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    Crumbling buildings in Rome (pictured) only add to the atmosphere in a country where old is redefined and western civilization begins. Explore Italy!

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Culture & Identity of Latvia

Introduction

The people of Latvia are quite diverse in many ways, particularly in regards to ethnicity, and this diversity encourages slight variations in the daily way of life of the people, although there are great similarities.

Nearly 70% of the people live in an urban environment and nearly as many of the working people in the country work in the services industries. Only about 10% of the working population relies on agriculture to make a living, but the overwhelming majority of these people are ethnic Latvians. In the cities there are numerous jobs in both the industry and services sectors and people of all ethnicities hold these positions.

For most of the people living and working in the cities their daily schedule is similar as most begin work at about 8:30 am and work until about 6:00 pm. Children also attend school from early September to late May, which also has a fairly set schedule.

It's the evenings and weekends when the differences between the people are most noticeable, but even during these times the differences are minor and unnoticeable to most visitors. The Latvians and Russians tend to spend evenings at home with family, but the foods, languages, and traditions in these homes vary dramatically. Weekends (Saturday-Sunday) are also varied, but primarily due to personal preference. Most people like getting out of the house on weekends, whether that is out into the outdoors, to some entertainment in the city, or just having dinner or a drink somewhere. Of course, during the long winter days the people are generally not as eager to get outside unless they are a winter sports enthusiast.

Identity

Latvian residents define themselves by their ethnicity, whatever ethnicity the individual may be. For both the ethnic Latvians and Russians, they identify as such and both identities are heavily reliant on the ethnicity of the individual. Due to political tensions and disagreements between these two ethnic groups, the divide between them is often times quite visible and in some ways, each group defines its identity on what it is not. However, both ethnic Latvians and Russians have more to their identities than just their ethnicity. Language, food, dress, lifestyle, and culture are also important in defining each of the identities.

Citizenship and nationality are not included in the definition of being a "Russian," not only because they live outside of Russia, but because few ethnic Russians have citizenship in Latvia; this is partially due to the fact that to become a citizen one must pass a test in the Latvian language and few Russians speak Latvian. Likewise, citizenship is not the most important factor in being Latvian either, but nearly all ethnic Latvians are citizens so in many ways it is assumed an ethnic Latvian is a citizen, making this also somewhat of a polically-defined identity.

This page was last updated: November, 2013