The territory that is now Latvia was controlled by crusaders, primarily the German Order of Livonian Knights, until 1561 when Latvia fell into Polish and Swedish hands. Between 1721 and 1795 Latvia was absorbed into the Russian empire. Soviet rule was proclaimed in Dec. 1917, but was overthrown when the Germans occupied all Latvia (Feb. 1918). Restored when the Germans withdrew (Dec. 1918), the Soviets were again overthrown, this time by combined British naval and German military forces (May–Dec. 1919), when a democratic government was set up. This regime was in turn replaced by a coup which took place in May 1934. The secret protocol of the Soviet-German agreement of 23 Aug. 1939 assigned Latvia to the Soviet sphere of interest. On 4 May 1990 the Latvian Supreme Soviet declared, by 138 votes to nil with 58 abstentions, that the Soviet occupation of Latvia on 17 June 1940 was illegal, and resolved to re-establish the 1922 Constitution. In a referendum in March 1991 the principle of independence was supported by 73·6%. A fully independent status was conceded by the USSR State Council in Sept. 1991. The large Russian minority was initially disadvantaged by the introduction of citizenship and language laws which have since been repealed. President Vike-Freiberga was elected as the former Communist bloc’s first female president in June 1999. In 2002, as part of a proposed EU expansion plan, Latvia was chosen as one of ten countries nominated for membership in 2004, and one of seven invited to join NATO in the same year.
KeywordsForeign Direct Investment Inflow Freight Transport Collective Farm Soviet Occupation Average Monthly Salary
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