(population 21,106 in the census
of 2000, known as Kircholm
until 1917), is a city 18 km south-east of Riga
, on the northern bank of Daugava
river. Salaspils is one of the oldest settlements in Latvia. Archaeological excavations of 1964-1975 (during the construction of Riga HES) in ancient settlements, burial grounds and castle mounds give evidence of very dense population of the region. During the excavations which were the largest in the history of Latvian archaeology, on the right bank of the Daugava the oldest ever known settlement of indigenous Latvians - Salaspils Laukskola (Country School of Salaspils) was found. 11,000 years ago reindeer hunters had settled there. From the 10th to 15th century, the site was settled by the Livonian
The Popular Front of Latvia (Latvijas Tautas Fronte in Latvian) was a political organization in Latvia in late 1980s and early 1990s which lead Latvia to its independence from the Soviet Union. It was similar to the Popular Front of Estonia and the Sajudis movement in Lithuania.
Latvia, together with Estonia and Lithuania, was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940. While there was relatively little resistance to the occupation, many Latvians remained unhappy with it and waited for a chance to regain independence. Such a chance came in 1980s when Gorbachev attempted to reform the Soviet Union. In particular, Gorbachev's glasnost policy allowed more freedom of speech in the Soviet Union than ever before.
Latvia's independence movement started with small demonstrations for independence and human rights in 1986. The first demonstrations, organized by Helsinki-86, were, however, suppressed by the government of Latvian SSR. The breaking point came in summer 1988. Many prominent Latvians publicly announced their support for increased autonomy for Latvia. Latvian newspapers started writing about aspects of Latvian history which had been banned during the Soviet period (for example, how Latvia had been occupied in 1940). The flag of Latvia which had been banned during the Soviet period was brought back. To summarize, a strong resurgence of Latvian national identity had started.
The Constitution of Latvia
) is the fundamental law of the Republic of Latvia
. It was adopted by, as it states itself, the people of Latvia, in a freely elected Constitutional Assembly
, on 15 February 1922 and came into force on 7 November 1922. It was influenced by ideas of the Weimar Constitution
and Swiss Federal Constitution
. Although the initial bill
consisted of two parts, the second part, which regulated citizens' rights and obligations was voted down; a chapter on Fundamental human rights was added only by amendment in 1998. After the 1934 coup d'etat
a declaration was passed which assigned functions of the parliament
to the Cabinet of Ministers
until a new constitution could be drafted, thereby partly suspending the constitution. A new constitution was never drafted and during World War II
Latvia was annexed by the Soviet Union
. In 1990 the parliament of the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic
declared the annexation of Latvia illegal, as it was acted out ignoring the Constitution of Latvia and both the Constitution and Republic of Latvia still existed de jure
thereby restoring independence of Latvia. The constitution, except for the articles 1, 2, 3 and 6 was suspended by the same declaration in order to be reviewed, the constitution was fully reinforced upon the first assembly of the 5th Saeima
in 1993. The constitution establishes six bodies of government, it consists of 116 articles arranged in eight chapters.
) is a town in western Latvia
, eleven kilometers east of Liep?ja
. It was founded by the Teutonic Knights
in the 13th century. Some ruins of their castle are still visible. The town was chartered in 1695.
During the Early Middle Ages, Grobi?a (or Grobin) was the most important political centre on the territory of Latvia. There was a centre of Scandinavian settlement on the Baltic Sea, comparable in many ways to Hedeby and Birka but probably predating them both. About 3,000 surviving burial mounds contain the most impressive remains of the Vendel Period in Eastern Europe.
The Viking settlement at Grobin was excavated by Birger Nerman in 1929 and 1930. Nerman found remains of an earthernwork stronghold, which had been protected on three sides by the Alanda River. To the period between ca. 650 and ca. 800 may be dated three Vendel Period cemeteries, one of them military in character and analogous to similar cemeteries in Mälaren Valley in Central Sweden, while two others indicate that there was "a community of Gotlanders who were carrying on peaceful pursuits behind the shield of the Swedish military".
The Freedom Monument (Latvian: Br?v?bas Piemineklis), located in Riga, Latvia, is a memorial in honor of soldiers killed in action during the Latvian War of Independence. It is an important symbol of the freedom, independence and sovereignty of Latvia. Unveiled in 1935, the 42 meters high monument of granite, travertine and copper often serves as the focal point of public gatherings and official ceremonies.
The sculptures and bas-reliefs of the Freedom Monument, arranged in thirteen groups, depict Latvian culture and history. The core of the monument is composed of tetragonal shapes on top of each other, decreasing in size towards the top, completed by a 19 meters high travertine column bearing the copper figure of Liberty lifting three gilded stars. The concept of the monument first emerged in the early 1920s, when the Prime Minister of Latvia, Zigfr?ds Anna Meierovics, ordered rules to be drawn up for a contest for designs of a "memorial column". After several contests the monument was finally built at the beginning of the 1930s according to the scheme "Shine like a star!" by Latvian sculptor K?rlis Z?le.
During World War II Latvia was annexed by the USSR and the Freedom Monument was considered for demolition, but no such move was carried out, because of the high artistic value of the monument. Propaganda was used to alter the symbolical meaning of the monument according to Soviet ideology. Yet it remained a symbol of national independence to the general public and on 14 June 1987 about 5,000 people gathered at there to commemorate the victims of the Soviet regime and to lay flowers. This rally began the national independence movement and three years later the independence of Latvia was re-established.
) the capital
and the largest city in the Baltic States
situated on the Baltic Sea
coast on the mouth of the river Daugava
The Historic Centre of Riga has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the city is particularly notable for its extensive Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) architecture, comparable in significance only with Vienna and Saint Petersburg.
Riga was founded by German traders and missionaries at the site of an ancient settlement of the Livonians, an ancient Finnic tribe, at the junction of the Daugava and Ridzene (Latvian: R?dzene) rivers. The Ridzene was originally known as the Riga River, at one point forming a natural harbor called the Riga Lake, neither of which exist today. Riga was dominated first by Germans, later by Sweden and then by Russian Empire until Latvia, with Riga as its capital city, thus declared its independence on 18 November 1918. After World War II Latvia was incorporated in to Soviet Union, however it restored its independence in early 1990s.
In 2001, Riga celebrated its 800th anniversary as a city. In the near future, the face of Riga will undergo notable changes. In 2008, the first stage of the new Southern Bridge route across the Daugava will be completed and will help to reduce traffic jams and the amount of traffic in the city centre. Another construction project is the planned Riga Northern Transport Corridor, which is scheduled to start in 2010. The construction of a new landmark -- the Latvian National Library building -- will beginning in the autumn of 2007 and is due to be built by 2010. Currently discussions are underway in Riga council about the development of the central areas on the left bank of the Daugava. The major dispute surrounds plans to build skyscrapers in psala. The construction of 3 buildings in psala has already started -- the Da Vinci complex (25 floors, construction stopped) and two high-rises called Z-Towers (30 floors).
The 2006 Riga summit or the 19th NATO Summit was a NATO summit held in Riga, Latvia from November 28 until November 29, 2006. The most important topics discussed were the War in Afghanistan and the future role and borders of the alliance. Further, the summit focused on the alliance's continued transformation, taking stock of what has been accomplished since the 2002 Prague Summit. NATO also committed itself to extend further membership invitations in the upcoming 2008 Bucharest Summit. This summit was the first NATO summit held on territory of a former USSR republic and coincided with CIS' 2006 Minsk Summit of November 28. Roads in the center of Riga were closed down and parking was not allowed at the airport or at several roads, out of fear for car bombs. About 9000 Latvian police officers and soldiers took care of the Summit's security, while more than 450 other airmen from seven European NATO countries were called upon to ensure a no-fly zone above the summit in an operation called Operation Peaceful Summit. This enhanced ongoing Baltic Air Policing activities with additional aircraft, communications and maintenance support.
Rainis, was the pseudonym of J?nis Pliekns (b. September 11 [O.S. August 30] 1865 in Varslav?ni, current Jekabpils district — d. September 12, 1929 in Majori), a poet, playwright, translator, and politician who is considered to be the greatest Latvian writer. Rainis' works include the classic plays Uguns un nakts (Fire and Night, 1905) and Indulis un ?rija (Indulis and ?rija, 1911) and a highly regarded translation of Goethe's Faust. His works had a profound influence on the literary Latvian language, and the folkloric symbolism he employed in his major works has been central to Latvian nationalism. During his education at the Riga City Gymnasium he met and befriended P?teris Stu?ka, later to become a prominent Latvian communist and Rainis's brother-in-law. Rainis studied law at the University of St. Petersburg. After completing his studies, he worked at the Vilnius regional court and with Andrejs St?rsts in Jelgava. Rainis wrote for Dienas Lapa (The Daily Sheet), T?vija (Fatherland) and the Latvian Conversational Dictionary. From 1891 to 1895 Rainis was editor in chief of Dienas Lapa. Rainis was also socially active and politically prominent, being one of the spiritual leaders of the Revolution of 1905 in Latvia and the New Current that foreshadowed to it. In 1897 he married Aspazija (pseudonym of Elza Pliekne, born Rozenberga), another Latvian poet and playwright active in the New Current. The New Current was eventually subjected to a crackdown by the Tsarist authorities as a seditious movement. With the failure of the Revolution, he emigrated to Switzerland together with his wife, settling in Castagnola, a suburb of Lugano. Rainis and Aspazija returned to Latvia on April 4, 1920. Rainis, as a member of the Central Committee of the Latvian Social Democratic Workers' Party, resumed his political activities and was member of the Constitutional Assembly of Latvia (Satversmes sapulce) and Saeima (Parliament) and of the Ministry of Education Arts Department, founder and director of the Dailes Theater, and director of the National Theater from 1921 to 1925, Minister of Education from December, 1926 to January, 1928, and a member of the Cultural Fund and (Military) Order of Lpl?sis Council. Rainis had the ambition of becoming Latvia's president and became less prominent in politics when this ambition was not fulfilled.
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