Culture of Latvia


Culture of Latvia
A Latvian social club in Leeds, England.

The culture of Latvia combines traditional Latvian and Livonian heritage with influences of the country's varied historical heritage.

Contents

History

The territory of Latvia has been populated since 9000 BC. Baltic tribes, the ancestors of present day Latvians, arrived around 3000 BC. In the 13th century after conquest of today's Latvia, Baltic Germans settled here and gradually became the upper class and rulers of Latvia, while Latvians and Livonians lost their positions finally becoming serfs in 16th century. This caused the Germanisation of the educated inhabitants of other nationalities, yet preserved some local traditions. In the 19th century, when serfdom was abolished, a Latvian nationalist movement, the first "Latvian National Awakening", begun. Led by "Young Latvians", it encouraged Latvians to become artists and scholars, while preserving their cultural heritage and the language. The movement was countered by a period of Russification, followed by the leftist movement New Current at the beginning of the 20th century; it is regarded as a period in which Latvian culture thrived. This caused the second "Latvian National Awakening", leading ultimately to the proclamation of an independendent Latvia in 1918.

On 15 May 1934, Kārlis Ulmanis seized power in a coup d'etat and established an authoritarian regime, which lasted only until the outbreak of war and Soviet occupation in 1939-40. In cultural terms, however, this period is seen as a "golden age" for Latvia. During the war, with a period of German occupation from 1941-45, Latvia lost its independence as it was occupied by the USSR and became the Latvian SSR. Soviet rule ended in 1991 during the third "Latvian National Awakening".

People

The majority of inhabitants are Latvians. There is a culturally and linguistically distinct subgroup, the Latgalians, who inhabit the Latgale region in eastern Latvia. Another indigenous group are the Livonians, whose Finnic Livonian language is nearly extinct. The largest minority group is the Slavic people, notably Russians. Other well known minorities are Roma people, Baltic Germans and Jews, whose population decreased significantly after the Second World War, as well as Lithuanians and Estonians.

Regions

Historical regions of Latvia, together with Latvian cultural groups.

Latvia is divided into several cultural and historical regions - Vidzeme, Latgale, Courland and Zemgale. Sometimes, Sēlija and Maliena are also distinguished.

Folklore

Latvians have the rich heritage of traditional folklore, especially folk songs. Dating back well over a thousand years, more than 1.2 million texts and 30,000 melodies of folk songs have been identified.[1]

Music

Architecture

Modern architecture in Riga

A form of traditional architecture in Latvia is log houses. The position of houses differs between regions. In western Latvia, single farms are more popular and in villages, the houses are positioned in a circle around a central square. In eastern Latvia, villages are more popular and houses are positioned along a main street. This is seen as an influence of nearby Russia.

References


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • LATVIA — (Lettish Latvija; Rus. Latviya; Ger. Lettland; Pol. Łołwa), one of the Baltic states of N.E. Europe; from 1940 to 1991 the Latvian S.S.R. The nucleus of Latvian Jewry was formed by the Jews of Livonia (Livland) and courland , the two… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Culture Beat — Background information Origin Germany Genres House Eurodan …   Wikipedia

  • Latvia, Relations with —    Latvia was incorporated into the Russian empire during the 18th century and later became one of the most developed areas within the empire. During the Russian Civil War, Latvia secured Russian and international recognition of its independence; …   Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation

  • Latvia — Infobox Country native name = Latvijas Republika conventional long name = Republic of Latvia common name = Latvia map caption = map caption|location color=dark green|region=Europe|region color=dark grey|subregion=the European Union|subregion… …   Wikipedia

  • Latvia — /lat vee euh, laht /, n. a republic in N Europe, on the Baltic, S of Estonia, an independent state 1918 40; annexed by the Soviet Union 1940; regained independence 1991. 2,437,649; 25,395 sq. mi. (63,700 sq. km). Cap.: Riga. Latvian, Latvija… …   Universalium

  • Culture of Europe — The culture of Europe might better be described as a series of overlapping cultures. Whether it is a question of North as opposed to South; West as opposed to East; Orthodoxism as opposed to Protestantism as opposed to Catholicism; many have… …   Wikipedia

  • Latvia Students' Union — Infobox Union name= LSA country= Latvia affiliation= members= full name= Student Union of Latvia native name= Latvijas Studentu apvienība founded= December 10, 1994 current= head= dissolved date= dissolved state= merged into= office= Baznicas… …   Wikipedia

  • Culture of Lithuania — The culture of Lithuania has been influenced by geography, historical events, and artistic movements. Various cultural changes occurred throughout Lithuania s transformation from a former country of the Soviet Union to an independent Baltic state …   Wikipedia

  • Culture of Denmark — Danish smørrebrød or open sandwiches, a staple of Danish cuisine The culture of Denmark has some general characteristics often associated with Danish society and everyday culture. Modesty, punctuality but above all equality are important aspects… …   Wikipedia

  • Culture of Belarus — The culture of Belarus is the product of a millennium of development under the impact of a number of diverse factors. These include the physical environment; the ethnographic background of Belarusians (the merger of Slavic newcomers with Baltic… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.