In last couple of years Latvia is become very popular for as it is becoming a window to Europe for those who are trying to find heapest way to get residence permit in EU and seek living in northern part of Europe as it demands high class of living standarts.
Where is Latvia?
Latvia is situated on the shore of the Baltic Sea. It is possible to reach Riga quickly from major European cities by bus, by train or by plane. Air traffic is especially convenient for reaching Latvia. If you want to fly, you can use the services of the Latvian national airline "airBaltic". There are also several direct ferry lines to Latvia.
This year "airBaltic" is offering direct flights to more than 80 cities around the world. The flights from Moscow and Berlin take slightly over an hour. From London – approximately three hours. Other airlines also fly to Riga, so Latvia is easy to reach.
Latvia has a total of 110 municipalities. The largest cities in Latvia are: Riga, Daugavpils, Liepaja, Jelgava, Jurmala, Ventspils, Rezekne, Valmiera and Jekabpils, which serve as regional centers for 498 rural communities and 65 towns. Today the larger part of Latvia's population resides in city areas – that is 1 540 998 inhabitants or approximately 68 % of the population. Latvian cities differ greatly in size. 21 cities have a population of over 10 000, the largest of these being Rīga (population 713 016), Daugavpils (population 104 857), and Liepāja (population 84 747). However the smallest Latvian towns are Durbe (population 648), Subate (population 1105) and Pāvilosta (population 1111).
Latvia is a beautiful, green country with clean air, water, and soil. Many foreign tourists and environmental experts say that the entire country is like a huge nature park. The diverse nature of Latvia is defined by its geographical location and proximity to the Baltic Sea, relief differences and hydrological circumstances. An essential role has also been played by (relative lack of) industrial activity in the country.
Latvia is located in the mixed forest zone which adjoins coniferous forests or the taiga in the North, and deciduous forests in the South. This transitional zone is characteristic of high biological diversity. Many boundaries of plant species cross the territory of Latvia. Here you can find both oceanic and continental species. Consequently, there are many rare species. The main vegetation type in Latvia is forest, leaving swamps and wetlands behind.
The most important value of Latvia is its untouched nature. Discover the northern 'rainforests' of Slītere National Park, 500 km of sandy seashore, the biggest drumlin in Europe, the forests which cover more than 45% of the territory, and many other attractive landscapes and rich countryside which is awaiting for you!
Latvia's climate is its wealth – Latvia is located in such a geographical zone,which allows one to enjoy the magic and the differences of the four seasons, which is mostly not possible elsewhere in Europe.
Latvia has four typical seasons – summer, autumn, winter, and spring. That makes four different Latvias: each of the seasons is original with its own beauty, natural variety and each of them offers different leisure and entertainment opportunities.
Latvia's weather features a temperate maritime climate, with mild summers, moderate winters, and high levels of humidity and precipitation. Summer: June – August +19°C +22°C, average precipitation 195 mm. Winter: December – February -7°C 0°C, average precipitation: 116 mm
Winter usually is snowy in Latvia. You can fully enjoy every winter fun – ice fishing, cross-country skiing, skating, and alpine skiing. You can race on skis downhill the Latvian slopes, or go to a pleasant walk through woods and fields covered with the snow, for example, up-hill and down dale of the Vidzeme heights.
Spring of Latvia comes often with a thorough flood; the Latvian rivers go out of their banks. It is a great joy for water tourists, who hurry to the swifter Latvian rivers (e.g., Amata) to boat through the effervescent rapids. For nature friends, we recommend to go for a hike – enjoying the awakening of nature, listening wood-notes, admiring the aroma of flowers, or just wondering about the flooded meadows and flood-lands.When the bird-cherries blossom, you definitely should go to Sigulda, where the picturesque valley of the Gauja River and Gauja National Park are white and fragrant, covered with bird-cherry blossoms.
The Latvian summer lasts from June to September. They are sunny, sometimes the temperature reaches + 35 degrees (Celsius). Then, due to the 500 kilometres long coastline of the Baltic Sea belonging to Latvia, everyone hurries to enjoy the rest near the sea. Wide and sandy beaches, comfortable guest houses, modern resorts or nooks unspoiled by civilization – everything is available near the coastline.
Autumn of Latvia is especially gorgeous. The leaves of trees are coloured pink and yellow, the large forests entertain your eyes with its coloured variety, but migratory birds flock together as they need to hurry to warmer places. One thing may be enjoyed during all these seasons: the modern and the ancient, the cultural and architectural monuments – it is the rich city of Riga alluring by its many museums andart galleries, restaurants and pubs.
Ancient history and unspoilt nature, music festivals from classic to pop,boating on swift rivers and leisured sightseeing of Riga’s Art Nouveauarchitecture — Latvia offers a broad spectrum of activities for all tastes and ages.
In Riga you can enjoy the charmingly ancient Old Town and the illustrious architecture of Art Nouveau, learn about Latvian history and art in museums and numerousgalleries, visit medieval castles and magnificent Baroque palaces.
Out-of-town excursions can be no less exciting. Those who are keen on physical activities can try boating or rafting, or rent a bicycle for a one-day or up to a week-long trip. Almost every rural district has a nature trail; you can also go on a seaside hike for several days. Besides, Latvia has ample opportunities for bird-watching.
The culturally inclined can pick and choose — from the Early Music Festival in the Rundāle Palace to the Positivus Festival at the seaside in Salacgrīva.
Families with children can spend their free-time on the beach or in aquaparks, or venture on the so-called hurdle tracks put up in adventure parks. Couples can enjoy a romantic twosome while walking in the nature or taking a rose-petal bath in one of the SPA facilities in the Latvian countryside. Seniors too can wander off in the nature or admire architectural objects. Budget travellers can pack their maps and go on an exciting trip along the sea coastline or pay visits to small Latvian towns. Latvia can offer both an unforgettable holiday in nature and an abundance of cultural heritage – architecture, history, museums, nature objects… And that’s not all! The variety of the recreation choices on offer is truly striking. Everyone will find something to do in Latvia! The country caters to all interests and different kinds of life-style. Those who are drawn to modern cities – Riga is one of them! A contemporary EU metropolis with excellent restaurants, night-clubs and also unique architecture and sightseeing objects. At the same time, barely an hour’s-drive away from Riga you will discover a completely different world, which those who enjoy a leisured recreation in natural surroundings will surely appreciate. Unusual nature objects (the ancient valley of the Gauja River in Sigulda, the land of the blue lakes in Latgale and the steep seacoast in Jūrkalne, to name but a few), the diversity of unspoilt nature, bird- and animal watching, hiking, water tourism, cycling – all of it is available in Latvia. Architecture and art lovers will be delighted too. They can visit Rundāle Palace – an outstanding gem of Baroque and Roccocco architecture in the Baltics – as well as other castles and manors to be found in virtually every rural district of Latvia. Though you shouldn’t stop at that. Smaller Latvian towns can be equally attractive with their quiet, cobble-paved streets, centuries-old but restored buildings, an unhurried pace of life… That’s all in store for you should you dare escape the tourist crowds and go to Cēsis, Kuldīga, Sabile, Aizpute, Ape and other Latvian towns.
Riga is one of the largest cities on the shores of the Baltic Sea. It stands not only at a geographical, but also cultural, cross-roads. Visitors from the east and the west alike can find suitable recreation, entertainment and impressions here. It’s no wonder that Riga has been declared the European Culture Capital of 2014.
Riga, the oldest city in Latvia, has developed into an important economic, political and cultural centre since the Middle Ages. When the formation of an independent Latvian Republic occourred in 1918, Riga became the capital. Today more than half of Latvia’s population lives in Riga, as well as the country’s largest manufacturing concerns, as well as central government and administration boards. Amongst the 50 museums to be found in Riga the oldest and largest are the Museum of History and Shipping, the Museum of Natural Sciences, the Museum of Latvian History, the National Art Gallery, and the Latvian Ethnographic open-air-museum. The National Opera and Latvia’s most professional theatres are also situated in Riga.
Riga’s 800 – year history has left its mark on the face of the city, where Middle Age dwellings and church towers coexist with art nouveau and eclectic architecture. Riga’s park land boulevard zone and the wooden buildings of the Pardaugava region emit a unique charm. The value of Riga’s cultural and historical significance has been verified by the fact that its old city centre has been included in UNESCO’s list of the world’s most important cultural and natural sites.
About Old Town
The Old Town of Riga, its heart, is its pearl! It is the part of the city that is most cherished and protected by the inhabitants of Riga. The city, growing through centuries, has become architecturally rich and diverse. Riga is characterised by one of the largest complexes of Art Nouveau buildings concentrated in one location in the world, as well as testimonies to the architectural development of Riga from its origins in 1201 to the present. Because of this Riga has been included in the UNESCO list of cultural heritage. While wandering in the Old Town or in the blocks of Art Nouveau architecture, you will find numerous restaurants and cafés. Riga is a stronghold of a mix of regional cultures, so, naturally, restaurants of various nationalities and styles are found here which will bring pleasure to the most sophisticated gourmets. Excellent and friendly bartenders work in the bars in Riga, and at restaurants one can enjoy wine and liquors recommended by professional sommeliers. Museums, exhibition halls, souvenir and art shops, and cafés with the delicious smell of freshly baked pastries are abundant.
Latvia – The place where to live
Latvia is a country where cen¬turies meet, where Art Nou¬veau grandeur con¬trasts so¬viet prac¬ti¬cal¬ity, where wooden build¬ings are re¬flected on the walls of new high rises. Riga, the old¬est city in Latvia, has de¬vel¬oped into an im¬por¬tant eco¬nomic, po¬lit¬i¬cal and cul¬tural cen¬tre since the Mid¬dle Ages. When the for¬ma¬tion of an in¬de¬pen¬dent Lat¬vian Re¬pub-lic oc¬curred in 1918, Riga be¬came the cap¬i¬tal. To¬day more than one third of Latvia’s pop¬u¬la¬tion lives in Riga; it is also home to the coun¬try’s largest man¬u¬fac¬tur¬ers, as well as cen¬tral gov¬ern¬ment and ad¬min¬is¬tra¬tion boards. Riga is a cul-tural hub, where all forms of cul¬ture are part of every¬day life; it is a Eu¬ro¬pean city with a unique, and his¬tor¬i¬cal, feel. Riga has many faces, new and old, con¬trast¬ing and com¬pli¬men¬tary, cre¬ative and tra¬di¬tional.
A Green environment
Latvia is ranked second, ahead of such countries as Norway, France, Great Britain and Sweden, according to "Environmental Performance Index" (EPI)
Convenient transport infrastructure – air, road, rail and sea traffic
Latvia is in a very advantageous location between the CIS and Western Europe. It is bordered by Estonia to the North, Russia to the East, Belarus and Lithuania to the South, and the Baltic Sea to the West. The sea provides a direct maritime route to Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany.
Latvia is a good transit hub for flights to any country in Europe. The national airBaltic airline offers nonstop flights to more than 80 destinations in Europe and Asia. The Riga International Airport is also utilised by major airlines such as Lufthansa, Finnair, Ryanair, Easyjet, Wizzair, etc. Since 2009, the airport has had a separate terminal for business passengers and their equipment (GAT – General Aviation Terminal). FBO RIGA GAT is the only terminal of its type in the Baltic States. It is in a building alongside a ramp and makes it possible to provide services that are needed in the world of business aviation. The services are at the same level as in London, Paris, Vienna, and Moscow, but for an incomparably lower price.
The level of political and economic stability;
Democratic country with well developed banking system and the quality of the business environment. Over the last ten years Latvia has experienced an extensive economic growth in all sectors.
Good taxation and legal system;
On January 1, 2013, new amendments to the corporate income tax took effect in Latvia, offering substantial tax optimisation for those foreign companies which want to develop their corporate structures in Latvia. This basically creates a much nicer environment for holding companies, which receive various kinds of tax relief related to companies and their mutual financing. Dividends are not taxed when they are paid out and received, and there are no taxes on the alienation of shares and capital shares, or on payments related to the use of intellectual property.
Another reason to choose Latvia for the development of your business is that it is a European Union member state with a good reputation in the business world. Latvia has not been blacklisted as an offshore zone. Another big plus is the low number of bureaucratic hurdles which people have to deal with. A new firm can be registered in three hours. Latvia has a highly developed and stabled banking system, and a high level of trust in the state. Another favourable fact is that Latvia has one of the lowest corporate income tax rates in the EU – just 15%, as compared to 33.33% in France, 30% in Spain, and 27.5% in Italy.
The amendments to the law state that no taxes have to be paid on dividends which Latvian companies receive from foreign companies. Companies can also pay out dividends to foreign companies without withholding taxes. Companies can also reduce taxable income from alienated shares and capital shares. This is of essential importance in that if you want to establish a holding company in Latvia.
Latvia, unlike other countries in Europe, places no limitations on the terms and assets of real estate management. Interest and honoraria which will be paid out to foreign companies will be tax free beginning in 2014, and that allows you to conclude lending or licensing agreements at this time. The maximal income tax rate of 15% is more than adequate for a European holding centre.
The quality of Latvia’s educational system;
Universities are well known for producing high quality IT, Medicine and engineering graduates. EU membership means that a degree from Latvia is equivalent to other EU countries, making it easier to get credentials recognized. Universities are well known for producing high quality graduates. EU membership means that a degree from Latvia is equivalent to other EU countries, making it easier to get credentials recognized. Internationally recognized undergraduate and graduate programs. Education in line with the American Credit System. Quality education at international standards in English and qualified faculty members at international standards. On-campus education with a wide range of facilities. Excellent facilities for social, cultural and sports activities.
Acceptable and understandable living costs
Latvia is among the cheapest countries in Europe when it comes to the cost of goods and services, and the quality of services is very high. Tuition fees and living costs are generally lower than the costs in most "Western Countries". You will have all the benefits of living in a European country with lower costs than many westernized EU nations. Affordable tuition fees and moderate living expenses. The capital of Latvia, Riga, is an attractive, lively, cosmopolitan city, but less expensive than many other Western European capitals.
Ease of communications
Latvia is Baltic leader and one of top countries in European Union in terms of the number of foreign language speakers. Most of Latvia’s residents have a free command of Latvian, English, as well as German and Russian. That means that English, Russian or German speakers will not feel discomfort in communicating with local residents.
Freedom of movement (the ability to travel to other countries without a visa);
Latvia is a European Union member state. You do not need a visa to go to any European Union country.
High potential of the real estate market;
One of the fastest growing markets in Europe. Understandable, fast and secure purchase procedure. Foreign Investor and family members may obtain a residence permit if Investor have purchased the property in accordance with the requirements. Medical insurance, provided by the government of Latvia. Transport, shops and entertainment are close at hand.
With over 48 percent of its territory covered by forests,a vast network of free-flowing rivers and thousands of lakes, Latvia is one of Europe’s best-preserved havens for a wide variety of wildlife. Over 27 thousand species of flora and fauna thrive in natural settings that are still relatively undisturbed by man. Many rarities, such as the black stork and lesser spotted eagle, make their homes in Latvia’s mixed forests, marshes, and meadows.
Latvia, at the crossroads of Western and Eastern culture, as well as its chequered history, has had an imprint left on it from different cultures. This impact has given Latvia magnificent architectural monuments, as well as religious diversity, and contributed to the self-preservation of the Latvian national identity – here ancestral traditions are still held in high esteem.
Due to rich cultural heritage, Latvia can really feel proud of having such enormous architectural diversity. You can find everything in Latvia: from simple wooden structures in traditional rural farmsteads to the samples of the great Renaissance, Baroque, Classicism, Art Nouveau as well as modern architecture. Both the connoisseurs of art and virtuosos of architecture will find marvellous examples of art not only in the Latvian metropolis – Riga – marked by the mix of cultures on the threshold of the centuries that is more than 800 years old but also in provincial towns, small villages and remote estates. It is amazing fact, but Latvia was able to preserve so many architectural masterpieces, fascinating evidences of cultural history over so many centuries.
Latvia surprises travellers with its diversity. It may be tranquil, ancient and quiet, or energetic, modern and boisterous. Whether you are travelling alone, or with family and friends – Latvian diversity will reveal a new and interesting experience for everyone.
If you are among those who love to spend their leisure time actively, in Latvia you will never feel bored. Here you can find adventure parks, horse riding, sailing, sport activities, orienteering, skydiving and even such entertainment as flying in the vertical wind tunnel that is not found anywhere else but only in Latvia!
For families with children
In various areas, Latvian fairytale paths tempt visitors with traditional characters – frolicking forest witches, fairytale trains run and dwarves host; meet Pinocchio, Winnie-the-Pooh, and the Three Little Pigs; pet the famous lake monster Nessie and meet other familiar characters. You will be able to see Latvian forest dwellers on the nature trails in Līgatne and in the zoos. An adventure-rich family vacation will be created by going to a water park or by trying to overcome obstacles together in one of the adventure parks in Sigulda, Mežaparks, or other places in Latvia.
Couples can watch fiery sunsets on sandy beaches, go for a boat ride on the Latvian rivers and lakes, experience the rose-scented lure of the Rundāle palace gardens, share a relaxing sauna, enjoy dinner in one of Latvia’s many castles and manor houses or the rooftop terrace restaurants in the heart of Old Town, and take a stroll through the romantic small towns. All of these offer couples real pleasure, shared unforgettable memories and a desire to come back here again and again.
Latvia’s beautiful and harmonious nature, rich cultural life, and magnificent architecture combine to recharge both the body and soul. Bracing walks along the beach or on nature trails allow visitors to admire the charm of Latvia’s wilderness. During the theatrical and performing arts season, one can enjoy visits to the ballet or Latvian National Opera. Grand museums offer works by Latvian old masters, as well as contemporary exhibitions.
For young people
Young people will find travelling easy in Latvia – there is well-developed public transportation at affordable prices, convenient bicycle paths, and bicycle rental facilities. A wide range of hostels can provide suitable accommodations. In Latvia, healthy and delicious meals will not cost much more than those offered by international fast food chains. Many young people attend the various festivals, such as the Positivus Festival and Summer Sound, find adventure in nature or enjoy nightclubs.
People with special needs
Latvia ensures that people with disabilities can get to where they need to go and enjoy the cultural life our country has to offer.
Major galleries, museums, recreation centres, and hotels provide convenient access for visitors in wheelchairs. There are also hotels with specially adapted rooms for the handicapped. Riga’s public transportation is often fitted with low floors.
Sites of international significance are easily located from the international airport and harbour, making Latvia an attractive place for organizing high-level conferences and concluding business transactions. There are many modern conference and banquet halls available with fast internet access, as well as high-end hotels and leisure facilities in Riga and surrounding regions.
SPA and Wellness
In Latvia, there is every opportunity to receive high-level medical services, yet Latvians know how to ensure everyday well-being and strengthen their health by using both methods tried and tested the world over, such as spas and similar treatments, and skills and knowledge that have their roots in traditional medicine.
People in Latvia are closely connected with nature. That is why things that are elsewhere called landscape therapy, herbal medicine or aromatherapy and cost a lot of money are known here simply as long walks in the woods or by the sea, a thoroughly hot session in the sauna or a steaming mug of herbal tea – best for dealing with a physical and mental low. And the so-called work therapy, more commonly known in Latvia as “doing a few chores” around the country home, provides a city dweller with a great opportunity to take some exercise.
There are saunas in many houses and nearly every guesthouse or hotel, and they offer a wide range of treatments: from swatting yourself with besoms made out of plants, sweat-inducing teas, contrast showers, various massages and beauty treatments using natural preparations.
At a fair number of hotels and country “health farms”, guests are offered spa services which use both world renowned cosmetics brands and products made on site from ingredients that come from the untouched Latvian nature. (Among other things, the unspoiled nature has inspired several Latvian entrepreneurs to create lines of natural cosmetic products: for example, the nature-friendly products have already conquered the European market.) Everyone can find the most suitable way of restoring energy and good cheer – whether at the hotel spas of Riga, Jurmala, Liepaja and other towns, or amidst rural tranquillity. Also, activities such as horse riding, Nordic walking, bicycling and cross-country or downhill skiing in winter enjoy popularity.
Latvia is one of the greenest European countries along the Baltic Sea coastline. Every year thousands of people from Scandinavia, Russia, Western Europe and Arab countries come to Latvia to regain their health and beauty. A moderate climate, highly qualified professionals, and the availability of modern technology ensures successful treatment and recovery.
The high quality of medical services is characterised by a personal, committed, hospitable and benevolent attitude, as well as a customised approach to each patient. Diagnostic and treatment equipment in Latvian medical health care facilities meets the standards of the European Union - significant funds have been invested in ensuring that Latvia has the best of modern technology.
High-quality medical care services are ensured by several significant factors which includes the professionalism of the medical staff - Latvian medical staff receive a competitive medical education, which is based on stable traditions.
Knowledge and practice are regularly improved through training and internship in foreign countries, and participation in international experience exchanges.
Latvia offers a range of high quality medical services for a price that is very beneficial, being between two to ten times lower than in some Western European countries. A favourable geographical position allows Latvia to be reached conveniently, whether by plane, ferry, train or coach. Visitors have a wide range of hotels to chose between, including cosy hotels in Old Riga, and recreation centres in the resort of Jūrmala. Diverse Latvian cultural life and a highly interesting historical heritage provides additional options in your leisure and recreation time.
VISA and Entering the country
Latvia is a member state of the European Union and travellers have the same rules as in other EU member states. Latvia is a signatory of the Schengen Agreement; accordingly there is no border control for persons entering from the European Union. There are border controls in place with Russia and Belarus
Latvia’s representative offices abroad issue uniform, so called Schengen visas, valid in the territory of all Schengen signatory states – this means that with a visa issued at a Latvian Embassy one can enter Lithuania, the United Kingdom, France, and other countries. With several countries outside Europe, Latvia has a visa-free arrangement: USA, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Brunei, Chile, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Costa Rica, Macao, Malaysia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, El Salvador, Singapore, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
Citizens of European Union member states, Switzerland and Iceland do not need an entry visa.