Year of EU entry: 2004 / Capital city: Riga / Population: 2.3 million
Latvia regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Situated on the Baltic coast, it is a low-lying country with large forests that supply timber for the construction and paper industries. Latvia also produces consumer goods, textiles and machine tools. The country attracts tourists from all over Europe.
Founded in 1201, the capital Riga is the largest city in the three Baltic states with a population of 730,000, which represents one third of the country's total population.
Among the best-known Latvians are the expressionist painter Mark Rothko and the contemporary composer Peteris Vasks. Characteristic specialities of Latvian cuisine are spe?a p?r?dzići (bacon pies) and a refreshing, cold, sour cream soup.