What would you like the youth of America to know?

That every place in Latvia has a significant aura, which forms the whole landscape of the country. Although Latvia is a small country, every region is unique due to its own landscape, traditions, people, and a diversity of cultural heritage.

What they sent me:
I loved this letter, especially the fact that it addressed me as Mr. Hunter with an !. I love the enthusiasm of the exclamation point, and honestly people confuse my name for a boys' name all the time so it doesn't bother me. It was a good reminder of how hard it is to get other people's names correctly, especially when you're working across different languages. I took a lot of care checking and double-checking the spelling of every leader's name and then even learning the HTML character code so they would display correctly (thank you Penn State for your wonderful online resource!). I think little things like that make a big difference, but of course, none of us are going to get it right every time.

Another key fact about this letter is that it was written to me by the office of President Andris Bērziņš, who as of July 8, 2015, is no longer the President of Latvia! He was succeeded by current President Raimonds Vējonis; a good reminder of how quickly things can change.

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Latvia is one of the 3 Baltic states in Northern Europe with 4 distinct cultural-historical regions. The official language is Latvian, and the country, nominated by Twitter users as the most beautiful in the world, includes lush forests, scenic towns, a majestic coastline, and an exquisite capital, the 800-year-old UNESCO World Heritage site Riga.

Latvia is known for its ancient traditions and high appreciation of the performing arts. The country plays hosts to numerous festivals throughout the year including two opera festivals, the Positivus Festival, an annual, three-day summer music and culture festival, and the Song and Dance Celebration that has taken place once every five years since 1873.

There is also a rich heritage of folklore in Latvia. The most popular holiday is the summer solstice Jānis day celebration.

Surprisingly (to me anyway), Latvia has one of the fastest internet speeds in the world (much better than the US), and they put it to good use. The official Latvian portal is the most beautiful and informative country website I've ever seen. It's really just perfect.

One of its most creative features is a video generator to help citizens visually explain Latvia to visitors in just one word. Some of the words used include book, bread, song, work, art, innovation, light, mountains, countryside, and togetherness.

The site also has a fantastic presentation on the history of Latvian fashion that you can download here.

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Official Name
Republic of Latvia

Parliamentary Democracy

Current Leader
Raimonds Vējonis

• Vējonis has a Masters in Biology

• He was formerly the Latvian Minister of Environmental Protection

• Vējonis became interested in environmental protection after chemicals used on a Soviet collective blinded his grandfather

Recommended sites
Presidential Website

Get to Know Latvia

Latvia Travel