Area: 64,589 km ²
Climate: humid, continental and temperate owing to the maritime influence of the Baltic Sea
Population: 2,217,969 (est. 2010)
Government Type: Parliamentary republicNational Holiday:November 18 GDP: $31.173 billion (est. 2010)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $ 13,833 (est. 2010)
Information for Foreign Students in LatviaGetting There Riga International Airport has direct flights to/from various European cities (London, Madrid, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Oslo, etc), Middle East (Beirut, Tel Aviv, Dubai), CIS (Moscow, Kiev, Minsk) as well as North America (New York City).
Obtaining a Visa Latvia is a member of the Schengen Agreement. For EU and EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) citizens, an officially approved ID card (or a passport) is sufficient for entry. In no case will they need a visa for a stay of any length. Others will need a passport for entry.
Although you might not find plenty of 5 star hotels all around Latvia, you will find comfortable places to stay for a reasonable price. There are many hotels to choose from. Prices start from 20 LVL outside of Riga and from 40 LVL in Riga. The network of youth hostels is also developing. Dormitory rooms come around 10 lats, single, double rooms start from 20 lats and above.
Money Currency used in Latvia is the Latvian lat (LVL). ATMs are widely available throughout Latvia (including Riga International Airport), even in many small towns.
There is no problem turning to any doctor or hospital to seek medical help, just by paying an outside patient fee.
It is generally safe to travel around on your own, although some petty crime exists. A thing to watch out for is bicycle theft, and it is advisable not to leave valuable things in your car. Mind the forest roads, collisions with wildlife animals can easily occur.
It is advisable to go by train instead of bus from Riga to the following towns: Jurmala, Tukums, Jelgava, Salaspils, Jekabpils, Daugavpils, Rezekne, Sigulda, Cesis and Saulkrasti. Check the official Latvian Railroad (Latvijas dzelzcels) website (http://sirius.ldz.lv/sari/saraksts.asp) for timetables. If you are going to other cities, there are most likely only a couple trains per day or there are no trains going at all. Trains are usually cheaper and you don't need to worry about having no seat. Trains are usually crowded on peak days of summer. There is also a vast network of bus connections around Latvia. Buy a bus ticket at the bus station or on bus when boarding. If you have luggage, ask the bus driver to put it in the trunk. It depends on the bus company, if they will charge extra. There are express bus connections to major towns, which can save a lot of time.