Demographics of Latvia

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This article is about the demographic features of the population of the historical territory of Latvia, including population density, ethnic background, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.

Contents

Background

Latvia was settled by the Baltic tribes some three millennia ago. The territories along the eastern Baltic first came under foreign domination at the beginning of the 13th century, with the formal establishment of Riga in 1201 under the German Teutonic Knights.

Latvia, in whole or in parts, remained under foreign rule for the next eight centuries, finding itself at the cross-roads of all the regional superpowers of their day, including Denmark (the Danes held on lands around the Gulf of Riga), Sweden, and Russia, with southern (Courland) Latvia being at one time a vassal to Poland-Lithuania as well as Latgale falling directly under Poland-Lithuania rule. Through all this time, Latvia remained largely under Baltic German hegemony, with Baltic Germans comprising the largest land-owners, a situation which did not change until Latvia's independence.

Historically, Latvia has had significant German, Russian, Jewish and Polish minorities. The majority (roughly two thirds) of Latvians, under Swedish influences, adopted Lutheranism, while the minority (the remaining third) of Latvians under Poland-Lithuania, Latgale in particular, retained their Catholicism. Aglona, in Latgale, has been the site of annual Catholic pilgrimage for centuries, even through to today.

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