About country profiles

The country profiles are intended to provide some background and context for the descriptions of the churches. These profiles should be read in conjunction with those of the churches in the country.

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Surface area:64600 km2
GNI per capita:5460 US$
Classification:Economy in transition




Christian: 67.00%

Jewish: 1.00%


Orthodox: 720340

Catholics: 434421

Protestants: 280200

Independent: 124350

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Latvians are an Indo-European people who settled the area several thousand years ago. Together with Estonia and Lithuania, Latvia is part of the Baltic region. From the 13th century onwards, the country was under German, Polish and Swedish rule, until it became part of the Russian empire in 1710. In 1921, Latvia became for the first time independent. It was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940, occupied by Nazi Germany, and again incorporated into the communist blocin 1945. During this period, 35 percent of the population perished. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the country regained its independence in 1991. One of the major issues it had to face is the question of citizenship for the Russians living in Latvia, about 30 percent of the population, and the use of the Latvian language. Economically, the country is orientating its industry and trade towards the West. It joined the European Union in 2004. Latvia was Christianized in the 12th and 13th century, from the East (Orthodox) and the West (Catholic). Part of the Catholic Church adopted the Lutheran Reformation of the early 16th century. During the communist era, atheism was actively promoted. Since then, there has been a revival in the churches, and several new groups have entered the country. The Evangelical Lutheran Church is the largest Protestant church. Baptists and Pentecostals are also well represented. The Russian Orthodox Church in Latvia comes under the Moscow Patriarchate, and is therefore indirectly member of the WCC. There is an independent Old Believers church.


Ecumenical Organizations and Councils

    WCC member churches based in Latvia

    WCC member churches present in Latvia

    Note: The list of churches present in countries is still in development.

    Last updated: 01/01/06