Riga is the capital of Latvia and sits on a large gulf of the Baltic Sea near the mouth of the River Duagava. It began life as a city in the 12th century when a fort was built by invading crusaders.
German merchants established it as a trading outpost for the Baltic region. It was part of the Soviet Union after World War II until Latvia gained independence in 1991. Latvia joined NATO and the EU in 2004.
The medieval city centre of Riga is compact, largely traffic free, and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is also notable for a significant number of art nouveaux buildings. The city is also graced with many parks and gardens as well as imposing 19th century boulevards.