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The climate in Latvia is moderate and damp, with four distinct seasons of the year. The wealth of the country rests in vast forests, a clean environment, and a wealth of fauna (some 13,000 species of animals have been identified in Latvia). In May 2010, it stood at 2,241,500 people, representing a drop of 6 per cent since 2000.While Latvia was in the Soviet Union, the Soviet press system was fully imposed.The most important newspapers were those of the Communist Party and the Komsomol (Communist youth movement), published both in Latvian and in Russian.The Latvian language press critiques political processes and serves as a ‘watchdog’.It is also more likely than the Russian language press to write about the countryside and Latvia’s regions.The media quickly had to learn how to exist under a democratic system and in a market economy.

One consequence of the Soviet occupation is the large number of non-citizens who live in Latvia.Latvia’s political system is dominated by centrist and rightist political parties, although pro-Russian parties have become more active in recent years.There are seven political parties in the Latvian parliament, the Saeima, at time of writing. The print media in Latvia have always been held in high regard.Latvian language newspapers take a more global view, while Russian language newspapers are more parochial, focusing mostly on Latvia’s Russian-speaking community, Russia itself and its spheres of interest in the former USSR.Some Russian newspapers often illustrate open hostility toward the Latvian state.

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