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Latvia – Important Facts

Latvia is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Estonia, Lithuania, Russia, Belarus, and the Baltic Sea. Across the Baltic Sea lies Sweden. The government system is a parliamentary democracy; the chief of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister. Latvia has transition to a market-oriented economy in which the prices of goods and services are determined in a free price system. Latvia is a member of the European Union (EU).

Latvia’s economy has had rapid GDP growth of more than 10% per year during 2006–07, but entered a severe recession in 2009 as a result of an unsustainable current account deficit, collapse of the real estate market, and large debt exposure amid the softening world economy. Triggered by the collapse of Parex Bank, the second largest bank, GDP decreased by almost 18% in 2009, and the European Union, the International Monetary Fund, and other international donors provided substantial financial assistance to Latvia as part of an agreement to defend the currency’s peg to the euro in exchange for the government’s commitment to stringent austerity measures. In 2011 Latvia achieved GDP growth by 5.5% and thus Latvia again was among the fastest growing economies in the European Union. The IMF/EU program successfully concluded in December 2011.

Until the middle of 2008, Latvia had the fastest developing economy in Europe. In 2003, GDP growth was 7.5% and inflation was 2.9%. The centrally planned system of the Soviet period was replaced with a structure based on free-market principles. In 2005, private sector share in GDP was 70%. Recovery in light industry and Riga’s emergence as a regional financial and commercial center offset shrinkage of the state-owned industrial sector and agriculture. The official unemployment figure was held steady in the 7%–10% range.

Important Details

  • Country ISO3 : LVA
  • Country Code : 428
  • Income Group : High Income
  • Lending Category : P2P
  • Region : Europe and Central Asia
  • Currency Unit: Euro (EUR)
  • WTO Member : Yes
  • Trade organisations : EU, WTO
  • world rank : 36
  • Regional Ranking : 17th in Europe