The Republic of Latvia is one of the Baltic States in Northern Europe. It is one of the least populated countries of the European Union with 2,067,887 people. It is nestled between Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south and the Soviet Union to the west. Latvia is a parliamentary republic with 118 administrative branches including 109 municipalities and 9 cities. Its capital is Riga. After the Republic of Latvia was founded in 1918, it underwent occupation and annexation by the Soviet Union, then Nazi Germany and finally the Soviet Union again until 1991. After many years, independence was restored to Latvia in 1991.
The majority of the 2,067,886 people living in the Republic of Latvia speaks the Indo-European language Latvian and is culturally related to the Lithuanians. Except for the southeast region which is mainly Roman Catholic, Latvia has a Christian religious tradition. Economically, Latvia has shown signs of stabilizing as recently as 2010 after the worldwide financial crisis of 208-2009. As of 2011, Latvia has returned to being one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union.