National Flag of Latvia
According to aceinland, the national flag of Latvia is a red-white-red tricolor with the middle stripe being twice as wide as the two outer stripes. The three colors are said to represent Latvian independence, freedom, and sovereignty. The white stripe symbolizes purity and virtue, while the red stripes stand for bravery and valor. The current version of the flag was adopted in 1921 and is based on the design of a 19th century flag used by Latvian students in Sweden. It has since been used continuously by both Latvia and its predecessor states throughout its history.
The flag consists of three horizontal stripes – red on top and bottom with a white stripe in the middle. This design is known as a tricolor flag. The width of each stripe is specified in law; the top and bottom red stripes must each be one-third (1/3) of the total width, while the middle white stripe must be twice (2/3) as wide as each of those two outer stripes combined. This ratio of 1:2:1 is typical for many European countries’ flags, including those from Germany, Finland, Poland, Romania, Moldova, Lithuania and many others.
The symbolism behind this particular combination holds much significance for Latvians; it represents their struggle for freedom from foreign rule over centuries of occupation by various powers such as Germany, Sweden, Russia, Poland and Lithuania. Red has long been associated with courage and valor while white stands for purity or virtue; together they symbolize not only Latvia’s independence but also its unity as a nation despite its varied pasts.
Presidents of Latvia
Latvia has had seven presidents since the country regained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The current president is Raimonds Vējonis, who was elected to a four-year term in 2015.
The first president of Latvia was Guntis Ulmanis, who was appointed by the Supreme Council of Latvia on August 21, 1991. He held office until 1993 when he was replaced by Guntis Ulmanis’s cousin, Guntis Zemkalns. His presidency saw a period of stability and economic growth for Latvia and he served until 1999 when he was succeeded by Vaira Vike-Freiberga.
Vike-Freiberga is remembered as one of the most popular presidents in Latvian history and served two consecutive terms until 2007 when Valdis Zatlers took office. During his time as president, Zatlers made significant steps towards increasing public transparency and reducing corruption within government institutions. He also advocated for closer ties with NATO and European Union membership which were later achieved in 2004 and 2014 respectively.
In 2011 Andris Bērziņš became the fifth president of Latvia; his tenure saw a period of economic growth but also increased tension between Latvia and its neighbor Russia due to sanctions imposed by both countries during this time. Bērziņš left office in 2015 to be replaced by Raimonds Vējonis who has continued many of the same initiatives while also focusing on strengthening Latvian democracy, foreign policy, and economy.
Prime Ministers of Latvia
Latvia has had ten prime ministers since the country regained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The current Prime Minister is Krišjānis Kariņš, who was appointed in 2019.
The first Prime Minister of Latvia was Ivars Godmanis, who was appointed by the Supreme Council of Latvia on April 14, 1990. He held office until 1993 when he was replaced by Māris Gailis. Gailis served until 1994 when he resigned and Maris Grinblats took office for a short period before resigning in 1995.
Vilis Kristopans then assumed the role of Prime Minister for two years until 1997 when Andris Šķēle took office and served until 1998 when he was replaced with Guntars Krasts. Krasts served until 2002 and is remembered as one of the most successful prime ministers in Latvian history as his tenure saw an increase in economic growth and foreign investment during this time.
In 2004 Aigars Kalvitis became Prime Minister and held office for five consecutive years; his tenure saw an increase in public infrastructure investment as well as a focus on environmental protection initiatives. His successor, Valdis Dombrovskis, continued these initiatives while also advocating for closer ties with NATO and European Union membership which were later achieved in 2004 and 2014 respectively.
In 2011 Laimdota Straujuma became the first female prime minister of Latvia; her tenure saw a period of economic growth but also increased tension between Latvia and its neighbor Russia due to sanctions imposed by both countries during this time. Straujuma left office in 2016 to be replaced by Māris Kučinskis who focused on strengthening Latvian democracy, foreign policy, and economy before resigning in January 2019 to be replaced by Krišjānis Kariņš who has continued many of the same initiatives while also pushing for further economic growth and development within Latvia.