declared its independence. On January 26, 1921, the independent Republic of Latvia was recognized by the world community and was admitted to the League of Nations.
Since the beginning of World War II, when Germany attacked Poland, the USSR decided to secure its borders as much as possible and began to demand from Latvia to transfer military ports, airfields and other military infrastructure for the needs of the Red Army. On October 5, 1939, the Soviet-Latvian Treaty of Mutual Assistance was signed, as a result of which Soviet military bases were located on the territory of the Baltic countries. However, later the Soviet Union began to put forward ultimatums to it, one of them demanding the resignation of the government. On June 17, 1940, Latvia was annexed by the USSR. On July 15 of the same year, the People’s Seimas was elected, which proclaimed the creation of the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic and adopted the Declaration on joining the USSR. August 6, 1940 Latvia became one of the socialist republics within the USSR. On June 22, 1941, Germany attacked the USSR – the territory of Latvia came under German control within a week and a half and remained under it until July 1944. After the victory of the Red Army at the Yalta Conference in January 1945, the borders of the USSR were fixed as of June 1941, that is, all the great powers recognized the incorporation of Latvia into the USSR.
On August 24, 1991, after the putsch, the first President of Russia BN Yeltsin signed a decree recognizing the independence of Latvia. In May 1992, Latvia joined the International Monetary Fund, from April 2004 became a member of NATO, and from May 1, 2004 – a member of the European Union.
Latvia is home to the largest cave in the Baltics – Gutmanis Cave in Sigulda. In the Talsi region, the Peldangas cave labyrinth, 70 meters long, is interesting. Bat caves are located on the territory of the Gauja National Park, where the variety of species of these animals is simply amazing. Gutman’s Cave is located in the Vidzeme region – the largest cave in Latvia with a spring that was considered sacred.