Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 658,640 inhabitants (2012), Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states and home to more than one third of Latvia`s population. The city is an important seaport and a major industrial, commercial, cultural and financial centre of the Baltic Sea region. The city lies on the Gulf of Riga, at the mouth of the river Daugava. Riga`s territory covers 307.17 km2 (118.60 sq mi) and lies between 1 and 10 metres (3.3 and 33 ft) above sea level, on a flat and sandy plain.
Riga was founded in 1201 and is a former Hanseatic League member. Riga`s historical centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, noted for its Art Nouveau/Jugendstil architecture and 19th century wooden architecture. The city will be the European Capital of Culture in 2014, along with Umea in Sweden. Riga is served by Riga International Airport, the largest airport in the Baltic states.
Riga is a member of Eurocities, the Union of the Baltic Cities (UBC) and Union of Capitals of the European Union (UCEU).
Riga administrative divisions consists of six administrative entities: Central, Kurzeme and Northern Districts and the Latgale, Vidzeme and Zemgale Suburbs.
The climate of Riga is humid continental . The coldest months are January and February. The proximity of the sea causes frequent autumn rains and fogs. Continuous snow cover may last eighty days. The summers in Riga are warm and humid.
Riga is one of the key economic and financial centers of the Baltic States. Biggest exporters are in wood products, IT, food and beverage manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, transport and metallurgy. Riga Port is one of the largest in the Baltics. It handled a record 34 million tonns of cargo in 2011 and has potential for future growth with new port developments on Krievu Sala. Tourism is also a large industry in Riga and after a slowdown during the recent global economic recessions, grew 22% in 2011 alone.