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Latvia is a country on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea. It's One of the Baltic states, bordering Estonia, Lithuania, Belarus and Russia. Its population is 2.29 million (2006), of whom around 59% are Latvian, 28.5% Russian, 3.8% Belarussian, 2.5% Ukrainian, 2.4% Polish, and 3.8% others (Lithuanians, Estonians, Germans, Livs, etc).

Riga has atmospheric Old Town, excellent dining possibilities, Art Nouveau architecture and vibrant cultural scene.

Rigas colorful Old Town is full of historic sights, shops and museums as well as cafes, bars and restaurants. The superb Dome Cathedral dominates Dome Square, while the imposing St Peter's Church is one of Rigas most recognized landmarks. Of the many museums in the area, the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia is one of the best and should not be missed. The imposing Freedom Monument, the revered symbol of Latvian nationhood, serves as a border between the Old Town and the city Centre.

Art Nouveau architecture can be seen throughout the city Centre, but is most impressive on Alberta Street.

The elegant neighborhood of Meiaparks is close to Riga Zoo and the venerable Riga's Cemeteries. Across the Daugava river lies The Left Bank which is home to several intriguing sights, including Victory Park and the Railway Museum. Further afield is the Latvian Ethnographic Open- Air Museum, among Riga`s best.

In western Latvia, you can find beach resorts of Jurmala, delightful towns, the Livonian Coast and exquisite palaces. Some of the Baltic regions best sights can be found in Western Latvia. A string of pretty resort towns, Jurmala has a pine forest-lined beach. It's tightly clustered summer houses, which include rare examples of wooden Art Nouveau, are architectural marvels. Ventspils, a coastal city, has an immaculately renovated historic Centre. Liepéja is arguably Latvia`s most attractive city besides its capital and is famed for its vibrant music scene. The regions lush landscape is also filled with delightful small towns, such as Tukums, wine-producing Sabile and Kuldiga.

In eastern Latvia, you can find Gauja National Park, unspoiled coastline, abundant lakes and historic Daugavpils. The country's most stunning landscape can be experienced in Gauja National Park. The park encompasses the Gauia Valley, a vast forested basin with steep sandstone banks and jaw-dropping cliffs. The sharply winding and deceptively placid-looking Gauja river is ideal for kayaking and canoeing, while the entire park is well served by range of nature trails.

Sigulda is the perfect starting point for exploring the area, although the historic town of Césis on the eastern border of the park is another good entry point. The coastline east of Riga is not quite as popular as Jurmala, but it is no less beautiful. The pleasant resort town of Saulkrasti serves as the main focal point of a whole string of small coastal villages that line the amazingly unspoiled stretch of beach here. In southeastern Latvia, the area known as Latgale is famed for its abundance of lakes, all of which are used by locals for fishing or taking a refreshing clip. The predominantly Russian-speaking city old Daugavpils is rich in architecture and places of historic interest.

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