The official state language of the nation of Latvia is Latvian (sometimes called "Lettish"). The vast majority of Latvian speakers are Latvian nationals: perhaps eighty percent of Latvians (totaling approximately two million people) speak it. Approximately 100,000 people outside Latvia speak Latvian language as well. This is the more impressive since approximately 700,000 Latvians are actually descended from non-Latvian stock. During the time of the Soviet Union, there were waves on immigrants, and Russian was the official language. Since 1991, the policy of Latvia has been to promote Latvian. Sixty percent of the immigrant peoples consider themselves fluent in Latvian, and it is popular among young Latvians.
Latvian, like Lithuanian, derived from the earlier Baltic language. Baltic itself derived from one of the great original mother languages of mankind, the Proto-Indo-European language. It is not certain whether Baltic derived from a Slavic-Baltic language or in some other way.
The Latvian writing system is a Latin script, based upon the German alphabet. Of its thirty-three letters, 22 are directly based on Latin script.
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