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Total population
c. 1.6–1.7 million
Regions with significant populations

 Latvia 1,229,067 (2014)[1]

Other significant population centers:
 United Kingdom 102,000 (2014)[2][3]
 United States 96,070–102,000 (2009)[4]
 Canada 27,870 (2006)[5]
 Germany 27,752 (2014)[6]
 Brazil 25,000 (2002)[7][8][9]
 Ireland 20,593 (2011)[10]
 Australia 20,509 (2016)[11]
 Russia 20,068 (2010)[12]
 New Zealand 20,000 (2004)[13]
 Norway 8,077 (2013)[14]
 Ukraine 5,079 (2001)[15]
 Sweden 4,116 (2009)[16]
 Denmark 3,799 (2012)[17]
 Spain 3,711 (2011)[18]
 Italy 2,689 (2014)[19]
 Lithuania 2,300 (2012)[20]
 Estonia 2,198 (2016)[21]
 France 1,702 (2007)[22]
 Belarus 1,549 (2009)[23]
 Netherlands 1,400 (2002)[24]
 Finland 1,164 (2013)[25]
 Kazakhstan 1,123 (2009)[26]
  Switzerland 736 (2006)[27]
 Belgium 679 (2008)[28]
 Iceland 654 (2013)[29]
 Portugal 383 (2010)[30]
 Venezuela 300[31]
 Poland 293 (2011)[32]
 Georgia 200[33]
 Argentina 200[33]
 Czech Republic 193 (2011)[34]
 Austria 152 (2002)[35]
 Uzbekistan 140 (2000)[36]
 Chile 100[33]
 Greece 69 (2006)[37]
 Kyrgyzstan 82 (2009)[38]
 Croatia 14 (2011)[39]
Predominantly Christianity:[40] Lutheranism, with Roman Catholic, Latvian Orthodox and Dievturi minorities.
Historically Baltic Paganism.
Related ethnic groups
Lithuanians, Kursenieki, Latgalians, Semigallians, Livonians

Latvians (Latvian: latvieši; Livonian: lețlizt) are a Baltic ethnic group, native to what is modern-day Latvia and the immediate geographical region. They are occasionally also referred to as Letts,[41][42] although this term is obsolescent. 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 the 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 N1c-Tat and R1a are the two most frequent, reaching 39.9% each among ethnic Latvians.[citation needed][43] N1c-Tat mutation probably originated in South Siberia eight to nine thousand years ago and had spread through the Urals into the Europe where it is currently most common among Finno-Ugric and Baltic people. Balts, however, differ from Finno-Ugrics by the predominance of the N1c-L550 branch of N1c-Tat.[44] Haplogroup R1a is associated with the spread of Indo-European languages.

A recent autosomal study has shown that among other European populations, Latvians are genetically related to Lithuanians, followed distantly by Estonians.[45]



In 1649, settlement of the Latvian speaking Kursenieki spanned from Memel (Klaipėda) to Danzig (Gdańsk).

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, and near ethnic cousins the Finno-Ugrians, otherwise known contemporarily as Estonians and eventually Finns as well. 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.

Most of the religious Latvians belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church, but in Eastern Latvia (Latgale) the Roman Catholic Church is predominant, a small minority of Latvians belong to the Latvian Orthodox Church and other religious congregations.[40] 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.


The national language of the Latvian people is Latvian. Latvian is part of a unique linguistic branch of Indo-European languages: the Baltic languages.

External links[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ISG08. Latviešu skaits Latvijā un Rīgā gada sākumā". Retrieved 2017-08-02. 
  2. ^ Population by country of birth and nationality, Annual Population Survey, Office of National Statistics, 2014] Archived August 28, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ BNS. "TVNET :: Ārvalstīs - Lielbritānijā pašlaik dzīvo 39 tūkstoši viesstrādnieku no Latvijas". Retrieved 2011-12-03. 
  4. ^ "Detailed Tables - American FactFinder". Archived from the original on 2011-11-09. Retrieved 2011-12-03. 
  5. ^ contenu, English name of the content author / Nom en anglais de l'auteur du. "English title / Titre en anglais". Retrieved 2 August 2017. 
  6. ^ "Federal Statistical Office - Foreign population by average-age and average duration of residence". 2008-10-20. Retrieved 2012-01-23. 
  7. ^ "Um atalho para a Europa". Epoca. Editora Globo S.A. 24 June 2002. Archived from the original on 21 August 2012. 
  8. ^ "Brazilian Embassy in Stockholm". Archived from the original on 4 January 2007. Retrieved 2 August 2017. 
  9. ^ "A Millenarian Migration: Varpa". Retrieved 2 August 2017. 
  10. ^ "CSO Emigration" (PDF). Census Office Ireland. Retrieved January 29, 2013. 
  11. ^ ABS. "ABS Statistics". Retrieved 2 August 2017. 
  12. ^ Russians#cite note-gks-1
  13. ^ [1] Archived 2006-02-20 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ "12 prosent av befolkningen er innvandrere". Retrieved 2 August 2017. 
  15. ^ "State statistics committee of Ukraine - National composition of population, 2001 census". (in Ukrainian). p. 3. Retrieved 2017-08-02. 
  16. ^ "Tabeller över Sveriges befolkning 2009" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-08-02. 
  17. ^ "StatBank Denmark". Retrieved 2 August 2017. 
  18. ^ "Población extranjera por sexo, edad (grupos quinquenales) y país de nacionalidad". Retrieved 2 August 2017. 
  19. ^ "Statistiche demografiche ISTAT". Retrieved 2015-06-28. 
  20. ^ "Gyventojų skaičius metų pradžioje. Požymiai: tautybė - Rodiklių duomenų bazėje". Archived from the original on 2012-09-06. Retrieved 2011-12-03. 
  21. ^ "Population by ethnic nationality". Statistics Estonia. Retrieved 30 March 2016. 
  22. ^ [2] Archived December 21, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  23. ^ ru:Латыши#cite note-5
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  25. ^ "Taulukko: Kieli iän ja sukupuolen mukaan maakunnittain 1990 - 2010". Retrieved 2011-12-03. [permanent dead link]
  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 2015-03-18. 
  28. ^ "Bevolking per nationaliteit, geslacht, leeftijdsgroepen op 1/1/2008" (in Dutch). Retrieved 2011-12-03. 
  29. ^ "Frontpage - Hagstofa". Hagstofa. Retrieved 2 August 2017. 
  30. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-11-06. Retrieved 2013-04-21. 
  31. ^ "Latvijas Republikas un Venecuēlas Bolivāra Republikas divpusējās attiecības". Retrieved 2 August 2017. 
  32. ^ "Ludnosc Stan i struktura demograficzno-spoteczna" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-08-02. 
  33. ^ a b c lt:Latviai
  34. ^ [3] Archived 2011-07-18 at the Wayback Machine.
  35. ^ [4][dead link]
  36. ^ Этнический атлас Узбекистана Archived 2014-03-23 at the Wayback Machine. Институт "Открытое общество", 2002 - 451 с. (см.)
  37. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-07-22. Retrieved 2014-11-13. 
  38. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-05-30. Retrieved 2011-07-24. 
  39. ^ "1. POPULATION BY ETHNICITY – DETAILED CLASSIFICATION, 2011 CENSUS". Croatian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2017-05-12. 
  40. ^ a b "Tieslietu ministrijā iesniegtie reliģisko organizāciju pārskati par darbību 2011. gadā" (in Latvian). Archived from the original on 2012-11-26. Retrieved 2012-07-25. 
  41. ^ "Lett - definition of Lett in English - Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford Dictionaries - English. Retrieved 2 August 2017. 
  42. ^ "Definition of LETT". Retrieved 2 August 2017. 
  43. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-02-25. Retrieved 2010-05-20.  Kasperaviciute et al. 2004 (link broken)
  44. ^ Pamjav H; Nemeth E; Feher T; Volgyi A. "Genetic journey of the N1c haplogroup" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-10-30. Retrieved 2017-08-02. 
  45. ^ Nelis; et al. ""Genetic Structure of Europeans: A View from the North–East"". Retrieved 2017-08-02.