Latvia is a small country located in Northern Europe and it is bordered by Estonia, Lithuania and Belarus. It has a population of just over 2 million people, making it one of the least populous countries in Europe. The official language of Latvia is Latvian, however Russian is widely spoken due to the large Russian minority living in the country.
Latvia is a democratic republic with a multi-party system. The government consists of three branches: legislative, executive and judicial. The legislative branch comprises of the 100-member Saeima (Parliament) which enacts laws and approves the national budget. The executive branch is headed by the Prime Minister who appoints ministers to oversee various departments such as finance, education and health. The judicial branch consists of court systems that interpret laws at both national and local levels.
Latvia has a strong economy based on services such as banking, transport, telecommunications and tourism. Agriculture also plays an important role in Latvia’s economy as it accounts for around 5% of GDP with products such as grains, potatoes, dairy products and vegetables being exported internationally. Manufacturing also contributes to GDP with machinery production being particularly important for exports.
Latvia has an active civil society which includes more than 6500 registered organizations ranging from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to trade unions. NGOs operate in areas such as human rights protection, environmental protection or advocacy for marginalized communities while trade unions are committed to improving pay and working conditions for employees throughout Latvia’s different sectors. Additionally, there are religious groups that represent.
Demographics of Latvia
According to wholevehicles.com, Latvia is a small country with a population of just over two million people. Its population is spread out over the four administrative divisions of Kurzeme, Latgale, Zemgale and Vidzeme. The majority of the population is ethnic Latvians (62.1%) while other ethnic groups include Russians (25.2%), Belarusians (3.3%), Ukrainians (2%) and Poles (1%).
The majority of the population is Christian with Lutheranism being the dominant denomination. Other religions practiced in Latvia include Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Judaism as well as Islam, Buddhism and other minority faiths.
Latvia has a large gender gap with men making up 54% of the total population while women make up 46%. This gender imbalance can be attributed to higher levels of emigration amongst men than women in recent years due to economic reasons.
The median age in Latvia is 41 years old with almost 20% of its population being aged between 0-14 years old and another 20% being aged 65 or older. This reflects Latvia’s aging population as fertility rates have been declining since the 1990s due to economic uncertainty and lack of job opportunities for young people in rural areas.
Life expectancy in Latvia stands at 73 years for men and 80 years for women which is slightly lower than the EU average but still higher than other Eastern European countries such as Ukraine or Belarus. The infant mortality rate in Latvia has also decreased significantly since 1990 which shows that living standards are improving despite economic challenges faced by the country in recent years.
Poverty in Latvia
Poverty in Latvia is a complex issue that affects many of the country’s citizens. According to Eurostat, in 2019, the relative poverty rate was 22.2%, with 8.4% of the population living in extreme poverty. This means that approximately one in five Latvian citizens live below the national poverty line.
The majority of those living in poverty are children and elderly people who are particularly vulnerable to economic hardship due to their age and lack of income-earning opportunities. Over half (54%) of those living in poverty are under the age of 18, while over a quarter (28%) are over 65 years old. In addition, a disproportionate amount of people living in poverty belong to ethnic minorities such as Russians or Belarusians, which further compounds their difficulties accessing basic services and financial support from the state.
Unemployment is another major factor contributing to poverty levels as it has been consistently high since 2009 when Latvia was hit by an economic crisis following the global recession. Currently, unemployment stands at 8%, with youth unemployment being even higher at 16%. This means that many young people are unable to find secure employment and end up relying on part-time or informal jobs which often pay below-minimum wages and provide no job security or benefits.
The rural areas of Latvia are also disproportionately affected by poverty due to a lack of job opportunities and higher costs for basic services such as energy and transport compared with urban areas. This has resulted in an exodus from rural areas with many young people leaving for bigger cities or other EU countries where they can find better work prospects and improved living standards.
The government has implemented several strategies aimed at tackling poverty but these have had limited success due to inadequate funding and lack of coordination between different departments responsible for implementing anti-poverty initiatives. Despite this, there is still hope that Latvia will be able to reduce its poverty levels through targeted investment in education, healthcare, infrastructure development and job creation initiatives over the coming years.
Labor Market in Latvia
According to Countryvv, the labor market in Latvia is characterized by a relatively high rate of unemployment, particularly among youth. In 2019, the overall unemployment rate stood at 8%, with youth unemployment (aged 15-24) reaching 16%. This is higher than the EU average of 6.4% and 11.7% respectively, highlighting the challenge Latvia faces to increase job creation and reduce its unemployment levels.
The structure of the labor market in Latvia is heavily weighted towards services, which account for around 70% of total employment. The largest sectors are finance and business services (17%), retail trade (13%) and public administration (11%). Manufacturing accounts for around 17%, while agriculture makes up only 4%.
Latvia has a relatively low level of labor force participation, especially among women. In 2019, only 61.5% of women aged 15-64 were employed or actively looking for work compared to 77.5% for men in the same age group. This difference is largely due to cultural norms which discourage female participation in paid work as well as a lack of childcare options and flexible working arrangements that would enable women to balance their work and family commitments more easily.
Foreign workers make up a significant portion of the Latvian workforce, accounting for around 10% according to official statistics from 2019. The majority are from other EU countries such as Lithuania, Poland and Estonia who have come to Latvia in search of better job opportunities or higher wages than they can find at home. Many foreign workers are employed in low-skilled jobs such as construction or manufacturing where they often face poor working conditions and below-minimum wages due to their lack of legal protection or language barriers that prevent them from accessing better job offers elsewhere within the country or abroad.
Overall, while there are some positive trends within the Latvian labor market such as increasing foreign investment and rising wages in certain sectors like IT, there is still much room for improvement when it comes to job creation and reducing unemployment levels overall, particularly among young people who have been disproportionately affected by the economic crisis in recent years. To achieve this requires targeted investment into skills development programs as well as improved access to childcare facilities that will enable more women to take part in paid work without sacrificing their family responsibilities.