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Latvia, officially the Republic of Latvia, is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia (border length 343 km), to the south by Lithuania (588 km), to the east by Russia (276 km), and to the southeast by Belarus (141 km), and it shares a maritime border to the west with Sweden. With 2,070,371 inhabitants (population of Latvia peaked at 2.67 million in 1990) and a territory of 64,589 km2 (24,938 sq mi) it is one of the least populous and least densely populated countries of the European Union. The capital of Latvia is Riga. The official language is Latvian and the currency is called Lats (Ls). The country has a temperate seasonal climate.The Latvians are a Baltic people, culturally related to the Lithuanians. Together with the Finnic Livs (or Livonians), the Latvians are the indigenous people of Latvia. Latvian is an Indo-European language and along with Lithuanian the only two surviving members of the Baltic branch. Indigenous minority languages are Latgalian and the nearly extinct Finnic Livonian language. Despite subjection to foreign rule from the 13th to the 20th centuries, the Latvian nation maintained its identity throughout the generations, most notably the language, culture, and rich musical traditions. Latvia and Estonia share a long common history. Both countries are home to a large number of ethnic Russians (26.9% in Latvia and 25.5% in Estonia) of whom some are non-citizens. Latvia is historically predominantly Protestant, except for the Latgalia region in the southeast, which has historically been predominantly Roman Catholic.

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