- General Info
- Health Risks
- Insect Threats
- Water Quality
- Security Concerns
- Weather Notes
- Electrical Standards
- Visa Info
- Time Zone
Tucked between Lithuania and Estonia on the Baltic coast, newly-independent Latvia is a country of forest, beaches, history and resilient people rebuilding their national identity. The coastal capital of Riga, where Gothic, Baroque, Classical and Art Nouveau architecture are all represented, is a busy, bustling city. The old town, founded in the 13th century, offers beautifully preserved buildings lining the narrow cobbled streets, and the open market is a feast for the eyes and the appetite. Nearby, the Baltic resort villages of Jurmala offer miles of sandy beaches in an uncrowded forest setting. Throughout Latvia one will find lovely, historic villages, medieval castles, and beautiful countryside.Language: Latvian (official) 58.2%, Russian 37.5%, Lithuanian and other
Major International Airports:
|Riga||Riga Int'l||RIX||8 miles SW|
Food and waterborne diseases are the number one cause of illness in travelers. Travelers diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which are found throughout Eastern Europe and can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (Typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage (hepatitis). Make sure your food and drinking water are safe.
Malaria is a serious, but preventable infection that can be fatal. Your risk of malaria may be high in these countries, including cities. Prevent this deadly disease by seeing your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug and by protecting yourself against mosquito bites. All travelers to malaria-risk areas in Eastern Europe, including infants, children, and former residents of Eastern Europe, are at risk for malaria. Parts of the countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan have malaria risk.. Travelers to malaria-risk areas in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan should take the antimalarial drug chloroquine to prevent malaria. For additional information on malaria risk and prevention, see Malaria Information for Travelers to Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States of the Former Soviet Union (NIS).
In Uzbekistan, the risk of malaria is low and varies along its border with Tajikistan; travelers to Uzbekistan or their health care provider should contact CDC (Malaria Hotline, 770-488-7788) for risk and prevention advice.
An outbreak of diphtheria is occurring in all the states of the former Soviet Union. Travelers to these areas should be sure that their diphtheria immunization is up to date.
Tickborne encephalitis, a viral infection of the central nervous system occurs chiefly in Central and Western Europe. Travelers are at risk who visit or work in forested areas during the summer months and who consume unpasteurized dairy products. Vaccine for this disease is not available in the United States at this time. To prevent tickborne encephalitis, as well as Lyme disease, travelers should take precautions to prevent tick bites.
Because motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers, walk and drive defensively. Avoid nighttime travel if possible and always use seat belts.
There is no risk for yellow fever in Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States of the Former Soviet Union (NIS). A certificate of yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry into certain of these countries if you are coming from countries in South America or sub-Saharan Africa. For detailed information, see Comprehensive Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements. Also, find the nearest authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccine center.
CDC recommends the following vaccines (as appropriate for age):
See your doctor at least 46 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect.
- Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG).
- Hepatitis B, if you might be exposed to blood (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, stay longer than 6 months, or be exposed through medical treatment.
- Rabies, if you might be exposed to wild or domestic animals through your work or recreation.
- Typhoid, particularly if you are visiting developing countries in this region.
- As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria, measles, and a one-time dose of polio vaccine for adults. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for 11 to 12-year-olds who did not receive the series as infants.
- Wash hands often with soap and water.
- Drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, make water safer by BOTH filtering through an absolute 1-micron or less filter AND adding iodine tablets to the filtered water. Absolute 1-micron filters are found in camping/outdoor supply stores.
- Eat only thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself. Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it.
- If you are going to visit risk areas for malaria, take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your doctor for a prescription.)
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites:
- Pay special attention to mosquito protection between dusk and dawn. This is when the type of mosquito whose bite transmits malaria is active.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
- Use insect repellents that contain DEET (diethylmethyltoluamide).
- Read and follow the directions and precautions on the product label.
- Apply insect repellent to exposed skin.
- Do not put repellent on wounds or broken skin.
- Do not breathe in, swallow, or get into the eyes (DEET is toxic if swallowed). If using a spray product, apply DEET to your face by spraying your hands and rubbing the product carefully over the face, avoiding eyes and mouth.
- Unless you are staying in air-conditioned or well-screened housing, purchase a bed net impregnated with the insecticide permethrin or deltamethrin. Or, spray the bed net with one of these insecticides if you are unable to find a pretreated bed net.
- DEET may be used on adults, children, and infants older than 2 months of age. Protect infants by using a carrier draped with mosquito netting with an elastic edge for a tight fit.
- Children under 10 years old should not apply insect repellent themselves. Do not apply to young children’s hands or around eyes and mouth.
- To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot.
- Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Ticks are the primary source of insect-borne disease in Latvia, often carrying Lyme disease and encephalitis. Travelers should use topical insect repellent and wear insecticide-treated clothing in wooded and rural areas.
The municipal water supply in Latvia may be contaminated with viruses, bacteria and protozoa. Travelers are advised to treat water before drinking.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: Civil unrest is not a problem in Riga, and there have been no incidents of terrorism directed toward American interests. Incidents of anti-Americanism are rare. For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.
The Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747 can answer general inquiries on safety and security overseas. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328.
CRIME: Crime in Latvia is generally non-violent, although there have been cases of serious assaults. Street crime is a serious problem, particularly for tourists. In addition to falling prey to pickpockets in all public areas, there have been cases of tourists and residents being drugged in bars and restaurants and then taken outside or to their residences and robbed. In any public area, one should always be alert to being surrounded by two or more people at once. It is not uncommon for groups of juvenile pickpockets to attempt to overwhelm their victim. In addition, Riga has one of the highest rates of car theft in the world.
Internet crime is a growing concern in Latvia. Common fraudulent schemes involve both Internet auction sites and Internet job search sites. In the first scam, criminals offer valuable items for sale at low prices on Internet auctions and request that payment be sent by wire transfer to a bank in Latvia or through a fraudulent escrow site that they have created themselves. In this scheme the money passes through a bank in Latvia and is quickly withdrawn by ATM or transferred to a bank in another country. It is very difficult in these cases to discover the identities of the account holders or recover the funds.
The second common scam
involves identity theft through false job offers. In this scheme, a company
claiming to be located in Latvia, but which has a non-existent address, offers
the victim employment as a U.S.-based agent or freight forwarder. When the
victim responds to the job offer, commonly posted on one of several popular
internet job sites, a Social Security number and other identifying information
- needed for the identity theft - is requested under the guise of conducting
a background check.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.
U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad," for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/index.html, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
Source: U.S. Department of State
Due to the moderating influence of the Baltic Sea, the climate of Latvia is milder than the typical continental, and is more of a transitional climate between maritime and continental. Summers are warm, wet and humid, winters are cold and wet, and precipitation can be expected year round.
Latvia's electrical current is 220/50 (volts/hz) and uses the plug adaptors listed to the right under Related Items. Please note: Not all electrical sockets in these countries provide grounding. Many North American appliances are designed to operate only within the 100-125 volt range. These appliances will suffer damage if plugged into 220-250 volts without the proper transformer or converter.
To determine which plug adaptors you'll need and if you'll require a transformer or converter, use our Electrical Connection Wizard.
For a detailed discussion of international electrical standards, see our related article on Electrical and Phone Adaptation.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport valid for at least six months is required. No visa is required for travelers remaining up to 90 days in a half-calendar year (from January to June and from July to December). Travelers remaining in Latvia for more than 90 days, including 180-day periods that cross over two half-calendar years, must apply for temporary residence. Travelers who plan to remain in Latvia for more than 90 days must apply in country for temporary residence. Beginning May 1, 2003, all travelers to Latvia must present evidence of a valid health insurance policy that guarantees any health-related expenses will be covered during the traveler's stay in Latvia. For more information, travelers may contact the Latvian Embassy, at 4325 17th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20011, tel. (202) 726-8213, website http://www.latvia-usa.org. Within Latvia, please contact the Citizenship and Immigration Department at Raina bulv. 5, Riga, LV 1508, tel. (371) 721-9424 or (371) 721-9427, fax (371) 782-0306, http://www.pid.gov.lv. Any traveler to Russia, even in transit, is advised to obtain a Russian visa before entry into Latvia. The process of obtaining a visa at the Russian Embassy in Riga can be lengthy and involve surrender of the passport for an undetermined period.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.
Source: U.S. Department of State
The time zone for Latvia is 2 hours offset from GMT, which means that if it is 12:00 noon in New York, the time in Latvia would be 7:00 pm
The unit of currency in Latvia is the Latvian lat (LVL).
Look up the current exchange rate using XE.com's Universal Currency Converter
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