The Full Wiki

Riga: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

Riga ( , ) is the capital and largest city of Latviamarker, a major industrial, commercial, cultural and financial centre of the Baltics, and an important seaport, situated on the mouth of the Daugava. With 713,016 inhabitants (2009) it is the largest city of the Baltic states and third-largest in the Baltic region, behind Saint Petersburgmarker and Stockholmmarker (counting residents within the city limits). Riga's territory covers and lies between above sea level, on a flat and sandy plain.

Riga's historical centre has been declared a UNESCOmarker World Heritage Site, and the city is particularly notable for its extensive Jugendstil (German Art Nouveau) architecture, which UNESCO considers to be unparalleled anywhere in the world.


The Riga skyline in the mid-16th century, Cosmographia Universalis

Founding of Riga

The river Daugava has been a trade route since antiquity, part of the Vikings' Dvina-Dnieper navigation route to Byzantium. A sheltered natural harbour upriver from the mouth of the Daugava the site of today's Riga has been recorded, as Duna Urbs, as early as the 2nd century. It was subsequently settled by the Livs, an ancient Finnic tribe, later also the Kurs.

Riga began to develop as a centre of Viking trade during the early Middle Ages.Riga's inhabitants occupied themselves mainly with fishing, animal husbandry, and trading, later developing crafts (in bone, wood, amber, and iron).

The Chronicle of Henry of Livonia (Chronicle) testifies to Riga having long been a trading centre by the 12th century, referring to it as portus antiquus (ancient port), and describes dwellings and warehouses used to store mostly corn, flax, and hides. German traders began visiting Riga, establishing a nearby outpost in 1158.

One theory for the origin of the name Riga is that it is a corrupted borrowing from the Liv ringa meaning loop, referring to the ancient natural harbour formed by the tributary loop of the Daugava. The other is that Riga owes its name to this already-established role in commerce between East and West, as a borrowing of the Latvian rija, for warehouse, the "j" becoming a "g" in German notably, Riga is called Rie by English geographer Richard Hakluyt (1589), and German historian Dionysius Fabricius (1610) confirms the origin of Riga from rija.

Along with German traders also arrived the monk Meinhard of Segeberg to convert the pagans to Christianity. (Catholic and Orthodox Christianity had already arrived in Latvia more than a century earlier, and many Latvians baptised.) Meinhard settled among the Livs, building a castle and church at Ikšķilemarker, upstream from Riga, and established his bishopric there. The Livs, however, continued to practice paganism and Meinhard died in Ikšķile in 1196, having failed his mission. In 1198 the Bishop Bertold arrived with a contingent of crusaders and commenced a campaign of forced Christianization. Bertold was shortly killed and his forces defeated.

The Church mobilised to avenge. Pope Innocent III issued a bull declaring a crusade against the Livonians. Bishop Albert was proclaimed Bishop of Livonia by his uncle Hartwig of Uthlede, Prince-Archbishop of Bremen and Hamburg in 1199. Albert landed in Riga in 1200 with 23 ships and 500 Westphalian crusaders and 500 Westphalian crusaders. In 1201 he transferred the seat of the Livonian bishopric from Ikšķile to Riga, extorting agreement to do so from the elders of Riga by force.

Under Bishop Albert

1201 also marked the first arrival of German merchants in Novgorod, via the Dvina. To defend territory and trade, Albert established the Order of Livonian Brothers of the Sword in 1202, open to nobles and merchants.

Christianization of the Livs continued. 1207 marked Albert's start on fortification of the town. Emperor Philip's invested Albert with Livonia as a fief and principality of the Holy Roman Empire. To promote a permanent military presence, territorial ownership was divided between the Church and the Order, with the Church taking Riga and two thirds of all lands conquered and granting the Order a thirdPalmieri, A. Catholic Origin of Latvia, ed. Cororan, J.A. et al.The American Catholic Quarterly Review Volume XLVI, January-October 1921. Philadelphia.. Until then, it had been customary for crusaders to serve for a year and then return home.

Albert had ensured Riga's commercial future by obtaining papal bulls which decreed that all German merchants had to carry on their Baltic trade through Riga. In 1211, Riga minted its first coinage, and Albert laid the cornerstone for the Riga Dommarker. Riga was not yet secure as an alliance of tribes failed to take Riga. In 1212, Albert led a campaign to compel Polotskmarker to grant German merchants free river passage. Polotsk conceded Kukenois (Koknesemarker) and Jersika to Albert, also ending the Livs' tribute to Polotsk.

Riga's merchant citizenry chafed and sought greater autonomy from the Church. In 1221 they acquired the right to independently self-administer Riga and adopted a city constitution.

That same year Albert was compelled to recognize Danish rule over lands they had conquered in Estonia and Livonia. Albert had sought the aid of King Valdemar of Denmark to protect Riga and Livonian lands against Liv insurrection when reinforcements could not reach Riga. The Danes landed in Livonia, built a fortress at Reval (Tallinnmarker), and set about conquering Estonian and Livonian lands. The Germans attempted, but failed, to assassinate Valdemar. Albert was able to reach an accommodation a year later, however, and in 1222 Valdemar returned all Livonian lands and possessions to Albert's control..

Albert's difficulties with Riga's citizenry continued; with papal intervention, a settlement was reached in 1225 whereby they no longer had to pay tax to the Bishop of Riga, and Riga's citizens acquired the right to elect their magistrates and town councilors. In 1226, Albert consecrated the Dom Cathedral, built St. James's Church and founding a parochial school at the Church of St. George.

In 1227, Albert conquered Oesel , and the city of Riga concluded a treaty with the Principality of Smolensk giving Polotsk to Riga.

Albert died in January, 1229. He failed his aspiration to be anointed archbishop but the German hegemony he established over the Baltics would last for seven centuries.

Hanseatic League

In 1282 Riga became a member of the Hanseatic League. The Hansa was instrumental in giving Riga economic and political stability, thus providing the city with a strong foundation which endured the political conflagrations that were to come, down to modern times.

As the influence of the Hansa waned, Riga became the object of foreign military, political, religious and economic aspirations. Riga accepted the Reformation in 1522, ending the power of the archbishops. In 1524, a venerated statue of the Virgin Mary in the Cathedral was denounced as a witch, and given a trial by water in the Daugava River. The statue floated, so it was denounced as a witch and burnt at Kubsberg. With the demise of the Teutonic Knights in 1561, Riga for twenty years had the status of a Free Imperial City, then in 1581, Riga came under the influence of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In 1621 Riga and the outlying fortress of Daugavgrivamarker came under the rule of Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, who intervened in the Thirty Years' War not only for political and economic gain but also in favour of German Lutheran Protestantism. During the Russo-Swedish War, 1656-1658, Riga withstood a siege by Russians. Riga remained the largest city in Sweden until 1710 during a period in which the city retained a great deal of self-government autonomy. In that year, in the course of Great Northern War, Russiamarker under Tsar Peter the Great invaded Riga. Swedenmarker's northern dominance ended, and Russia's emergence as the strongest Northern power was formalised through the Treaty of Nystad in 1721. Riga was annexed by Russia and became an industrialised port city of the Russian empiremarker, where it remained until World War I. By 1900, Riga was the third largest city in Russia after Moscowmarker and Saint Petersburgmarker in terms of numbers of industrial workers.
Riga seen from Spot Satellite
During these many centuries of war and changes of power in the Baltic, the Baltic Germans in Riga remained in their dominant position despite demographic changes. By 1867 Riga's population was 42.9% German. Riga employed German as its official language of administration until the imposition of Russian language in 1891 as the official language in the Baltic provinces. Latvians began to supplant Germans as the largest ethnic group in the city in the mid-19th century. The rise of a Latvian bourgeoisie made Riga a centre of the Latvian National Awakening with the founding of the Riga Latvian Association in 1868 and the organisation of the first national song festival in 1873. The nationalist movement of the Young Latvians was followed by the socialist New Current during the city's rapid industrialisation, culminating in the 1905 Revolution led by the Latvian Social Democratic Workers' Party.

The 20th century brought World War I and the impact of the Russian Revolution of 1917 to Riga. The German army marched into Riga in 1917. In 1918 the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed giving the Baltic countries to Germany. Because of the Armistice with Germany of November 11, 1918, Germany had to renounce that treaty, as did Russia, leaving Latvia and the other Baltic States in a position to claim independence. Latvia, with Riga as its capital city, thus declared its independence on November 18, 1918.
A view of Riga on a postcard. circa 1900.
Between World War I and World War II (1918–1940), Riga and Latvia shifted their focus from Russia to the countries of Western Europe. The United Kingdommarker and Germanymarker replaced Russia as Latvia's major trade partners.

During World War II, Latvia was occupied first by the Soviet Unionmarker in June 1940 and then by Nazi Germany in 1941-1944. The Baltic Germans were forcibly repatriated to Germany. The city's Jewish community was forced into Riga ghettomarker and concentration camps were constructed in Kaiserwaldmarker and the city of Salaspilsmarker.

In 1945 Latvia was once again occupied by the Red Army. As a result of the war Latvia lost approximately one-third of its population. Forced industrialisation and planned large-scale immigration of large numbers of non-Latvians from other Soviet republics into Riga, particularly Russians, changed the demographic composition of Riga.

The policy of economic reform, introduced in 1986 as Perestroika, led to dissolution of the Soviet Union and restoration of independent Latvia in 1991. Latvia formally joined the United Nations as an independent country on September 17, 1991. In 2004 Latvia joined both NATOmarker and the European Union.

In 2004, the arrival of low-cost airlines resulted in cheaper flights from other European cities such as London and Berlin and consequently a substantial increase in numbers of tourists.




The Powder Tower of Riga
Left-bank Riga is distinguished by its green streets and large parks.

The city of Riga consists of six administrative regions, four of which are named after regions of Latviamarker - Kurzeme district, Latgale suburb, Vidzememarker suburb, Zemgale suburb. There is also a Central District and a Northern district. Residents, however, divide Riga into residential neighbourhoods called micro regions. Unlike the city centre, they are mostly residential although they are equipped with commercial sectors.

These neighbourhoods include
  • Āgenskalnsmarker - Left bank, old neighbourhood, mainly built in late 19th — early 20th century.
  • Andrejsalamarker - An emerging art, culture and entertainment district, located within former territory of the industrial port.
  • Beberbeķimarker - A neighbourhood consisting mainly of private houses, it lies on the western edge of the city. The swampy forest Mukupurvs and Riga Airportmarker noise area separate it from the rest of the city.
  • Bolderājamarker - Left bank, northernmost neighbourhood. The 18th-century fort built by Peter the Great is one of the oldest buildings in this part of the city.
  • Čiekurkalnsmarker - Right bank, old neighbourhood.
  • Dārzciemsmarker - Right bank, mainly consists of one or two-storey private houses.
  • Dreiliņi - A newly built neighbourhood in the eastern part of the city.
  • Dzirciems - Left bank, south of Iļģuciems.
  • Iļģuciemsmarker - Left bank, north of Āgenskalns.
  • Imantamarker - Left bank, newly built neighbourhood.
  • Jugla - Right bank, large neighbourhood, lies just west of lake Juglas.
  • Ķengarags - Right bank, south-east of city centre. One of the most populous neighbourhoods in town.
  • Ķīpsala - island located just west of the Old Town. Home to the Press Office and Exhibition Hall.
  • Maskavas Forštate - located south of the city centre.
  • Mežaparksmarker - Right bank, consists largely of private houses. Notable for its large forest-like park including the Esplanade where the Folk Song Festival is held and also the city zoo.
  • Mežciems - Right bank, just east of the large Biķernieku forest.
  • Pārdaugava - City's part, situated on Daugava's left bank, meaning "across Daugava", also particularly the neighbourhoods along the water, Āgenskalns and Torņakalns.
  • Pleskodāle - A neighbourhood consisting mostly of private houses on the west side of the city. It borders Zolitūde and Šampēteris neighbourhoods.
  • Pļavnieki - Right bank, one of the town's most populous neighbourhoods.
  • Purvciemsmarker - Right bank, one of the town's most populous neighbourhoods.
  • Sarkandaugava - Right bank, east of the small river with the same name.
  • Šampēteris - An old neighbourhood on the left bank of Daugava, with many houses built in the first part of 20th century still surviving.
  • Šmerlis - Right bank, more of a forest than a neighbourhood, it is home to Riga's Cinema Studio.
  • Torņakalnsmarker - Left bank, old neighbourhood known for the Māras pond.
  • Vecmīlgrāvismarker - Right bank, cut off from the mainland by a small river, Mīlgrāvis.
  • Vecrīgamarker - Old Town.
  • Ziepniekkalns - Left bank, consists both of old and new buildings.
  • Zolitūde - Left bank, another newly-built neighbourhood, just south of Imanta.

Some common factors in these place names are "vec-" meaning old [vecs], "-kalns" meaning hill, "-ciems" meaning hamlet, "-sala" meaning island and "mež-" meaning forest [mežs].


The climate of Riga is humid continental (Koppen Dfb). The coldest months are January and February, when the average temperature is -5°C but temperatures as low as -20°C to -25°C can be observed almost every year on the coldest days. Due to the proximity of the sea autumn rains and fogs are frequent. Continuous snow cover may last eighty days. The summers in Riga are warm and humid with the average temperature of 18°C, while the temperature on the hottest days usually exceed 30°C.


Logo of Riga- the city of inspiraton.

Business and leisure travel to Riga have increased significantly in recent years due to improved infrastructure. Most tourists travel to Riga by air via Riga International Airportmarker, the largest airport in the Baltic states, which was renovated and modernised in 2001 on the occasion of Riga's 800th anniversary. In the near future, the face of Riga will undergo notable changes. The construction of a new landmark — the Latvian National Librarymarker building — began in the autumn of 2007 and is due to be built by 2010. Currently discussions are underway in Riga council about the development of the central areas on the left bank of the Daugava. The major dispute surrounds plans to build skyscrapers in Ķīpsala, which UNESCO warned "could seriously endanger the status of the Historic Centre of Riga as a World Heritage Site." The construction of 3 buildings in Ķīpsala has already started — the Da Vinci complex (25 floors) and two high-rises called Z-Towers (30 floors). Almost all important Latvian financial institutions are located in Riga, including the Bank of Latvia, which is Latvia's central bank. Foreign commercial trade through Riga has been on the increase in recent years and received new impetus on May 1, 2004 when Latvia became a member of the European Union. Riga accounts for about half of the total industrial output of Latvia, focusing on the financial sector, public utilities, food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, wood processing, printing and publishing, textiles and furniture, and communications equipment manufacturing. More than 50% of Latvian companies are registered in Riga region. The port of Riga is an important cargo shipping centre. It is the main all-weather port in the Baltic and is expected to grow in the next few years due to increased trade with other ex-Soviet states and China.


Riga with its central geographic position and concentration of population, has always been the infrastructural hub of Latvia. Several national roads have their beginning in Riga and the European route E22 crosses Riga from the east and west, the Via Baltica crosses Riga from the south and north.

As a city situated by a river, Riga also has several bridges to facilitate easy crossing for an increasing volume of traffic. The oldest standing bridge is the Railway Bridgemarker, which is also the only railroad carrying bridge in Riga. The Stone Bridgemarker connects Old Town Rigamarker and Pārdaugava, the Island Bridgemarker connects Maskavas forštate and Pārdaugava via Zaķusalamarker, and the Shroud Bridgemarker connects Old Town Riga and Pārdaugava via Ķīpsala.In 2008, the first stage of the new Southern Bridgemarker route across the Daugava was completed, and opened to traffic on November 17. The Southern Bridge is currently the biggest construction project in the Baltic states in 20 years, and will help to reduce traffic jams and the amount of traffic in the city centre.. Another big construction project is the planned Riga Northern Transport Corridor, which is scheduled to begin in 2010.

Freeport of Riga facilitates cargo and passenger traffic by sea. Sea ferries currently connects Riga to Stockholmmarker and Lübeckmarker, operated respectively by Tallinkmarker and DFDS Tor Line . The Latvian flagged ferries MS Romantika and MS Silja Festival can be seen at the Riga Passenger Terminalmarker close to Old Town Riga.

Riga has one airport, Riga International Airportmarker, that serves commercial airlines. Air traffic at the airport doubled between 1993 and 2004. Riga was also home to two air bases during the Cold War: Rumbulamarker and Spilvemarker.

Public transportation in the city is provided by Rīgas Satiksme which operates a large fleet of trams, buses and trolleybuses on an extensive network of routes across the city. In addition, many private owners operate minibus services. Riga is connected to the rest of Latvia by trains operated by the national railway company Passenger Train, whose headquarters are in Riga. There are also international rail links to Russiamarker and Estoniamarker. Riga International Coach Terminalmarker provides domestic and international connections by coach. Current plans envisage a trans-European rail link from Tallinn to Warsaw via Riga financed by the European Union, with the first phase to be completed by 2013.


Year Population
1767 19,500
1800 29,500
1840 60,000
1867 102,600
1881 169,300
1897 282,200
1913 517,500
1920 ¹185,100
1930 377,900
1940 353,800
Year Population
1941 335,200
1945 ²228,200
1950 482,300
1955 566,900
1959 580,400
1965 665,200
1970 731,800
1975 795,600
1979 835,500
1987 900,300
Year Population
1990 909,135
1991 900,455
1992 889,741
1993 863,657
1994 843,552
1995 824,988
1996 810,172
1997 797,947
1998 786,612
1999 776,008
Year Population
2000 764,329
2001 756,627
2002 747,157
2003 739,232
2004 735,241
2005 731,762
2006 727,578
2007 722,485
2008 717,371

With 713,016 inhabitants in 2008, Riga is the largest city in the Baltic States, though its population has decreased since 1991. Notable causes include emigration and low fertility rates. Some have estimated that the population may fall by as much as 50% by 2050. According to the 2008 data, ethnic Latvians make up 42.3% of the population of Riga, with the percentage of ethnic Russians at 41.7%, Belarusians at 4.3%, Ukrainians at 3.9%, Poles at 2.0%, and others ethnicities at 5.8%. By comparison, 59% of Latvia's inhabitants are ethnic Latvians, 28.5% are Russians, 3.8% are Belarusians, 2.5% are Ukrainians, 2.4% are Polish, 1.4% are Lithuanians and the remaining 2.4% are accounted for by other ethnicities (2006). Upon restoration of Latvian independence in 1991, Soviet-era migrants (and any of their offspring born before 1991) were not automatically granted Latvian citizenship. Some have emigrated; this partially accounts for the recent decline in Riga's population. As a result of this repatriation of some Soviet-era migrants, the proportion of ethnic Latvians in Riga has increased from 36.5% in 1989 to 42.3% in 2007. In contrast the percentage of Russians has fallen from 47.3% to 42.1% in the same time period. Latvians overtook Russians as the largest ethnic group in 2006,.


Art Academy of Latvia


  • The Latvian National Opera was founded in 1918. The repertoire of the theatre embraces all the opera masterpieces. The Latvian National Opera is famous not only for its operas, but for its ballet troupe as well.
  • The Latvian National Theatre was founded in 1919. This theatre is situated in one of the most beautiful buildings in Riga. The Latvian National Theatre preserves the traditions of Latvian drama school. It is one of the biggest theatres in Latviamarker.[4207]
  • Riga Russian Theatre is the oldest professional drama theatre in Latviamarker. The first season was in 1883. The repertoire of the theatre includes classical plays and experimental performances of Russian and foreign playwrights. Dialogue, music, dance, pantomime are an inseparable part of its spectaculars. [4208]
  • The Daile Theatre was opened for the first time in 1920. It is one of the most successful theatres in Latviamarker. This theatre is distinguished by the fact that it regularly presents productions of modern foreign plays.
  • Latvian State Puppet Theatre was founded in 1944. This theatre presents shows for children and adults.[4209]
  • The New Riga Theatre was opened in 1992. It has an intelligent and attractive repertoire of high quality that focused on a modern, educated and socially active audience. [4210]


In 2006 a World Ice Hockey Championships was held in Riga. Arena Rigamarker was built for the event. As of 2008, a new Latvian ice hockey club Dinamo Riga was established in order to play in the Kontinental Hockey League. The city is home to the Latvian Bandy Federation. Riga is also the home town for legendary women's basketball club TTT Rīga, which throughout 1960's and 1970's won twelve European champion titles.


International relations

150 px

Twin towns — Sister cities

Riga maintains sister city relationships with the following cities:
Aalborgmarker, Denmarkmarker Almatymarker, Kazakhstanmarker Amsterdammarker, Netherlandsmarker Astanamarker, Kazakhstanmarker
Beijing, Chinamarker Bordeauxmarker, Francemarker Bremenmarker, Germanymarker Cairnsmarker, Australia
Calaismarker, Francemarker Dallasmarker, USAmarker Florencemarker, Italymarker Kievmarker, Ukrainemarker
Kobe, Japanmarker Minskmarker, Belarusmarker Moscowmarker, Russiamarker Norrköpingmarker, Swedenmarker
Porimarker, Finlandmarker Providencemarker, USAmarker Rostockmarker, Germanymarker Saint Petersburgmarker, Russiamarker:
Santiagomarker, Chilemarker Sloughmarker, UKmarker Stockholmmarker, Swedenmarker Suzhoumarker, Chinamarker
Taipeimarker, Taiwanmarker Tallinnmarker, Estoniamarker Vilniusmarker, Lithuaniamarker Warsawmarker, Polandmarker

See also


  2. Bilmanis, A. Latvia as an Independent State. Latvian Legation. 1947.
  3. Endzelīns, Did Celts Inhabit the Baltics (1911 Dzimtene's Vēstnesis (Homeland Messenger) No. 227). Retrieved July 24, 2009.
  4. Pronouncing the "i" and "e" separately, REE-eh, is the best approximation to the Latvian rija, as "Ria" would result in an "i" not "ee" sound.
  5. Fabrius, D. Livonicae Historiae Compendiosa Series, 1610: "Riga nomen sortita est suum ab aedificiis vel horreis quorum a litus Dunae magna fuit copia, quas livones sua lingua Rias vocare soliti."
  6. Vauchez et al. Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages. Routledge, 2001
  7. Germanis, U. The Latvian Saga. 10th ed. 1998. Memento, Stockholm.
  8. Laffort, R. (censor), Catholic Encyclopedia, Robert Appleton Co., 1907
  9. Tolstoy-Miloslavsky, D. The Tolstoys: Genealogy and Origin. A2Z, 1991
  10. Dollinger, P. The Emergence of International Business 1200 1800, 1964; translated Macmillan and Co edition, 1970
  11. Reiner et al. Riga. Axel Menges, Stuttgart. 1999.
  12. Zarina, D. Old Riga: Tourist Guide, Spriditis, 1992
  13. Moeller et al. History of the Christian Church. MacMillan & Co. 1893.
  14. Doma vēsture (history), Retrieved July 29, 2009
  15. Kooper, E. The Medieval Chronicle V. Radopi, 2008.
  16. Wright, C.T.H. The Edinburgh Review, THE LETTS, 1917
  17. Murray, A. Crusade and Conversion on the Baltic Frontier, 1150-1500. Ashgate, London. 2001.
  18. The Ecclesiastical Review, Vol. LVI. American Ecclesiastical Review. Dolphin Press. 1917.
  19. Fonnesberg-Schmidt, I. The Popes and the Baltic Crusades, 1147-1254. Brill. 2006.
  20. Švābe, A., ed. Latvju Enciklopēdija. Trīs Zvaigznes, Stockholm. 1953-1955 (in Latvian)
  21. Fletcher, R.A. The Conversion of Europe: From Paganism to Christianity, 371-1386 AD. Harper Collins. 1991.
  22. Michell, Thomas. Handbook for Travelers in Russia, Poland, and Finland. London, John Murray, 1888.
  23. Fonnesberg-Schmidt, I. The Popes and the Baltic Crusades, 1147-1254. Brill, 2007
  24. National History Museum of Latvia
  25. UNESCO 2007 report, p199 accessed 20 July 2009
  27. Sister city list (.DOC)

External links

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address