Moving to Latvia
Latvia is a country of over two million inhabitants situated on the Baltic coast of Europe. The official language of Latvia is the Latvian language. The ancestors of the Latvian people have been residing in Latvia for as long as history can record. The area was early famous as a source of amber, a precious natural substance that was traded along trade routes as far as Africa. At some point, the initial Balts in today's Latvia divided into a number of tribes, some fishing and trading, like the Livonians, others farming, like the Semgallians and Semonians, and others pillaging and looting, like the Couronians.
Latvia is a small country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is a member-state of the European Union, entitling EU citizens to travel freely and work in the country. Latvia is also a member of the Council of Europe and is a part of the Schengen area. It has established diplomatic relations with 158 countries and maintains 34 embassies and nine permanent representations worldwide. Foreign embassies and international organisations hold offices in the capital city of Riga.
The Latvian government is a parliamentary republic that is currently headed by President Andris Bērziņš and Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma. The 100-seat Saeima parliament, which is presently presided by Speaker Solvita Āboltiņa, is elected through a national election every four years.
The EU state ranked 8th among 21 top emerging markets in a Bloomberg survey. Between 2014 and 2015, Latvia’s projected average gross domestic product (GDP) growth is 4.13%, after Panama’s 6.70% and Peru’s 5.53%. Latvia posted the highest change in government debt as a percentage of GDP at -10.40%. It also topped the list of emerging economies with the highest average total investment as a percentage of GDP at 26.48%, followed by Poland (20.77%) and the Philippines (19.17%).
In 2011, the nation of 2.2 million people was composed of Latvians (62%), Russians (27%), Belarusians (3.3%), Ukrainians (2.2%), Poles (2.2%), Lithuanians (1.2%) and other nationalities (2.1%). Ethnic Latvians constitute a minority of the population in some cities. Latvian is the official language though English is widely accepted in business and tourism. Russian is used by 34% of the population, including those who are not of Russian descent.
Latvia has a relatively low cost of living compared to more developed countries in the region. It is a preferred destination for foreign students on a budget. The minimum cost of living of an individual is €329.88 per month, excluding income tax and social insurance contributions. The minimum wage stands at €320 per month or €1.933 per hour. Teenagers and adult workers in dangerous conditions are compensated for an hourly rate of €2.209. All workers, locals and expats, are taxed a flat rate of 24%.
Latvia provides expats almost all rights afforded to citizens. Expats holding permanent residency status are free to move to another country while retaining all rights and privileges granted in Latvia and are extended the same social guarantees as Latvian citizens. The only rights limited to citizens are the right to vote and to hold a civil service position linked to national security.
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