Located in the Baltic region of Northern Europe, Latvia's 64,589 km² of territory is bordered by a number of countries, including Estonia, Russia, and Lithuania. This close proximity to other nations means that Latvia has large resident populations from these countries, with only 61% of its approximately 2 million citizens identifying as Latvian in 2014.
The biggest of these groups living in Latvia are Russians (27% of the total population), due to its historical ties with the Soviet Union, but there are also large numbers of Belarusians (3.5%), Ukrainians and Poles(around 2% each). The capital city Riga, named European Capital of Culture in 2014, also has a large expatriate community.
Although the official language is Latvian, one of only two surviving Baltic languages along with Lithuanian, many people also speak Russian or English as their second language.
Expatriates moving to Latvia will need to adjust to a temperate climate that has oceanic, maritime and humid continental influences. Temperatures are fairly consistent throughout the country, but depending on where you move to in Latvia, you could experience either slightly warmer or colder weather.
In coastal areas, particularly the western coast of the Courland Peninsula, the maritime and oceanic influences are more noticeable, and cause cooler summers and milder winters; whereas eastern Latvia has a more continental climate, with hotter summers and more severe winters.
The average temperature for winter is around -6°C, but it has been known to drop to -30°C, and heavy snowfall can be expected. Summer temperatures reach an average of 19°C, but can get up to 35°C.
With only one major international airport, moving to Latvia is not as easy as moving to larger European nations. However, Riga International Airport is the largest airport in the Baltic region, and has flights to and from many major worldwide destinations, including a nonstop direct flight to New York’s JFK Airport. It is also the main hub of flag carrier Air Baltic.
While there are plans to build more regional international airports, for the time being Riga International Airport remains the main point of entry for expatriates moving to Latvia.
Latvia also has a number of ports that would be suitable for expatriates wanting to ship their belongings to the country, most notably the Freeport of Riga and Riga Passenger Terminal, which is the largest port in the country.