Russian language in Latvia

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Percent of Russian speakers in different regions of Latvia, 2011 census

The Russian language in Latvia is the second most commonly used language at home (37.2% in the 2011 census[1]) and 27.0% of the population are ethnic Russians.[2]

History and distribution[edit]

Russian Theatre in Riga (building of the former Russian trading company "Ulyey")[3])

Before WWII the proportion of non-Latvians was approximately 25%, the Russians being the largest minority with 10.6%,[4] amount of Russians increased sharply after Soviet occupation, reaching 34% in 1989 and new, previously unknown groups as Russian speaking Ukrainians (3.5%) were introduced.[5] In 1925 census Russian was reported as family language by 14% of inhabitants. A small percent of Russian speakers were not Russians and conversely a small percentage of Russians used another language in family, which was attributed to mixed marriages, living in area with another majority language and, in case of Russian speakers, Russification policies of Russian empire.[6] In 1930 census Russian was reported as family language by 13% of inhabitants.[7] In 1970 Russian was spoken as the native language by 36% inhabitants, including 6% of total population who were not Russians, and fluently as a second language by 31% of inhabitants.[8] In 1989 Russian was the native language to 42% of population, including 8% of non-Russians, and 39% spoke it fluently as a foreign language.[9] In 2000 Russian was spoken natively by 37,5% of inhabitants and by 43,7% as the second language.[10] In 2011 census 37,2% reported Russian as the language they primarily speak at home.[11] A 2009 research found that overall proficiency of Russian as the second language is decreasing as it is losing its popularity among the youth, especially in areas with very large Latvian majority.[12]

References[edit]