Photo credits: Riga City Council

Riga is the capital of the Republic of Latvia and the largest city in the Baltics. Riga was granted the city charter in 1201 and in 2001 Riga celebrated its 800 years anniversary. Historically Riga has always been a crossroads, a melting pot of various nations and cultures. The unique patina of the city has also been formed by the proximity of water – the Daugava River and the Gulf of Riga that have played important role of Riga as a city of merchants and international trade. Today the most vivid witnesses to the multi–faceted face of the city are its architecture and culture. The magic of Riga can be found in its diversity, in its many historic layers and personalities. The most vivid characteristic of Riga has always been its openness to new ideas, trends, and experiments.

Population diversity

The city of more than 600,000 inhabitants has a diverse ethnic make-up. Traditional ethnic minority groups historically residing in the territory of Latvia can be distinguished, such as Russians, Poles, Lithuanians and Jews. The main ethnic groups in Riga in 2022: ethnic Latvians (45%), Russians (36%), Ukrainians (4%), Byelorussians (4%), Poles (2%), other ethnic groups 10%[1]. The number of Ukrainians has been growing since 2022 when Riga has provided shelter and support to thousands of Ukrainians who have fled their home country due to Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine.[2]

Ethnic diversity of Riga has been increasing during the last years. In addition to the historic minorities, people from different countries chose nowadays Riga as the place of their residence. More than half of newcomers who have come to Latvia reside in the capital city Riga and there is a growing tendency of increase of foreign nationals from around 30 000 in 2012 to almost 70 000 in 2022.[3]

[1] Source: Information of the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (data from 01.07.2022)

[2] 20417 Ukrainians registered in the City of Riga. Source: Riga Support Centre for Ukrainian Residents (data from 27.01.2023.)

[3] Source: Information of the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, (data from 01.07.2022) and (data from 01.01.2012)

Intercultural Cities Index


Mārtiņš STAĶIS