destination riga

Riga is the Capital of Latvia and principle city of the Baltic States. The population is about 720,000 in the City and about 1.1 million in metropolitan Riga.

The language is Latvian but many Latvians are multilingual with Russian and English as well as German and French also being commonly spoken.

Business and leisure travel to Riga has increased significantly in recent years due to improved infrastructure. Riga as a city-port is a major transportation hub and is the center of the local road and railway system. Most tourists travel to Riga by air via Riga International Airport, the largest airport in the Baltic states, which was renovated and modernized in 2001 on the occasion of Riga's 800th anniversary. Air traffic at the airport continues to grow quickly and further expansion of the airport is planned. Baltic sea ferries connect Riga to Stockholm, Kiel and Lübeck.

Almost all important Latvian financial institutions are located in Riga, including the Bank of Latvia, which is Latvia's central bank. Foreign commercial trade through Riga has been on the increase in recent years and received new impetus when Latvia became a member of the European Union in 2004. Riga accounts for about half of the total industrial output of Latvia, focusing on the financial sector, public utilities, food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, wood processing, printing and publishing, textiles and furniture, and communications equipment manufacturing. The port of Riga is an important cargo shipping center. It is the main all-weather port in the Baltic and is expected to grow in the next few years due to increased trade with other ex-Soviet states and China.

Latvia has the fastest growing economy in Europe. It has a GDP of over $35billion (2006) and a growth rate of 11.90% (2006). Inflation is currently about 10% but measures are in place to control this and bring the rate down to EU average. The labour force is about 1.2 million with unemployment at 7.5%.  The banking system is highly advanced and the local currency, the Lat, which is linked to the Euro, is fully convertible.

Local taxation is very competitive and there is no restriction on repatriation of profits.

The main exports are commodities:
wood and wood products, machinery
and equipment, metals, textiles and foodstuffs.

Export partners are the UK 22.1%, Germany 9.9%, US 8.2%, Sweden 7.3%, France 6.6%, Lithuania 6.4%, Estonia 5.2%, Denmark 4.2%, Russia 4.1%.

Imports are commodities: machinery and equipment, chemicals, fuels and vehicles.

From  Germany 16.1%, Russia 14.4%, Lithuania 7.6%, Finland 6.5%, Sweden 5.6%, Estonia 5.1%, Italy 4.2%, Poland 4%.