About Latvia

Country name: Republic of Latvia, Latvijas Republika
Climate: Temperate, although there are considerable seasonal temperature fluctuations. Warm summer. Spring and autumn are short and relatively mild, winter is very long (October to April) with extreme below-zero temperatures (-30 degrees).
Location: On the East coast of the Baltic Sea, borders with Estonia to the North, with Lithuania to the South, to the East with the Russian Federation and to the Southwest with Belarus.
Area: 64,559 sq km
Capital: Riga (713,016 inhabitants, decreasing tendency)
Population: 2,067,800 inhabitants (62 percent Latvian, 27 percent Russian, 11 percent others)
Official language: Latvian (only official language), Russian is widely spoken
Religions/Churches: Evangelic-Lutheran Church, Roman Catholic Church, Russian-Orthodox Church, Jewish, German Evangelic-Lutheran Church with 5 parishes


Culture and Education Policy

Education and culture traditionally have had a high status in Latvia. Traditions in Latvia are a source of pride and national identity. The independence movement in the 1980s became history with the name “Singing revolution”.

Therefore, the expectations set for the German representatives for culture and education are equally high. Particularly, the Latvian government and institutions expect an active and generous engagement from Germany’s part when it comes to the promotion of the German language and higher education.

The German-Latvian culture projects are carried out mostly through the direct cooperation of German and Latvian institutions, above all at city and municipality level, between theatres, operas, orchestras, choirs and museums. The Goethe-Institut in Riga offers films, theatre, music and literature projects, exhibitions and conferences, as well as events for teacher training and language courses. Also, grants are awarded for study periods in Germany.

German Language

German is the third foreign language in Latvia, after English and Russian. In the academic year 2010/11, 25,271 Latvian pupils learned German, which means one in eight, in 345 schools from a total of 846 general education schools. In the past few years we have been able to see a decline. However, the interest for German in the highest levels remains the same. Approx. 60 Latvian pupils received in May 2011 the Deutsche Sprachdiplom II awarded by the Conference of Education Ministers of Germany. 1,500 people learned German at the Goethe-Institut and 2,500 people learned German at university.

Higher Education Landscape

There were approx. 100,000 registered students at higher education institutions in Latvia in 2011/12. Degrees in Latvia are financed by school fees. The fees for public higher education institutions depend on the study place and subject, and amount from €700 to €2,000 per year. The fees for private schools are generally higher. The Baltic-German University Liaison Office, with headquarters in Riga, offers information to study in Germany, as well as lectures in German that complete the local curricula. This shall not only be a platform for the German-Latvian cooperation, but has to be developed to include German-Lithuanian and German-Estonian cooperation, as well as higher education and research cooperation among the Baltic States. There are currently 170 German-Latvian higher education cooperation agreements registered at the Rector’s Conference.