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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Political, social and economic background and trends


1.Political, social and economic background and trends

Last update: 17 June 2022

Latvia, one of the three Baltic States is a democratic, parliamentary republic. Legislative power is in the hands of the single chamber Saeima. The parliamentary elections are held every 4 years and the Presidentis being elected by the Saeima every 4 years.

Latvia is a member state of the European Union – the largest single market in the world. The country fulfilled the Maastricht criteria and joined the Eurozone on January 1, 2014. Since 2016 it is a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). According to the World Bank, the annual GDP growth from 2011 to 2019 for Latvia was on average 3%.

Latvians are the indigenous people of Latvia, and the Finno-Ugric Livs (or Livonians) are the only indigenous minority. Latvia’s present ethnic mix is largely a result of massive post-war immigration, which resulted in a decline in the share of ethnic Latvians from 77% in 1935 to 52% in 1989.

In 2017, the ethnic distribution of Latvia’s population was 62% Latvians, 25.4% Russians, 3.3% Belorussians, 2.2% Ukrainians, 2.1% Poles, and 5% other ethnicities.

Latvian is the official language in Latvia, it belongs to the Baltic group of the Indo-European family of languages with its closes relative Lithuanian.

As a part of the Baltic Sea region, Latvia has always been a multi-ethnic country and rich in different cultural and education traditions.