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With a coastline of 531km along the Baltic Sea, Latvia is bordered by Estonia, Lithuania, Russia and Belarus. Woodlands cover over 40% of this low-lying country. Latvia also counts more than 3 000 lakes and 12 000 rivers.
The most important sectors of Latvia’s economy in 2012 were wholesale and retail trade, transport, accommodation and food services (30.0 %), industry (19.5 %) and public administration, defence, education, human health and social work activities (14.0 %).
Latvia’s main export partners are Russia, Lithuania and Estonia while its main import partners are Lithuania, Germany and Russia.
Geographical size: 64 562 km2
Population: 2 044 813 (2012)
Population as % of total EU population: 0.4 % (2012)
GDP: € 22.257 billion (2012)
Official EU language(s): Latvian
Political system: parliamentary republic
EU member country since: 1 May 2004
Seats in the European Parliament: 8
Currency: Eurozone member since 1 January 2014
Schengen area member? Yes, Schengen Area member since 21 December 2007.
Presidency of the Council: Latvia holds the revolving presidency of the Council of the EU for the first time in 2015.
In the Council of the EU, national ministers meet regularly to adopt EU laws and coordinate policies. Council meetings are regularly attended by representatives from the Latvian government, depending on the policy area being addressed.
The Council of the EU doesn't have a permanent, single-person president (like e.g. the Commission or Parliament). Instead, its work is led by the country holding the Council presidency, which rotates every 6 months.
During these 6 months, ministers from that country's government chair and help determine the agenda of Council meetings in each policy area, and facilitate dialogue with the other EU institutions.
Dates of Latvian presidencies:
More on the current presidency of the Council of the EU.
The Commission is represented in each EU country by a local office, called a "representation".
Latvia has 7 representatives on the European Economic and Social Committee. This advisory body – representing employers, workers and other interest groups – is consulted on proposed laws, to get a better idea of the possible changes to work and social situations in member countries.
Latvia has 7 representatives on the Committee of the Regions, the EU's assembly of regional and local representatives. This advisory body is consulted on proposed laws, to ensure these laws take account of the perspective from each region of the EU.
Latvia also communicates with the EU institutions through its permanent representation in Brussels. As Latvia's "embassy to the EU", its main task is to ensure that the country's interests and policies are pursued as effectively as possible in the EU.
Member countries' financial contributions to the EU budget are shared fairly, according to means. The larger your country's economy, the more it pays – and vice versa. The EU budget doesn't aim to redistribute wealth, but rather to focus on the needs of all Europeans as a whole.
Breakdown of Latvia’s finances with the EU in 2012:
More figures on the EU budget, revenue and spending:
The money paid into the EU budget by Latvia helps fund programmes and projects in all EU countries - like building roads, subsidising researchers and protecting the environment.
Find out more about how Latvia benefits from EU funding.