Public Finance Perspective
The Latvian people have lived in the Baltic-shore territory for more than
4,000 years, with the Latvian language being one of the oldest living languages
of Europe. "Latvia's location at an East-West crossroads, and her ice-free ports
on the Baltic Sea, have made her an inviting target for expansional powers.".(EIU,
1995). Over the centuries, Latvia has been occupied by the Teotonic knights of
Germany, the knights of Sweden and Poland, and the tsars of Russia. World War I
and the fall of the Russian tsars provided an opportunity for numerous Russian
colonies to break away. Only Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia gained and
maintained independence on November 18, 1918, by signing a treaty with the new
Soviet Russian government. Latvia quickly began to develop a successful economy
and joined the League of Nations in 1922.
In 1940, Stalin presented Latvia with an ultimatum, admit Soviet troops or face
annihilation. During the next fifty years, the Soviet Union ruled over Latvia.
Freedom of speech and press were abolished. Access to western printed materials,
radio broadcasts, and other communications were strictly forbidden, and
religious activities were destroyed. In 1987 large human rights demonstrations
began to take place, with the most notable being the 1989 joining of hands in
the unforgettable Baltic Way from Tallinn through Riga to Vilnius.
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