Transportation and Telecommunications
Roads: 64,693 kilometers total, of which 7,036 kilometers highways and 13,502 kilometers secondary roads (1994). Bus service between Riga and Warsaw. Urban centers also served by minibuses and taxis. Rental automobiles available.
Railroads: 2,406 kilometers of railroads, of which 270 kilo-meters electrified (1992). Train service available to Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Warsaw.
Civil Aviation: Main airport in Riga. Regular flights to many international destinations, including Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Kiev, Helsinki, London, Moscow, Oslo, St. Petersburg, and Stockholm. National carrier Latvian Airlines. Service also provided by Baltic International Airlines, Riga Airlines Express, Finnair, Lufthansa, SAS (Scandinavian Airlines), Estonian Air, and LOT (Polish Airlines).
Shipping: Main coastal ports Riga, Ventspils, and Liepaja, a former Soviet naval port. Main inland port Daugavpils. Most Russian petroleum exports pass through Ventspils (16.3 million tons in 1993). Total freight transported through Latvian ports in 1993 about 27.2 million tons. Shipping service exists between Riga and Western Europe.
Telecommunications: In 1992 about 700,000 telephone subscribers (more than 50 percent in Riga); nearly 1.4 million radio receivers and more than 1.1 million television receivers in use. In 1995 more than twenty-five radio stations and thirty television broadcasting companies.
Government and Politics
Government: Parliamentary democracy. Electoral system based on that existing before Soviet annexation; 1922 constitution restored in 1993. Saeima, supreme legislative body, composed of 100 members elected on basis of proportional represen-tation. Saeima elects president (head of state), who appoints prime minister. Cabinet of Ministers, headed by prime min-ister, has executive power.
Judicial System: Inherited from Soviet regime; undergoing reorganization. Regional, district, and administrative courts, as well as Supreme Court. Final appeals in criminal and civil cases made to Supreme Court.
Politics: Parties include Latvia's Way (Latvijas Cels), centrist in orientation; Democratic Party Saimnieks, center-left; Latvian National Independence Movement; Popular Front of Latvia; For Latvia, far-right; Latvian Farmers Union; Christian Demo-cratic Union; National Union of Economists; and Ravnopraviye (Equal Rights Movement), a Russophone group.
Administrative Divisions: Four provinces: Vidzeme, Latgale, Kurzeme, and Zemgale; subdivided into twenty-six districts, seven municipalities, fifty-six towns, and thirty-seven urban settlements.
Foreign Relations: Latvia joined United Nations (UN) in September 1991 and is a signatory to a number of UN organizations and other international agreements. Member of Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (until January 1995 known as Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe), North Atlantic Cooperation Council, and Council of the Baltic Sea States. In February 1994, Latvia joined Partnership for Peace program of North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Some improvement in relations with Russia after Russian troop withdrawal in August 1994.
Data as of January 1995