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.
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|Land area||64,589 km²|
|Population density (per km²）||29.1|
|Income per capita||$ 27,700|
|ISO 3166 code||LV|
|Time zone UTC||UTC + 2, daylight saving time UTC + 3|
|Geographic coordinates||57 00 N, 25 00 O|
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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 Tobago originated.
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.