History of Latvia: a Timeline
1 February 2012
The Latvian Secretariat for the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union is formed.
19 September 2012
Latvian Cabinet of Ministers approves steps essential for the introduction of Euro in Latvia.
1 January 2014
Latvia joins the Eurozone.
Rīga - European Capital of Culture.
World Choir Games held in Rīga.
The twelft Saeima is elected.
Latvian ex-Prime minister Valdis Dombrovskis elected Vice president of the European Commision.
The Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
The ninth Saeima is elected.
Latvia nominates ex-President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga as a Un General Secretary candidate.
28-29 November 2006
NATO Summit takes place in Riga.
27 March 2007
Border treaty between Latvia and Russia is signed.
Valdis Zatlers is elected as State President.
The tenth Saeima is elected.
Andris Bērziņš is elected as State President.
The eleventh Saeima is elected in snap election, following a positive referendum to let go the previous parliament.
Latvia begins negotiations of accession to the European Union.
5 May 2000
Latvian national ice hockey team defeats the Russian team at the World Ice Hockey Championship held in St. Petersburg.
Latvian GDP is among the fastest growing in Europe.
Latvia, represented by Marie N, wins the Eurovision Song Contest.
The eighth Saeima is elected.
Latvia starts UN-approved peace-keeping mission in Afghanistan, jointly with several other NATO countries.
29 March 2004
Latvia joins NATO.
4 May 2004
Latvia joins EU.
31 August 1994
The armed forces of the Russian Federation leave the territory of Latvia.
The sixt Saeima is elected.
The seventh Saeima is elected.
Default of Russia motivates Latvian enterprises to embrace Western markets.
Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga is elected as State President.
13 January 1991
A demonstration to protest the attack of Soviet special forces on Lithuanian institutions attracts ca. 500,000 in Riga. As tensions rise, barricades are built in the Old Town and around important public buildings, guarded by some 100,000 unarmed defenders. Several people are later shot and killed by Soviet security forces.
20 January 1991
Special force of the Soviet Interior Ministry (OMON), open fire in the very center of Riga and seize the building of the Latvian Interior Ministry. Several Latvian journalists, police officers and a teenage by-stander get killed in the cross-fire.
21 January 1991
In Tallinn, Anatolijs Gorbunovs on behalf of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia signs a mutual support agreement with the President of the Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin.
3 March 1991
An all-inclusive public opinion poll shows that 73% of Latvian residents, regardless of their ethnic origin, support independence.
Price controls are abolished. Privatization process begins.
19 April 1991
Latvian delegation led by Gorbunovs meets with Gorbachev in Moscow. Gorbachev declares that the USSR will not recognize the independence of Latvia.
15 May 1991
Cadets of a Soviet military academy attempt to seize the building of the Supreme Council of Latvia.
19-21 August 1991
A coup in Moscow staged by an illegally established State Emergency Committee attempts to overthrow Gorbachev.
21 August 1991
As the coup in Moscow fails, Latvian Supreme Council passes the Constitutional Law declaring Latvia a de-facto independent democratic republic in accordance with the 1922 Constitution.
18 September 1991
Latvia joins the United Nations.
August 1991-June 1993
The Supreme Council of Latvia enacts important laws essential for the establishment of the state rule and implementing economic reforms. Full re-establishment of the Constitution and re-election of Saeima is under way.
National currency – Lat – is reintroduced.
The fifth Saeima (parliament) is elected. It elects Guntis Ulmanis as State President.
At the request of the general public and the Latvian Academy of Sciences, the Supreme Council of Latvian SSR approves the national flag, anthem, and state emblem of Latvia in February 1990. They become official symbols.
7-8 January 1989
An orthodox counter-force, the International Front of Working People is formed to resist the initiatives of the Latvian Popular Front.
23 August 1989
The Baltic Way manifestation is held throughout the Baltic states. Thousands of protesters join their hands and form a human chain all the way from Tallinn to Riga to Vilnius.
Restoration of the independence, international recognition of Latvia and transitional period until the Saeima is elected and assumes its legislative work.
3 May 1990
The Latvian Popular Front delegates gain a two thirds majority in the Supreme Council of the Latvian SSR. Anatolijs Gorbunovs is elected Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia.
4 May 1990
The Supreme Council adopts the Declaration “On the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia”.
The „Perestroika” and „Glasnost” in the USSR; Latvia on its road towards the restoration of independence.
10 July 1986
Human rights watch group "Helsinki - 86" is founded in Liepaja and openly proclaims its goals.
In the wake of the perestroika and glasnost policy of Gorbachev, popular protests against building a hydroelectric dam on the Daugava river and an underground railway in Riga are initiated by journalists Dainis Īvāns and Artūrs Snips.
Human rights watch group Helsinki-86 organizes an unsanctioned event at the Freedom Monument in Riga to commemorate the victims of mass Soviet deportations.
15 April 1988
Latvian Soviet government allows the people to offically celebrate the Ligo holiday.
10 July 1988
The Latvian National Independence Movement is founded at a rally in the historic Arkadija park in Riga.
The special plenum of the Latvian Writers' Union calls for a greater cultural autonomy of Latvia, strengthening the role of the Latvian language, and establishment of truly independent cultural organizations. For the first time during Soviet rule, the takeover of Latvia on 17 June 1940 is declared to be a de-facto occupation.
7 October 1988
Mass public rally is held in Riga under the auspices of the emerging Latvian Popular Front. Its slogan is „For a lawful state”.
8-9 October 1988
The Latvian Popular Front (LPF) is established and attracts membership of several hundred thousand people. It becomes the guiding force toward the restoration of Latvian independence.
Latvian SSR embarks on the path of the so called „construction of socialism”. Culture, science, and education fall under strict political controls of the government. Food production and heavy industry develop in Latvia to meet the growing demands of the USSR internal market.
6 November 1954
Latvian Television is founded.
10 April 1959
The first Art Festival is held in Riga.
7-8 July 1959
A sitting of the Latvian Communist Party Central Committee officially condemns the so-called national communist wing.
12 September 1959
Riga celebrates the first Poetry Days.
National Song Celebration marks its 100th anniversary in Riga.
Stalin’s repressive regime in Latvia.
Nazi Germany capitulates. Three occupations, mass deportations and war have taken in total 500,000 lives in Latvia. About 120,000 Latvians in the West refuse to return home and eventually are re-settled to the U.K., USA, Canada, Australia and other Western countries.
8 May 1945
The German army in the Kurzeme enclave surrenders, among them a division of Latvian legionnaires.
Latvian national partisans, also known as the Forest Brethren, wage a guerilla warfare against the Soviet occupiers and their collaborators after WWII.
15 August 1945
Latvian Central Committee is established in Western Germany, the first organization to represent the deposed Latvian government in exile in the West.
14 February 1946
Latvian SSR Academy of Sciences is established. In May 1946 the Latvian Academy of Sciences forms the Language and Literature Institute.
22 December 1946
In the Dobele township the first collective farm is founded. It is called „Nakotne" („Future”). Further collectivization of private farmsteads ensues, but the ineffectiveness of collective farming and the introduced “planned” distribution system cause food shortages in Latvia for years to come.
25 March 1949
A second mass deportation of about 44,000 people is directed against Latvian farmers, who do not want to collectivize, and Latvian partisan supporters. Entire families are re-settled "for life," most of them in Siberian areas of Omsk, Tomsk and Krasnoyarsk. After Stalin's death in 1953, many are allowed to return to Latvia, but are stigmatized for life.
23 January 1943
Adolf Hitler issues a standing order to Himmler to form a Voluntary Latvian SS Legion. The General Commissar of Latvia Otto Drechsler, overstepping the 1907 Hague Convention on the status of occupied nations, issues an order to Latvian territorial labour commissions to enlist young Latvian men born between 1919 and 1924 to the military service.
29 January 1943
The Nazis issue a decree to proceed with arrests of all Latvian Gypsies and their subsequent placement in concentration camps.
13 August 1943
In Riga, Latvian National Resistance Committee is formed in the underground. It is called Central Latvian Council. Konstantin Cakste becomes its chairman.
28 November 1943
US President F. D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister W. Churchill, and Soviet leader J. Stalin meet in Teheran. Stalin negotiates the right to freely operate in the Baltic states and in Eastern Europe after the war.
The second division of the Latvian Legion is formed (the 19th division). In the battle on the Velikaja river both divisions of the legion are merged and fight together against the Soviet Army forces. The date of this battle (March 16) later becomes the Legion’s Memorial Day in Latvia.
The Soviet Army re-enters Latvian territory. Refugee treks westward begin. About 5,000 Latvians risk their lives and reach Swedish shores by small boats; about 150,000 are evacuated to Germany and Germany-controlled areas in Western Europe. About 200,000 Latvian citizens, including forced labourers and Latvians in German concentration camps are in Germany at the end of the war as displaced persons.
8 September 1944
The Central Latvian Council holds their last meeting in homeland and signs a declaration on the post-war restoration of the independent Latvian state.
6 October 1944
On Moscow's orders, the Supreme Soviet of the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic cedes the town of Abrene (now Pytalovo) and six townships to Soviet Russia. (On March 27, 2007 the Border Treaty between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Latvia recognizes Abrene (now Pytalovo) as a ceded territory, thus opening the opportunity for Latvia to proceed with the official demarkation of the border which is a pre-requisite to Latvia’s joining the Schengen zone of the European Union.)
13 October 1944
The Soviet Troops take over Riga. The Latvian SSR government returns. The German Army Group North retreats to Kurzeme (a region in the West of Latvia), which becomes an encircled enclave. It withstands at least six major Soviet attacks and holds out until the capitulation of Nazi Germany and the end of the war.
4-11 February 1945
The Yalta Conference of the USA, UK and USSR heads of government, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin, principally decide the post-war arrangements in Europe, conceding to the USSR control of Eastern Europe, but simultaneously calling for free elections there.
25 March 1941
The Soviet Rouble is introduced instead of the Latvian national currency.
14 June 1941
Soviet authorities deport more than 15,000 Latvian citizens to remote regions of the Soviet Union.
22 June 1941
Nazi Germany attacks the USSR. The Red Army retreats in disarray. About 50,000 Latvian inhabitants flee Latvia or are taken along as detainees. Riga is occupied by German forces on 1 July.
7 July 1941
All of Latvian territory is in Nazi German hands. Greeted at first as liberators from the horrors of the Soviet terror, Nazi Germans deal with Latvia merely as an occupied Soviet territory and never recognise its independence.
17 July 1941
A special ministry is formed in Berlin to oversee the occupied territories in the East. Notorious Nazi Alfred Rosenberg, a Baltic German by extraction and one of the principal ideologues of German Nazism, is appointed by Hitler to head this ministry. The occupied territories of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and parts of Belorus are united under the name „Ostland”. Riga becomes the administrative center of Ostland.
23 October 1941
Riga Jews are burned in the ghetto.
German Security Service (SD) Operative Group A instigates and guides the annihilation of Latvia's Jewish population, co-opting and involving Latvian proxies in the mass murder. Of the 94,000 pre-war Jews in Latvia about 70,000 perish in the Holocaust. Other Latvians executed on German orders include communists, Roma, and mentally ill persons. The ill-famed Arajs' Commando, an auxiliary SD unit, is involved in many of the mass executions.
12 October 1941
On Stalin's decree the 201st Latvian Riflemen's Division with about 10,000 soldiers is formed in Soviet Russia. A year later it becomes the 43rd Latvian Guards' Division, and in 1944 the 130th Latvian Riflemen's Corps is formed. It is augmented by young men drafted in the territories occupied by the Red Army. An estimated 80,000 Latvians serve in the Soviet armed forces during WWII.
7 March 1942
On German orders, home rule territorial bodies are formed in Latvia. Their Directors are former army general O. Dankers, former President of Latvia A. Kviesis, former rector of the Latvian University M. Primanis, former government minister A. Valdmanis, and others. Their administrative power was limited and they could not prevent arrests and placement of people in German concentration camps, nor could they reduce the number of Latvians dispatched to Germany to work there as guest labourers.
Ķegums HPP on Daugava River is opened.
7 June 1939
Germany and Latvia sign a Non-Aggression Treaty.
23 August 1939
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is signed.
1 September 1939
World War II begins in Europe.
World War II in Latvia.
28 September 1939
Friendship and Border Treaty is signed, making Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union de facto allies for almost two years. They divide the Baltics as their spheres of influence.
5 October 1939
Under military threat, Latvia is forced to sign a Mutual Assistance Treaty with the Soviet Union, which allows 25 000 Soviet troops to be stationed in Latvia.
30 October 1939
Germany signs an agreement with Latvia to facilitate the repatriation of the Baltic Germans. About 60,000 Latvian Germans leave.
16 June 1940
Claiming breaches of the Mutual Assistance Treaty, the Soviet Union issues an ultimatum demanding a new government and allowing an unlimited number of Soviet troops to enter Latvia.
The beginning of the Soviet occupation, mass repressions and deportations.
17 June 1940
Soviet troops occupy Latvia. A puppet government is promptly installed.
21 July 1940
The People's Saeima is elected unconstitutionally in a near-unanimous one-party election on 14 and 15 July. It declares Latvia to be a Soviet state, asks for admission to the Soviet Union.
23 July 1940
US Acting Secretary of State Sumner Welles denounces the occupation of Latvia. The declaration initiates the continuing refusal of US and other governments to recognise the take-over "by the use of force".
5 August 1940
Latvia is annexed by the Soviet Union.
Period of autocratic rule by K. Ulmanis. Saeima is disbanded and political parties are banned in Latvia.
15 May 1934
Prime Minister Karlis Ulmanis organizes a bloodless coup. The Saeima is dismissed and all political parties banned. Just like a number of other countries in Europe, Latvia becomes an authoritarian state. Though far from being a truly totalitarian regime, the Latvian government does not tolerate dissent and rules by decree.
12 September 1934
A political bloc called the Baltic Entente is formed between the Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia) to promote their mutual diplomatic support.
5 May 1935
Team of Latvia wins the first FIBA EuroBasket Championship.
18 November 1935
The Monument of Freedom is opened.
The world’s smallest camera MINOX is invented.
The Latvian Civil Code comes into force.
30 November 1937
As part of Stalin's Great Terror, Soviet authorities arrest around 25,000 and kill 16,500 Latvians in Russia.
Latvian University of Agriculture in Jelgava is established.
7-8 October 1922
Election of the First Latvian Saeima (Parliament). The Saeima meets on 7 November and a week later elects Janis Čakste as the first President of Latvia.
The second Saeima is elected.
Latvian Radio is established.
Latvian National Symphony Orchestra is founded.
Gustavs Zemgals elected the president.
The third Saeima is elected.
King of Sweden Gustav V visits Latvia.
Alberts Kviesis elected the president.
Riga Central Market, the largest in Europe at the time, is opened.
The fourth Saeima is elected.
Peace treaty with Soviet Russia, the adoption of the Constitution of Latvia, international recognition of the country.
1 February 1920
An armistice with Soviet Russia takes effect after the Latvian Army with the aid of Polish troops has liberated Eastern Latvia (Latgale) from Red Army forces. The Latvian Communist government is dissolved on 13 January 1920.
1 May 1920
The elected Constitutional Assembly begins its work as a temporary legislative body with the main charge to write a Constitution.
11 August 1920
Peace Treaty is signed with Soviet Russia, in which Soviet Russia without reservations recognizes Latvian independence and sovereignty “in eternity”.
Latvia implements the Agrarian Reform.
26 January 1921
Latvian independence is recognized by the Allied Supreme Council, soon followed by other states.
22 September 1921
Latvia joins the League of Nations.
22 February 1922
Constitutional Assembly adopts the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia.
Struggle for liberation and founding of Latvia as an independent state.
The Republic of Latvia is proclaimed
November 1918-August 1920
War of Independence
17 December 1918
The Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic is declared. The government led by Peteris Stucka institutes its rule with draconian laws and ruthless terror.
3 January 1919
Riga is taken by Red Army troops. The Provisional Government retreat to Liepaja.
3 March 1919
A counter-attack by combined German and Latvian forces against the Red Army begins. Commander of the Latvian Brigade, Col. Oskars Kalpaks, falls on the battlefield killed by friendly fire on March 6.
16 April 1919
A German coup in Liepaja fails to overthrow the Provisional Government, which finds refuge on a Latvian boat guarded by the Entente warships. Nevertheless a parallel pro-German Latvian government is established.
22 May 1919
German troops seize Riga and move against the Latvian Army in northern Latvia.
22-23 June 1919
Germans are defeated by Estonian and Latvian forces near Cesis. The German proxy government collapses.
11 November 1919
The last German attempt to take over under the cover of a fake Western Russian Volunteer Army led by Bermondt-Avalov is foiled as the Latvian Army, helped by the firepower of British and French warships, retakes the western part of Riga to end a one-month standoff on the shores of Daugava.
University of Latvia, the National Opera, the Latvian Conservatory, state colleges and theaters are established.
Riga becomes the principal industrial center of Latvia (in 1860 there are 89 factories that employ 6134 workers in Riga). Textile industry prevails with 8 enterprises, the largest being Pihlavas textile factory (782 workers), Sheper textile factory (500 workers), and Zasulauka textile factory (420 workers). Tobacco industry follows suit. Chocolate factory „Laima” is founded in 1870 in Riga. In April 1919 The State Electrotechnical Factory (VEF) starts production. Between 1920 and 1940 several major industrial enterprises operate in Liepaja, among them machine building facility and shipyard „Tosmare” and Liepaja wire factory which employed several thousand people. The Russian-Baltic Rolling Stock Plant is founded in 1869. It becomes the largest industrial enetrprise in Latvia in late XIX – early XX centuries.
World War I
German forces overcome Latvia. Some 700 000 people become refugees. Latvian soldiers in the Russian army suffer heavy casualties. Factories are evacuated to hinterland Russia.
National military units, the Latvian Riflemen, are founded and commanded by Latvian officers within the Russian army to defend Riga against the German army.
Latvian workers and farmers join the Revolution of 1905 against both the Tsarist government and the landed German gentry.
Riga becomes the principal industrial center of Latvia.
Rapid industrialization of Latvia brings about the growth of sea ports, banks and commerce.
Late XIX c. – early XX c.
The eight volume collection of Latvian folk songs by Krišjānis Barons is published.
The Latvian Society is founded in Riga.
Late XIX c.
Development of cultural and political awareness and emergence of modern Latvian language, culture and national identity. Increasing economic independence, urbanization and emergence of the Latvian working class. By 1860, 89 factories employ 6134 workers in Riga alone.
The first Latvian National Song Festival is held in Riga.
First Latvian novels are published: “Waves of Life” by Juris Maters and “The Times of the Land Surveyors” by the Kaudzitis brothers.
National Romanticism in Europe. National Awakening in Latvia. Industrial Revolution.
Serfdom is abolished in Courland and Livonia.
Riga – Daugavpils railway is opened.
Serfdom abolished in Latgale.
Riga Politechnical University is founded.
The Great Northern War.
Riga surrenders to the forces of Russian Tsar Peter the Great. Vidzeme comes under Russian rule.
First Partition of Poland: Eastern Latvia (Latgale) becomes part of the Russian province of Polotsk.
Third Partition of Poland: the Duchy of Courland becomes a Russian province.
The written form of Latvian is developed by German priests. Pastor Ernst Glück translates the Bible into Latvian.
Riga is conquered by Sweden under King Gustavus Adolphus. Eastern Latvia remains under the Polish rule.
The zenith of the Duchy of Courland.
Most Latvians join the Lutheran church, with the exception of Latgale where Catholicism prevails.
Livonian Order under Master Walter von Plettenberg defeats Russian forces of Tsar Ivan III
The Livonian Confederation ceases to exist. The last Master of the Livonian Order becomes the Duke of Courland. The rest of Latvia comes under direct control of Poland-Lithuania.
The Roman Catholic and Lutheran catechisms printed as first books in the Latvian language.
XIII – XIV c.
The German presence in the territory of nowadays Latvia and Estonia is established.
Riga becomes an important trading post and joins the Hanseatic League.
Late XII c.
Arrival of German merchants and Christian missionaries
Beginning of the crusades to Christianize the Baltics.
The City of Riga is founded.
IX – XI c.
Viking raids and conquests in the Baltic area.
~ 100 A.D.
Tacitus mentions the Aestii living on the Eastern shore of the Baltic Sea as industrious farmers and amber gatherers.
~ 2000 B.C.
Balt peoples arrive in the Baltics.
~ 3000 B.C.
Finno-Ugric peoples arrive in the Baltics.
© The Latvian Institute This fact sheet can be freely printed from homepage of the Latvian Institute, distributed and cited, on condition that the Latvian Institute is acknowledged as the source. The Latvian Institute promotes knowledge about Latvia abroad. It produces publications, in several languages, on many aspects of Latvia.