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Latvian song festival by Dainis Matisons, 2008.jpg
Participants of the Latvian Song and Dance Festival in Latvian folk costumes
Total population
c. 1.4-1.5 million[]
Latvian people around the world.svg
Regions with significant populations
 Latvia 1,187,891 (2021)[1][2]
Other significant population centers:
 United Kingdom124,000 (2020)[3][4][5]
 United States96,070-102,000 (2009)[6]
 Germany40,480 (2020)[7]
 Canada30,725 (2016)[8]
 Brazil25,000 (2002)[9][10][11]
 Ireland19,933 (2016)[12]
 Australia20,509 (2016)[13]
 Russia18 979 (2010)
 Norway11,723 (2019)[14]
Other countries
(fewer than 10,000)
 Sweden8,798 (2021)[15]
 Ukraine5,079 (2001)[16]
 Denmark3,799 (2012)[17]
 Spain3,711 (2011)[18]
 Estonia3,329 (2020)[19]
 Finland3,232 (2020)[20]
 Italy2,689 (2014)[21]
 France2,602 (2016)[22][23]
 Lithuania2,300 (2012)[24]
 Belarus1,549 (2009)
 Netherlands1,400 (2002)[25]
 Kazakhstan1,123 (2009)[26]
  Switzerland736 (2006)[27]
 Belgium679 (2008)[28]
 Iceland654 (2013)[29]
 Portugal383 (2010)[30]
 Poland293 (2011)[32]
 Czech Republic193 (2011)[33]
 Austria152 (2002)[34]
 Greece69 (2006)[36]
 Kyrgyzstan82 (2009)[37]
 Croatia14 (2011)[38]
Predominantly Lutheranism,[39] with Roman Catholic, Latvian Orthodox minorities
Related ethnic groups
Other Balts, Baltic Finnic peoples (especially Estonians and Livonians)

Latvians (Latvian: latvie?i) are a Baltic ethnic group and nation native to Latvia and the immediate geographical region, the Baltics. They are occasionally also referred to as Letts,[40][41] although this term is becoming obsolete. Latvians share a common Latvian language, culture and history.


A Finnic-speaking tribe known as the Livs settled among the Latvians and modulated the name to "Latvis", meaning "forest-clearers", which is how medieval German, Teutonic settlers also referred to these peoples.[] The Germanic settlers referred to the natives as "Letts" and the nation to "Lettland", naming their colony Livonia or Livland.

The Latin form, Livonia, gradually referred to the whole territory of modern-day Latvia as well as southern Estonia, which had fallen under a minimal Germanic influence. Latvians and Lithuanians are the only surviving members of the Baltic branch of the Indo-European family.


Paternal haplogroups R1a and N1a1-Tat are the two most frequent, reaching 39.9% each among ethnic Latvians.[42] R1a has originated in eastern Europe and is associated with spread of Indo-European languages. R1a of Latvians is predominantly M558 and compared to other populations also has the highest concentration of M558 among R1a. N1a1-Tat mutation originated in East Asia and had spread through the Urals into Europe where it is currently most common among Finno-Ugric, Baltic and Eastern-Slavic people. Latvians and Lithuanians have a predominance of the L550 branch of N1a1-Tat.

N1c1a was present in 41.5%, R1a1a-M558 in 35.2% and I1 (M253) in 6.3 % of the samples analyzed.[43]



In 1649, settlement of the Latvian speaking Kursenieki spanned from Memel to Danzig.

Latvians share a common language and have a unique culture with traditions, holidays, customs and arts. The culture and religious traditions have been somewhat influenced by Germanic, Scandinavian, and Russian traditions. Latvians have an ancient culture that has been archaeologically dated back to 3000 BC. Latvians maintained a considerable connection and trade with their neighbors. The first indications of human inhabitants on the lands of modern Latvia date archaeologically to c. 9000 BC, suggesting that the first settlers were hunters that stayed almost immediately following the end of the last Ice Age. Colonizers from the south arrived quickly, driving many of the hunters northward as polar ice caps melted further, or east, into modern-day Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. The Roman author Tacitus remarked upon the "Aestii" peoples, thought to be inhabitants of the modern Baltic lands, suggesting that they were abound with formidable, yet peaceful and hospitable people. The Latvian peoples remained relatively undisturbed until Papal intervention via the Germanic, Teutonic Order colonized Kurzeme (Courland in English, Kurland in German), beginning in the first half of the 13th century. Papal decrees ordered the Teutonic Order to spread the "Word of the Lord" and the Gospel of Christianity throughout "uncivilized", "Pagan lands". Though these attempts to Christianize the population failed, and the Teutonic Order eventually redeployed southward, to the region of what was once known as East Prussia.

South-Eastern Latvia (Latgale), due to having a relatively large ethnic Russian population, has maintained a large Russian influence.


The Basilica of the Assumption in Aglona, the most important Roman Catholic church in Latvia.

Paganism was the main religion before territory of Latvia was invaded by Christian Teutonic Order. Latvians still celebrate traditional feasts (solstices). Dievtur?ba is a neopagan movement which claims to be a modern revival of the ethnic religion of the Latvians before Christianization in the 13th century.

Most of the Christian Latvians belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church, but in Latgale and Alsunga Municipality the Roman Catholic Church is predominant, a small minority of Latvians belong to the Latvian Orthodox Church and other religious congregations.[39] In the late 18th century, a small but vibrant Herrnhutist movement played a significant part in the development of Latvian literary culture before it was absorbed into the mainstream Lutheran denomination.


Latvians' ancestral language, Latvian, has been recorded since at least the 16th century.[44] It developed into a distinct language by the 9th century. It is part of a distinct linguistic branch of Indo-European languages: the Baltic languages.

Another notable language of Latvia is the nearly extinct Livonian language of Baltic-Finnic sub-branch of Uralic language family, which enjoys protection by law. The Latgalian language (a dialect of Latvian) is also protected by Latvian law as historical variation of Latvian language.

See also


  1. ^ "Population by ethnicity in regions, cities, 21 development centres and municipalities at the beginning of the year by Ethnicity, Territorial unit, Indicator and Time period". Ofici?l?s statistikas port?ls. Retrieved .
  2. ^ "ISG08. Latvie?u skaits Latvij? un R?g? gada s?kum?". Retrieved .[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Population of the UK by country of birth and nationality - Office for National Statistics". Retrieved .
  4. ^ Population by country of birth and nationality, Annual Population Survey, Office of National Statistics, 2014] Archived August 28, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ BNS (13 June 2011). "TVNET :rvalst?s - Lielbrit?nij? pa?laik dz?vo 39 t?ksto?i viesstr?dnieku no Latvijas". Retrieved .
  6. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved .
  7. ^ "Federal Statistical Office Germany - GENESIS-Online - Foreigners: Germany, reference date, sex/age years/marital status, country groups/citizenship". 2021-06-25. Retrieved .
  8. ^ Government of Canada, Statistics Canada (2017-10-25). "Ethnic Origin (279), Single and Multiple Ethnic Origin Responses (3), Generation Status (4), Age (12) and Sex (3) for the Population in Private Households of Canada, Provinces and Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2016 Census - 25% Sample Data". Retrieved .
  9. ^ "Um atalho para a Europa". Epoca. Editora Globo S.A. 24 June 2002. Archived from the original on 21 August 2012.
  10. ^ "Brazilian Embassy in Stockholm". Archived from the original on 4 January 2007. Retrieved 2017.
  11. ^ "A Millenarian Migration: Varpa". Retrieved 2017.
  12. ^ "All non-Irish nationals in Ireland - CSO - Central Statistics Office". Retrieved .
  13. ^ ABS. "ABS Statistics". Retrieved 2017.
  14. ^ "Immigrants and Norwegian-born to immigrant parents, by country background. 1 January 2019". Statistics Norway (in Norwegian).
  15. ^ "Population statistics - Foreign-born by Country of birth, sex and year of immigration 31 December 2020". Statistiska Centralbyrån. Retrieved .
  16. ^ "State statistics committee of Ukraine - National composition of population, 2001 census". (in Ukrainian). p. 3. Retrieved .
  17. ^ "StatBank Denmark". Retrieved 2017.
  18. ^ "Población extranjera por sexo, edad (grupos quinquenales) y país de nacionalidad". Retrieved 2017.
  19. ^ "Population by ethnic nationality". Statistics Estonia. Retrieved 2016.
  20. ^ "Befolkning 31.12. Efter Område, Bakgrundsland, Kön, År och Uppgifter".
  21. ^ "Statistiche demografiche ISTAT". Retrieved .
  22. ^ "Présentation de la Lettonie".
  23. ^ [1] Archived December 21, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ "Gyventoj? skai?ius met? prad?ioje. Po?ymiai: tautyb? - Rodikli? duomen? baz?je". Archived from the original on 2012-09-06. Retrieved .
  25. ^ "Demografie van de allochtonen in Nederland" (PDF). Retrieved .
  26. ^ Ethnic composition, religion and language skills in the Republic of Kazakhstan Archived 2011-07-23 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-03. Retrieved .CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  28. ^ "Bevolking per nationaliteit, geslacht, leeftijdsgroepen op 1/1/2008" (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 2011-11-20. Retrieved .
  29. ^ "Frontpage - Hagstofa". Hagstofa. Retrieved 2017.
  30. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-11-06. Retrieved .CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  31. ^ "Latvijas Republikas un Venecu?las Boliv?ra Republikas divpus?j?s attiec?bas". Retrieved 2017.
  32. ^ "Ludnosc Stan i struktura demograficzno-spoteczna" (PDF). Retrieved .
  33. ^ [2] Archived 2011-07-18 at the Wayback Machine
  34. ^ [3][dead link]
  35. ^ "Latvian | Joshua Project".
  36. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-07-22. Retrieved .CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  37. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-05-30. Retrieved .CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  38. ^ "1. POPULATION BY ETHNICITY - DETAILED CLASSIFICATION, 2011 CENSUS". Croatian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved .
  39. ^ a b "Tieslietu ministrij? iesniegtie reli?isko organiz?ciju p?rskati par darb?bu 2011. gad?" (in Latvian). Archived from the original on 2012-11-26. Retrieved .
  40. ^ "Lett - definition of Lett in English - Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford Dictionaries - English. Retrieved 2017.
  41. ^ "Definition of LETT". Retrieved 2017.
  42. ^ "Y Chromosome and Mitochondrial DNA Variation in Lithuanians" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-02-25. Retrieved . Kasperaviciute et al. 2004 (link broken)
  43. ^ Pliss, Liana; Tim?a, L?ga; Rootsi, Siiri; Tambets, Kristiina; Pelnena, Inese; Zole, Egija; Puzuka, Agrita; Sabule, Areta; Rozane, Sandra; Lace, Baiba; Kucinskas, Vaidutis (November 2015). "Y-Chromosomal Lineages of Latvians in the Context of the Genetic Variation of the Eastern-Baltic Region". Annals of Human Genetics. 79 (6): 418-430. doi:10.1111/ahg.12130. ISSN 1469-1809. PMID 26411886. S2CID 13050610.
  44. ^ V?ksni, Nicholas (1973). "The Early History of Latvian Books". Lituanus. 19 (3). Retrieved 2019.

External links

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