Situated on the Baltic coast, the Republic of Latvia, commonly known as Latvia, is situated in Northern Europe. The country is largely a fertile lowland with numerous lakes and hills to the east. It is bordered to the north by Estonia, to the south by Lithuania, to the east by Russia, and to the southeast by Belarus and shares a maritime border to the west with Sweden.
With a population of 2.3 million, it is one of the least populous and least densely populated countries of the European Union. The capital of Latvia is Riga. The official language is Latvian. It is a parliamentary democracy with the President as the head of state.
The country has a temperate seasonal climate with a varied and beautiful landscape. Due to its geographical location, transit services are highly-developed. The environment is rich in wildlife and the country attracts tourists from all over Europe.
Latvia was welcomed as an EU member in May 2004 and is a full EU member country. The move came just weeks after it joined NATO. It is also a part of the Schengen group of countries. Latvia is also a member of the United Nations, Council of Europe, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, Council of the Baltic Sea States and Nordic Investment Bank.
The official currency of Latvia is lats. In June 2013, Latvia was assessed to have met all the economic conditions for euro entry and the lats will be replaced by the euro on 1st January, 2014.
For centuries Latvia was primarily an agricultural country, with seafaring, fishing and forestry as other important factors in its economy. Presently, the economy of Latvia is an open economy in Northern Europe and is part of the European Union's single market. Latvia’s economy has been recovering strongly since 2010, following the deep downturn in 2008–09. .
Latvia has large forests reserves that supply timber for construction and paper industries. The country also produces consumer goods, textiles, electronic devices and machine tools. Tourism is an important industry in Latvia and the country is a popular tourism destination due to its unique cultural monuments, well-known resorts and international festivals.
More recently, the country has been attracting large number of foreign investors to invest in real estate because of cheap prevailing real estate prices and affordable cost of living.
Latvia is ranked the 21st in the world by the Ease of Doing Business Index prepared by the World Bank Group. According to the Human Development Report of 2011, Latvia belongs to the group of very high human development countries.