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Travel & Tourism . Tourist Guide to the Country

Latvia History and Culture


Archaeologists have found traces of human settlements and older human culture, approximately 10 000 BC. Nomadic tribes came into these territories, during the migration from the Southwest.

This culture had its origin from the mid–stone age, human settlements in Ahrensburg in the region of Schleswig–Holstein in Germany. This early European culture was leading until approximately 3000 BC, when other nations from the East began to settle in the territory of Latvia.

The cultures coming from the East are the ancestors of Finns, Estonians and Livs (a very small nation living in the northwestern part of Latvia, now an ethnic minority). Approximately around 2000 BC, Baltic tribes came into Latvia, and are regarded as the ancestors of present day Latvians and Lithuanians.

These tribes, coming from the South, assimilated to the nations already living on Latvian territory. During this period, the inhabitants split up into several tribes (this process had happened earlier with Germans).

Since then we differentiate the Baltic tribes into Latgalian, Zemgalian, Kurzemian on Latvian territory and Prussian and Lithuanian in the territories further to the south.

In Viking times, west of the Riga bay,lived the Kurshi,who were well known in the Baltic Sea region.They traded with neighboring Scandinavian nations, but the trade was frequently attacked and robbed on both sides. Since the main trade road from the Scandinavian region to Byzantium went through Kurzeme, a rich trade culture developed. An important exported product was amber jewelry, which is found in large quantities on the coasts of the Baltic Sea.

Few Latvian artistic figures or works are internationally known. The country's literature was kickstarted in the 19th century with the writing of a national epic poem called Lacplesis (The Bear Slayer) by Andrejs Pumpurs, which was based on traditional folk tales.
The giant of Latvian literature is Janis Rainis, who Latvians claim might have enjoyed the acclaim of Shakespeare or Goethe had he written in a less obscure language.

Latvian verses known as dainas are often short and poetic and have been compared to the Japanese haiku. In the 19th century, great collections of folk lyrics and tunes were made by Krisjanis Barons. In fact, over 1.4 million folk lyrics and 30,000 tunes have been written down in Latvia.

Latvian is one of only two surviving languages of the Baltic branch of the Indo-European language family, and speakers of Latvian regard it as an endangered species. Just over half the people in the country speak it as their first language.
The language spoken in east and west Latvia has dialectical differences from the standard Latvian spoken in the central portion of the country.

Latvians are descended from tribes such as the Letts (or Latgals), Selonians, Semigallians and Cours. In each of the country's 7 largest cities, Latvians are outnumbered by Russians. Over 200,000 Latvians live in Western countries, mainly in Australia, Canada, Germany, the UK and the USA.


Acknowledgements: ASIATRAVELMART.COM

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