& Tornado Alley
The Economic History of Riga, Latvia
Riga is a world class city in a small country. In the days before World War I when Latvia was part of
the Russian Empire Riga was the third largest city of the Empire. Historically it has had a major industrial
sector as well trade and agricultural product processing.
The Old Part of Riga
The Latvians (or Livs ) were a people speaking a language of the Indo-European family who came into the
Baltic area about 2000 BCE. The earliest trade good was amber from the Baltic Sea coast. This amber reached
destinations as far south as Greece.
Here is the timeline on the history of Riga.
- 1199 CE: Bishop Albert I of Livonia with 23 ships of crusaders land at the mouth of the Western Dvina (Daugava) River.
- 1201: Bishop Albert founds a settlement at the confluence of the Wester Dvina and Ridzene Rivers.
That settlement eventually became Riga. Albert made it the seat of his bishopric. He also founded the
crusader organization Brothers of the Sword.
- 1215: the Doma Cathedral is constructed.
- 1237: Brothers of the Sword becomes affiliated with The Teutonic Knights.
- 1253: The bishopric of Riga is elevated into an archbishopric.
- 1282: Riga, as one of the most important trade centers on the Baltic Sea, joins the league of trading cities
known as the Hansa (the League).
- 1561: The Teutonic Knights is dissolved and the region surrounding Riga becomes territory of the
- 1581: The city of Riga become part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth but is allowed to function autonomously.
- 1621: Sweden captures Riga but allows it to continue to function autonomously.
- 1710: Russia captures Riga. Trade through Riga greatly expands.
- 1721: Sweden grants control of Riga to Russia under the Treaty of Nystadt.
- 1918: Latvia becomes an independent nation with Riga as its capital.
- 1919: A university is established in Riga.
- 1940: The Soviet Union invades and captures all of Latvia.
- 1940-41: Many Latvians are executed by the Soviets. More are deported from
Latvia to other places in the Soviet Union. Their vacated places are filled with
- 1944: Soviet troops replace the German troops upon the surrender of Germany.
- 1948: The deportation of Latvians and their replacement with Russians resumes.
It continues for about one year. As a result of the deportations less than half of the
population of Riga was ethnically Latvian.
- 1991: With the collapse of the Soviet Union Latvia achieves independence.