Latvia is a Baltic state in Northern Europe. Latvia is bordered by Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, Russia to the east, Belarus on the south east, and the Baltic Sea on the west. Latvia is known already from ancient times. The famous route from the Vikings to the Greeks’ mentioned in ancient chronicles stretched from Scandinavia through Latvian territory along the river Daugava to the Kievan Rus and Byzantine Empire. In the 12th century, German traders arrived, bringing with them missionaries who attempted to convert the pagan Finno-Ugric and Baltic tribes to the Christian faith. The Germans founded Riga in 1201, establishing it as the largest and most powerful city on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea.
After independence in 1918, Latvia achieved considerable results in social development, economy, industry and agriculture.
On June, 1940, Soviet forces occupied the country. Nazi Germany occupied the country the following year, ruling Latvia until the Soviet Red Army reoccupied the country in 1944. Both Nazi Germany and the USSR under Stalin were extremely brutal and murderous during their rule.
During the time of the Iron Curtain, Latvia was a province of the Soviet Union, but the concentration of heavy industry was enormous. Contacts with the West were regulated. The Baltic region had the reputation of being the most urbanized and having the highest literacy rate in the Soviet Union. Latvia gained independence again on 1991.