Latvia profile - Timeline

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A chronology of key events:

1918 November - Latvian National Council proclaims independence.

1918-20 - Civil war ends in peace treaty with Soviet Russia.

1934 - Prime minister Karlis Ulmanis seizes power following succession of unstable governments.

1940 - Soviet Union annexes Latvia, along with neighbouring Estonia and Latvia. Mass deportations to Siberia and Central Asia.

1941 - Nazi Germany invades. Some 70,000 Latvian Jews are killed by Nazi death squads and Latvian paramilitary units.

1944 - Soviet Army returns, heralding further waves of deportations and repression of resistance to Soviet rule.


1986 - First major anti-Soviet demonstrations held by nationalist and environmental activists.

1991 March - Referendum produces large majority in favour of independence.


1991 August - During the attempted anti-Gorbachev coup in Moscow, Omon forces again strike in Riga, causing another six deaths. Parliament declares the full restoration of independence.

1991 November - Citizenship law passed, giving citizenship to those who held it before Soviet occupation of 1940 and their descendants.

1993 July - Guntis Ulmanis elected president.

1994 August - Last Russian troops leave.

1999 - Vaira Vike-Freiberga is elected president - the first woman president in eastern Europe.

2002 May - Parliament votes to change election law in a bid to boost Nato membership chances, omitting clause requiring parliamentary candidates to be able to speak Latvian.

Nato, European Union membership

2003 September - Latvian referendum vote gives strong backing to EU membership.

2004 March - Latvia admitted to Nato.

2004 1 May - Latvia is one of 10 new states to join the European Union.

2006 August - New citizenship law requires applicants to pass Latvian language test.

Financial crisis

2008 December - International Monetary Fund (IMF) approves 1.68bn euro rescue package to help Latvia ride out severe economic slump.

2009 January - Hundreds of demonstrators clash with police in Riga as anti-government protests over the terms of the IMF rescue package turn violent.

2010 January - Unemployment soars to 20%, giving Latvia the highest jobless rate in the EU.

2011 September - Pro-Russian Harmony Centre emerges as largest party in snap elections, but coalition government excludes it.

2012 February - Referendum on giving Russian joint official language status rejected by a large margin.

2014 January - Latvia joins the eurozone.

Russian influence

2014 September - US President Barack Obama visits Estonia to reassure the Baltic states that they can count on Nato protection, amid tensions following Russia's seizure of Crimea.

2014 October - Centre-right coalition wins a clear majority in parliamentary elections dominated by concern about Russia's intervention in Ukraine and its influence in the Baltic region.

2015 March - NATO reinforces its presence in the Baltic states and its forces conduct major military drills in the region.

2019 January - Arturs Krisjanis Karins became prime minister of a centre-right coalition, excluding the pro-Russia Harmony party that had emerged as the largest bloc after October 2018 parliamentary elections.