Political system: Republic
Capital city: Riga
Total area: 65 000 km²
Population: 2.3 million
Official EU language: Latvian
Latvia regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Situated on the Baltic coast, Latvia is a low-lying country with large forests that supply timber for construction and paper industries. The environment is rich in wildlife. Latvia also produces consumer goods, textiles and machine tools. The country attracts tourists from all over Europe.
Ethnically, the population is 59% Latvian and 29% Russian, and more than a third live in the capital Riga. Founded in 1201, Riga is the largest city in the three Baltic states with a population of 730 000. Its Freedom Statue is one of the highest monuments in Europe, at 43 metres.
The 100-seat unicameral Latvian Parliament, the Saeima , is elected by direct, popular vote every four years. The president is elected by the Parliament, also every four years.
Among the best-known Latvians are the expressionist painter Mark Rothko and the contemporary composer Peteris Vasks.
Characteristic specialities of Latvian cuisine are speķapīrādziņi (bacon pies) and a refreshing, cold sour cream soup.
In Latvia, there is both state-financed and fee-paying higher education. In order to single out the most able students, whose studies are publicly financed, higher education institutions carry out a procedure of student selection.
Latvia has two sorts of higher education programs – academic and professional (for example translators, bank staff, business lawyers, pilots etc.). University-type higher education institutions offer both academic and professional education, while the “non-university type” institutions provide only professional education.
Academic higher education in Latvia follows the Bologna system and is divided into three levels: bachelor’s studies, master’s studies, and doctoral studies. A Bachelor degree is received after three or four years of study, while a master’s degree is obtained on successful completion of a second phase of academic higher education, lasting one or two years
Latvia benefits from its position in Northern Europe. Since its adhesion to the Europe, the market place is growing up quickly and offer great opportunities in the Capital, Riga. Information technology and engineering are some of the most fruitful career choices in the country.
Latvia has many historic sites and is full of culture. If you want further information on accommodation visit http://www.metroroommates.com/state_rentals/latvia_rentals.asp. Alternatively view the accommodation provided by the university you choose to study.
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Experiences in Latvia: