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Latvia vs. Estonia

Introduction

LatviaEstonia
BackgroundSeveral eastern Baltic tribes merged in medieval times to form the ethnic core of the Latvian people (ca. 8th-12th centuries A.D.). The region subsequently came under the control of Germans, Poles, Swedes, and finally, Russians. A Latvian republic emerged following World War I, but it was annexed by the USSR in 1940 - an action never recognized by the US and many other countries. Latvia reestablished its independence in 1991 following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Although the last Russian troops left in 1994, the status of the Russian minority (some 26% of the population) remains of concern to Moscow. Latvia acceded to both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004; it joined the euro zone in 2014 and the OECD in 2016. A dual citizenship law was adopted in 2013, easing naturalization for non-citizen children.
After centuries of Danish, Swedish, German, and Russian rule, Estonia attained independence in 1918. Forcibly incorporated into the USSR in 1940 - an action never recognized by the US - it regained its freedom in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since the last Russian troops left in 1994, Estonia has been free to promote economic and political ties with the West. It joined both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004, formally joined the OECD in late 2010, and adopted the euro as its official currency on 1 January 2011.

Geography

LatviaEstonia
LocationEastern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, between Estonia and Lithuania
Eastern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Finland, between Latvia and Russia
Geographic coordinates57 00 N, 25 00 E
59 00 N, 26 00 E
Map referencesEurope
Europe
Areatotal: 64,589 sq km
land: 62,249 sq km
water: 2,340 sq km
total: 45,228 sq km
land: 42,388 sq km
water: 2,840 sq km
note: includes 1,520 islands in the Baltic Sea
Area - comparativeslightly larger than West Virginia
about twice the size of New Jersey
Land boundariestotal: 1,370 km
border countries (4): Belarus 161 km, Estonia 333 km, Lithuania 544 km, Russia 332 km
total: 657 km
border countries (2): Latvia 333 km, Russia 324 km
Coastline498 km
3,794 km
Maritime claimsterritorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: limits as agreed to by Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Sweden, and Russia
continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: limits as agreed to by Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Sweden, and Russia
Climatemaritime; wet, moderate winters
maritime; wet, moderate winters, cool summers
Terrainlow plain
marshy, lowlands; flat in the north, hilly in the south
Elevation extremesmean elevation: 87 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Baltic Sea 0 m
highest point: Gaizina Kalns 312 m
mean elevation: 61 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Baltic Sea 0 m
highest point: Suur Munamagi 318 m
Natural resourcespeat, limestone, dolomite, amber, hydropower, timber, arable land
oil shale, peat, rare earth elements, phosphorite, clay, limestone, sand, dolomite, arable land, sea mud
Land useagricultural land: 29.2%
arable land 18.6%; permanent crops 0.1%; permanent pasture 10.5%
forest: 54.1%
other: 16.7% (2011 est.)
agricultural land: 22.2%
arable land 14.9%; permanent crops 0.1%; permanent pasture 7.2%
forest: 52.1%
other: 25.7% (2011 est.)
Irrigated land12 sq km
note: land in Latvia is often too wet and in need of drainage not irrigation; approximately 16,000 sq km or 85% of agricultural land has been improved by drainage (2012)
40 sq km (2012)
Natural hazardsNA
sometimes flooding occurs in the spring
Environment - current issuesLatvia's environment has benefited from a shift to service industries after the country regained independence; improvements have occurred in drinking water quality, sewage treatment, household and hazardous waste management, as well as reduction of air pollution
air polluted with sulfur dioxide from oil-shale burning power plants in northeast; however, the amounts of pollutants emitted to the air have fallen dramatically and the pollution load of wastewater at purification plants has decreased substantially due to improved technology and environmental monitoring; Estonia has more than 1,400 natural and manmade lakes, the smaller of which in agricultural areas need to be monitored; coastal seawater is polluted in certain locations
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - notemost of the country is composed of fertile low-lying plains with some hills in the east
the mainland terrain is flat, boggy, and partly wooded; offshore lie more than 1,500 islands
Population distributionlargest concentration of people is found in and around the port and capital city of Riga; small agglomerations are scattered throughout the country
a fairly even distribution throughout most of the country, with urban areas attracting larger and denser populations

Demographics

LatviaEstonia
Population1,965,686 (July 2016 est.)
1,258,545 (July 2016 est.)
Age structure0-14 years: 15.01% (male 151,290/female 143,710)
15-24 years: 9.9% (male 100,416/female 94,244)
25-54 years: 42.07% (male 409,921/female 417,074)
55-64 years: 13.77% (male 119,844/female 150,860)
65 years and over: 19.25% (male 123,467/female 254,860) (2016 est.)
0-14 years: 16.12% (male 104,011/female 98,809)
15-24 years: 9.3% (male 60,714/female 56,291)
25-54 years: 41.64% (male 263,762/female 260,334)
55-64 years: 13.47% (male 76,063/female 93,479)
65 years and over: 19.47% (male 82,968/female 162,114) (2016 est.)
Median agetotal: 43.3 years
male: 39.5 years
female: 46.6 years (2016 est.)
total: 42.4 years
male: 39 years
female: 45.8 years (2016 est.)
Population growth rate-1.07% (2016 est.)
-0.54% (2016 est.)
Birth rate9.9 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
10.3 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Death rate14.4 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
12.5 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Net migration rate-6.2 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
-3.2 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Sex ratioat birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.79 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.48 male(s)/female
total population: 0.85 male(s)/female (2016 est.)
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.81 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.51 male(s)/female
total population: 0.88 male(s)/female (2016 est.)
Infant mortality ratetotal: 5.3 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.7 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)
total: 3.8 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 3.7 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)
Life expectancy at birthtotal population: 74.5 years
male: 69.9 years
female: 79.3 years (2016 est.)
total population: 76.7 years
male: 71.9 years
female: 81.7 years (2016 est.)
Total fertility rate1.51 children born/woman (2016 est.)
1.6 children born/woman (2016 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate0.67% (2015 est.)
1.3% (2013 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Latvian(s)
adjective: Latvian
noun: Estonian(s)
adjective: Estonian
Ethnic groupsLatvian 61.8%, Russian 25.6%, Belarusian 3.4%, Ukrainian 2.3%, Polish 2.1%, Lithuanian 1.2%, other 3.6% (2016 est.)
Estonian 68.7%, Russian 24.8%, Ukrainian 1.7%, Belarusian 1%, Finn 0.6%, other 1.6%, unspecified 1.6% (2011 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS6,800 (2015 est.)
8,600 (2013 est.)
ReligionsLutheran 19.6%, Orthodox 15.3%, other Christian 1%, other 0.4%, unspecified 63.7% (2006)
Lutheran 9.9%, Orthodox 16.2%, other Christian (including Methodist, Seventh-Day Adventist, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal) 2.2%, other 0.9%, none 54.1%, unspecified 16.7% (2011 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths400 (2015 est.)
NA
LanguagesLatvian (official) 56.3%, Russian 33.8%, other 0.6% (includes Polish, Ukrainian, and Belarusian), unspecified 9.4%
note: data represent language usually spoken at home (2011 est.)
Estonian (official) 68.5%, Russian 29.6%, Ukrainian 0.6%, other 1.2%, unspecified 0.1% (2011 est.)
Literacydefinition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.9%
male: 99.9%
female: 99.9% (2015 est.)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.8%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.8% (2015 est.)
Major infectious diseasesdegree of risk: intermediate
vectorborne diseases: tickborne encephalitis (2016)
degree of risk: intermediate
vectorborne disease: tickborne encephalitis (2016)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)total: 16 years
male: 16 years
female: 17 years (2014)
total: 16 years
male: 16 years
female: 17 years (2015)
Education expenditures4.9% of GDP (2013)
4.8% of GDP (2013)
Urbanizationurban population: 67.4% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: -0.67% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
urban population: 67.5% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: -0.45% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Drinking water sourceimproved:
urban: 99.8% of population
rural: 98.3% of population
total: 99.3% of population
unimproved:
urban: 0.2% of population
rural: 1.7% of population
total: 0.7% of population (2015 est.)
improved:
urban: 100% of population
rural: 99% of population
total: 99.6% of population
unimproved:
urban: 0% of population
rural: 1% of population
total: 0.4% of population (2015 est.)
Sanitation facility accessimproved:
urban: 90.8% of population
rural: 81.5% of population
total: 87.8% of population
unimproved:
urban: 9.2% of population
rural: 18.5% of population
total: 12.2% of population (2015 est.)
improved:
urban: 97.5% of population
rural: 96.6% of population
total: 97.2% of population
unimproved:
urban: 2.5% of population
rural: 3.4% of population
total: 2.8% of population (2015 est.)
Major cities - populationRIGA (capital) 621,000 (2015)
TALLINN (capital) 391,000 (2015)
Maternal mortality rate18 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
9 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
Health expenditures5.9% of GDP (2014)
6.4% of GDP (2014)
Physicians density3.22 physicians/1,000 population (2014)
3.32 physicians/1,000 population (2014)
Hospital bed density5.9 beds/1,000 population (2011)
5.3 beds/1,000 population (2011)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate25.6% (2014)
24.5% (2014)
Mother's mean age at first birth26.9 years (2013 est.)
26.5 years (2013 est.)
Dependency ratiostotal dependency ratio: 52.2
youth dependency ratio: 22.7
elderly dependency ratio: 29.5
potential support ratio: 3.4 (2015 est.)
total dependency ratio: 53.5
youth dependency ratio: 24.7
elderly dependency ratio: 28.8
potential support ratio: 3.5 (2015 est.)

Government

LatviaEstonia
Country name"conventional long form: Republic of Latvia
conventional short form: Latvia
local long form: Latvijas Republika
local short form: Latvija
former: Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic
etymology: the name ""Latvia"" originates from the ancient Latgalians, one of four eastern Baltic tribes that formed the ethnic core of the Latvian people (ca. 8th-12th centuries A.D.)
"
conventional long form: Republic of Estonia
conventional short form: Estonia
local long form: Eesti Vabariik
local short form: Eesti
former: Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic
etymology: the country name may be derived from the Aesti, an ancient people who lived along the eastern Baltic Sea in the first centuries A.D.
Government typeparliamentary republic
parliamentary republic
Capitalname: Riga
geographic coordinates: 56 57 N, 24 06 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
name: Tallinn
geographic coordinates: 59 26 N, 24 43 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions110 municipalities (novadi, singular - novads) and 9 cities
municipalities: Adazu Novads, Aglonas Novads, Aizkraukles Novads, Aizputes Novads, Aknistes Novads, Alojas Novads, Alsungas Novads, Aluksnes Novads, Amatas Novads, Apes Novads, Auces Novads, Babites Novads, Baldones Novads, Baltinavas Novads, Balvu Novads, Bauskas Novads, Beverinas Novads, Brocenu Novads, Burtnieku Novads, Carnikavas Novads, Cesu Novads, Cesvaines Novads, Ciblas Novads, Dagdas Novads, Daugavpils Novads, Dobeles Novads, Dundagas Novads, Durbes Novads, Engures Novads, Erglu Novads, Garkalnes Novads, Grobinas Novads, Gulbenes Novads, Iecavas Novads, Ikskiles Novads, Ilukstes Novads, Incukalna Novads, Jaunjelgavas Novads, Jaunpiebalgas Novads, Jaunpils Novads, Jekabpils Novads, Jelgavas Novads, Kandavas Novads, Karsavas Novads, Keguma Novads, Kekavas Novads, Kocenu Novads, Kokneses Novads, Kraslavas Novads, Krimuldas Novads, Krustpils Novads, Kuldigas Novads, Lielvardes Novads, Ligatnes Novads, Limbazu Novads, Livanu Novads, Lubanas Novads, Ludzas Novads, Madonas Novads, Malpils Novads, Marupes Novads, Mazsalacas Novads, Mersraga Novads, Nauksenu Novads, Neretas Novads, Nicas Novads, Ogres Novads, Olaines Novads, Ozolnieku Novads, Pargaujas Novads, Pavilostas Novads, Plavinu Novads, Preilu Novads, Priekules Novads, Priekulu Novads, Raunas Novads, Rezeknes Novads, Riebinu Novads, Rojas Novads, Ropazu Novads, Rucavas Novads, Rugaju Novads, Rujienas Novads, Rundales Novads, Salacgrivas Novads, Salas Novads, Salaspils Novads, Saldus Novads, Saulkrastu Novads, Sejas Novads, Siguldas Novads, Skriveru Novads, Skrundas Novads, Smiltenes Novads, Stopinu Novads, Strencu Novads, Talsu Novads, Tervetes Novads, Tukuma Novads, Vainodes Novads, Valkas Novads, Varaklanu Novads, Varkavas Novads, Vecpiebalgas Novads, Vecumnieku Novads, Ventspils Novads, Viesites Novads, Vilakas Novads, Vilanu Novads, Zilupes Novads
cities: Daugavpils, Jekabpils, Jelgava, Jurmala, Liepaja, Rezekne, Riga, Valmiera, Ventspils
15 counties (maakonnad, singular - maakond); Harjumaa (Tallinn), Hiiumaa (Kardla), Ida-Virumaa (Johvi), Jarvamaa (Paide), Jogevamaa (Jogeva), Laanemaa (Haapsalu), Laane-Virumaa (Rakvere), Parnumaa (Parnu), Polvamaa (Polva), Raplamaa (Rapla), Saaremaa (Kuressaare), Tartumaa (Tartu), Valgamaa (Valga), Viljandimaa (Viljandi), Vorumaa (Voru)
note: counties have the administrative center name following in parentheses
Independence4 May 1990 (declared independence from the Soviet Union); 6 September 1991 (recognized by the Soviet Union)
20 August 1991 (declared); 6 September 1991 (recognized by the Soviet Union)
National holidayIndependence Day (Republic of Latvia Proclamation Day), 18 November (1918); note - 18 November 1918 was the date Latvia established its statehood and its concomitant independence from Soviet Russia; 4 May 1990 was the date it declared the restoration of Latvian statehood and its concomitant independence from the Soviet Union
Independence Day, 24 February (1918); note - 24 February 1918 was the date Estonia declared its independence from Soviet Russia and established its statehood; 20 August 1991 was the date it declared its independence from the Soviet Union
Constitutionhistory: several previous (pre-1991 independence); note - following the restoration of independence in 1991, parts of the 1922 constitution were reintroduced 4 May 1990 and fully reintroduced 6 July 1993
amendments: proposed by two-thirds of Parliament members or by petition of one-tenth of qualified voters submitted through the president; passage requires at least two-thirds majority vote of Parliament in each of three readings; amendment of constitutional articles including national sovereignty, language, the parliamentary electoral system, and constitutional amendment procedures requires passage in a referendum by majority vote of at least one-half of the electorate; amended several times, last in 2014 (2016)
history: several previous; latest adopted 28 June 1992
amendments: proposed by at least one-fifth of Parliament members or by the president of the republic; passage requires three readings of the proposed amendment and a simple majority vote in two successive memberships of Parliament; passage of amendments to the “General Provisions” and “Amendment of the Constitution” chapters requires at least three-fifths majority vote by Parliament to conduct a referendum and majority vote in a referendum; amended several times, last in 2015 (2016)
Legal systemcivil law system with traces of socialist legal traditions and practices
civil law system
Suffrage18 years of age; universal
18 years of age; universal for all Estonian citizens
Executive branchchief of state: President Raimonds VEJONIS (since 8 July 2015)
head of government: Prime Minister Maris KUCINSKIS (since 11 February 2016); Deputy Prime Minister Arvils ASERADENS (since 11 February 2016)
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers nominated by the prime minister, appointed by Parliament
elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by Parliament for a 4-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 3 June 2015 (next to be held in 2019); prime minister appointed by the president, confirmed by Parliament
election results: Raimonds VEJONIS elected president; Parliament vote - Raimonds VEJONIS 55 of 100
chief of state: President Kersti KALJULAID (since 10 October 2016)
head of government: Juri RATAS (since 23 November 2016)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the prime minister, approved by Parliament
elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by Parliament for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); if a candidate does not secure two-thirds of the votes after 3 rounds of balloting, then an electoral college consisting of Parliament members and local council members elects the president, choosing between the 2 candidates with the highest number of votes; election last held on 29-30 August 2016 but three rounds were inconclusive; two electoral college votes on 24 September 2016 were also indecisive, so the election passed back to Parliament; on 3 October the Parliament elected Kersti KALJULAID as president; prime minister nominated by the president and approved by Parliament
election results: Kersti KALJULAID elected president; Parliament vote - Kersti KALJULAID (independent) 81 of 98 votes; note - KALJULAID is Estonia's first female president
Legislative branchdescription: unicameral Parliament or Saeima (100 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote; members serve 4-year terms)
elections: last held on 4 October 2014 (next to be held in October 2018)
election results: percent of vote by party - SC 23%, Unity 21.9%, ZZS 19.5%, NA 16.6%, NSL 6.9%, LRA 6.7%, other 5.4%; seats by party - SC 24, Unity 23, ZZS 21, NA 17, LRA 8, NSL 7
description: unicameral Parliament or Riigikogu (101 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote to serve 4-year terms)
elections: last held on 1 March 2015 (next to be held in March 2019)
election results: percent of vote by party - RE 27.7%, K 24.8%, SDE 15.2%, IRL 13.7%, EV 8.7%, EKRE 8.1%, other 1.8%; seats by party - RE 30, K 27, SDE 15, IRL 14, EV 8, EKRE 7
Judicial branchhighest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of the Senate with 27 judges and Supreme Court of Chambers with 22 judges); Constitutional Court (consists of 7 judges)
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges nominated by chief justice and confirmed by the Saeima; judges serve until age 70, but term can be extended 2 years; Constitutional Court judges - 3 nominated by Saeima members, 2 by Cabinet ministers, and 2 by plenum of Supreme Court; all judges confirmed by Saeima majority vote; Constitutional Court president and vice president serve in their positions for 3 years; all judges serve 10-year terms; mandatory retirement at age 70
subordinate courts: district (city) and regional courts
highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of 19 justices including the chief justice and organized into civil, criminal, administrative, and constitutional review chambers)
judge selection and term of office: the chief justice is proposed by the president of the republic and appointed by the Riigikogu; other justices proposed by the chief justice and appointed by the Riigikogu; justices appointed for life
subordinate courts: circuit (appellate) courts; administrative, county, city, and specialized courts
Political parties and leaders"Alliance of Regions or LRA [Martins BONDARS]
For Latvia from the Heart or NSL [Inguna SUDRABA]
Social Democratic Party ""Harmony"" or SC [Nils USAKOVS]
National Alliance ""All For Latvia!""-""For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK"" or NA [Gaidis BERZINS, Raivis DZINTARS]
Union of Greens and Farmers or ZZS [Augusts BRIGMANIS]
Unity [Andris PIEBALGS]
"
Center Party of Estonia (Keskerakond) or K [Juri RATAS]
Estonian Conservative People's Party (Konservatiivne Rahvaerakond) or EKRE [Mart HELME]
Estonian Reform Party (Reformierakond) or RE [Hanno PEVKUR]
Free Party or EV [Andres HERKEL]
Social Democratic Party or SDE [Jevgeni OSSINOVSKI]
Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica (Isamaa je Res Publica Liit) or IRL [Margus TSAHKNA]
International organization participationAustralia Group, BA, BIS, CBSS, CD, CE, EAPC, EBRD, ECB, EIB, EMU, ESA (cooperating state), EU, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (NGOs), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, NATO, NIB, NSG, OAS (observer), OIF (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, Schengen Convention, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Australia Group, BA, BIS, CBSS, CD, CE, EAPC, EBRD, ECB, EIB, EMU, ESA (cooperating state), EU, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, MINUSMA, NATO, NIB, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OIF (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, Schengen Convention, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNTSO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the USchief of mission: Ambassador Andris TEIKMANIS (since 16 September 2016)
chancery: 2306 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 328-2840
FAX: [1] (202) 328-2860
chief of mission: Ambassador Eerik MARMEI (since 18 September 2014)
chancery: 2131 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 588-0101
FAX: [1] (202) 588-0108
consulate(s) general: New York
Diplomatic representation from the USchief of mission: Ambassador Nancy Bikoff PETTIT (since 8 September 2015)
embassy: 1 Samnera Velsa St, Riga LV-1510
mailing address: Embassy of the United States of America, 1 Samnera Velsa St, Riga, LV-1510, Latvia
telephone: [371] 6710-7000
FAX: [371] 6710-7050
chief of mission: Ambassador James D. MELVILLE Jr. (since 8 December 2015)
embassy: Kentmanni 20, 15099 Tallinn
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [372] 668-8100
FAX: [372] 668-8265
Flag descriptionthree horizontal bands of maroon (top), white (half-width), and maroon; the flag is one of the older banners in the world; a medieval chronicle mentions a red standard with a white stripe being used by Latvian tribes in about 1280
three equal horizontal bands of blue (top), black, and white; various interpretations are linked to the flag colors; blue represents faith, loyalty, and devotion, while also reminiscent of the sky, sea, and lakes of the country; black symbolizes the soil of the country and the dark past and suffering endured by the Estonian people; white refers to the striving towards enlightenment and virtue, and is the color of birch bark and snow, as well as summer nights illuminated by the midnight sun
National anthem"name: ""Dievs, sveti Latviju!"" (God Bless Latvia)
lyrics/music: Karlis BAUMANIS
note: adopted 1920, restored 1990; first performed in 1873 while Latvia was a part of Russia; banned during the Soviet occupation from 1940 to 1990
"
"name: ""Mu isamaa, mu onn ja room"" (My Native Land, My Pride and Joy)
lyrics/music: Johann Voldemar JANNSEN/Fredrik PACIUS
note: adopted 1920, though banned between 1940 and 1990 under Soviet occupation; the anthem, used in Estonia since 1869, shares the same melody as Finland's but has different lyrics
"
International law organization participationhas not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
National symbol(s)white wagtail (bird); national colors: maroon, white
barn swallow, cornflower; national colors: blue, black, white
Citizenshipcitizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Latvia
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years
citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Estonia
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years

Economy

LatviaEstonia
Economy - overviewLatvia is a small, open economy with exports contributing more than half of GDP. Due to its geographical location, transit services are highly-developed, along with timber and wood-processing, agriculture and food products, and manufacturing of machinery and electronics industries. Corruption continues to be an impediment to attracting foreign direct investment and Latvia's low birth rate and decreasing population are major challenges to its long-term economic vitality.

Latvia's economy experienced GDP growth of more than 10% per year during 2006-07, but entered a severe recession in 2008 as a result of an unsustainable current account deficit and large debt exposure amid the slowing world economy. Triggered by the collapse of the second largest bank, GDP plunged 18% in 2009. The economy has yet to return to pre-crisis levels in real terms despite strong growth, especially in the export sector. Continued gains in competitiveness and investment will be key to maintaining economic growth, especially in light of unfavorable demographic trends.

The IMF, EU, and other international donors provided substantial financial assistance to Latvia as part of an agreement to defend the currency's peg to the euro in exchange for the government's commitment to stringent austerity measures. The IMF/EU program successfully concluded in December 2011, although, the austerity measures have imposed large social costs. The majority of companies, banks, and real estate have been privatized, although the state still holds sizable stakes in a few large enterprises, including 80% ownership of the Latvian national airline. Latvia officially joined the World Trade Organization in February 1999 and the EU in May 2004. Latvia also joined the euro zone in 2014 and the OECD in 2016.
Estonia, a member of the EU since 2004 and the euro zone since 2011, has a modern market-based economy and one of the higher per capita income levels in Central Europe and the Baltic region, but its economy is highly dependent on trade, leaving it vulnerable to external shocks. Estonia's successive governments have pursued a free market, pro-business economic agenda, and sound fiscal policies that have resulted in balanced budgets and low public debt.

The economy benefits from strong electronics and telecommunications sectors and strong trade ties with Finland, Sweden, Germany, and Russia. After two years of robust recovery in 2011 and 2012, the Estonian economy faltered in 2013 with only 1.6% GDP growth, mainly due to continuing recession in much of the EU. GDP growth in 2014 picked up to 2.9% but dropped below 2% in 2015-16 due to lower demand in key Scandinavian and Russian export markets. In 2016 the government implemented modest increases in fiscal spending, which may contribute to GDP growth in 2017.

Estonia is challenged by a shortage of labor, both skilled and unskilled, although the government has amended its immigration law to allow easier hiring of highly qualified foreign workers.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$50.65 billion (2016 est.)
$49.61 billion (2015 est.)
$48.29 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
$38.93 billion (2016 est.)
$38.28 billion (2015 est.)
$37.72 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP - real growth rate2.1% (2016 est.)
2.7% (2015 est.)
2% (2014 est.)
1.7% (2016 est.)
1.5% (2015 est.)
2.7% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$25,700 (2016 est.)
$25,000 (2015 est.)
$24,100 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
$29,500 (2016 est.)
$29,000 (2015 est.)
$28,700 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP - composition by sectoragriculture: 4.8%
industry: 24.4%
services: 70.8% (2016 est.)
agriculture: 3.5%
industry: 28.1%
services: 68.4% (2016 est.)
Population below poverty line25.5% (2015)
21.3% (2015 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 2.2%
highest 10%: 26.3% (2015)
lowest 10%: 2.3%
highest 10%: 25.6% (2015)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)0.1% (2016 est.)
0.2% (2015 est.)
0.1% (2016 est.)
-0.5% (2015 est.)
Labor force957,100 (2016 est.)
651,200 (2016 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 7.7%
industry: 24.1%
services: 68.1% (2016 est.)
agriculture: 3.1%
industry: 20.2%
services: 76.7% (2016 est.)
Unemployment rate9.6% (2016 est.)
9.9% (2015 est.)
6.8% (2016 est.)
6.2% (2015 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index34.5 (2015)
35.4 (2014)
34.8 (2015)
35.6 (2014)
Budgetrevenues: $9.766 billion
expenditures: $10.11 billion (2016 est.)
revenues: $9.559 billion
expenditures: $9.489 billion (2016 est.)
Industriesprocessed foods, processed wood products, textiles, processed metals, pharmaceuticals, railroad cars, synthetic fibers, electronics
food, engineering, electronics, wood and wood products, textiles; information technology, telecommunications
Industrial production growth rate4.9% (2016 est.)
3.2% (2016 est.)
Agriculture - productsgrain, rapeseed, potatoes, vegetables; pork, poultry, milk, eggs; fish
grain, potatoes, vegetables; livestock and dairy products; fish
Exports$11.22 billion (2016 est.)
$11.4 billion (2015 est.)
$13.24 billion (2016 est.)
$12.24 billion (2015 est.)
Exports - commoditiesfoodstuffs, wood and wood products, metals, machinery and equipment, textiles
machinery and electrical equipment 30%, food products and beverages 9%, mineral fuels 6%, wood and wood products 14%, articles of base metals 7%, furniture and bedding 11%, vehicles and parts 3%, chemicals 4% (2016 est.)
Exports - partnersLithuania 17.8%, Russia 11.4%, Estonia 11.1%, Germany 6.3%, Poland 5.6%, Sweden 5.1%, UK 5%, Denmark 4% (2015)
Sweden 18.8%, Finland 16%, Latvia 10.4%, Russia 6.7%, Lithuania 5.9%, Germany 5.2%, Norway 4.1% (2015)
Imports$13.6 billion (2016 est.)
$13.74 billion (2015 est.)
$15 billion (2016 est.)
$13.19 billion (2015 est.)
Imports - commoditiesmachinery and equipment, consumer goods, chemicals, fuels, vehicles
machinery and electrical equipment 28%, mineral fuels 11%, food and food products 10%, vehicles 9%, chemical products 8%, metals 8% (2015 est.)
Imports - partnersLithuania 16.9%, Germany 11.3%, Poland 10.5%, Russia 8.2%, Estonia 7.8%, Finland 5.2%, Netherlands 4% (2015)
Finland 14.5%, Germany 11%, Lithuania 9%, Sweden 8.5%, Latvia 8.3%, Poland 7.4%, Russia 6.1%, Netherlands 5.5%, China 4.8% (2015)
Debt - external$40.02 billion (31 March 2016 est.)
$38.19 billion (31 March 2015 est.)
$19.05 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$18.3 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Exchange rateslati (LVL) per US dollar -
0.9129 (2016 est.)
0.9012 (2015 est.)
0.9012 (2014 est.)
0.7525 (2013 est.)
0.55 (2012 est.)
kroon (EEK) per US dollar -
0.8985 (2016 est.)
0.9012 (2015 est.)
0.9012 (2014 est.)
0.7525 (2013 est.)
Fiscal yearcalendar year
calendar year
Public debt38.7% of GDP (2016 est.)
36.4% of GDP (2015 est.)
note: data cover general government debt, and includes debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities, including sub-sectors of central government, state government, local government, and social security funds
9.7% of GDP (2016 est.)
10.1% of GDP (2015 est.)
note: data cover general government debt, and includes debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities, including sub-sectors of central government, state government, local government, and social security funds
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$7.507 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$7.893 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$475.5 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$414.8 million (31 December 2015 est.)
Current Account Balance$409 million (2016 est.)
-$210 million (2015 est.)
$613 million (2016 est.)
$496 million (2015 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate)$25.02 billion (2016 est.)
$23.48 billion (2016 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$16.41 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$15.71 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$22.86 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$22.02 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$2.651 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$2.391 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$9.414 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$9.164 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$6.76 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$6.799 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$7.127 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$6.76 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$6.799 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$7.127 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
Central bank discount rate0% (31 December 2016 est.)
0.05% (31 December 2015 est.)
0% (31 December 2016 est.)
0.05% (31 December 2015 est.)
Commercial bank prime lending rate4.5% (31 December 2016 est.)
4.5% (31 December 2015 est.)
4.8% (31 December 2016 est.)
4.48% (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$16.03 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$15.39 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$21.29 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$19.88 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of narrow money$11.66 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$10.3 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$12.85 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$10.96 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
note: see entry for the European Union for money supply for the entire euro area; the European Central Bank (ECB) controls monetary policy for the 18 members of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU); individual members of the EMU do not control the quantity of money circulating within their own borders
Stock of broad money$13.76 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$12.53 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$14.71 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$14.05 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
Taxes and other revenues34.9% of GDP (2016 est.)
40.7% of GDP (2016 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-1.2% of GDP (2016 est.)
0.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24total: 19.6%
male: 19.4%
female: 20% (2014 est.)
total: 15%
male: 19.3%
female: 10% (2014 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 62%
government consumption: 17.5%
investment in fixed capital: 18.3%
investment in inventories: 1.6%
exports of goods and services: 58%
imports of goods and services: -57.4% (2016 est.)
household consumption: 51.2%
government consumption: 20.9%
investment in fixed capital: 24.3%
investment in inventories: -1%
exports of goods and services: 79.2%
imports of goods and services: -74.6% (2016 est.)
Gross national saving19.6% of GDP (2016 est.)
20.7% of GDP (2015 est.)
21.5% of GDP (2014 est.)
24.4% of GDP (2016 est.)
26.2% of GDP (2015 est.)
27.5% of GDP (2014 est.)

Energy

LatviaEstonia
Electricity - production5 billion kWh (2014 est.)
10.42 billion kWh (2015 est.)
Electricity - consumption6.8 billion kWh (2014 est.)
7.44 billion kWh (2015 est.)
Electricity - exports3 billion kWh (2014 est.)
6.377 billion kWh (2015 est.)
Electricity - imports5.3 billion kWh (2014 est.)
5.452 billion kWh (2015 est.)
Oil - production0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Oil - imports60 bbl/day (2013 est.)
0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Oil - exports58.95 bbl/day (2013 est.)
15,190 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Oil - proved reserves0 bbl (1 January 2016 est.)
0 bbl (1 January 2016 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves0 cu m (1 January 2016)
0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)
Natural gas - production0 cu m (2014 est.)
0 cu m (2015 est.)
Natural gas - consumption963 million cu m (2014 est.)
471 million cu m (2015 est.)
Natural gas - exports0 cu m (2014 est.)
0 cu m (2015 est.)
Natural gas - imports963 million cu m (2014 est.)
471 million cu m (2015 est.)
Electricity - installed generating capacity3 million kW (2014 est.)
2.818 million kW (2015 est.)
Electricity - from fossil fuels26.3% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
84.4% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants70.2% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
0% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
Electricity - from nuclear fuels0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
0% of total installed capacity (2014 est.)
Electricity - from other renewable sources3.5% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)
15.6% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - production0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - consumption35,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)
27,710 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - exports15,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)
6,954 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - imports49,220 bbl/day (2013 est.)
32,610 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy7.6 million Mt (2013 est.)
5.8 million Mt (2013 est.)
Electricity accesselectrification - total population: 100% (2016)
electrification - total population: 100% (2016)

Telecommunications

LatviaEstonia
Telephones - main lines in usetotal subscriptions: 395,602
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 20 (July 2015 est.)
total subscriptions: 387,607
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 31 (July 2015 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellulartotal: 2.579 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 130 (July 2015 est.)
total: 1.904 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 150 (July 2015 est.)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: recent efforts focused on bringing competition to the telecommunications sector; the number of fixed lines is decreasing as mobile-cellular telephone service expands
domestic: number of telecommunications operators has grown rapidly since the fixed-line market opened to competition in 2003; combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular subscribership roughly 150 per 100 persons
international: country code - 371; the Latvian network is now connected via fiber-optic cable to Estonia, Finland, and Sweden (2015)
general assessment: foreign investment in the form of joint business ventures greatly improved telephone service with a wide range of high-quality voice, data, and Internet services available
domestic: substantial fiber-optic cable systems carry telephone, TV, and radio traffic in the digital mode; Internet services are widely available; schools and libraries are connected to the Internet, a large percentage of the population files income tax returns online, and online voting - in local and parliamentary elections - has climbed steadily since first introduced in 2005; 85% of Estonian households have broadband access
international: country code - 372; fiber-optic cables to Finland, Sweden, Latvia, and Russia provide worldwide packet-switched service; 2 international switches are located in Tallinn (2016)
Internet country code.lv
.ee
Internet userstotal: 1.573 million
percent of population: 79.2% (July 2015 est.)
total: 1.119 million
percent of population: 88.4% (July 2015 est.)
Broadcast mediaseveral national and regional commercial TV stations are foreign-owned, 2 national TV stations are publicly owned; system supplemented by privately owned regional and local TV stations; cable and satellite multi-channel TV services with domestic and foreign broadcasts available; publicly owned broadcaster operates 4 radio networks with dozens of stations throughout the country; dozens of private broadcasters also operate radio stations (2007)
the publicly owned broadcaster, Eesti Rahvusringhaaling (ERR), operates 3 TV channels and 5 radio networks; growing number of private commercial radio stations broadcasting nationally, regionally, and locally; fully transitioned to digital television in 2010; national private TV channels expanding service; a range of channels are aimed at Russian-speaking viewers; in 2016, there were 42 on-demand services available in Estonia, including 19 pay TVOD and SVOD services; roughly 85% of households accessed digital television services (2016)

Transportation

LatviaEstonia
Railwaystotal: 2,239 km
broad gauge: 2,206 km 1.520-m gauge
narrow gauge: 33 km 0.750-m gauge (2008)
total: 2,146 km
broad gauge: 2,146 km 1.520-m and 1.524-m gauge (132 km electrified)
note: includes 1,510 km public and 636 km non-public railway (2016)
Roadwaystotal: 72,440 km
paved: 14,707 km
unpaved: 57,733 km (2013)
total: 58,412 km (includes urban roads)
paved: 10,427 km (includes 115 km of expressways)
unpaved: 47,985 km (2011)
Waterways300 km (navigable year round) (2010)
335 km (320 km are navigable year round) (2011)
Pipelinesgas 928 km; refined products 415 km (2013)
gas 2,360 km (2016)
Ports and terminalsmajor seaport(s): Riga, Ventspils
major seaport(s): Kuivastu, Kunda, Muuga, Parnu Reid, Sillamae, Tallinn
Merchant marinetotal: 11
by type: cargo 3, chemical tanker 1, passenger/cargo 4, petroleum tanker 2, roll on/roll off 1
foreign-owned: 3 (Estonia 3)
registered in other countries: 79 (Antigua and Barbuda 16, Belize 9, Comoros 2, Dominica 2, Georgia 1, Liberia 5, Malta 8, Marshall Islands 19, Russia 2, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 15) (2010)
total: 109
by type: cargo 15, passenger/cargo 18, fishing vessels 41, technical and support vessels 35 (2016)
foreign-owned: 3 (Germany 1, Norway 2)
registered in other countries: 63 (Antigua and Barbuda 10, Belize 1, Cambodia 1, Canada 1, Cook Islands 1, Cyprus 6, Dominica 6, Finland 2, Latvia 3, Malta 16, Russia 1, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 8, Sierra Leone 2, Sweden 3, Venezuela 1, unknown 1) (2010)
Airports42 (2013)
18 (2013)
Airports - with paved runwaystotal: 18
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 7 (2013)
total: 13
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 8
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2013)
Airports - with unpaved runwaystotal: 24
under 914 m: 24 (2013)
total: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 3 (2013)
Heliports1 (2013)
1 (2012)

Military

LatviaEstonia
Military branchesNational Armed Forces (Nacionalie Brunotie Speki): Land Forces (Latvijas Sauszemes Speki), Navy (Latvijas Juras Speki, includes Coast Guard (Latvijas Kara Flote)), Latvian Air Force (Latvijas Gaisa Speki), Latvian Home Guard (Latvijas Zemessardze) (2017)
Estonian Defense Forces (Eesti Kaitsevagi): Ground Forces (Maavagi), Navy (Merevagi), Air Force (Ohuvagi), Reserves (Kaitseliit) (2016)
Military service age and obligation18 years of age for voluntary male and female military service; no conscription; under current law, every citizen is entitled to serve in the armed forces for life (2016)
18-27 for compulsory military or governmental service, conscript service requirement 8-11 months depending on education; NCOs, reserve officers, and specialists serve 11 months (2016)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP1.7% of GDP (2016)
1.45% of GDP (2016)
1.04% of GDP (2015)
0.94% of GDP (2014)
0.93% of GDP (2013)
2.16% of GDP (2016 est.)
2.07% of GDP (2015)
1.94% of GDP (2014)
1.9% of GDP (2013)
1.89% of GDP (2012)

Transnational Issues

LatviaEstonia
Disputes - internationalRussia demands better Latvian treatment of ethnic Russians in Latvia; boundary demarcated with Latvia and Lithuania; the Latvian parliament has not ratified its 1998 maritime boundary treaty with Lithuania, primarily due to concerns over oil exploration rights; as a member state that forms part of the EU's external border, Latvia has implemented the strict Schengen border rules with Russia
Russia and Estonia in May 2005 signed a technical border agreement, but Russia in June 2005 recalled its signature after the Estonian parliament added to its domestic ratification act a historical preamble referencing the Soviet occupation and Estonia's pre-war borders under the 1920 Treaty of Tartu; Russia contends that the preamble allows Estonia to make territorial claims on Russia in the future, while Estonian officials deny that the preamble has any legal impact on the treaty text; Russia demands better treatment of the Russian-speaking population in Estonia; as a member state that forms part of the EU's external border, Estonia implements strict Schengen border rules with Russia
Illicit drugstransshipment and destination point for cocaine, synthetic drugs, opiates, and cannabis from Southwest Asia, Western Europe, Latin America, and neighboring Baltic countries; despite improved legislation, vulnerable to money laundering due to nascent enforcement capabilities and comparatively weak regulation of offshore companies and the gaming industry; CIS organized crime (including counterfeiting, corruption, extortion, stolen cars, and prostitution) accounts for most laundered proceeds
growing producer of synthetic drugs; increasingly important transshipment zone for cannabis, cocaine, opiates, and synthetic drugs since joining the European Union and the Schengen Accord; potential money laundering related to organized crime and drug trafficking is a concern, as is possible use of the gambling sector to launder funds; major use of opiates and ecstasy
Refugees and internally displaced personsstateless persons: 242,736 (2016); note - individuals who were Latvian citizens prior to the 1940 Soviet occupation and their descendants were recognized as Latvian citizens when the country's independence was restored in 1991; citizens of the former Soviet Union residing in Latvia who have neither Latvian nor other citizenship are considered non-citizens (officially there is no statelessness in Latvia) and are entitled to non-citizen passports; children born after Latvian independence to stateless parents are entitled to Latvian citizenship upon their parents' request; non-citizens cannot vote or hold certain government jobs and are exempt from military service but can travel visa-free in the EU under the Schengen accord like Latvian citizens; non-citizens can obtain naturalization if they have been permanent residents of Latvia for at least five years, pass tests in Latvian language and history, and know the words of the Latvian national anthem
stateless persons: 82,585 (2016); note - following independence in 1991, automatic citizenship was restricted to those who were Estonian citizens prior to the 1940 Soviet occupation and their descendants; thousands of ethnic Russians remained stateless when forced to choose between passing Estonian language and citizenship tests or applying for Russian citizenship; one reason for demurring on Estonian citizenship was to retain the right of visa-free travel to Russia; stateless residents can vote in local elections but not general elections; stateless parents who have been lawful residents of Estonia for at least five years can apply for citizenship for their children before they turn 15 years old

Source: CIA Factbook