About Latvia

Name of Country: Republic of Latvia, Latvijas Republika
Climate: oderate, but with considerable seasonal temperature fluctuation: summer warm, spring relatively mild, winter very long (October till April) with extreme freezing temperatures (up to -30 degrees).
Location: At the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea, borders in the north on Estonia, in the south on Lithuania, in the east on Russia and in the southeast on Belarus.
Area: 64.559 km²
Capital: Riga (about 713,000 inhabitants, downward tendency)
Population: 2,067,800 inhabitants (62% Latvians, 27% Russians, 11% others)
Official Language: Latvian (only official language); Russian widespread
Religions: Evangelical-Lutheran Church, Roman Catholic Church, Russian Orthodox Church, Jewish synagogues, German Evangelical-Lutheran Church with 5 congregations.

Cultural and Educational Policy

Traditionally, education and culture play an essential role in Latvia. The traditions in Latvia are a source of pride and national identity. The independence movement in the 1980s has gone down in history as the Singing Revolution.

The expectations on the German educational and cultural communicators are therefore high. Especially in the promotion of the German language and in the university environment, an active and generous commitment of Germany further on, is desired by the Latvian government and Latvian institutions.

German-Latvian cultural projects are taking place over the direct cooperation of German and Latvian institutions, especially on cities and communal level, between theaters, operas, orchestras, choirs and museums. The Goethe Institute Riga offers movie, theater, music and literature projects, exhibitions and lectures, as well as events for the continuing education of teachers and language courses. Also scholarships for Germany and stays for learning German are awarded.

German Language

German is, after English and Russian, the third foreign language in Latvia. In school year 2010/11 25.271 Latvian adolescents, or every eighth student, learned German at 345 out of 846 schools, which are providing general education. Unfortunately, there was an observable decline in the last years. The interest in German, on a high standard, is still constantly high. So about 60 students from Latvia have received the German language certificate II, from the conference of education ministers, in May 2011. 1500 people have learned German at the Goethe Institute and further 2.500 people have learned German at universities.

Landscape of Higher Education

In 2011/12, about 100.00 students were registered at universities in Latvia. Studying in Latvia is predominantly fee-financed, the fees amount among 700 and 2.000€ per year at public universities, depending on discipline and place of study. The fees of the private universities are normally even higher. The Baltic-German university office, based in Riga, offers information about Germany as a place of study and also offers additional lectures in German to complement the local curricula. It should be expanded into a platform of, not only German-Latvian, but also German-Lithuanian, German- Estonian and an inner-Baltic university and research cooperation. Currently 170 German-Latvian university cooperations are registered at the German Rectors’ Conference.