Religious Beliefs In Latvia

A church in Riga, Latvia.
A church in Riga, Latvia.

Latvia is a Baltic nation located in Northern Europe. It covers a territory of 64,589 square km. The population of the country is estimated to be 1,957,200 individuals. Latvia has a multiethnic population. Ethnic Latvians account for 62% of the total population. Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Poles, Lithuanians, and others account for 25.4%, 3.3%, 2.2%, 2.1%, 1.2%, and 3.8% of Latvia’s population, respectively.

Christianity is the main religion that has been traditionally practiced in the country. It can be regarded as the religion of the majority in Latvia but only a small percentage of the Latvian population is actually religious in nature. According to the CIA World Factbook, 19.6% of the population of Latvia practice Lutheranism. 15.3% adhere to Orthodox Christianity. Believers in other Christian denominations account for only 1% of the total population of Latvia. A vast majority, about 63.7% is mentioned under the “unspecified” category in the CIA World Factbook. They are people who have not claimed to adhere to any particular religion.

The History Of Christianity In Latvia

Prior to the introduction of Christianity in Latvia, the indigenous inhabitants of the country had their beliefs rooted in Baltic mythology and paganism. Christianity arrived in the region quite late during the Northern Crusades in the 12th and 13th centuries. During this time, the Christian kings of the Scandinavian nations and some German military orders exhibited interest in the Baltic territories. Thus, Latvia came under the influence of Catholicism due to the invasions by these powers. The country also witnessed the growth of Orthodox Christianity for a brief period of time when it came under the influence of the Rurik dynasty of the Vikings. Despite the wave of Christianity in Latvia, the indigenous inhabitants of the nation did not immediately let go of their pagan beliefs and practices. Many blended their indigenous religion and Christianity to create a new religious system. Protestantism became popular in Latvia when the Lutheran ideas and beliefs were introduced in the country from Scandinavia and northern Germany. Soon, nearly two-thirds of the Latvian population accepted Lutheranism. However, following World War II and the Soviet occupation of Latvia, religious practices were greatly suppressed. Today, the effects of the Soviet policy of atheism are visible in the fact that a large section of Latvians claims not to be affiliated to any religion. The country has one of the poorest church attendances today.

Other Religions In Latvia

According to the CIA World Factbook, only about 0.4% of the population of Latvia believe in religions other than Christianity. There are about 416 Jews residing in the country. Islam claims a few hundred followers in Latvia. Buddhists, Hindus, and some other religions also have a small presence in the nation.

Religious Beliefs In Latvia

RankReligionPopulation (%)
1Unspecified 63.7
4Other Christian1

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