Look up Latvia in a geographical atlas and you may think everything is clear. You can see that nearly half of Latvia’s territory is covered by forests and the other half is mostly rural areas – so timber and agriculture are the most important industries here. You will also notice a fairly long coastline and assume that some fishery activities are also carried out.
All of the above is mainly true, but there is more than one story to tell about Latvia’s economy and industry. The other stories reveal what we are doing to develop our country by using our creative spirit and available resources.
Need-to-know facts about Latvian economy
Latvian timber. The handling and export of timber is nothing new here. Latvian pine can be found in Porto wine cellars and was used in tall-ship manufacturing. Latvian timber is well recognised and we add specific value and a story to it.
Timber makes up 21.5% of the country’s manufacturing industry. 73.2% of this production is exported, accounting for 14.9% of total Latvian exports (2012).
Plywood is the main component of production, but we also make many other products ranging from paper, musical instruments and furniture to creative items such as wooden neckties.
Digital solutions. 2 million Latvians have to run the country, live their daily lives and manage other activities. Time is valuable and we really know what helps – digital solutions.
We have a solid basis for further development. 20 years ago there was internet in only one building in Latvia: today we have one of the fastest systems in the world.
- Queuing is avoided by using almost 100 state and local government e-services (Latvija.lv);
- Our language is small, but we create outstanding tools to ease its translation online (Tilde);
- We love ice hockey and our digital solutions can provide help during tense games around the world (PlayGineering);
- Data visualisation has reached new peaks with the help of Latvians (Infogr.am);
- Our libraries house not only numerous hard copy books, but are being digitised (through projects such as Trešais tēva dēls and Gaismas tīkls) to turn them into modern centres offering a wide range of information services and internet access;
- Futbols (Football) – one we can be proud of. An application which engages society in state governance, it helps to evaluate state services and to increase their efficiency. It was one of the world’s Top5 m-Government&Participation applications in 2014.
Location and transport. Latvia’s geographical location makes it a perfect transportation hub. We have 1859 km of railway, 60000 km of roads, 3 harbours that do not freeze and Riga airport.
We can provide easy links to European and Asian markets, and bring goods to the Baltic states, Helsinki, Stockholm and Warsaw within 24 hours and to anywhere in Scandinavia within 48 hours.
High gender equality. Latvia sets a good example in gender balance and has a high number of women in leadership. Actually, Latvia has the highest proportion (over 40%) of women in senior business positions amongst the EU countries. If we look more broadly to the measures of gender equality, Latvia is No.12 in the “Global Gap Report” carried out by the World Economic Forum.
Latvia’s modern, tolerant, open and multilingual society, which promotes equality and has traditions rooted in centuries-old European culture, also helps our business sector. People of different ethnic and religious backgrounds or sexual orientation living in Latvia can all feel welcome. Overall, 52% of respondents believe that ethnic discrimination is rare in Latvia, compared to 37% of the EU average (2012 Eurobarometer survey).