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Ventspils ( ; ) is a city in northwestern Latviamarker in the Kurzeme (Courland) region of Latvia, the sixth largest city in the country. As of 2006, Ventspils had a population of 43,806. Ventspils is situated on the Venta River and the Baltic Seamarker, and has an ice-free port.

History

Ventspils developed around the Livonian Order castle, built along the Venta River. It was chartered in 1314 and became an important mercantile city of the Hanseatic League.

As part of the Duchy of Courlandmarker, Ventpils blossomed as a shipbuilding center. 44 warships and 79 trading ships were built in the town, and it was from Ventspils that the Duke's fleet set out to colonize Gambiamarker and Tobagomarker. Metal, amber, and wood-working shops also became important to the city's development.

During the Polish-Swedish War and the Great Northern War, Ventspils was destroyed, and in 1711 a plague wiped out most of the remaining inhabitants. Ventspils fell under the control of Imperial Russia and its re-growth was stalled.

It was not until about 1850 that shipbuilding and trade became important again. The port was modernized in the 1890s and connected to Moscow by rail. It became one of Imperial Russia's most profitable ports, by 1913 turning a yearly profit of 130 million rubles. The population soared as well, growing from 7,000 in 1897, to 29,000 in 1913.
German civilians fleeing Red Army 1944
During the German occupation from 1915-1919, the population decreased almost by half, though some returned home during the First Republic of Latvia (1918-1940).

In 1939, the Red Army established a base in Ventspils. Under Soviet rule, an oil pipeline was built to Ventspils, and became USSR's leading port in crude oil export. Thirty kilometres north of Ventspils is the ex-Soviet radioastronomy installation VIRACmarker (Ventspils Starptautiskais Radioastronomijas Centrs or Ventspils International Radio Astronomy Centre). The existence of the Centrs was unknown to most Latvians until 1994. After independence, the Latvian government began a city-beautification process to make the city more attractive to tourists.

In 2004, Ventspils was a host city for a multi-national (United States, United Kingdom, Poland, Sweden, Russia, Latvia, Denmark, Finland, Norway) naval exercise called Baltic Operations XXXIII . The force was led by the guided missile cruiser USS Anzio and the destroyer . The US vessels were the first American warships to visit the port of Ventspils since Latvian independence was declared.

Cityscape

Ventspils is situated at the mouth of the Venta River, where it empties into the Baltic Seamarker, and is an important ice-free port. Large amounts of oil and other mineral resources from Russiamarker are loaded aboard ships at Ventspils. The revenue from port services has made Ventspils the wealthiest city in Latvia.

Ventspils Airportmarker, one of the three international airports in Latvia, is located in the city. Ventspils High Technology Park provides infrastructure and services to IT and electronics companies.

The city has a university college, Ventspils Augstskola, and a basketball team that has won the Latvian championship in the last several years. In the 2001/2002 season, the team took third place in the North European Basketball League (NEBL). Ventspils also has a football team in FK Ventspils who compete in the Virsliga. In the 2006 season the team has won the Latvian championship for the first time.

Ventspils has a Blue Flag Beach.

Residents

Harbor Cow.


Twin towns

See also



External links







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