The name Latvia derives from latvis, a ‘forest clearer’. Human inhabitation dates from around 9000 BC and the Balts (or proto-Balts) probably arrived around 2000 BC. In addition to the Finnic predecessors of the Estonians and Livs, four Baltic tribal groups emerged during the Iron Age: the Couronians (Kurši), Selonians (Sēļi), Semigallians (Zemgaļi) and Latgallians (Latgaļi). Linguistic evidence points to the habitation of central Latvia by Latgallians and Lithuanians while coastal areas were populated by Couronians, Semigallians, Selonians and Prussians. The north of the country, occupied mainly by Finnic Livs, was separated by sparsely inhabited areas, which accounts for the lack of cultural mixing between the ethnic groupings.
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