The Saeima is the parliament of the Republic of Latvia. It is a unicameral parliament consisting of 100 members who are elected by proportional representation, with seats allocated to political parties which gain at least 5% of the popular vote. Elections are scheduled to be held once every four years on the first Saturday of October; the most recent elections were held in October 2018. The President of Latvia can request early elections; the procedure for dismissing it involves substantial political risk to the president, including a risk of loss of office. On May 28, 2011, president Valdis Zatlers decided to initiate the dissolution of the Saeima, approved in a referendum, the Saeima was dissolved on 23 July 2011; the current Speaker of the Saeima is Ināra Mūrniece. Deputies are elected to represent one of five constituencies: Kurzeme, Riga and Zemgale. Seats are distributed in each constituency by open list proportional representation among the parties that overcome a 5% national election threshold using an unmodified version of the Webster/Sainte-Laguë method.
The word "Saeima", meaning "a gathering, a meeting, a council", was constructed by the Young Latvian Juris Alunāns. It stems from the archaic Latvian word eima meaning "to go". Despite the visual similarity to the names of the Lithuanian and Polish national parliaments – Seimas and Sejm – the name "Saeima" is linguistically distinct, does not have any historical ties to its Lithuanian and Polish counterparts. Summary of the 6 October 2018 Latvian Saeima election results In the pre-war Latvia, Saeima was elected for three year terms. 1st Saeima met from November 7, 1922 until November 2, 1925. 2nd Saeima from November 3, 1925 until November 5, 1928. 3rd Saeima from November 6, 1928 until November 2, 1931. 4th Saeima met from November 1931 until the May 15, 1934 Latvian coup d'état. Deputies of the Saeima List of Deputy Speakers of the Saeima Latvijas Republikas Saeima Central Election Commission of Latvia
The Soviet Union the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were centralized; the country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Minsk, Alma-Ata, Novosibirsk, it spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, steppes and mountains; the Soviet Union had its roots in the 1917 October Revolution, when the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, overthrew the Russian Provisional Government which had replaced Tsar Nicholas II during World War I. In 1922, the Soviet Union was formed by a treaty which legalized the unification of the Russian, Transcaucasian and Byelorussian republics that had occurred from 1918. Following Lenin's death in 1924 and a brief power struggle, Joseph Stalin came to power in the mid-1920s.
Stalin committed the state's ideology to Marxism–Leninism and constructed a command economy which led to a period of rapid industrialization and collectivization. During his rule, political paranoia fermented and the Great Purge removed Stalin's opponents within and outside of the party via arbitrary arrests and persecutions of many people, resulting in at least 600,000 deaths. In 1933, a major famine struck the country. Before the start of World War II in 1939, the Soviets signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, agreeing to non-aggression with Nazi Germany, after which the USSR invaded Poland on 17 September 1939. In June 1941, Germany broke the pact and invaded the Soviet Union, opening the largest and bloodiest theatre of war in history. Soviet war casualties accounted for the highest proportion of the conflict in the effort of acquiring the upper hand over Axis forces at intense battles such as Stalingrad and Kursk; the territories overtaken by the Red Army became satellite states of the Soviet Union.
The post-war division of Europe into capitalist and communist halves would lead to increased tensions with the United States-led Western Bloc, known as the Cold War. Stalin died in 1953 and was succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev, who in 1956 denounced Stalin and began the de-Stalinization; the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred during Khrushchev's rule, among the many factors that led to his downfall in 1964. In the early 1970s, there was a brief détente of relations with the United States, but tensions resumed with the Soviet–Afghan War in 1979. In 1985, the last Soviet premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, sought to reform and liberalize the economy through his policies of glasnost and perestroika, which caused political instability. In 1989, Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe overthrew their respective communist governments; as part of an attempt to prevent the country's dissolution due to rising nationalist and separatist movements, a referendum was held in March 1991, boycotted by some republics, that resulted in a majority of participating citizens voting in favor of preserving the union as a renewed federation.
Gorbachev's power was diminished after Russian President Boris Yeltsin's high-profile role in facing down a coup d'état attempted by Communist Party hardliners. In late 1991, Gorbachev resigned and the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union met and formally dissolved the Soviet Union; the remaining 12 constituent republics emerged as independent post-Soviet states, with the Russian Federation—formerly the Russian SFSR—assuming the Soviet Union's rights and obligations and being recognized as the successor state. The Soviet Union was a powerhouse of many significant technological achievements and innovations of the 20th century, including the world's first human-made satellite, the first humans in space and the first probe to land on another planet, Venus; the country had the largest standing military in the world. The Soviet Union was recognized as one of the five nuclear weapons states and possessed the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, it was a founding permanent member of the United Nations Security Council as well as a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the World Federation of Trade Unions and the leading member of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and the Warsaw Pact.
The word "Soviet" is derived from a Russian word сове́т meaning council, advice, harmony and all deriving from the proto-Slavic verbal stem of vět-iti, related to Slavic věst, English "wise", the root in "ad-vis-or", or the Dutch weten. The word sovietnik means "councillor". A number of organizations in Russian history were called "council". For example, in the Russian Empire the State Council, which functioned from 1810 to 1917, was referred to as a Council of Ministers after the revolt of 1905. During the Georgian Affair, Vladimir Lenin envisioned an expression of Great Russian ethnic chauvinism by Joseph Stalin and his supporters, calling for these nation-states to join Russia as semi-independent parts of a greater union, which he named as the Union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia. Stalin resisted the proposal, but accepted it, although with Lenin's agreement changed the name of the newly proposed sta
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact known as the Treaty of Non-aggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was a neutrality pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed in Moscow on 23 August 1939 by foreign ministers Joachim von Ribbentrop and Vyacheslav Molotov, respectively. The clauses of the Nazi–Soviet Pact provided a written guarantee of non-belligerence by each party towards the other, a declared commitment that neither government would ally itself to, or aid an enemy of the other party. In addition to stipulations of non-aggression, the treaty included a secret protocol that defined the borders of Soviet and German "spheres of influence" in the event of possible rearrangement of the territories belonging to Poland, Latvia and Finland; the secret protocol recognized the interest of Lithuania in the Vilno region. The Secret Protocol was just a rumor. Thereafter, Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin ordered the Soviet invasion of Poland on 17 September, one day after a Soviet–Japanese ceasefire at the Khalkhin Gol came into effect.
After the invasion, the new border between the two powers was confirmed by the supplementary protocol of the German–Soviet Frontier Treaty. In March 1940, parts of the Karelia and Salla regions in Finland were annexed by the Soviet Union after the Winter War; this was followed by Soviet annexations of Estonia, Latvia and parts of Romania. Advertised concern about ethnic Ukrainians and Belarusians had been proffered as justification for the Soviet invasion of Poland. Stalin's invasion of Bukovina in 1940 violated the pact, as it went beyond the Soviet sphere of influence agreed with the Axis; the territories of Poland annexed by the Soviet Union after the 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland remained in the USSR at the end of World War II, are the parts of Ukraine and Belarus. The former Polish Vilno region is a part of Lithuania, the city of Vilnius is its capital. Only the region around Białystok and a small part of Galicia east of the San river around Przemyśl were returned to the Polish state. Of all other territories annexed by the USSR in 1939–40, the ones detached from Finland and Latvia remain part of the Russian Federation, the successor state of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The territories annexed from Romania had been integrated into the Soviet Union. The Pact was terminated on 22 June 1941, when the Wehrmacht launched Operation Barbarossa and invaded the Soviet Union. After the war, von Ribbentrop was executed. Molotov died aged 96 five years before the USSR's dissolution. Soon after World War II, the German copy of the secret protocol was found in Nazi archives and published in the West, but the Soviet government denied its existence until 1989, when it was acknowledged and denounced. Vladimir Putin while condemning the pact as'immoral' has defended the pact as a "necessary evil", a U-turn following his earlier condemnation; the outcome of World War I was disastrous for both the German Reich and the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. During the war, the Bolsheviks struggled for survival, Vladimir Lenin recognised the independence of Finland, Latvia and Poland. Moreover, facing a German military advance and Trotsky were forced to enter into the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which ceded massive western Russian territories to the German Empire.
After Germany's collapse, a multinational Allied-led army intervened in the Russian Civil War. On 16 April 1922, Germany and the Soviet Union entered the Treaty of Rapallo, pursuant to which they renounced territorial and financial claims against each other; each party further pledged neutrality in the event of an attack against the other with the 1926 Treaty of Berlin. While trade between the two countries fell after World War I, trade agreements signed in the mid-1920s helped to increase trade to 433 million Reichsmarks per year by 1927. At the beginning of the 1930s, the Nazi Party's rise to power increased tensions between Germany and the Soviet Union along with other countries with ethnic Slavs, who were considered "Untermenschen" according to Nazi racial ideology. Moreover, the anti-Semitic Nazis associated ethnic Jews with both communism and financial capitalism, both of which they opposed. Nazi theory held. In 1934, Hitler himself had spoken of an inescapable battle against both Pan-Slavism and Neo-Slavism, the victory in which would lead to "permanent mastery of the world", though he stated that they would "walk part of the road with the Russians, if that will help us."
The resulting manifestation of German anti-Bolshevism and an increase in Soviet foreign debts caused German–Soviet trade to decline. Imports of Soviet goods to Germany fell to 223 million Reichsmarks in 1934 as the more isolationist Stalinist regime asserted power and the abandonment of post–World War I Treaty of Versailles military controls decreased Germany's reliance on Soviet imports. In 1936, Germany and Fas
The Brothers' Cemetery or Cemetery of the Brethren sometimes referred to in English as the Common Graves or as the Military Cemetery, is a military cemetery and national monument in Riga, capital of Latvia. The cemetery is a memorial to and burial ground for thousands of Latvian soldiers who were killed between 1915 and 1920 in World War I and the Latvian War of Independence; the landscape was designed by gardener Andrejs Zeidaks, who started to work on it during the war. The memorial was built between 1924 and 1936, to designs by the sculptor Kārlis Zāle, many of whose sculptures feature prominently, the architects Pēteris Feders, Aleksandrs Birzenieks, P. Kundziņš, the sculptors J. Cirulis and F. Valdmanis and others. In 1913 the Forest Cemetery was opened. In 1914 Riga Cathedral and St. Peter's church set aside a parcel of land for 146 burials of soldiers who did not belong to any congregation of Riga in the part of the cemetery intended for the dead from their congregations; the first soldiers buried there, on 15 October 1915, were Andrejs Stūris, Jonas Gavenas and Jēkabs Voldemārs Timma.
As the war continued it became clear. The organization committee of Latvian Riflemen battalions turned to the churches for more land, but the request was denied; the committee turned to Riga City Council, which had allotted the land for cemetery, arguing that reasons for refusal the churches had named were questionable and unreasonable in the time of war. The conflict was solved in 1916 by the churches agreeing to return part of the land to the city for formation of a separate cemetery, which in turn allotted it to the committee; the initial outlay of the cemetery was designed by Andrejs Zeidaks the head gardener of the city. In 1920 a committee for overseeing cemeteries and battle fields from World War I was formed, which became responsible for the development of the Brothers' Cemetery; the development of the memorial can thus be divided into two periods. First was the period of landscape development, which lasted until 1923, when the landscaping was developed according to Zeidaks' ideas. Meanwhile, the architectonic and artistic development of the cemetery was being discussed.
In 1921 and in 1922 two closed. The sculptor Kārlis Zāle, visiting Riga to participate in the design contest for the Freedom Monument, was invited to take part in the second contest for the cemetery as well, he won, the second phase of development began, which lasted until 1936. In this period the landscaping was supplemented by architectonic and sculptural elements to form a unified ensemble in accordance with Zāle's design; the architectural works were directed by P. Feders; the foundation stone of the memorial was laid on 18 November 1924. The first sculptural group, of dying horsemen, was unveiled on 20 November 1927, the second on 2 September 1928; the sculpture of Mother Latvia and her dead sons was unveiled on 13 October 1929. Construction of the main gates began in 1930. Statues of soldiers with shields symbolizing the four regions of Latvia were carved later. In 1936 the coats of arms of the 19 districts and the 59 cities of Latvia were carved in the wall of the cemetery; the cemetery was formally dedicated as a memorial on 11 November 1936 in the presence of the President of Latvia and the government.
The cemetery consists of an area of 9 hectares in northeastern Riga, 5 kilometers from the city center. It borders Rainis Cemetery; the memorial expresses national gratitude to the fallen heroes through cultural references to the Latvian nation. The main gate of the cemetery is 32 meters wide. To either side of the entrance, on 2 meter high platforms are 3.3 meters high sculptures each representing a pair of ancient Latvian horsemen. The riders and horses in the right hand sculptural group have straight stances; this is in contrast to the left hand group, dominated by downward movement as expressed through the bowed heads of the riders and horses. Above the entrance the dates 1915 and 1920 are displayed. From the main entrance the 205 meters long Road of Thoughts leads through an avenue of linden trees to the Terrace of Heroes, encircled by an oak grove planted in 1923; the terrace, paved with slabs of tufa, is 78 meters long. In the 1930s a sacred fire was lit on it on important holidays, it was redesigned as a gas-fed eternal flame.
As the Terrace of Heroes rises above the Road of Thoughts it hides from sight the central burial ground, on a lower level than the Road of Thoughts, until one has crossed the terrace, which thus provides a panorama of the burial ground and forms a barrier between the worlds of the living and of the dead. There is a parapet with flower altar on edge of the Terrace facing the burial ground. At the outer end of the burial ground on 9 meters high base, which makes it visible from main entrance 457 meters away, there is a 10 meters high sculpture of grieving mother Latvia and her dead sons; the mother, dressed in stylized national costume, is holding a victory wreath of oak leaves made of bronze in her left hand and the national flag with the right hand. At her feet her fallen sons are lying under their shields, both holding swords in their hand
Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 637,827 inhabitants, it is the largest city in the three Baltic states, home to one third of Latvia's population and one tenth of the three Baltic states' combined population; the city lies at the mouth of the Daugava river. Riga's territory lies 1 -- 10 m above sea level, on a flat and sandy plain. Riga is a former Hanseatic League member. Riga's historical centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, noted for its Art Nouveau/Jugendstil architecture and 19th century wooden architecture. Riga was the European Capital of Culture along with Umeå in Sweden. Riga hosted the 2006 NATO Summit, the Eurovision Song Contest 2003, the 2006 IIHF Men's World Ice Hockey Championships and the 2013 World Women's Curling Championship, it is home to the European Union's office of European Regulators for Electronic Communications. In 2016, Riga received over 1.4 million visitors. It is served by the largest and busiest airport in the Baltic states. Riga is a member of Eurocities, the Union of the Baltic Cities and Union of Capitals of the European Union.
One theory about the origin of the name Riga is that it is a corrupted borrowing from the Liv ringa meaning loop, referring to the ancient natural harbour formed by the tributary loop of the Daugava River. The other is that Riga owes its name to this already-established role in commerce between East and West, as a borrowing of the Latvian rija, for threshing barn, the "j" becoming a "g" in German — notably, Riga is called Rie by English geographer Richard Hakluyt, German historian Dionysius Fabricius confirms the origin of Riga from rija. Another theory could be that Riga was named after Riege, the German name for the River Rīdzene, a tributary of the Daugava. Another theory is that Riga's name is introduced by the bishop Albert, initiator of christening and conquest of Livonian and Baltic people, he introduced an explanation of city name as derived from Latin rigata that symbolizes an "irrigation of dry pagan souls by Christianity". The river Daugava has been a trade route since antiquity, part of the Vikings' Dvina-Dnieper navigation route to Byzantium.
A sheltered natural harbour 15 km upriver from the mouth of the Daugava — the site of today's Riga — has been recorded, as Duna Urbs, as early as the 2nd century. It was settled by an ancient Finnic tribe. Riga began to develop as a centre of Viking trade during the early Middle Ages. Riga's inhabitants occupied themselves with fishing, animal husbandry, trading developing crafts; the Livonian Chronicle of Henry testifies to Riga having long been a trading centre by the 12th century, referring to it as portus antiquus, describes dwellings and warehouses used to store flax, hides. German traders began visiting Riga, establishing a nearby outpost in 1158. Along with German traders the monk Meinhard of Segeberg arrived to convert the Livonian pagans to Christianity. Catholic and Orthodox Christianity had arrived in Latvia more than a century earlier, many Latvians baptised. Meinhard settled among the Livs, building a castle and church at Ikšķile, upstream from Riga, established his bishopric there.
The Livs, continued to practice paganism and Meinhard died in Ikšķile in 1196, having failed in his mission. In 1198, the Bishop Berthold arrived with a contingent of crusaders and commenced a campaign of forced Christianization. Berthold died soon afterwards and his forces defeated; the Church mobilised to avenge the issuance of a bull by Pope Innocent III declaring a crusade against the Livonians. Bishop Albert was proclaimed Bishop of Livonia by his uncle Hartwig of Uthlede, Prince-Archbishop of Bremen and Hamburg in 1199. Albert landed in Riga in 1200 with 500 Westphalian crusaders. In 1201, he transferred the seat of the Livonian bishopric from Ikšķile to Riga, extorting agreement to do this from the elders of Riga by force; the year 1201 marked the first arrival of German merchants in Novgorod, via the Dvina. To defend territory and trade, Albert established the Order of Livonian Brothers of the Sword in 1202, open to nobles and merchants; the Christianization of the Livs continued. In 1207, Albert started to fortify the town.
Emperor Philip invested Albert with Livonia as a principality of the Holy Roman Empire. To promote a permanent military presence, territorial ownership was divided between the Church and the Order, with the Church taking Riga and two-thirds of all lands conquered and granting the Order a third; until it had been customary for crusaders to serve for a year and return home. Albert had ensured Riga's commercial future by obtaining papal bulls which decreed that all German merchants had to carry on their Baltic trade through Riga. In 1211, Riga minted its first coinage, Albert laid the cornerstone for the Riga Dom. Riga was not yet secure. In 1212, Albert led a campaign to compel Polotsk to grant German merchants free river passage. Polotsk conceded Kukenois and Jersika to Albert ending the Livs' tribute to Polotsk. Riga's merchant citizenry sought greater autonomy from the Church. In 1221, they acquired the right to independently self-administer Riga and adopted a city constitution; that same year Albert was compelled to recognise Danish rule over lands they had conquered in Estonia and Livonia.
Albert had sought the aid of King Valdemar of Denmark to protect Riga and Livonian lands against Liv insurrection when reinforcements could not
A political party is an organized group of people with common views, who come together to contest elections and hold power in the government. The party agrees on some proposed policies and programmes, with a view to promoting the collective good or furthering their supporters' interests. While there is some international commonality in the way political parties are recognized and in how they operate, there are many differences, some are significant. Many political parties have an ideological core, but some do not, many represent ideologies different from their ideology at the time the party was founded. Many countries, such as Germany and India, have several significant political parties, some nations have one-party systems, such as China and Cuba; the United States is in practice a two-party system but with many smaller parties participating and a high degree of autonomy for individual candidates. Political factions have existed in democratic societies since ancient times. Plato writes in his Republic on the formation of political cliques in Classical Athens, the tendency of Athenian citizens to vote according to factional loyalty rather than for the public good.
In the Roman Republic, Polybius coined the term ochlocracy to describe the tendency of politicians to mobilise popular factionalist sentiment against their political rivals. Factional politics remained a part of Roman political life through the Imperial period and beyond, the poet Juvenal coined the phrase "bread and circuses" to describe the political class pandering to the citizenry through diversionary entertainments rather than through arguments about policy. "Bread and circuses" survived as part of Byzantine political life - for example, the Nika revolt during the reign of Justinian was a riot between the "Blues" and the "Greens"—two chariot racing factions at the Hippodrome, who received patronage from different Senatorial factions and religious sects. The patricians who sponsored the Blues and the Greens competed with each other to hold grander games and public entertainments during electoral campaigns, in order to appeal to the citizenry of Constantinople; the first modern political factions, can be said to have originated in early modern Britain.
The first political factions, cohering around a basic, if fluid, set of principles, emerged from the Exclusion Crisis and Glorious Revolution in late 17th century England. The Whigs supported Protestant constitutional monarchy against absolute rule, they were interested in the citizens of United Kingdom being free from the aristocracy and opposed to any tyranny, however they supported the constitutional aristocracy and does not consider the British nobility abusive because of its limits; the leader of the Whigs was Robert Walpole, who maintained control of the government in the period 1721–1742. As the century wore on, the factions began to adopt more coherent political tendencies as the interests of their power bases began to diverge; the Whig party's initial base of support from the great aristocratic families widened to include the emerging industrial interests and wealthy merchants. As well as championing constitutional monarchy with strict limits on the monarch's power, the Whigs adamantly opposed a Catholic king as a threat to liberty, believed in extending toleration to nonconformist Protestants, or dissenters.
A major influence on the Whigs were the liberal political ideas of John Locke, the concepts of universal rights employed by Locke and Algernon Sidney. Although the Tories were out of office for half a century, for most of this period the Tories retained party cohesion, with occasional hopes of regaining office at the accession of George II and the downfall of the ministry of Sir Robert Walpole in 1742, they acted as a united, though unavailing, opposition to Whig corruption and scandals. At times they cooperated with the "Opposition Whigs", Whigs who were in opposition to the Whig government, they regained power with the accession of George III in 1760 under Lord Bute. When they lost power, the old Whig leadership dissolved into a decade of factional chaos with distinct "Grenvillite", "Bedfordite", "Rockinghamite", "Chathamite" factions successively in power, all referring to themselves as "Whigs". Out of this chaos, the first distinctive parties emerged; the first such party was the Rockingham Whigs under the leadership of Charles Watson-Wentworth and the intellectual guidance of the political philosopher Edmund Burke.
Burke laid out a philosophy that described the basic framework of the political party as "a body of men united for promoting by their joint endeavours the national interest, upon some particular principle in which they are all agreed". As opposed to the instability of the earlier factions, which were tied to a particular leader and could disintegrate if removed from power, the party was centred around a set of core principles and remained out of power as a united opposition to government. A coalition including the Rockingham Whigs, led by the Earl of She
Latvia the Republic of Latvia, is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. Since its independence, Latvia has been referred to as one of the Baltic states, it is bordered by Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, Russia to the east, Belarus to the southeast, shares a maritime border with Sweden to the west. Latvia has 1,957,200 inhabitants and a territory of 64,589 km2; the country has a temperate seasonal climate. After centuries of Swedish and Russian rule, a rule executed by the Baltic German aristocracy, the Republic of Latvia was established on 18 November 1918 when it broke away and declared independence in the aftermath of World War I. However, by the 1930s the country became autocratic after the coup in 1934 establishing an authoritarian regime under Kārlis Ulmanis; the country's de facto independence was interrupted at the outset of World War II, beginning with Latvia's forcible incorporation into the Soviet Union, followed by the invasion and occupation by Nazi Germany in 1941, the re-occupation by the Soviets in 1944 to form the Latvian SSR for the next 45 years.
The peaceful Singing Revolution, starting in 1987, called for Baltic emancipation from Soviet rule and condemning the Communist regime's illegal takeover. It ended with the Declaration on the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia on 4 May 1990, restoring de facto independence on 21 August 1991. Latvia is a democratic sovereign state, parliamentary republic and a highly developed country according to the United Nations Human Development Index, its capital Riga served as the European Capital of Culture in 2014. Latvian is the official language. Latvia is a unitary state, divided into 119 administrative divisions, of which 110 are municipalities and nine are cities. Latvians and Livonians are the indigenous people of Latvia. Latvian and Lithuanian are the only two surviving Baltic languages. Despite foreign rule from the 13th to 20th centuries, the Latvian nation maintained its identity throughout the generations via the language and musical traditions. However, as a consequence of centuries of Russian rule and Soviet occupation, Latvia is home to a large number of ethnic Russians, some of whom have not gained citizenship, leaving them with no citizenship at all.
Until World War II, Latvia had significant minorities of ethnic Germans and Jews. Latvia is predominantly Lutheran Protestant, except for the Latgale region in the southeast, predominantly Roman Catholic; the Russian population are Eastern Orthodox Christians. Latvia is a member of the European Union, Eurozone, NATO, the Council of Europe, the United Nations, CBSS, the IMF, NB8, NIB, OECD, OSCE, WTO. For 2014, the country was listed 46th on the Human Development Index and as a high income country on 1 July 2014. A full member of the Eurozone, it began using the euro as its currency on 1 January 2014, replacing the Latvian lats; the name Latvija is derived from the name of the ancient Latgalians, one of four Indo-European Baltic tribes, which formed the ethnic core of modern Latvians together with the Finnic Livonians. Henry of Latvia coined the latinisations of the country's name, "Lettigallia" and "Lethia", both derived from the Latgalians; the terms inspired the variations on the country's name in Romance languages from "Letonia" and in several Germanic languages from "Lettland".
Around 3000 BC, the proto-Baltic ancestors of the Latvian people settled on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. The Balts established trade routes to Byzantium, trading local amber for precious metals. By 900 AD, four distinct Baltic tribes inhabited Latvia: Curonians, Selonians, Semigallians, as well as the Finnic tribe of Livonians speaking a Finnic language. In the 12th century in the territory of Latvia, there were 14 lands with their rulers: Vanema, Bandava, Duvzare, Megava, Pilsāts, Upmale, Sēlija, Jersika, Tālava and Adzele. Although the local people had contact with the outside world for centuries, they became more integrated into the European socio-political system in the 12th century; the first missionaries, sent by the Pope, sailed up the Daugava River in the late 12th century, seeking converts. The local people, did not convert to Christianity as as the Church had hoped. German crusaders were sent, or more decided to go on their own accord as they were known to do. Saint Meinhard of Segeberg arrived in Ikšķile, in 1184, traveling with merchants to Livonia, on a Catholic mission to convert the population from their original pagan beliefs.
Pope Celestine III had called for a crusade against pagans in Northern Europe in 1193. When peaceful means of conversion failed to produce results, Meinhard plotted to convert Livonians by force of arms. In the beginning of the 13th century, Germans ruled large parts of today's Latvia. Together with Southern Estonia, these conquered areas formed the crusader state that became known as Terra Mariana or Livonia. In 1282, the cities of Cēsis, Limbaži, Koknese and Valmiera, became part of the Hanseatic League. Riga became an important point of east-west trading and formed close cultural links with Western Europe. After the Livonian War, Livonia fell under Lithuanian rule; the southern part of Estonia and the northern part of Latvia were ceded to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and formed into the Duchy of Livonia. Gotthard Kettler, the last Master of