History of Latvia

By | April 28, 2022

According to historyaah, the first feudal principalities (Koknese, Jersika, Talava) on the territory of modern Latvia arose in the 10th-13th centuries. From Ser. 12th c. German merchants, soldiers and Catholic missionaries began to arrive there, and in 1201 Riga was founded as the capital of the archbishop. In 1205-14 the lands were captured by the Order of the Sword and until the middle. 16th century were part of Livonia – a confederation of German principalities. In 1562 part of the territory of Latvia was divided between Poland and Sweden, and the Duchy of Courland was formed. The Latvian nationality developed in the beginning of 17th century.

In 1629 Riga and the western part of the country were conquered by the Swedes, and in 1710 Riga was conquered by Russian troops. As a result of the Northern War (1700–21), the former Swedish territories of Latvia became part of Russia. In 1795, after the third partition of Poland, northern Latvia became part of the Livland province, and the Courland province was formed on the territory of the Duchy of Courland, also annexed to Russia.

During World War I, Latvia was occupied by German troops. After the capitulation of Germany by the Latvian People’s Council on November 18, 1918, the independence of Latvia was proclaimed and the Republic of Latvia was formed. On December 17, 1918, the government created in the underground adopted a manifesto with an appeal to Soviet Russia for help. The troops of the Red Army entered Latvia and Soviet power was proclaimed in part of the territory, including Riga. However, in February 1919, the national Latvian army created with the support of the Entente, as well as the legions of the White Poles and the troops of bourgeois Estonia launched hostilities against the Bolshevik government of P. Stuchka and the so-called. “Bermontians” (supporters of P. Bermont-Avalov, who tried to form a pro-German government). As a result, Riga fell on May 22, 1919, On January 13, 1920, the Soviet government of Latvia ceased its activities, and a bourgeois republic was proclaimed. In August 1920, a peace treaty was signed with the RSFSR, and on February 15, 1922, the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia, the Basic Law of the State, was adopted. Latvia became a parliamentary republic.

The government of the country, according to the liberal Constitution, depended on party coalitions (in the 1920s and 30s there were about 20 parties in the country). Prime Minister K. Ulmanis, considering the parliamentary political system too weak, carried out a coup d’état on May 15, 1934 and established dictatorial rule in the country (political parties and trade unions were banned, parliament was dissolved). On October 5, 1939, an agreement on mutual assistance was signed between Latvia and the USSR, which provided for the deployment of part of the Soviet troops on the territory of Latvia, and on June 17, 1940, they were introduced in connection with the threat of fascist aggression. A pro-Soviet government was formed, elections to the People’s Seimas were held on July 14–15, the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic was proclaimed on July 21, 1940, and in August 1940 it became part of the USSR. See ehistorylib for more about Latvia history.

All R. 1980s Latvian nationalists created a political movement, later transformed into the Latvian People’s Front, which spoke in the elections to the Supreme Council on March 18, 1990 against the Communist Party for the restoration of the independence of the republic. On May 4, 1990, the new Supreme Council declared the independence of Latvia. In January 1991, a conservative faction of the Latvian communist leadership and intelligence agencies made an unsuccessful attempt to prevent Latvia’s secession from the Soviet Union. At the referendum held on March 3, 1991, 77.6% of those who took part in the vote voted for secession from the USSR, and on September 6, 1991, the independence of Latvia was recognized by the State Council of the USSR.

Science and culture of Latvia

12.1% of the population have higher education, 17.7% have secondary specialized education, 27% have secondary education, 23.2% have 8 grades, 11.4% have primary education, and 8.6% have less than 4 grades. Primary and secondary education is guaranteed by the state. Compulsory education is 9 years. In the 2000-01 academic year, 359.8 thousand people studied in 1074 schools (including 41 private ones). 90% of children studied in free public schools. The planned transition of schools to instruction in the Latvian language (September 2004) provides for the teaching of 60% of subjects in the state language and 40% in the language of national minorities. In 34 universities (15 private) and 2 private colleges, there were approx. 110 thousand students, a third of them studied at the expense of the state budget. Notable universities: Latvian State University, Riga Technical University, Agricultural Academy, Medical Academy, Riga Institute of Transport and Communications. Since 2001, a private university began to operate – the Graduate School of Engineering Sciences and Information Technology, as well as the private College of Law and Alberta College. The Latvian Academy of Sciences (109 institutes, 5.5 thousand people) is the center of scientific research in the country. Spending on science and education (2000) is 0.5% of GDP – $170 million, 3.2 times less than in 1991.

The Academy of Intellectual Property and Innovations has started its work in Latvia. It was founded by the Mortgage Bank, the Academy of Sciences, the Latvian State University, the Technical University, the Institute of Transport and Communications. The purpose of the public academy is to stimulate scientific research and its practical application. Academy experts search for and select the most relevant projects for the development of the country, and the bank helps to find profitable loans for the implementation of productive ideas.

After the restoration of independence, Latvia faced the problem of reintegrating the three layers of Latvian culture. The first layer is Latvian literature and traditions before the Soviet times. A notable achievement was the publication by E. Gluck in 1694 of the Latvian translation of the Bible, and the founding in 1822 of the first periodical in the Latvian language, Latvieshu Avizes (Latvian Newspaper). The Latvian peasantry had original oral traditions, folk songs and epics. To the beginning 20th century Latvian literature appeared: the poet and writer J. Rainis (1865-1929), the poet E. Rozenberg (1868-1943). The founders of the national style in Latvian instrumental music were A. Jurjans (1872-1945) and J. Vitols (1863-1948), in painting – J. Rozentals (1866-1916), V. Purvitis (1872-1945).

The second one was formed after 1945 outside Latvia among 120,000 emigrants who created Latvian communities in Sweden, Germany, the USA, Canada, and Australia. The third layer was the cultural life in Latvia after 1945, which was created by both the pro-Soviet intelligentsia and the anti-Soviet opposition. Radical changes took place in 1980s The leading figures of the Latvian Popular Front were such cultural figures as J. Peters (b. 1939), who for some time was the Latvian ambassador to Russia, and the composer R. Pauls (b. 1936), later the Minister of Culture.

Leading theatres: the National Theater of Latvia (its history goes back over 80 years, and it has always been a kind of academy of the Latvian national art. The well-known Russian actor G. Cilinskis worked here, E. Radzina, K. Sebris and G. Yakovlev still work here); Latvian Art Theater J. Rainis (actress, director D. Ritenberg (b. 1928)); Riga Drama Theater (actress V. Artmane (b. 1929)); National Opera and Ballet Theatre.

Museums: The Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation, founded in 1773, the Museum of Pharmacy, the Latvian Museum of Photography, the Ethnographic Open-Air Museum on the shores of Lake Jugla.

History of Latvia