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Flag of Latvia Flag of Latvia
Three horizontal bands of maroon (top), white (half-width), and maroon.

After a brief period of independence between the two World Wars, Latvia was annexed by the USSR in 1940. It reestablished its independence in 1991 following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Although the last Russian troops left in 1994, the status of the Russian minority (some 30% of the population) remains of concern to Moscow. Latvia joined both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004. - CIA World Factbook.

Map of Latvia

National Symbols of Latvia
Bearing a red flag with a white stripe ancient Latvian tribes went to war against ancient Estonian tribes.

Latvia - Fotw
The Latvian flag is reputed to date from 1279, which would make it one of the oldest national flags.

Latvia -
The territory of Latvia has been populated since 9000 BC with the proto-Baltic ancestors of the Latvian people settling on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea around the third millennium BC.

Latvia - U.S. Department of State
        The behavior of most Latvians reflects the strong cultural and religious influences of centuries-long Germanic and Scandinavian colonization and settlement. They are viewed as self-reliant, independent, persistent, and reserved. Eastern Latvia (Latgale), however, retains a strong Polish and Russian cultural and linguistic influence. This highly literate society places strong emphasis upon education, which is free and compulsory until age 16. Latvians are very tolerant of various religious denominations; in some cases, congregations from two or even three denominations make use of a single church. The majority of Latvians belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church; a sizable minority is Russian Orthodox, and Eastern Latvia is predominantly Roman Catholic.
        Historically, Latvia has always had fairly large Russian, Jewish, German, and Polish minorities, but postwar emigration, deportations, and Soviet Russification policies from 1939 to 1989 reduced the percentage of ethnic Latvians in Latvia from 73% to 52%. In an attempt to preserve the Latvian language and prevent ethnic Latvians from becoming a minority in their own country, Latvia enacted language, education, and citizenship laws which require capability in the Latvian language in order to become a citizen. Such legislation has caused concern among many non-citizen resident Russians, despite Latvian legal guarantees of universal human and civil rights regardless of citizenship.
        Written with the Latin alphabet, Latvian is the language of the Latvian people and the official language of the country. It is an inflective language with several analytical forms, three dialects, and German syntactical influence. The oldest known examples of written Latvian are from a 1585 catechism. Latvians and Lithuanians are the only surviving direct descendents of the Baltic peoples who speak languages of the Indo-European family. While Latvia was a member of the U.S.S.R, Russian was the official language, so most Latvians also speak Russian, and the resident Slavic populace generally speaks Russian as a first language.