Riga is the capital and the largest city of Latvia. With 696,593 inhabitants (2015), Riga is the largest city in the Baltic states and home to one third of Latvia's population. The city lies on the Gulf of Riga, at the mouth of the Daugava. Riga's territory covers 307.17 square kilometres (118.60 square miles) and lies between one and ten metres (3 feet 3 inches and 32 feet 10 inches) above sea level, on a flat and sandy plain.
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. 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, and the 2006 IIHF Men's World Ice Hockey Championships. It is home to the European Union's office of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC). Riga is served by Riga International Airport, the largest airport in the Baltic states.
Riga is a member of Eurocities, the Union of the Baltic Cities (UBC) and Union of Capitals of the European Union (UCEU).
The climate of Riga is humid continental (Köppen Dfb). The coldest months are January and February, when the average temperature is −5 °C (23 °F) but temperatures as low as −20 to −25 °C (−4 to −13 °F) can be observed almost every year on the coldest days. The proximity of the sea causes frequent autumn rains and fogs. Continuous snow cover may last eighty days. The summers in Riga are cool and humid with the average temperature of 18 °C (64 °F), while the temperature on the hottest days can exceed 30 °C (86 °F).
Riga is one of the key economic and financial centres of the Baltic States. Roughly half of all the jobs in Latvia are in Riga and the city generates more than 50% of Latvia's GDP as well as around half of Latvia's exports. The biggest exporters are in wood products, IT, food and beverage manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, transport and metallurgy. Riga Port is one of the largest in the Baltics. It handled a record 34 million tons of cargo in 2011 and has potential for future growth with new port developments on Krievu Sala. Tourism is also a large industry in Riga and after a slowdown during the recent global economic recessions, grew 22% in 2011 alone.
With 704,476 inhabitants in 2017, Riga is the largest city in the Baltic States, though its population has decreased from just over 900,000 in 1991. Notable causes include emigration and low birth rates. Some have estimated that the population may fall by as much as 50% by 2050. According to the 2017 data, ethnic Latvians made up 44.03% of the population of Riga, with the percentage of ethnic Russians at 37.88%, Belarusians at 3.72%, Ukrainians at 3.66%, Poles at 1.83% and other ethnicities at 9.10%. By comparison, 60.1% of Latvia's total population are ethnic Latvians, 26.2% are Russians, 3.3% are Belarusians, 2.4% are Ukrainians, 2.1% are Polish, 1.2% are Lithuanians and the remaining 4.7% are accounted for by other ethnicities.
Upon the restoration of Latvia's independence in 1991, Soviet era immigrants (and any of their offspring born before 1991) were not automatically granted Latvian citizenship because they had migrated to the territory of Latvia during the years when Latvia was part of the Soviet Union. In 2013 citizens of Latvia made up 73.1%, non-citizens 21.9% and citizens of other countries 4.9% of the population of Riga. The proportion of ethnic Latvians in Riga increased from 36.5% in 1989 to 42.4% in 2010. In contrast, the percentage of Russians fell from 47.3% to 40.7% in the same time period. Latvians overtook Russians as the largest ethnic group in 2006. Further projections show that the ethnic Russian population will continue a steady decline, despite higher birth rates, due to emigration.