What is the Currency of Latvia?

By John Misachi on August 1 2017 in Economics

Latvian euro coins.

The Republic of Latvia is one of three Baltic States in Northern Europe. Since 2000, Latvia recorded one of the highest growth rates in the European Union, until 2009 when it recorded a decrease of 18%, which was due to the economic crisis. In a bid to restore its economic position in the region, the country sought monetary measures through the Central Bank by regulating credit to the private sector and internal devaluation of its currency. The most notable measure was changing the country’s currency in 2014, with the euro replacing the Latvian lat that have been in circulation since 1922.

Latvian Lats

When the Republic of Latvia was formed in 1918, there were different currencies in circulation, such as the ostrubles and ostmarks, which were circulated by the German authorities, Russian Tsar rubles and kopecks, also commonly referred to as "Money of Duma," and promissory notes from other several town municipalities. In 1919, the minister of finance set forth the recognition of three foreign currencies as legal tender, but undertook measures to have Latvia’s own currency. In March 1919, the first Latvian banknotes were introduced in several denominations ranging from 1 to 500 Latvian rublis, and also included the denominations of 5, 10, 25 and 50 paper kopecks, through the help of several Latvian artists including Burkards Dzenis, Hermanis Grīnbergs, and Rihards Zariņš. In October 1922, a Constitutional Assembly policy was passed and declared the lat, abbreviated as Ls, as the official Latvian currency. The Bank of Latvia was given the mandate to mint and distribute banknotes in denominations of 10, 20, 25, 50, 100 and 500 latu. Coins were also distributed in denominations of 1, 2, 5 santīmu made of bronze, 10, 20 and 50 santīmu made of nickel, and those above one latu made from silver.

Latvian Euro

One of the key requirements for any country joining the European Union is to adopt the euro as the main source of currency. In January 2014, Latvian official currency was changed from lats to the euro. The tender to mint the Latvian euro was given to the Mint of Stuttgart in Germany, who minted the currency in the form of coins with the mint mark "F" and bearing images that symbolize Latvia and its core values. 1 and 2 euro coins bear the symbol of the Latvian maiden denoting both traditional virtue and Latvian national currency. The symbol of the maiden also appeared on the 5 lats coin prior to the World War II. 10, 20 and 50-cent euro coins bear the Greater Coat of Arms symbol with the rising sun denoting national sovereignty. It is also a distinctive feature of the soldiers who fought against the Germans during World War I. The Lions and Griffin symbolize the unity of the three Latvian regions, which form the Republic of Latvia. The 2 and 5 cent euro coins bear the symbol of the lesser coat of arms symbolizing the proclamation of an independent republic. The lesser coat of arms denotes national statehood and the ancient historic districts.

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