Latvia, officially the Republic of Latvia, is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia, to the south by Lithuania, to the east by the Russian Federation and to the southeast by Belarus.
The Republic of Latvia was founded on November 18, 1918. It has been continuously recognized as a sovereign state since 1920 despite occupations and rule by the Soviet Union (1940-1941, 1945-1991) and Germany (1941-1945). On August 21, 1991 Latvia declared the restoration of its independence, re-established international diplomatic ties, and joined the United Nations. In 1998 Latvia joined the WTO and in 2004 became a member of the European Union and NATO.
Accommodation and Restaurants
There is a very large selection of hotels and hostels throughout Latvia from basic lodgings to 5 star hotels. Prices for accommodation are cheaper than in northern Europe, but higher than in eastern countries. 21% VAT is added to hotel stays.
Restaurants are plentiful and varied. Traditional Lativan cuisine is the most common, but good, international cuisine can easily be found. Eating out is significantly less expensive in Latvia than in most of western Europe.
Tipping, of up to 10% is recommended and widely accepted .
Safety and Security
Latvia is a relatively safe country but there are petty crimes such pickpocketing, bag snatching, bicycle theft and car vandalism or theft. Pay careful attention on public transport or in crowded markets. Park your car in guarded lots when possible, and always use a strong lock for your bicycle.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Latvia is relatively lower compared to many other European countries, especially the Nordic countries. The cost of groceries is about one-third less than countries like Germany, France, the UK and the USA, while transportation, accommodation and healthcare are lower than in most other European countries. More expensive are items such as clothes, furniture and electrical appliances. Petrol is not cheap, but still slightly lower than many European countries.
Shopping and Entertainment
Latvia has many shopping centers, such as Alfa, Spice, Mols and Centres in Riga. They are large and modern with large grocery stores and cinemas.