The Latvians (proper name: latvieši ) are a Baltic people. They speak the Latvian language of the eastern Baltic language group and are two-thirds of Protestants and Catholics over a quarter. They constitute 62.1 % ( 2011) the majority of the population in what is now Latvia, but in the political sense form all Latvian citizens, the Latvian state people.


The Baltic tribes of Latgale, Semgallen, selenium, and the cures were the native inhabitants of the present-day Latvia. In addition, the Livs, who inhabited the territory of the coast of the Gulf of Riga 's. Albert of Buxhoeveden, Bishop of Livonia and Bremer canon began in 1199 with the help of the Sword Brothers (later the Teutonic Order ) and the war troops of the Allied Christianized by him Latvians and Livs the colonization of the area. After the subjugation selenium, Semgallen, cures and partially Liven went on in the new ethnic group of Latvians. Georg Mancelius, professor of theology at the University of Dorpat, has written the first German -Latvian dictionary " lettus " ( 1638). The term Latvian nation was first used by the Lutheran Pastor Paul Einhorn in his writings " Reformatio gentis Letticae in Ducatu Curlandiae " ( 1636) and " Historia Lettica " ( 1649). The crucial role for the development of the Latvian literary language Gotthard Friedrich Stender the pastor (1714-1796) played. Until the 19th century, the Latvians lived in the country mostly as peasants under the rule of the Baltic German landed gentry. In the cities the Germans dominated.

It was only through the gradual liberation through agrarian reform and peasant land sales, the situation changed from the mid-19th century. There was a small layer of Latvian big farmers. With industrialization, the port cities of Riga and Libau grew and Latvians presented now and in the cities the majority of the population. It emerged: a Latvian proletariat, a Latvian middle class and a small Latvian educated middle class, came from the first signs of national awakening. Under the Russian Emperor Alexander III. came there from 1881 to a targeted Russification of the Baltic provinces. Against this double pressure by German Balts and Russians revolted Latvians in the revolution in 1905. Late landowners and the Russian military were almost completely expelled from the flat land. The Latvian revolution aimed at the administrative unification of the Latvian areas, introduction of the Latvian language as an administrative and school language and autonomy. With the overthrow of the Tsar in 1917, these demands have become loud. A first success was the recognition of a democratically elected chief administrative officer by the Russian transitional government. However, Kurland was occupied since 1915 by German troops. 1918 gave a Latvian People's Council of the independent Republic of Latvia, was able to prevail in protracted struggles against the first Latvian Soviet Republic. 1920 peace with the Soviet Union and Germany was closed. 1934 was a fascist system to power, that under the slogan " Latvia Latvians " primarily against the Jewish (1935: 4.8% of the population) and German minority ( 1935: 3.2%) taught.

Due to the German -Soviet non-aggression pact, Latvia was allocated to the Soviet sphere of influence and annexed in 1940 by the Soviet Union. 1941 bis 1944/45, the Germans occupied Latvia. About 150,000 Latvians were deported by Stalin. For gigantic industrial enterprises immigrated Russian workers. 1970, the proportion of the population of Latvia in Riga was smaller than the Russian share. The resistance grew. In 1988 the Popular Front of Latvia ( Latvijas Tautas Fronte ) was founded. In July 1989, Latvia declared again for sovereign, on 4 May 1990, the independent Republic of Latvia was re-established and recognized in August 1991 by the Soviet Union.