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Latvia:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

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Overview Latvia

Contents

Latvia:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Latvia:Historical Development

Latvia:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Latvia:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Latvia:Political and Economic Situation

Latvia:Organisation and Governance

Latvia:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Latvia:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Latvia:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Latvia:Organisation of Private Education

Latvia:National Qualifications Framework

Latvia:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Latvia:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Latvia:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Latvia:Funding in Education

Latvia:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Latvia:Higher Education Funding

Latvia:Adult Education and Training Funding

Latvia:Early Childhood Education and Care

Latvia:Organisation of Programmes for all Pre-Primary Education

Latvia:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for all Pre-Primary Education

Latvia:Assessment in Programmes for all Pre-Primary Education

Latvia:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Latvia:Single Structure Education (Integrated Primary and Lower Secondary Education)

Latvia:Organisation of Single Structure Education

Latvia:Teaching and Learning in Single Structure Education

Latvia:Assessment in Single Structure Education

Latvia:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Single Structure Education

Latvia:Upper Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Latvia:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

Latvia:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

Latvia:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

Latvia:Organisation of Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Latvia:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Latvia:Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Latvia:Organisation of Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Latvia:Teaching and Learning in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Latvia:Assessment in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Latvia:Higher Education

Latvia:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Latvia:First Cycle Programmes

Latvia:Bachelor

Latvia:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Latvia:Second Cycle Programmes

Latvia:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Latvia:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Latvia:Adult Education and Training

Latvia:Distribution of Responsibilities

Latvia:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Latvia:Main Providers

Latvia:Main Types of Provision

Latvia:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Latvia:Teachers and Education Staff

Latvia:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Latvia:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Latvia:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Latvia:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Latvia:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Latvia:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Latvia:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Latvia:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Latvia:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Latvia:Management and Other Education Staff

Latvia:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Latvia:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Latvia:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Latvia:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Latvia:Management Staff for Higher Education

Latvia:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Latvia:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Latvia:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Latvia:Quality Assurance

Latvia:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Latvia:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Latvia:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Latvia:Educational Support and Guidance

Latvia:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Latvia:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Latvia:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Latvia:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Latvia:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Latvia:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Latvia:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Latvia:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Latvia:Mobility and Internationalisation

Latvia:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Latvia:Mobility in Higher Education

Latvia:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Latvia:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Latvia:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Latvia:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Latvia:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Latvia:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Latvia:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Latvia:National Reforms in School Education

Latvia:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Latvia:National Reforms in Higher Education

Latvia:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Latvia:European Perspective

Latvia:Legislation

Latvia:Glossary

Latvia is situated in the northern Europe on the east coast of the Baltic Sea and borders with the two other Baltic States, Estonia and Lithuania, as well as with Russia and Belarus. The territory covers 64,600 sq. km, the length of its border on land is 1 862 km, and its sea boarder is 494 km long.

The Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia has released a video encapsulating some of the critical figures that make the people of Latvia such a unique nation.

Demographic Situation

The demographic situation in Latvia over the recent years has been unfavourable, as since 1991 the natural growth of the population has been negative. The male/female ratio has not changed essentially over the last years and in 2016 comprised 45.9% and 54.1%, respectively. Moreover, in years to come, the population is expected to continue ageing. The insufficient financial support for families having babies was declared as one of the reasons for low birth rate.

Infant mortality tends to decrease. In 1995 infant mortality was 18.8 per 1,000 births, in 2015 it has come down to 4.1 due to the improvement of the health care system. Net vital statistics has an ever-increasing ratio in population decrease while migration impact declines.

Population, thousands

Years
2000

2381.7

2005
2249.7
2006
2227.9
2007
2208.8
2008
2191.8
2009
2162.8
2010
2120.5
2011

2074.6

2012

2041.8

2013
2023.8
2014
2001.5
2015 1986.0
2016 1968.9



Employment rate and unemployment rate (%)

Age group Years Rate of employed to the total population Rate of unemployed to the active popolation
15-64 2005 63.2 9.1
15-64 2006 66.3 7.0
15-64 2007 68.4 6.2
15-64 2008 68.6 7.8
15-64 2009 61.1 17.3
15-64 2010 59.3 19.0
15-64 2011 60.8 16.6
15-64 2012 63.1 15.2
15-64 2013 65.0 12.1
15-64 2014 66.3 11.1
15-64 2015 68.1 10.1



Age structure of population against the total number of the population (%)


2013 2014 2015 2016

Total share of population:

100 100

100

100

Under working age

15 15

15

15.3

Of working age

63 62

62

61.5

Over working age

22 23

23

23.2




Long-term migration



Net migration
2010 -35 640
2011 -20 077
2012 -11 860
2013 -14 262
2014 -8 652
2015 -10 640

Source: Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia

The overall decrease of population and birth rate has led to significant decline in number of pupils and students. This has led to significant number of closure and reorganisation of especially rural schools. 

Today the larger part of Latvian population, i.e. slightly more than one and a half million inhabitants resides in city areas. The proportion of country and city dwellers has remained practically unchanged during the last ten years.  Latvian cities and towns differ greatly in size. 15 cities have a population of over 10 000, the largest of these being Rīga (population at the beginning of the year 2016: 638 784), Daugavpils (85 286), and Liepāja (70 499). However the smallest Latvian towns are Durbe (512), Subate (625) and Pāvilosta (942). High population concentration in the capital is observed. It may be attributed to the lack of workplaces elsewhere in Latvia, especially in the countryside, and majority of students stay in the capital instead of returning to native town.

The massive migration from Russia and other Soviet Socialist Republics (Belarus, Ukraine, etc.) during the Soviet years substantially changed the ethnic composition of Latvia. The total number of Latvians declined from 77% of all residents in 1935 to 52% in 1989. Even during the last years before the collapse of the Soviet Union there was large-scale immigration to Latvia.

After the renewed independence of Latvia, the process of immigration was again regulated by state law, government regulations and state institutions; thus, immigration rapidly slowed down. The year 1992 marked a turning point when regulations were issued on how foreign nationals and stateless persons may enter and stay in Latvia. 215,000 people emigrated from Latvia in the 1990s. The number of Latvians in the population decreased by 16,000 during this period, but the number of non-Latvians decreased by 199,000. During recent years, the number of immigrants augments each year while those emigrating are by 1000 more on the average. In 2005, long-term international immigration to Latvia changed compared with 2003 – from 1364 to 1886; up by 38%. After joining the European Union, an increasing emigration in comparison to the previous years was observed in 2004 and 2005 due to higher numbers of inhabitants moving to other European countries for work. Long-term emigration abroad increased vastly - from 2210 in 2003 to 25 200 in 2012.

The average life expectancy for newborns in 2015 was 74.7 years. The average life expectancy of men is lower than that of women in all countries; however, in Latvia the difference is particularly large. During the last ten years, the average life expectancy of male newborns has been constantly at least 10 years less than that of female neonates (in 2015, 69.7 and 79.3, respectively). The situation is aggravated by such unfavourable factors as alcoholism and unnatural death. 

The average life expectancy also has territorial characteristics: in rural areas the life expectancy of both genders is lower than in urban areas - by three years for women and up to a year and a half for men. In part, these differences can be explained by the overall unfavourable social situation in countryside as well as the lower level and more complicated accessibility of medical assistance. To improve the life expectancy the national policy gets more focused on issues of health promotion and the quality of life.

Latvians (and Livs) are the indigenous people of Latvia, but there are many other ethnic groups living in Latvia, of which Russian minority is the largest one. In the beginning of 2016, the ethnic distribution of Latvia’s population was 61.8 % Latvians, 25.6 % Russians, 3.4 % Belorussians, 2.3 % Ukrainians, 2.1 % Poles, 1.2% Lithuanians and 0.3 % Jews and Roma. Germans, Estonians, Tatars and many other nationalities also live in Latvia.  Actually, the total number of national minorities is not particularly large in Latvia, and each minority group (except Russians) is relatively small. The biggest and most active communities in Latvia are Russians, Poles, Lithuanians, Jews and Roma. People of foreign descent mainly live in the seven major cities of Latvia: Rīga, Daugavpils, Jelgava, Jūrmala, Liepāja, Ventspils, and Rēzekne.

Linguistic Situation

Latvian is the official language in Latvia, states the Constitution (Satversme) and the Official Language Law passed in 1989. The Latvian language belongs to the Baltic group of the Indo-European family of languages. Its closest and only living relative is Lithuanian. On the other hand, the recent gene research studies reveal that genetically Latvians are closer relatives to Finns and Estonians. Latvia is divided into four historic regions – Kurzeme, Vidzeme, Zemgale and Latgale (though these regions are not used as sub-national governmental jurisdictions). Inhabitants of Latgale speak Latgalian language.

According to the Official Language Law (Section 3 and 4), the state ensures the development and use of the Latvian sign language for communication with people with impaired hearing. The state ensures also the maintenance, protection and development of the Liv language as the language of the indigenous (autochthon) population. The most common minority language is Russian, as there are many Russian-speaking people in Latvia, not only Russians, who constitute the second largest population group (after Latvians).

The official language of instruction in public sector educational institutions is Latvian. However, ethnic minority education is one of the core issues due to ethnic composition of population and education is provided in other languages as well, namely Russian, Estonian, Polish, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Hebrew, Byelorussian and Roma. A wide network of state-financed ethnic minority schools functions in Latvia. The minority schools are providing general education in an ethnic minority language and the Latvian language. In order to promote society integration and knowledge of the Latvian language, the reform of ethnic minority education has been carried out since 1999. 

Religions

The Constitution of Latvia (Satversme) declares that the church is separated from the state, and everybody has the right to freedom of religion.

Historically, since the Protestant Reformation movement in the 16th century, the Lutheran church has played a leading role in Latvia. The Reformation brought about great change in the Baltic Region of Europe, with impact on education and language. A rise in education and literacy was in part a result in the printing of books in local languages. However, also Catholicism with the Jesuit order had an impact of spreading education. Today, there are around 25 religious confessions in Latvia, of which Evangelic Lutheran, Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox are the largest ones. Churches and religious organizations are free to preach their doctrines and to perform rituals. The preaching of the doctrines of the churches and religious organizations and other ritual activities, as well as the places of worship may not be exploited for purposes contrary to the Constitution and laws.

In Soviet times the churches were oppressed in the Baltic states. Many priests were deported to Siberia and churches were declared state property .The teaching of religion was banned, persecuted and punished. Extensive atheist propaganda was developed by means of literature, press, radio, television, theatre and cinema. Together with the nation's movement of independence came a "spiritual renaissance". Many priests took an active part in the movement of national liberation. The reinstated state returned the deprived buildings and property to churches, and assigned the force of law to marriages established in the church.

Today the teaching of religion as an optional subject alongside with ethics has been restored in public schools. Instruction in these schools is organized according to the programmes confirmed by the State Education Centre. Pupils are free to choose to study this subject, and are obligated to have an application from parents or guardians. Christian instruction and the study of ethics are financed from the state budget.