Latvia profile - Timeline

A chronology of key events:

Capital: Riga

Art Nouveau facade in Riga

City is centre of Art Nouveau architecture

  • Founded as trading post in 1201
  • Became capital of independent Latvia in 1918
  • 1991: End of Soviet rule
  • Population: 747,000

1918 November - Latvian National Council proclaims Latvia an independent sovereign state.

1918-20 - Civil war, ending in peace treaty with Soviet Russia.

1922 - First constitution promulgated.

1934 - PM Karlis Ulmanis seizes absolute power following succession of unstable governments.

1940 - Soviet troops invade Latvia following Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939. Latvia incorporated into the Soviet Union along with the other two Baltic republics. Mass deportations of Latvians opposed to Soviet rule.

1941 - Nazi forces invade. Some 75,000 Latvian Jews were killed during the German occupation, many of them by Latvian paramilitary and police units established under the Nazis.

1944 - Red Army returns, presaging more deportations of Latvians and repression of resistance to sovietisation.

Protests
Latvians welcome Red Army The Red Army returned in October 1944

1986 - First anti-Soviet demonstrations held by nationalist and environmental activists.

1988 - Latvian People's Front formed to promote the cause of independence.

1989 - Latvians join pan-Baltic demonstrations commemorating secret protocols of Molotov-Ribbentrop pact which led to Soviet occupation.

1990 May - Latvian Supreme Council (parliament) declares "de jure" independence of Republic of Latvia. Ivars Godmanis of the People's Front becomes prime minister.

1991 January - As part of pro-Soviet forces' activities against the independence movement, Omon Soviet special police force storms Latvian Interior Ministry in Riga, resulting in six deaths.

Baltic Chain

Baltic Chain 1989

Demonstrators show their desire for independence by forming a 600-km human chain across Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

1991 March - Referendum produces large majority in favour of independence.

Independence

1991 August - During the attempted anti-Gorbachev coup in Moscow, Omon force again strikes in Riga, causing another six deaths. Supreme Council declares full independence.

1991 September - Latvia admitted to UN.

1991 November - Citizenship law passed, giving citizenship to those who held it before Soviet occupation of 1940 and their descendants.

1993 - Restoration of 1922 constitution.

1993 June - First independent elections to Saeima, the 100-seat parliament.

1993 July - Guntis Ulmanis elected president.

Goodbye Lenin

Latvians topple statue of Lenin

At independence Latvians got rid of symbols of Soviet rule

1994 August - Last former Soviet/Russian troops leave Latvia.

1995 - Latvia admitted to Council of Europe.

1996 - Ulmanis re-elected.

1999 - Following end of term in office of President Ulmanis, Vaira Vike-Freiberga is elected president - the first woman president in Eastern Europe.

2001 - Riga celebrates 800th anniversary.

2002 May - Parliament votes to change election law in a bid to boost Nato membership chances. The new law omits a clause requiring parliamentary candidates to be Latvian speakers, a provision seen by human rights experts as discriminatory towards the Russian minority.

Nato, EU membership

2002 November - Einars Repse of the New Era party invited to head centre-right coalition government following elections the previous month.

2002 December - EU summit in Copenhagen formally invites Latvia to join in 2004.

2003 June - Parliament elects President Vike-Freiberga to a second four-year term in office.

2003 September - Latvian referendum vote gives strong backing to EU membership.

2004 February - Protests as parliament passes law restricting the use of the Russian language in schools.

Governing coalition collapses and Prime Minister Einars Repse resigns amid personal feuding and disputes. Indulis Emsis of Greens and Farmers Union becomes prime minister in new coalition.

2004 March - Latvia admitted to Nato.

Former president Vaira Vike-Freiberga

Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Latvia's first woman president

2004 1 May - Latvia is one of 10 new states to join the EU.

2004 October - Coalition government of Indulis Emsis resigns after parliament rejects draft budget. Government of his successor, Aigars Kalvitis, is approved in December.

2005 March - Veterans of Latvia's SS brigade, which fought the Red Army in World War II, march through Riga and call on President Vike-Freiberga to pull out of Moscow war anniversary ceremony. Dozens of arrests follow clashes with rival anti-fascist protesters.

2005 May - US President George Bush visits Riga.

President Vike-Freiberga is sole Baltic president to attend Moscow Victory Day celebrations.

2005 June - Parliament ratifies proposed EU constitution.

2005 October - Interior Minister Eriks Jekabsons resigns, citing low budget funding for police and emergency services pay.

2005 December - Former Prime Minister Einars Repse resigns as defence minister after criminal investigation launched into his business dealings. He denies all wrongdoing.

2006 August - Tough new citizenship laws introduced requiring people to have good knowledge of Latvian.

2006 October - Parties in coalition government led by Aigars Kalvitis together win parliamentary majority in general election.

2007 March - Border demarcation treaty signed with Russia.

2007 December - Prime Minister Kalvitis resigns, bowing to pressure over attempts to sack the country's anti-corruption chief. His coalition is returned to power in a parliamentary vote, with Ivars Godmanis as new prime minister.

2008 March - Latvian bilateral accord with US on visa-free travel criticised as undermining European Union talks on the matter.

2008 May - Latvian parliament approves European Union's Lisbon Treaty.

Financial crisis

2008 December - International Monetary Fund (IMF) approves 1.68bn euro rescue package to help Latvia ride out severe economic slump.

2009 January - Hundreds of demonstrators clash with police in Riga as anti-government protests over the collapse of the economy turn violent.

2009 February - Ruling coalition collapses amid widespread discontent over belt-tightening imposed as price of IMF rescue package. Valdis Dombrovskis of the centre-right New Era party nominated to form new government.

2009 March - Valdis Dombrovskis is sworn in at the head of a new six-party coalition government.

2009 June - The Central Bank spends almost a billion euros in 2009 to support the lat currency, prevent devaluation and avoid a domino effect elsewhere in Eastern Europe.

2009 August - Government, trade unions and employers agree deep public spending cuts aimed at saving the country from bankruptcy and getting the IMF to release a further tranche of rescue loans.

2009 October - Government agrees to slash budget deficit in 2010 in order to meet targets imposed by EU in exchange for 7.5bn euros of rescue loans.

2010 January - Unemployment soars to 20%, giving Latvia the highest jobless rate in the EU.

Coalition fractures

2010 March - Largest coalition party leaves government following repeated disagreements over austerity measures, depriving PM Valdis Dombrovskis of his majority.

2010 October - Centre-right government of PM Valdis Dombrovskis wins majority in parliamentary elections.

2010 November - PM Dombrovskis forms government with Union of Farmers and Greens.

2011 June - Parliament elects Union of Farmers and Greens candidate and wealthy businessman Andris Berzins president, defeating the incumbent Valdis Zatlers. The outgoing president had demanded a snap general election to root out corruption.

2011 September - Elections. Pro-Russian Harmony Centre emerges as largest party, but PM Dombrovskis forms a coalition government that excludes it.

2012 February - Referendum on giving Russian joint official language status rejected by a large margin. The vote was initiated by the Russophone "Native Tongue" movement, which collected enough signatures to prompt the vote.

2013 January - Parliament passes legislation finalising Latvia's bid to become a member of the eurozone as of 1 January 2014, pending approval from the European Commission and the European Central Bank.

2013 June - Latvia's application to join the euro on 1 January 2014 is approved by the European Commission.

2013 November - At least 54 people die when a supermarket in Riga collapses. Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis resigns after President Berzins called the incident a case of murder and demanded foreign experts should investigate.

Latvia adopts euro

2014 January - Latvia joins the eurozone.

Laimdota Straujuma becomes prime minister.

2014 March - PM Straujuma sacks a minister from the right-wing National Alliance who attends a parade honouring Latvian soldiers who fought in Nazi units during World War II.

Veterans of the failed 1944 battle against the Soviet Red Army insist that they were trying to defend the country against Soviet occupation, but Latvia's sizeable Russian minority sees the annual commemorative event as glorifying Nazism because the Latvian Legion was commanded by Germany's Waffen SS.

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