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[102] Latvian armed forces will contribute to a UK-led Battlegroup in 2013 and the Nordic Battlegroup in 2015 under the Common Security and Defence Po licy (CSDP) of the European Union.[103] Latvia acts as the lead nation in the co ordination of the Northern Distribution Network for transportation of non-lethal ISAF cargo by air and rail to Afghanistan.[104][105][106] It is part of the Nor dic Transition Support Unit (NTSU), which renders joint force contributions in s upport of Afghan security structures ahead of the withdrawal of Nordic and Balti c ISAF forces in 2014.[107] Since 1996 more than 3600 military personnel have pa rticipated in international operations,[99] of whom 7 soldiers perished.[108] Pe r capita, Latvia is one of the largest contributors to international military op erations.[109] Latvian civilian experts have contributed to EU civilian missions: border assist ance mission to Moldova and Ukraine (2005 2009), rule of law missions in Iraq (200 6 and 2007) and Kosovo (since 2008), police mission in Afghanistan (since 2007) and monitoring mission in Georgia (since 2008).[98] Since March 2004, when the Baltic states joined NATO, fighter jets of NATO membe rs are on rotational basis deployed for the Baltic Air Policing mission at iaulia i Airport in Lithuania to guard the Baltic airspace. Latvia participates in seve ral NATO Centres of Excellence: Civil-Military Co-operation in the Netherlands, Cooperative Cyber Defence in Estonia and Energy Security in Lithuania. It plans to establish the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence in Riga.[110 ] Latvia co-operates with Estonia and Lithuania in several trilateral Baltic defen ce co-operation initiatives: Baltic Battalion (BALTBAT) infantry battalion for participation in international peace support operations, headquartered near Riga, Latvia; Baltic Naval Squadron (BALTRON) naval force with mine countermeasures capabiliti es, headquartered near Tallinn, Estonia; Baltic Air Surveillance Network (BALTNET) air surveillance information system, h eadquartered near Kaunas, Lithuania; Joint military educational institutions: Baltic Defence College in Tartu, Estoni a, Baltic Diving Training Centre in Liepaja, Latvia and Baltic Naval Communicati ons Training Centre in Tallinn, Estonia.[111] Future co-operation will include sharing of national infrastructures for trainin g purposes and specialisation of training areas (BALTTRAIN) and collective forma tion of battalion-sized contingents for use in the NATO rapid-response force.[11 2] In January 2011, the Baltic states were invited to join NORDEFCO, the defence framework of the Nordic countries.[113] In November 2012, the three countries a greed to create a joint military staff in 2013.[114] Economy[edit] Main article: Economy of Latvia Latvia is part of the EU single market (dark grey), Eurozone (dark blue) and Sch engen Area. Latvia is a member of the World Trade Organisation (1999) and the European Union (2004). On 1 January 2014, the Euro became the country's currency. According to statistics in late 2013, 45% of the population supported the introduction of th e euro, while 52% opposed it.[115] Since the year 2000, Latvia has had one of the highest (GDP) growth rates in Eur ope.[116] However, the chiefly consumption-driven growth in Latvia resulted in t he collapse of the Latvian GDP in late 2008 and early 2009, exacerbated by the g lobal economic crisis, shortage of credit and huge money resources needed for ba ilout of Parex bank.[117] Latvian economy fell 18% in the first three months of 2009, the biggest fall in the European Union.[118][119] Currently, Latvia is the third poorest state in the European Union by GDP per ca pita (PPP). According to Eurostat, 36.6% of population are at risk of poverty or social exclusion.[120]

as well as a negative foreign trade balance. but remains high at more than 16 percent in 2012. Rating agency Standard & Poor's raised its outlook on Latvia's deb t from negative to stable.9 million. The unemployment rate has receded from its peak of more than 20 percent in 2010.7%.Real GDP growth in Latvia 1996 2006. by 2010. The private sector accounte d for nearly 68% of the country's GDP in 2000. Representing 10. while the sharp swing in the current account balance suggests that the country s internal devaluation is working. and the economy is expected to expand by 3. Real GDP growth of 5. Latvia signed a Europe Agreement with the EU in 1995 with a 4-year transition period.[125] Kenneth Orchard. was passed in 1997. trade. s enior analyst at Moody's investors service argued that: "The strengthening regional economy is supporting Latvian production and exports . The national account deficit for 2007. The economic crisis of 2009 proved earlier assumptions that the fast growing eco nomy was heading for implosion of the economic bubble. Foreign investment in Latvia is still modest compared with the levels in north-c entral Europe. because it was driven mai nly by growth of domestic consumption.5%.5 pe rcent in 2011 was underpinned by export growth and a recovery in domestic demand . which mainly produces low-value goods and raw materials. Economic Contraction and Recovery (2008 2012)[edit] Main article: 2008 2010 Latvian financial crisis airBaltic Boeing 757-200WL take-off at Riga International Airport The Latvian economy entered a phase of fiscal contraction during the second half of 2008 after an extended period of credit-based speculation and unrealistic ap preciation in real estate values.[121] Latvia's unemployment rate rose sharply in this period from a low of 5.[125] Latvia's current account. at 22. Latvia and the Unit ed States have signed treaties on investment. Virtually all of the previously stat e-owned small and medium companies have been privatised. Eager to join Western economic institutions like the World Trade Organisation. for exa mple. represented more than 22% of the GDP for the year while inflation was runn ing at 10%." [127] The IMF concluded the First Post-Program Monitoring Discussions with the Republi c of Latvia in July 2012 announcing that Latvia s economy has been recovering stro ngly since 2010.[122] In April 2010 Latvia had the highest unemployment r ate in the EU.2% of Latvia's total foreign direct inve stment. financed by a serious increase of private debt. w hich were at some points appreciating at approximately 5% a month. leaving only a small nu mber of politically sensitive large state companies. the Nobel Laureate in economics for 2008.4% in Nov ember 2007 to over 22%. A law expanding the scope for selling land.5 percent. American companies invested $127 million in 1999.[128] Infrastructure[edit] . and the European Union. OECD. where many smaller economies a re experiencing crises strongly reminiscent of past crises in Latin America and Asia: Latvia is the new Argentina " [124] However. commentators[125][126] noted signs of stabilisation in the Lat vian economy. were long per ceived to be too high for the economy. ahead of Spain.[123] Paul Krugman. which had 19. which had been in defi cit by 27% in late 2006 was in surplus in February 2010. Privatisation in Latvia is almost complete.2 million of goods and services to Latvia and imported $87. and intellectual property p rotection and avoidance of double taxation. The growth momentum has continued into 2012 despite deteriorating external con ditions. wrote in his New York Ti mes Op-Ed column on 15 December 2008: "The most acute problems are on Europe s periphery. following the deep downturn in 2008 09. the United States of America exported $58. The prices of real estate. including to foreigne rs. In the same year.

[132] The life expectancy in 2013 was estimated at 73. Latvian Germans. Latvians formed 68. 78. Belarus. one of the largest u nderground gas storage facilities in Europe and the only one in the Baltic state s. Unique geological conditions at Incukalns and other locations in Latvia are p articularly suitable for underground gas storage.13 years male.0% of births were to unmarried women. and Liepaja.2% Poles ? 2.34 children born/woman .[129 ] Free port of Ventspils is the busiest port in the Baltic states.1 9 years (68. Transit between Russia.2% Others ? 2.1. Most transit traffic uses these and half the cargo is crude oil and oil products. the emigration a nd removal of Baltic Germans. which is lower than the replacement rate of 2. Belarus.[130] Demographics[edit] Main article: Demographics of Latvia Residents of Latvia by ethnicity (2011)[1] Latvians ? 62.1% Russians ? 26.Port of Ventspils is the busiest port in the Baltic states Main article: Transport in Latvia The transport sector is around 14% of GDP. Rigas HES (402 MW) and Keguma HES-2 (192 MW). 45.3% Ukrainians ? 2.53 years female). though the demographics shifted dramatically in the 20th century due to the World Wars. airBaltic is the Latvian flag carrier airline and a low-cost carrier.[131] In 2012.2% Lithuanians ? 1. According to the Russian Empire Census of 1897. The total fertility rate (TFR) in 2013 was estimated at 1. It has direct flight to over 80 destinations in 30 c ountries.[131] Ethnic groups[edit] Main articles: Latvian people. Latvian Russians. the Holocaust. and occupation by the Soviet Union.[129] Three biggest ports of Latvia are located in Riga.1% Population of Latvia (in millions) from 1950 to 2012.9% Belarusians ? 3. Apart from ro ad and railway connections. Ventspils is also linked to oil extraction fields an d transportation routes of Russian Federation via system of two pipelines from P olotsk.3% of the to .7 million passengers in 2012. Latvia operates Incukalns underground gas storage facility. Latvian Jews. In the recent years a couple of dozen of wind farms as well as biogas or biomass power stations of different scale have been built in Latvia. Latgalians (modern). Riga International Airport is the busiest airport in the Baltic states with 4. Kaza khstan as well as other Asian countries and the West is large. Ventspils. and Livonians Latvia's population has been multiethnic for centuries. Latvia has three big hydroelectric power stations in Plavinu HES (825MW).

especially in business and tourism. ethnic Latvians also ma ke up slightly less than a half of the population of the capital city of Latvia Riga. Jews for 7.660 no n-citizens living in Latvia or 14. Poles 2. including persons who are no t ethnically Russian). The English language is widely accepted in Latvia.2% Catholicism ? 24.1% Riga Cathedral . Daugavpils and Rezekne.[136] While it is now required that all school students le arn Latvian.tal population of 1.3%.88% voted for and the voter turnout was 71.1% Russian Orthodox ? 17. most schools also include English and either German or Russian in t heir curricula.3%.4%. On 18 February 2012. form about 62.035) in 1935 to 52% (1. and Poles for 3.[133] As of March 2011. Latgalian referred as either di alect or distinct separate language of Latvian is also formally protected by Lat vian law but only as a historical variation of the Latvian language. Jews 0. a large part of Latvia's Russian speaking community (290. e. 24.3%.660 or 14. There were 290.3%. is still the most widely used mi nority language by far (about 34% speak it at home. ethnic Latvians constitute a minori ty of the total population.1% of Latvia's entire population) could not vote in this referendum because they hold non-citizen status and thus have no right to vote. the indigenous peop les of Latvia. mainly ethnic Russian s who arrived after the occupation of 1940 and their descendants. Religion[edit] Main article: Religion in Latvia Religion in Latvia (2011)[139] Lutheranism ? 34.93 million.2%.[138] However.8% Old Believers ? 1.1% of the population). Germans 0.1% and others 1. 74. Germa ns for 6.757) in 1989. Russian. Ukrainians 2.2%. Estonians 0.[134] In some cities. The share of ethnic Latvians had fallen from 77% (1.g.2%.284. Lithuanians 1.1% of Latvian residents.8% voted against. Language[edit] Further information: Language policy in Latvia The sole official language of Latvia is Latvian.4%.194 (62.1% of the population.6% Other Christian ? 1. Latvia held a constitutional referendum on whether to adopt Russian as a second official language.3 87.9% are Russians. Bel arusians 3.1%. while 26. which enjoys protection by law.11 %.[137] According to the Central Election C ommission. thoug h their share of the population was larger 1.[135] In 2011 there were even fewer Latvians than in 1989. Romani people 0. wh ich was widely spoken during the Soviet period. which belongs to the Baltic lan guage group of the Indo-European language family. Latvians and Livonians (about 400 people). Another notable language of La tvia is the nearly extinct Livonian language of the Finnic branch of the Uralic language family.2%.467. Despite the fact that the proportion of ethnic Latvi ans has been steadily increasing for more than a decade. Russians accounted for 12%.2% Other or none ? 21.

Latvia closed 131 schools between 2006 and 2010.[144] Another two important universities.000 members in 1956. are Latvia University of Agricu lture (established in 1939 on the basis of the Faculty of Agriculture) and Riga Stradin University (established in 1950 on the basis of the Faculty of Medicine) both nowadays cover a variety of different fields. both been established on the basis of Riga Polytechnical Institute and located in Riga.000[139] In the Eurobarometer Poll 2005.9% decline.[142] The country's Orthodox Christians belong to the Lat vian Orthodox Church. Lutheranism has declined to a slightly greater extent th an Roman Catholicism in all three Baltic states. near the end of communist rule. but the faith has since experienced a revival.The largest religion in Latvia is Christianity. Dievturi (The Godskeepers). In 2011. spoke of an act ive membership that had shrunk to only 25. while 49% answered that "they believe there is some s ort of spirit or life force" and 10% stated that "they do not believe there is a ny sort of spirit.[121] though only about 7% of the population attends religious services regularly.773[139] Roman Catholic 500. when it was a major ity religion due to strong historical links with the Nordic countries and Northe rn Germany. An int ernal document of 18 March 1987.000 people. The Evangelical Lutheran Church . a semi-autonomous body within the Russian Orthodox Church. and in the same period enrolment in educational institutions has fallen by over 54. god.3% decline. or life force".[145] Health[edit] . whose rel igion is based on Latvian mythology.[141] 37% of Latvian citizens responded that "the y believe there is a god". a 10.[143] About 21% of the total population is n ot affiliated with a specific religion. Since then. was affected most adversely. Lutheranism was more prominent before the Soviet occupation. there were 416 Jews and 319 Muslims living in Latvia. Daugavpils University is anot her significant centre of education.[140] The largest groups as of 2011 were: Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia 708.[139] Education[edit] Main article: Education in Latvia See also: List of universities in Latvia University of Latvia Riga Technical University and University of Latvia are two major universities in the country. with an estimated 600. which is a 12.[139] There are more than 600 Latvian neopagans. which were establ ished on the base of State University of Latvia.000 in Latvia.000[139] Russian Orthodox 370.