Riga is the capital of the Republic of Latvia and the geographical centre of the Baltic States, as well as its largest city. Founded in 1201, Riga covers a territory of 307 square km, and numbers some 815,000 inhabitants, a quarter of Latvia's population.
Riga's rich culture and varied lifestyle has origins in the peoples of its past; Latvians, Russians, Byelorussians, Ukrainians and other nationalities have all influenced the city's passage through time.
The city is situated on both banks of the river Daugava near the Gulf of Riga. The Daugava separates the city into two distinct areas: on the right bank of the river is the oldest part of the city – Vecriga (Old Riga), which is surrounded by a ring of boulevards.
The left bank is occupied by the more modern Pardaugava district. One need only walk around the town to become acquainted with the city's past and rich cultural diversity, merged into a modern, cosmopolitan Riga with a variety of cafes, bars, and restaurants - the right places to go to understand the Latvian lifestyle.
Beyond the Old Town, the city extends west to the sea and north to extensive countryside. Riga itself boasts 700 parks, gardens and squares, parkways and woodlands covering more than 52 sq. km.
A 15-minute drive to the north of the city will take you to an expanse of beautiful countryside, popular for pick-nicking and
a wide range of outdoor activity.