The present-day territory of Latvia and the ancestors of the Latvian people had been the subjects of various European powers over the centuries. In the 13th century to 1561, it was the German religious orders. Then Poland conquered the territory in 1562 and occupied it until Sweden took over the land in 1629, ruling until 1721. Then the land passed to Imperial Russia. From 1721 until 1918, the Latvians remained subjects of the Russian Tsar, although they preserved their language, customs, and folklore.

The Russian Revolution of 1917 gave Latvians their opportunity for freedom, and the Republic of Latvia was proclaimed on Nov. 18, 1918. The Republic lasted little more than 20 years. It was occupied by Russian troops in and incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1940. German armies occupied the nation from 1941 to 1944. In 1944, Russia again took control of Latvia until 1990 when the Soviet Union started to collapse.

The Republic of Latvia has been continuously recognised as a state by other countries since 1920 despite occupations by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. On August 21, 1991 Latvia declared the restoration of its de facto independence. Latvia has been an official EU Member State since 2004. Latvia has joined the euro zone as of 1 January 2014.

Latvia is a parliamentary democracy. Parliamentary elections take place every four years. The Parliament elects the President and the President appoint a Prime Minister who forms the Cabinet of Ministers or government.

Latvian is the official state language of Latvia. Latvian belongs to the Baltic branch of the Indo-European language family. Although the official state language is Latvian, you will easily get around with a command of Russian and English, as a large part of the population of Riga is Russian-speaking, and most Latvians do understand Russian. In Riga and other bigger cities you can use English as well.

Government-funded bilingual education is available only in primary schools for ethnic minorities. These include Russian, Jewish, Polish, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Estonian and Roma schools.

In the public universities the language of instruction mostly is Latvian; at the same time, programmes for foreign students are designed and taught in English. Private universities may offer programmes in Russian language too.

If international agreements do not provide otherwise, foreign students who meet the following requirements may be enrolled in institutions of higher education of Latvia when:

+ The student's certificate of secondary education meets Latvian education standards;

+ The student's level of knowledge corresponds to the level required for admission to the respective institution and programme of higher education;

+ The student has a sufficient level of proficiency in the language(s) of instruction.

The registration of applicants and the closing dates for applications may vary in different higher education institutions. Students wishing to study in Latvia have to contact and submit their applications directly to the chosen institution.

Recognition of diploma
Based on the data provided by the European diploma recognition network ENIC/NARIC, the Academic Information Centre of Latvia determines whether a certificate/diploma or an academic degree awarded in a foreign country can be equated to a similar qualification in Latvia. In cases when the document being assessed does not satisfy the standards of the certificates/diplomas or academic degrees awarded in Latvia, the assessment report states what additional requirements must be met to achieve the required compliance. Based on the assessment report, the institution of higher education to which the student has applied can take a decision about enrollment.

Tuition fees
The cost of studies depends on the institution and the programme being followed. The range is from 1,300 EUR per year in Caritative Social Work training programme (4 years of studies) to 13,000 EUR per year for a degree in Dentistry (5 years) to 22,000 EUR for Executive Master of Business Administration studies.

Visas and residence permits
Visas (if needed) and residence permits for persons interested in studying in Latvia are acquired as part of the application and enrollment process. Based on a positive assessment of the applicant’s education documents provided by the Academic Information Centre, and a successful enrollment application, the university contacts the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (OCMA) to apply for a 3-month entry visa for citizens of countries who require a visa.When the student has arrived, a residence permit is applied for by the university on behalf of the student for the period of studies in which the student is enrolled.
v Accomodation
Some universities have their own student dormitories, Career Connection Consulting may help students and arrange accommodation before their arrival in Latvia.