Latvia Culture

Latvia Culture and Mass Media

Newspapers in Latvia

According to POLITICSEZINE.COM, Latvia is a country located in Europe. The Latvian media landscape has undergone major changes since the country’s independence in 1991. Democratization, privatization and new technology have changed both media consumption and business models. During the strong economic growth in 2002–07, media consumption increased strongly. When the financial crisis in 2008 hit Lithuania, it hit hard on the media industry, especially the daily press, with closures and major staff cuts as a result.

Internet and mobile telephony

Latvia’s surfing behavior does not differ much from the rest of the Western world – the global sites Google and YouTube are at the top. However, there are noticeably many national sites among the most visited, and the domestic Draugiem, a social networking site, is larger than Facebook.

Nearly 60% of households have access to the internet and about 90% have a mobile phone. There are three operators with their own 3G network: LMT, Swedish Tele2 and Bite Latvija. LMT, where Swedish-Finnish TeliaSonera owns just under a quarter, had a monopoly until 1995.

TV and radio

Radio broadcasting began in 1925 with a second channel in 1948 and TV broadcasting in 1954. Public service companies Latvijas Radio and Latvijas Televīzija are mainly financed through the state budget. Local private stations began to be established in 1991 and today there are about 25 radio stations, most with regional coverage (2012).

There are nearly 40 privately owned TV channels in the country (2012). The largest owner is the Swedish Modern Times Group (MTG), which is part of the Kinneviks sphere.

Daily press and magazine

There are about 20 daily newspapers in Latvia, eight of which are aimed at the Russian-speaking population (2012). The largest is Diena (‘The Day’), founded in 1990. Swedish Bonniers took over as owner in 1993. In collaboration with Bonniers Dagens Industri, the business magazine Dienas Bizness and the free newspaper 5min, closed down in 2010. Bonniers sold Diena to the Luxembourg-based company Nedela SA in 2009., where several leading journalists chose to resign.

Other daily presses include Neatkarīgā Cīņa and the Russian-speaking Vesti Segodniya. There is also a newspaper in English, The Baltic Times, which is published once a week.

Weekly press and magazines are more read than newspapers and during the growth of 2002–07, both the number of titles and editions increased dramatically. Since 2008, the editions have collapsed, just as for the daily press, and several newspapers have been closed down. Most popular are three weekly magazines aimed at women: Ieva, Ievas Stāsti and Privātā Dzīve.


According to APARENTINGBLOG, Latvian culture has strong roots in folk music and other expressions of popular culture. More than 1.2 million folk poems, dains, are preserved. They have been collected and classified by the “father of folk songs” Krišjānis Barons (1835–1923). In 1873 the first Latvian song festival was held.

With roots in medieval Catholic church music, art music developed from the late 18th century. During the following century, Riga was a major music city in Northern Europe, where Richard Wagner, among others, performed. The first opera in Latvian, Spoku while (Ghost Hour), was written in 1893 by Jēkabs Ozols’. Opera art has a strong position today, and Riga’s opera house is one of Latvia’s most famous buildings.

During the Soviet occupation after World War II, music became a way of trying to preserve national identity. After independence in 1991, Latvian exile musicians have played a growing role. Kārlis Baumanis, who has written lyrics and music for the Latvian national song God Bless Latvia! (Dievs, svētī Latviju!), Is considered the country’s foremost composer.

Literature in Latvian first appeared in connection with the national awakening in the second half of the 19th century. Andrejs Pumpurs wrote the epic poem Lāčplēsis, about a national hero, which came to have great symbolic significance for the Latvians during the Soviet occupation. The most well-known Latvian writer, the poet Jānis Rainis (1865–1929), brought not only Latvian poetry but also the idea of ​​an independent state. Popular writers during the first period of independence were Aleksandrs Grīns, Edvarts Virza, Kārlis Skalbe and others. After the Soviet occupation of 1940 and World War II, many writers emigrated and worked in exile.

In Latvia, the literature was limited by political repression, but big names emerged during the Soviet era such as Vizma Belševica (1931–2005) and Knuts Skujenieks (1937–), both translated into Swedish. Belševica was mentioned as a possible Nobel Prize candidate. Among Latvia’s most read authors in the early 2000s is Inga Ābele, who also received attention in Sweden for her novel High Water (Paisums). In recent decades, the Latvian-Swedish poet and translator Juris Kronbergs has been an important bridge builder between Latvian and Swedish culture.

Professional theater started playing in Latvia in the mid-19th century. In the 1920s, the Latvian ballet was founded, which was heavily influenced by Russian ballet. The theater was of great importance to the national identity during the Soviet era’s political repression, but after independence in 1991, the drama scene in Latvia brought the influences from the Russian theater tradition on. Theater is also played in Russian.

Janis Rozentāls and Vilhelms Purvītis, active in the late 1800s and early 1900s, are regarded as portal figures in the art of painting. During the time of independence, among others, Niklāvs Strunke and Uga Skulme achieved success, and the “Riga Group “‘s modernism was influential. Realism regained ground to become a controlled social realism during the first part of the Soviet era. Later came names like Džemma Skulme (1925–) and Edgar Iltners (1925–1983).



IMF loans are repaid

GDP has grown by about 5 percent during the year. Latvia repays its entire loan to the IMF in advance after selling government bonds at the lowest interest rate to date. However, most of the loans from the EU and the World Bank remain payable.


VAT reduction

VAT is reduced by 1 percentage point to 21 percent in an attempt to curb inflation, so that Latvia can be approved for entry into the euro.


Compensation to Jews

Justice Minister Gaidis Bērziņš of the National Alliance resigns in protest of Prime Minister Dombrovski’s proposal to compensate the Jews of Latvia for historically lost property. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Riga and urges the government to speed up the return of Jewish property seized by Soviet occupiers or whose owners were murdered during the Nazi occupation.


Party renames

Zatler’s Reform Party changes its name to the Reform Party.


No to Russian as the official language

Following the gathering of names of the Russian minority, a referendum is held on whether Russian should become official language alongside Latvian. The proposal was rejected by 74.8 percent of the vote. The turnout is unusually high, 70 percent.


The population is declining

Figures from the 2011 census show only 2,060,000 residents, a decrease of over 300,000 in just over a decade.

Latvia Culture

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