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'R' stands for 'RIGANS' in CHARMING RIGA

Girl in Latvian national costume
during St John's Day celebrations

Rīga has always been a multicultural city with many different nationalities and ethnicities coexisting side by side. Despite being a minority in Rīga, Germans usually formed the ruling class of the city with Latvians, Russians, Jews and others forming the majority of the population.

In 1939, the majority of the German population (Baltendeutsche) was transferred to Germany. World War II brought major changes to the number of Jews living in Rīga, whereas the post-war Sovietisation and Russification policy considerably increased the number of Russians, relocating large numbers of Russians to Rīga and other major cities in the Baltics.

Thus in 1990, the population of Rīga had grown to reach 909,000; however, since then the number of inhabitants has steadily decreased to present day 703,581 inhabitants. After the collapse of the USSR many Russians returned back to Russia, but the demographic situation also had its toll.

Nowadays the ethnic distibution of the inhabitants of Rīga are as follows:

  • Latvian (42.4%)

  • Russian (40.7%)

  • Belarusians (4.2%)

  • Ukrainians (3.8%)

  • Poles (2.0%)

latvians brochure Latvians
This booklet is intended 
to help you get a better understanding of just
what a Latvian is

Due to their Northern mentality, Latvians may seem reserved at first, but are friendly and sincere once you get to know them. A local joke goes that if you put two Latvians together, you will get three political parties. Put three Latvians together and you will have a choir (note that Latvia is “The Land that Sings!”). Put four Latvians together and you will have a dinner feast. In short – Latvians enjoy hearty discussions, a great get-together and a good meal.

Speaking of meals and eating habits, on an average day Latvians usually eat a moderate breakfast before going to work. People drink a morning coffee or tea and eat sandwiches with cheese, sausage, tomatoes or cucumber. A boiled egg or omelette is also a popular breakfast dish for many.

cuisine of latvia brochure The Cuisine of Latvia
You are welcome at our table and we wish you
"Labu apetīti!"

Lunch in Latvia is eaten between midday and three. In Latvia people usually eat a hot lunch, which consists of a type of fried meat (pork chops, rissoles, sautéed fillet, steak, chicken) or fish (salmon, trout, cod, pilchard), potatoes (boiled, fried, or mashed), boiled rice or buckwheat, and a fresh salad. Some people also eat soup as an entrée. At lunch time Latvians drink fruit juices, kefir (cultured milk), milk, tea or coffee.

On arriving home from school or work, a second lunch, or supper, is made. This is eaten around six or seven in the evening. At this time there is a large diversity in the Latvian home – supper can consist of sandwiches, soup, various salads, or can be a hot meal (similar to lunch), or a more traditional food, for example, a milk-based soup.