Riga

Riga

Rīga
From top, left to right: the Freedom Monument, the Riga City Council building, the House of the Blackheads, Livonian Square, and the Latvian National Opera
From top, left to right: the Freedom Monument, the Riga City Council building, the House of the Blackheads, Livonian Square, and the Latvian National Opera
Riga is located in Latvia
Riga
Riga
Location within Latvia
Riga is located in Baltic states
Riga
Riga
Location within the Baltics
Riga is located in Europe
Riga
Riga
Location within Europe
Coordinates: 56°56′56″N 24°6′23″E / 56°56′56″N 24°6′23″E / www.riga.lv
Historic Centre of Riga
UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Old Town of Riga
The old town of Riga
852
Inscription1997 (21st Session)
Area438.3 ha
Buffer zone1,574.2 ha

Riga (ə/; Latvian: Rīga [ˈriːɡa] (About this soundlisten); Livonian: Rīgõ) is the capital of Latvia and is home to 632,614 inhabitants (2019),[5] which is a third of Latvia's population. Being significantly larger than other cities of Latvia, Riga is the country's primate city. It is also the largest city in the three Baltic states and is home to one tenth of the three Baltic states' combined population.[11] The city lies on the Gulf of Riga at the mouth of the Daugava river where it meets the Baltic Sea. Riga's territory covers 307.17 km2 (118.60 sq mi) and lies 1–10 m (3 ft 3 in–32 ft 10 in) above sea level,[12] on a flat and sandy plain.[12]

Riga was founded in 1201 and is a former Hanseatic League member. Riga's historical centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, noted for its Art Nouveau/Jugendstil architecture and 19th century wooden architecture.[13] Riga was the European Capital of Culture during 2014, along with Umeå in Sweden. Riga hosted the 2006 NATO Summit, the Eurovision Song Contest 2003, the 2006 IIHF Men's World Ice Hockey Championships and the 2013 World Women's Curling Championship. It is home to the European Union's office of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC).

In 2016, Riga received over 1.4 million visitors.[14] The city is served by Riga International Airport, the largest and busiest airport in the Baltic states. Riga is a member of Eurocities,[15] the Union of the Baltic Cities (UBC)[16] and Union of Capitals of the European Union (UCEU).[17]

Etymology

One theory about the origin of the name Riga is that it is a corrupted borrowing from the Liv ringa meaning loop, referring to the ancient natural harbour formed by the tributary loop of the Daugava River.[18][19] The other is that Riga owes its name to this already-established role in commerce between East and West,[20] as a borrowing of the Latvian rija, for threshing barn, the "j" becoming a "g" in German — notably, Riga is called Rie by English geographer Richard Hakluyt (1589),[21][22] and German historian Dionysius Fabricius (1610) confirms the origin of Riga from rija.[21][23] Another theory could be that Riga was named after Riege, the German name for the River Rīdzene, a tributary of the Daugava.[24]

Another theory is that Riga's name is introduced by the bishop Albert, initiator of christening and conquest of Livonian and Baltic people. He introduced also an explanation of city name as derived from Latin rigata ("irrigated") that symbolizes an "irrigation of dry pagan souls by Christianity".[25]