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  • Alright guys. We've reached the Baltic once again.

  • If you don't know anything about the Baltics, It basically goes like this:

  • Estonia is a depressed yet attractive nerd girl who lives right next toooo...

  • Latvia & Lithuania twin sisters: "Come play with us, Estonia!"

  • Welcome to the first sister of the creepy Baltic twins.

  • Everyone I'm your host Barb's.

  • Look I'm sorry, I called it the creepy Baltic twins but it's kind of true.

  • Latvia is one of those countries that just kind of naturally exudes this ambience of charming mystical dark undertones

  • surrounded by subtle flares of despair

  • and they're cool with it, and here's the thing, Latvia is the good twin.

  • Lithuania: "MUAHAHAHAHA!"

  • No but seriously, jokes aside.

  • Latvia does come with an incredibly vibrant culture rooted in unique traditions found almost nowhere else on earth.

  • Let's find out where it all goes down in,

  • Oh Latvia, you're like the most adorable Horror Show ever.

  • Let's jump in. First of all,

  • Latvia is located in the Northern European region known as the Baltics due to the location on the Baltic Sea,

  • surrounded by four other countries. The country is divided into 110 municipalities

  • and 9 Republic cities with the capital Riga, located along the aptly named Gulf of Riga.

  • Yeah, that's right. A 110 Municipalities.

  • But keep in mind though, most Latvians like to reference the five historical regions of Latvia for cultural distinction:

  • Courland (Kurzeme), Zemgale, Selonia (Pierīga), Vidzeme and Latgale.

  • Speaking of Courland, fun side note, Latvians actually once colonized Africa and the Caribbean under the Duchy of Courland.

  • They took over Tobago and remember in The Gambia episode,

  • we talked about the Kunta Kinte Island. Yep, that was Latvia.

  • See guys, you gotta watch those obscure African country videos like those are the ones

  • with the strangest backstories that give you the best secrets for history.

  • Anyway. The largest cities after Riga are Daugaupils and Liepāja.

  • And the two busiest and international airports are Riga International and Liepāja International.

  • Now Riga may be the capital but it's a River City, on the Daugava River, not a port city.

  • So most shipments must come in either at Ventspils or on Liepāja, on the Baltic coast.

  • The funny thing is even though Latvia has a decent sized coast, it owns virtually none of the islands that comes with it.

  • Even this little guy, Ruhnu, which belongs to Estonia even though it's closer to Latvia's mainland.

  • Latvia: "Dude, can I just have one island so I can build a patrol station?"

  • Estonia: "Mmmmmmmmmmmmm, No!"

  • Oh, and if you look closely at the border with Estonia, they have Valga, which is a town split in half by the two nations. (Remember the Estonia episode?)

  • Now if there's one thing about Latvia that makes it stick out, it would have to be the architecture.

  • Riga is famously known for its Nouveau style buildings, which won the title of 'European Capital of Culture' back in 2014.

  • The city has over 4,000 historic wooden buildings more than any other European city

  • and of course if you Google Latvia, It's hard not to come across the most iconic building,

  • the House of Blackheads, originally built in the 1400s.

  • It was bombed in World War II and rebuilt. It's beautiful,

  • but the country does come with an austere backdrop back drop.

  • Back in Soviet times, things got pretty morbid and you still see the residue to this very day.

  • You can see ghost towns that were once used to house Soviet officials and their families

  • like Skrunda 1, an abandoned radar station village complete with decaying

  • apartments, schools and gymnasiums all adorned with Lenin and Soviet imagery left to rot.

  • The Latvians kind of use this to their advantage though.

  • They even took a military prison and made it into the world's creepiest hotel,

  • the Karosta Military Prison Hotel, in which you can pay to

  • be treated like a prisoner of war in World War II Nazi Germany times.

  • Your accommodations include: Getting yelled at and arrested, sent to a dark damp gritty room with no beds.

  • Only a light mattress and blankets on floor.

  • No room service and you get locked in your room.

  • LATVIA!

  • Speaking of which, some other places of interest might include:

  • Riga's old city, a Basilica of Aglona,

  • Turaidaa and Konkese castle ruins,

  • The Monument of freedom, Rundāle Palace sometimes called the 'Versailles of the North',

  • The Art Nouveau district and the Art Nouveau Museum in Riga,

  • the Mark Rothko Museum, pretty much the entire city ofsis,

  • Ziemeļu Northern Forts and the Daugavpils Fortress.

  • All right that covers that. Now we get into Latvia's land makeup

  • and to add to the sombre undertones, it's gonna get a bit swampy.

  • All the lands of the Baltic areas are like: 'Copy, Paste, Done!'.

  • So if you watch the Estonia episode, you'll probably know what I'm gonna say.

  • Latvia is located on the East European Plain, generally a flat area

  • on average no more than 100 meters above sea level with mild rolling hills every so often.

  • The highest point, Gaiziņkalns is only about 312 meters.

  • Fun side note, Latvia asctually had a little competition with Estonia, which kind of went like this:

  • Latvia: "You know Estonia, you got some great forests. You know I admire that about you."

  • Estonia: "Oh pssh, come on yours are nice too."

  • Latvia: "Oh well you know either way, it's not like we're gonna be climbing any huge summits right, right because we are flat countries. We are flat."

  • Estonia: Are you telling me my highest peak?

  • Only 318 meters. How about yours?"

  • (312 meters)

  • Latvia: "Give me a sec..."

  • (Construction)

  • Latvia: "Ohhh uhh, what a coincidence. Uh mine's basically the same height just you know a little bit taller

  • but it's, yeah whatever. yeah..."

  • Then in 2012, the tower was demolished because of safety concerns.

  • About 10% of the country is made up of peat bogs and swamps and over half the country is forested.

  • That's actually an increase as Latvia is experiencing natural afforestation. That's the opposite of deforestation because

  • just, just you know it's over it-

  • Ken: "Yeah, we get it. Just keep going, Paul!"

  • The country is over 12,500 rivers,

  • the longest one as mentioned before is the Daugava

  • and Latvia has the widest waterfall in Europe,

  • the Ventas Rumba, about 250 metres wide

  • and the largest lake in the country being the Lubāns.

  • Otherwise economically, Latvia has seen an overall huge GDP resurgence since the independence from the Soviet Union.

  • Basically, they had to switch everything from state-owned to privatisation

  • and when that happens, people usually get very creative. I mean why do you think they built that prison hotel?

  • Their economy is mostly run off of industrial goods like

  • textiles, wood, products, pharmaceuticals and processed foods.

  • Agriculture-wise, Latvians loved *three* things: Meat and dairy (and potatoes!)

  • Almost every meal will have these *three* things.

  • If you don't know anything about Baltic cuisine, basically

  • It's hearty heavy meals with rye bread lots of butter and fat

  • with little or no spices, except for maybe dill and caraway seeds. They love caraway.

  • They even put it in their cheeses. Of course, they also have their own specialties likes:

  • Sklandrau.. Sklan... Sklandrau... Sklandrausis,

  • those bacon and onion bun things

  • and the national liquor, Riga black balsam, which has like 24 different ingredients and it supposedly cures illness.

  • As a tester to Catherine The Great when she visited and drink some.

  • Oh, the national animals are the white wagtail bird and the two spotted ladybug.

  • However, Latvia is also famous for the blue cows of Kurzeme.

  • Okay, is that it uh, tallest peak, longest river, largest lake, economy, food, national animals.

  • I put a skit in it, yadi yada...

  • Okay, yeah yeah yeah, I think we got it! Ok, moving on.

  • Now it's often said that if you want to learn how Europeans were speaking in the Stone Age, learn Latvian and Lithuanian.

  • First of all, Latvia has about two million people and has the second lowest ratio of men to women in the world

  • at .85 men per one woman. Remember, Estonia was the highest.

  • The country is made up of 63% of people that identify as ethnically Latvian,

  • about a quarter are Russian and the rest are made up of other groups mostly Belarusians, Ukrainians, Poles and Lithuanians.

  • They use the Euro as their currency, they use the type C plug outlet and they drive on the right side of the road.

  • About the sex ratio thing, just like the other Baltic states,

  • Latvia experienced a huge population loss during World War II.

  • In fact almost 13% of the entire country killed, one of the highest percentages in Europe

  • and of course the vast majority of these people were men. And just like all the other Baltic states,

  • a lot of these women grew up to be super models, or insanely tall like 7 foot 12.15 meter tall

  • Uljana Semjonova, who helped Latvia get all these gold medals back in the Soviet times in basketball

  • and she was the first non US woman enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

  • That is a tall woman.

  • Today Latvian and Lithuanian are the only two Baltic languages left in existence.

  • The last relative Old Prussian went extinct in the 19th century.

  • Basically these two languages are related and even have some similar words like:

  • Labvakars vs Labas vakaras

  • Skola versus *Mokykla* (Skolos in Lithuanian means debt)

  • And they both use Sveiki.

  • Basically, Latvians have told me that to them, Lithuanian sounds like an older more ancient version of Latvian

  • and if they listen really hard, they might be able to pick up a few words and phrases

  • but overall it's still kind of difficult to understand.

  • And keep in mind, most Latvians learn at least a little bit of Russian since a quarter of their population is Russian.

  • However, English is more favored for business and global outreach.

  • Now here's where things get a little unique. The Baltics were one of the last places to convert to Christianity in Europe.

  • Faith-wise, about a third identify at least nominally with the Lutheran Church, quarter with Catholic and about 20% Orthodox.

  • However many that people are not very religious.

  • However what's interesting is that the ancient pagan traditions are heavily synchronized and still celebrated today.

  • Basically, there are about 10 main Baltic tribes that eventually merged into what became Lithuania and Latvia

  • whereas the Finn Urgic tribe, the Livonians became Estonia, all of which started out as pagan.

  • Baltic paganism incorporated a rolodex of gods, goddesses and spirits that took over various elements and concepts of daily life.

  • You have the fate goddess, Leima, the fertility and harvest God, Jumis, Zemeste, the mother of Earth and so on.

  • To this day, dressing up in traditional pagan influenced masks and costumes during festivals is widely practiced especially during solstice festivals.

  • They take solstice very seriously. They even have like an ancient traditional pagan calendar with symbols and everything like that.

  • One of my Latvian subscribers sent this to me form flag Friday. Thank you!

  • And speaking of festivals, just like Estonia and Lithuania,

  • every five years, they hold a song and dance festival where the entire country pretty much gets involved.

  • Oh shooo, History! Yeah, okay

  • So before I get into this, if you really want a cool visual,

  • just check out this cool stop-motion video by YouTube channel, Ansis99.

  • So many of you guys have sent it to me.

  • I don't even - you don't even have to speak Latvian to understand it. It's, it's really cool. Check it out,

  • But in the best way I can personally put it:

  • Paganism and tribal kingdoms, Northern Crusades, the state of Livonia,

  • Germans, Danes, Poles, Lithuanian, Swedish all take turns at invading,

  • finally Russians come in, World War I, war for independence

  • They get their first Republic for a few decades,

  • then Russia comes in as like: "JK I'm back!"

  • They become a Soviet republic state, tons of people died, 1941 Nazi occupation, tons of people die again,

  • Soviets come in and reclaim Latvia, yada, yada, yada all the Soviet years, Russians move in,

  • 1991 independence through the singing revolution that they did with all the other Baltic states,

  • 2000's they went through an economic boom, 2008 recession

  • and today, they're recovering and doing fine, mostly.

  • Some notable people from Latvia or of Latvian descent might include:

  • nis Čakste, Andrejs Pumpurs,

  • Krišjānis Barons, Rainis and his wife Aspazija,

  • Arvīds Blūmentāls, aka the Crocodile Dundee,

  • Mark Rothko, Jacob W. Davis, he invented jeans,

  • Kristaps Porziņģis, the music group, the Hobos, Frederick Wilhelm Ostwald,

  • Aleksandrs Laime, Anatoly Solovyev, Ginta Lapiņa,

  • Bill Rebane and the music group, Carnival Youth.

  • Phew!

  • So as you can see, Latvia is an interesting tradition holding somewhat dark past oriented nation that moves with haste.

  • Let's see who's tagging along with the ride with them now, shall we?

  • Now in school, have you ever been sent to detention and while in detention,

  • you started talking to the person next to you and found out that you actually had a lot in common?

  • Yeah, that's kind of like how Latvia made friends.

  • As a member of the EU since *2004* as well as NATO and the Council of Europe,

  • Latvia has significantly opened up to their Western counterparts

  • and has seen tons of diplomatic measures taken from the Germans, French, Polish and Italians.

  • Latvians get along pretty well with Ukrainians and Georgians as they shared the same Soviet-occupied past

  • and a significant minority of people in Latvia are Ukranian.

  • Iceland was actually the first country to recognize their independence and they share the same seats on the council of the Baltic Sea States

  • even though Iceland is not a Baltic state, but, but wait huh?

  • But when it comes to their best friends, most Latvians would probably say, Lithuania and Estonia.

  • Even though Estonia pays more attention to Finland.

  • All three Baltic states grew up together and graduated college but Estonia got closer to Finland

  • and out of jealousy, Latvia kind of tried to hook up with Sweden, but Sweden was like: "Ehhh..."

  • Lithuania is like the twin that was separated at birth.

  • Latvian territory was taken over by Germans in the 13th century

  • and Lithuania who kind of went off and created its own empire with the Poles.

  • In the end though, the two sisters have always held on as the last surviving Balts in the world

  • and as crazy as things got, they will always be there for each other.

  • In conclusion, Latvia has had a lot of pressure over the years from numerous factors

  • but they still pull through by embracing the austerity that enshrines them.

  • Stay tuned, Lebanon is coming up next.

Alright guys. We've reached the Baltic once again.

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地理Now!ラトビア (Geography Now! Latvia)

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    林宜悉 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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