by Betty Rhodes
'The Letts, as they were once called (after whom the country was also once called Lettland), were conquered and Christianized by the 'Livonian Brothers of the Sword' during the 13th century. Their country formed the southern part of Livonia until 1561, when the order disbanded and its grand master became the first duke of Courland, a vassal duchy under Polish suzerainty. In 1629, Sweden conquered Livonia (except for Latgale), which it lost in turn to Russia in 1721. With the first (1772) and third (1795) partitions of Poland, Latgale and Courland also passed to Russia. Slightly more than half of the population consists of Letts and of the closely related Latgalians (both widely known as Latvians today). About one third of the people are Russians, and there are Belarussian, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, and Polish minorities http://www.bartleby.com/65/la/Latvia.html). [In 1991 Latvia re-established its independence from the Soviet Union.]
The territory was once a famous trading route "from the Vikings to the Greeks", traveling the river Daugava. Latvia's seacoast in Europe was especially known as a place for obtaining amber - of all things.Latvia's most ancient inhabitants (some 4000 years ago), were built on the larger scale, as far as stature goes - shall we say size 1X - 3X, guess they would need to shop at the 'Tall Man/Big Man' stores along the Baltic Sea for their kilts. Not only were their frames large, they had big heads too. From what I read, the skulls of these early peoples, discovered from ancient cemeteries recently found, were large with a distinctly oblong shape. They also had broad, high faces and protruding noses. Massive, broad-faced peoples dominated northern and northeastern Europe, while gracile, narrow-faced forms are found most often in Middle Europe and the continent's southeastern areas. I've read somewhere that the largest people in the world are Nordic, and the smallest in stature are Italian. [My son, who is 6'5" tall, and tops the scales at over 250 lbs, definitely fits the description of these ancient Latvians. His large frame comes from his paternal grandparents, as the grandparents on the maternal side were rather short in comparison, including dear old dad who was a full foot shorter.]
Amber, the fossilized resin of ancient trees, is formed by pressure and and a whole lot of time. Many species of trees are responsible for creating Amber, but the main source of fossil resin is still a mystery. The amber-yielding pine 'PINUS SUCCINIFERA', was described as the mother tree of Baltic Amber - the earliest known fossil resins.
The biggest deposits of Baltic Amber were formed about 40 million years ago, as Amber was carried by the river flowing from the north and deposited in sediments called "Blue Earth". The river's delta, rich in Amber, extended as far as the eastern part of the Baltic Sea. In the Baltic region, for the ancient Romans and ancient Greeks, ( Homer), amber was used for jewelry, medicine, and as a stone for spiritual healing. Plinius once said, "a small carved statue of amber is more expensive than a slave". The name 'amber' is derived from an old Arabic word "anbar"). To the French it is: ambre, English: amber, Deutsch: Bernstein, Danish: rav, Greek: elektron (if you rub amber on a cloth it becomes charged with negative electricity/ that's the origin of the word electricity) - BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW THAT - me neither.
O A B AB are blood types percentages
Population in the Latvian Republic
Before World War I there were about 190,000 Jews in the territories of Latvia
(7.4% of the total population). During the war years, many of them were expelled
to the interior of Russia, while others escaped from the war zone. In 1920
the Jews of Latvia numbered 79,644 (5% of the population). After the signing
of the peace treaty between the Latvian Republic and the Soviet Union on Aug.
11, 1920, repatriates began to return from Russia; these included a considerable
number of Jewish refugees. By 1925 the Jewish population had increased to
95,675, the largest number of Jews during the period of Latvia's existence
as an independent state. After that year the number of Jews gradually decreased,
and in 1935 had declined to 93,479 (4.8% of the total). The causes of this
decline were emigration by part of the younger generation and a decline in
the natural increase through limiting the family to one or two children by
the majority. Between 1925 and 1935 over 6,000 Jews left Latvia (the overwhelming
majority of them for Erez Israel), while the natural increase only partly
replaced these departures. The largest communities were Riga with 43,672 Jews
(11.3% of the total) in 1935, Daugavpils with 11,106 (25%), and Libau (Liepaja)
with 7,379 (13%).
The region was conquered and Christianized by the Livonian Knights (13th century) and later fell to Poland (1561), Sweden (1629), and Russia (1721-95). German merchants and landowners had reduced the population to servitude, but in 1819 serfdom was abolished. Russian replaced German as the official language in 1885. Latvia became independent in 1920 but was forcibly annexed by the USSR in 1940. It was occupied (1941-44) by the Germans in World War II. After the war Latvia was returned to Soviet rule, and the economy was nationalized. In 1990 the Latvian parliament voted in favor of independence from the Soviet Union. Following the attempted coup (1991) against Soviet President Gorbachev the Soviet government recognized Latvia's independence, but the withdrawal of troops was not completed until 1994 (by Russia). In 1993 Latvia signed a free-trade agreement with Estonia and Lithuania. Guntis Ulmanis became president in 1993.