Riga is the capital of Latvia and the largest city with a population of over 700,000. Riga's historic medieval old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the city is renowned for its extensive Jugendstil (German Art Nouveau) architecture.
Riga dates from the 1200s and it became one of the most important trade centres of the Hanseatic League in the 14th Century. Riga’s strategic position at the mouth of the Daugava River meant that Latvia’s larger neighbours have always vied for control of the city. At various times Riga and Latvia were under the control of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Swedish and Russian Empires. Latvia first gained independence after the First World War and this lasted until the Second. It regained independence in 1991 and joined NATO and the EU in 2004. During the years of Soviet control, Riga was transformed into a major industrial and business centre and its population more than tripled, with the majority of the new inhabitants coming from Russia. Now Riga has turned into a truly cosmopolitan European capital, with lots of different languages spoken in its streets and people from both East and West choosing it as their new home town.
There is much to see and do in Riga. Culture and history lovers will enjoy its medieval old town and Art Nouveaua buildings, as well as its theatres, opera and regular concerts. With many pubs, clubs and restaurants to be discovered with your new friends; with cinemas, concerts and parks to be visited, you won’t find life here dull. Plenty of teachers stay here for several years, and we hope you’ll soon see why. Outside Riga the delights of Jurmala, Cēsis, Sigulda and The Gauja National Park await you. It is very easy to visit Vilnius, Stockholm, Tallinn, Helsinki and St. Petersburg from Riga. We are more than sure that if you approach this fascinating and welcoming country with an open heart and mind, you'll enjoy it as much as we do!