Latvia, North, East or North East Europe?

In my last blog I seemed to have offended some people by claiming Latvia was in East Europe. No offence intended. I would be grateful for other Latvian opinions on where Latvia is situated. Please give me your logical reasoning, not just that the UN says it is northern Europe. If that were the case then Scotland would be in northern Europe, which I don’t think it is. Riga is just below the 57th parallel and Glasgow just below the 56th parallel. Only 121 km apart. Let the discussion begin.

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24 Responses to Latvia, North, East or North East Europe?

  1. Ilze says:

    Well, according to Wikipedia, Scotland is part of the geographical Northern Europe, along with the British Isles (United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man). Wikipedia also says that the British Isles are occasionally included in Western Europe.
    As I already said in my comment to your previous post, it is not just a geographical division. Estonians are related to Finns, and so are the Livonians living in Latvia (a small number really, because most of them were assimilated by the Latvians a long time ago). And I believe that our folk traditions and the old (pre-Christian) ways and rules of living were more close to those of our northern neighbours. I also don’t think that the Baltic States were regarded as Eastern Europe before WW II.
    Of course, there are similarities in behaviour patterns that are common to former Soviet Bloc countries, but these are mainly because of our recent common history. What if the Finns had lost the Winter War and had become part of the USSR as it had been intended by the Soviets? Would they be recognised as part of the Eastern Europe as well?


  2. Ģeogrāfiski Latvija pilnīgi oficiāli pēc ANO klasifikācijas atrodas Ziemeļeiropā (Northern Europe):

    Un, lūdzu, nejauciet to ar Ziemeļvalstīm (Nordic countries):

    Kultūrvēsturiski Latvija atrodas Baltijas valstu reģionā ( Baltic countries):

    Rietumeiropieši savas mazizglītotības dēļ parasti uzskata ka Latvija atrodas Austrumeiropā. 🙂


    • Ilze says:

      Kaspar, vai, jūsuprāt, komentāru ievietošana latviešu valodā blogā, kuras autors un īpašnieks ir anglis, ir “daudzizglītotības” pazīme? (Šis gan ir retorisks jautājums, atbildi negaidu.)


      • Cilvēks jau vairāk kā 12 mēnešus dzīvo Latvijā, ir precējies ar latvieti, strādā latviešu kolektīvā un Jūs uzskatāt ka tas ir par daudz prasīts lai šis cilvēks saprastu, lasītu un runātu latviski elementārā sarunvalodas līmenī!?

        Domāju šajā konkrētajā jautājumā nav problēmu ne manī, ne šajā britā, bet gan Jūsu kalpiskajā iztapībā.


      • aedoxsey says:

        Kaspar, if you had read all my blog you would have realised I only arrived in Latvia at the end of April 2014. I have sold my house in the UK and have bought a house in Limbazi where I intend to live for the foreseeable future. I work at an international school, therefore my exposure to the Latvian language has been limited. Once settled in Limbazi I intend to start Latvian language lessons so this time next year will be able to correspond with you in Latvian. Ar Cienu


      • a.s. says:

        When friend of mine was in GB , like many others from different countries. He worked in factory . The working and living conditions were terrible. And he was not happy about overall atmosphere. When he started complain , he got simple answer – go home ! If you are not happy here – what are you doing here ? The same to you – looks like you are not happy, complaining about bureaucracy e.t.c. Our native language is Latvian, but long time ago we were forced to learn and speak russian, and many of as can speak in english or german ( not perfect of course). How many languages do you now? Let me guess- one ! Like most British . I think it’s too early for you to discuss about Latvian culture, traditions and history. You have seen nothing yet. Learn language and get some respect from others around you. This is a not big secret what do we think about British tourists ( behaviour , dignity ,politeness ) What do they do after night party in the pub. Which monument do they use as toilet , e.t.c. ( you don’t believe – ask Inta ) .What Latvian can learn from British people ? Nation without self – respect !!!


      • Spock says:

        @ aedoxsey, please forgive a.s. Just goes to show you that Latvia, like any other country, has its share of ___holes.

        At least, except for one missing s, he got his name right!


  3. andrisbb says:

    What I think is that people are mixing political terms with geographical. Geographically both UK and Latvia are in Northern Europe. Politically? Well, good question. 20 years ago everything that was behind Berlin wall was Eastern Europe, nowadays I don’t know.
    Before WW2 Eastern and Western Europe had different meaning than today. As Ilze said, Estonians are almost Finns, and Latvians and Lithuanians are Balts, but because of historical reasons we have more common with Estonians than Lithuanians. Lithuanians have huge influence from Polish.
    I guess there is no correct answer and for people without “in depth” knowledge is easier to paint everything black and white.
    Today I have been watching Wimbledon. Gulbis was playing against Stakhovsky who is Ukrainian and comentators from BBC call them both Russians. How wrong is that?


    • aedoxsey says:

      Thank you for a balanced response to my question. I’m embarrassed that the BBC got the nationalities wrong. Just plain ignorant.


      • andrisbb says:

        Another term that is almost meaningless nowadays is “3rd world countries”. But it is still used and mostly in wrong way. For example if I will refer to Ireland of Finland as 3rd world countries, then people would think I am mad, but 20 years ago that would be absolutely correct.


  4. aedoxsey, lieliski, tad satiekamies pēc gada, pasēdēsim un parunāsim par dzīvi. Ceru ka pa šo gadu būsiet pazaudējis vairums stulbos mītus par Latviju, tieši tāpat kā es saprotu ka ne visi angļi skraida ar plikiem dibeniem un publiski čurā uz ielas, un ne visi īru cilvēki ir nabadzīgi alkoholiķi.

    Lai Jums veicas Latvijā!


  5. June says:

    My policy is this – if I think a term will offend the person I’m talking to I won’t use it. I’ve been told by several Lithuanians that they prefer to be referred to as Central European, so that’s the term I use if speaking to Lithuanians. If I was speaking to an Irish person I might refer to Lithuania as being in Eastern Europe as that’s where it was when we were learning about it in school. It’s funny how these things can cause offence. It drives me cracked when people refer to the Republic of Ireland as Southern Ireland. I know that one portion of the island is officially referred to as Northern Ireland but that doesn’t make the rest of the island Southern Ireland, especially given that the most northerly point on the island is in the Republic! Someone that wasn’t from Ireland probably wouldn’t be the slightest bit irritated by the term, though.


    • aedoxsey says:

      Problem was June, I never thought of Russia as being part of Europe. Politically it isn’t but part of it geographically is. I like your point about Ireland. Again unless somebody points these things out to you, you don’t think about it.


  6. Spock says:

    I would like to propose a truce on this item by suggesting both can be right. Just as Latvia is situated in Europe AND Eastern or Northern Europe, why can’t we just calmly accept that it is either in the eastern part of Northern Europe OR the Northern part of Eastern Europe.

    If this is all sufficiently confusing, we can now all go back to our third cup of the day and mellow out. After all, is this REALLY the BIGGEST issue we have to address?

    B.T.W. if you want to talk about the trials and tribulations, I would think that by now you wold have written a lengthy blog on how it isn’t possible to express a single thought about Latvia or Latvians without getting at least half the population into a tizzy, even if it is entirely unclear why the opinion expressed should be considered offensive or negative.

    Napoleon complex?


  7. Personally I don’t think I have ever taken offence by being referred to as Eastern European but it is a fact that most Latvians (and I’m no exception) would prefer if we were called Northern Europeans.. The reason for that is simple – Eastern Europe is dominated by large slavic nations and we are very keen not to be thrown into the same pot because mentalitywise we are definitely more nordic and have much more common with Scandinavians, Finns and Estonians.. And there is no secret there are so many misconceptions around and we (Latvians) are tired of fighting them as it is an uphill climb.. If you look at British comedy which I’m a great fan of – in Jack Dee’s “Lead Balloon” his Eastern European housekeeper Magda with slavic accent was grieving for her dead President nicknamed ‘The Baltic Butcher’, or in “Black Books” Fran suddenly found out she had Eastern European relatives which looked more Central Asian to me 😉 Not having a go at the comedians – it is all funny stuff and I love it but it also shows (in a satirical way) the amount of misconceptions and level of ignorance out there amongst the general public.. To wrap up: we are a tiny nation and it would be daft to expect a great deal of knowledge about us worldwide but we really like if someone shows interest in us and has done a bit of homework – that’s why you should call Latvians Northern Europeans which would instantly demonstrate that you have taken time to try understand us and are not another ignorant passer-by 🙂


  8. Janis says:

    Northern Europe. Latvia is situated more north than parts of Denmark and more west than parts of Finland. So, geographically speaking, there’s no way around the fact.

    The only reason why Latvia is sometimes grouped into Eastern Europe is because it was forcefully integrated into the Soviet Union and this has left traces in economy, well-being, politics, ethnic composition, etc. The key word here is ‘forcefully’. Calling Latvia Eastern Europe feels a bit like designating a rape victim as ‘rape survivor’ all the time. While this might be precise in some aspects, it still brings up the past and the trauma,

    That being said. Many Latvians themselves, including major news outlets keep regarding Latvia as part of Eastern Europe from time to time. Most Russians who live in Latvia don’t consider themselves as being part of Northern Europe as well. So, yeah, it’s complicated.


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