Latvia (Latvian: Latvija) is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia (343 km), to the south by Lithuania (588 km), to the east by the Russian Federation (276 km), and to the southeast by Belarus (141 km). Across the Baltic Sea to the west lies Sweden. The territory of Latvia covers 64,589 km2 (24,938 sq mi) and it has a temperate seasonal climate.
The Latvians are Baltic people culturally related to the Estonians and Lithuanians, with the Latvian language having many similarities with Lithuanian, but not with the Estonian language (a Finno-Ugric language). Today the Latvian and Lithuanian languages are the only surviving members of the Baltic languages of the Indo-European family. The modern name of Latvia is thought to originate from the ancient Latvian name Latvji, which, like the name of Lithuania, may have originated from the river named Latuva.
The territory of Latvia has been populated since 9000 BC, after the Ice Age glaciers retreated. Around the beginning of the third millennium BC (3000 BC) the proto-Baltic ancestors of the Latvian people settled on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. The Balts established trade routes to Rome and Byzantium, trading local amber for precious metals.
By 900 AD, four distinct Baltic tribes inhabited Latvia:
Couronians, Latgallians, Selonians, Semigallians (in Latvian: kurši, latgaļi, sēļi and zemgaļi), as well as the Livonians (lībieši) speaking a Finno-Ugric language.
There are five historical and cultural regions in Latvia. Their borders usually are not explicit definite and in several sources may vary:
Courland, Latgale, Vidzeme, Zemgale, Selonia,
Republican city in Latvia are: 1. Daugavpils, 2. Jekabpils, 3. Jelgava, 4. Jūrmala, 5. Liepāja, 6. Rēzekne, 7. Riga, 8. Valmiera, 9. Ventspils,
- ^ "Data: 3000 BC to 1500 BC". The European Ethnohistory Database. The Ethnohistory Project.
- A History of Rome, M Cary and HH Scullard, p455-457, Macmillan Press, ISBN:0-333-27830-5
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