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The Latvian Community in London

One of the three Baltic States, Latvia is on the Baltic Sea between Lithuania and Estonia. It is famous for its strong national identity, diverse culture, modern cities and landscapes varying from wide beaches to dense, sprawling forests. Riga, the capital of Latvia, is home to wooden and art nouveau architecture, museums and churches, a large central Market and a medieval Old Town. Estonia is to its north, Lithuania on the south, Russia is to its east and Belarus to its southeast. It has a maritime border alongside Sweden. Its indigenous people are Latvians and Livs and Latvian is an Indo-European language. It has been under Soviet rule from the 13th to the 20th centuries but despite its foreign rule it has maintained its identity through its language and musical traditions. Because of the Soviet occupation, it has a large number of ethnic Russians living here, some of whom are non-citizens. Most Latvians are Protestant Lutheran but the Latgale region in the southeast is historically predominantly Roman Catholic. The Russian population has also brought a significant portion of Eastern Orthodox Christians.

Many Latvians have moved to London recently from Latvia although it is difficult to assess the exact number of Latvians living there but rough estimates put the figure at around 20,000. At a large scale event in London, you can expect to see about 200 Latvians there. The Latvian community in London is very active as it has a choir, a traditional dance group, a school and many other organisations and groups. All types of events are organised by the community including theatre productions, music concerts, karaoke evenings, Independence Day celebrations and other more formal traditional celebrations.

If you are planning to visit London for sightseeing, it would be best to stay at The Montcalm London City At The Brewery because it is located in the heart of the city close to most attractions and places of interest and offers luxurious accommodation with ideal facilities and amenities.

The London Latvian House: For getting a feel of the traditions of Latvia in London at any time of the year, you can visit this place where you can meet Latvian people and taste their food and drinks and enjoy their music. This house was bought by the Latvian Welfare Fund in the 1950s with the intention of making it a meeting point in London so that the Latvians could feel at home even when they are away from home. The house has not changed much since then and it serves as a place for Latvians to stay in the UK so that they can meet friends and hold all types of events. It also offers a bar in the basement. The house is also used by the choir, the dance group and the school for their rehearsals and classes, whereas the hall offers the perfect venue for holding a small-scale concert.

London offers plenty of Luxury Hotels for Families which provide spacious accommodation along with the best of facilities that are designed to suit all that the kids and other members of your family may need.

The Latvian Bar is used by Latvians to enjoy Latvian music, food, beer and sports on a regular basis. Latvian beers are always available at this bar along with stronger drinks whereas on Fridays and Saturdays, traditional Latvian supper prepared by Latvian chefs is served so that they can eat and relish. Latvian songs which are the favourite pastime of Latvians are sung and enjoyed every evening. The house also features a Latvian library that opens for only a few days every week but it has a large collection of Latvian books. The Latvian House was also used during the London Olympics 2012 by Latvians in London as a place to come and watch the Latvians when they were competing in the Olympic Games. The men’s BMX races were of special interest to them as the 2008 Olympic champion was a Latvian.

In order to experience Latvian culture, there is hardly any other place apart from Latvian House that organises specific events of the community. However, most Polish and Lithuanian shops provide Latvian produce so that Latvians in the city can find a Latvian delight for dinner.

Latvians who wish to settle down in London should set up latviesiem.co.uk so that they can get information that can help them get settled into life in the UK and get news about `Latvians living in the UK. With this, they can find information regarding travel, education, work and emergency situations. Most of the website is in Latvian as its main audience is Latvians living in the UK.

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