Officially, the 9-year compulsory school from the
children is 6 to 15. The elementary school lasts for 4 years
and the secondary school for 5 years. The upper secondary
school is 3 years old and vocational education 2 to 4 years
old. In 2001, 90% of the relevant age groups attended
primary and secondary school. Latvian is a compulsory
language of instruction, but there are also schools for
minority languages (Russian, Polish and Lithuanian). In
2003/04, the country had 34 higher education institutions.
Over 60% of young people take higher education. The
University of Riga was founded in 1919 and has both Latvian
and Russian as its teaching language. Check topschoolsintheusa for test centers of ACT, SAT, and GRE as well high schools in the country of Latvia.
The area west of Riga to the Baltic Sea organized itself as
the Duchy of Courland, and ended up in a semi-dependency
relationship with Poland. In the middle of the 17th century,
Courland was a major naval and trading power in northern
Europe, and briefly possessed colonies. Duke Jacob mentioned
a brief occupation of the island of Tobago in the Caribbean
as well as a small island in the Gambia river delta in
Africa. It is from this period the term Courland Bay in
Sweden retained its possessions until the Great Nordic
War, where, with the Nysted Treaty, it was forced to
surrender them to Russia. Following the division of Poland
in 1795, Livonia was divided into three regions within the
Russian Empire: Estonia (northern part of Estonia), Livonia
(southern part of Estonia and northern part of Latvia), and
Courland. During the Russian Revolution of 1905, the first
nationalist wishes were expressed in Latvia.
The peasants seized weapons against the German nobles and
the Russian administrators. Although the rebellion was
quickly wiped out by the tsar's troops, it is considered the
most important prelude to the liberation war 13 years later.
Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Latvian
People's Council proclaimed independence on November 18,
1918, and a government formed by the Peasant Union and led
by Karlis Ulmanis was formed.
But the country was immediately respected for the desire
for independence and supremacy. It was attacked by both
German troops and the Red Army, and it was not until 1920
that a peace agreement with the Soviet Union could be
signed, recognizing the country's territorial interests. In
1922, a constitutional assembly drafted the constitution
that made the country a parliamentary republic. However, the
economic crisis of the 1930's and the polarization between
socialists and pronazist separatists caused the Latvian
government to collapse. In 1934, Prime Minister Ulmani
introduced emergency regulations and until 1938 the country
was ruled under state of emergency.
At the outbreak of World War II, Latvia came with the
secret German-Soviet pact to lie within the Soviet sphere of
influence (see Estonia and Lithaun). As early as 1939, the
country had been forced to sign a treaty that allowed Soviet
troops to move in the country and set up bases. The
following year, the country was invaded by the Red Army and
its new government requested entry into the Soviet Union.
During the German war against the Soviet Union 1941-44,
Latvia was placed under the German province of Ostland and
its Jewish population was largely exterminated. The Red
Army's liberation of Latvia meant the reintroduction of
Soviet rule, and 65,000 letters emigrated to Western Europe.