Wiesen Viaduct in Switzerland

bridge is a structure built to span physical obstacles without closing the way underneath such as a body of watervalley, or road, for the purpose of providing passage over the obstacle. There are many different designs that each serve a particular purpose and apply to different situations. Designs of bridges vary depending on the function of the bridge, the nature of the terrain where the bridge is constructed and anchored, the material used to make it, and the funds available to build it.

Par tiltiem latviešu valodā skatīt > šeit >

Dzelzceļa un Akmens tils Rīgā pār Daugavu skatā no Vanšu tilta puses. Fonā Televīzijas tornis un galvenā TV ēka. Foto: Atis Luguzs, 2018.g. 3.feb.
Bridges over river Daugava in Riga, Latvia. Photo: Atis Luguzs, 2018.feb.3


The Akashi Kaikyō Bridge in Japan, currently the world’s longest suspension span

The Siosepol bridge over Zayandeh River is an example of Safavid dynasty(1502–1722) bridge design. EsfahanIran

The Oxford English Dictionary traces the origin of the word bridge to an Old English word brycg, of the same meaning.[1] The word can be traced directly back to Proto-Indo-European *bʰrēw-. The word for the card game of the same name has a different origin.

History of Bridges

The Arkadiko Bridge in Greece (13th century BC), one of the oldest arch bridges in existence

Bridges in AmsterdamNetherlands

The Arkadiko Bridge is one of four Mycenaean corbel arch bridges part of a former network of roads, designed to accommodate chariots, between the fort of Tiryns and town of Epidauros in the Peloponnese, in southern Greece. Dating to the Greek Bronze Age (13th century BC), it is one of the oldest arch bridgesstill in existence and use. Several intact arched stone bridges from the Hellenistic era can be found in the Peloponnese.[2]

The greatest bridge builders of antiquity were the ancient Romans.[3] The Romans built arch bridges and aqueducts that could stand in conditions that would damage or destroy earlier designs. Some stand today.[4] An example is the Alcántara Bridge, built over the river Tagus, in Spain. The Romans also used cement, which reduced the variation of strength found in natural stone.[5] One type of cement, called pozzolana, consisted of water, lime, sand, and volcanic rockBrick and mortar bridges were built after the Roman era, as the technology for cement was lost (then later rediscovered).

In India, the Arthashastra treatise by Kautilya mentions the construction of dams and bridges.[6] A Mauryan bridge near Girnar was surveyed by James Princep.[7] The bridge was swept away during a flood, and later repaired by Puspagupta, the chief architect of emperor Chandragupta I.[7] The use of stronger bridges using plaited bamboo and iron chain was visible in India by about the 4th century.[8] A number of bridges, both for military and commercial purposes, were constructed by the Mughal administration in India.[9]

Although large Chinese bridges of wooden construction existed at the time of the Warring States, the oldest surviving stone bridge in China is the Zhaozhou Bridge, built from 595 to 605 AD during the Sui Dynasty. This bridge is also historically significant as it is the world’s oldest open-spandrel stone segmental arch bridge. European segmental arch bridges date back to at least the Alconétar Bridge (approximately 2nd century AD), while the enormous Roman era Trajan’s Bridge (105 AD) featured open-spandrel segmental arches in wooden construction.[citation needed]

Rope bridges, a simple type of suspension bridge, were used by the Inca civilization in the Andes mountains of South America, just prior to European colonization in the 16th century.

During the 18th century there were many innovations in the design of timber bridges by Hans Ulrich GrubenmannJohannes Grubenmann, and others. The first book on bridge engineering was written by Hubert Gautier in 1716.

A major breakthrough in bridge technology came with the erection of the Iron Bridge in Shropshire, England in 1779. It used cast iron for the first time as arches to cross the river Severn.[10]

With the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, truss systems of wrought iron were developed for larger bridges, but iron does not have the tensile strengthto support large loads. With the advent of steel, which has a high tensile strength, much larger bridges were built, many using the ideas of Gustave Eiffel.

In 1927 welding pioneer Stefan Bryła designed the first welded road bridge in the world, the Maurzyce Bridge which was later built across the river Słudwia at Maurzyce near Łowicz, Poland in 1929. In 1995, the American Welding Society presented the Historic Welded Structure Award for the bridge to Poland.[11]


Eciton sp. forming a bridge

Before humans, ants have been making bridges using their own bodies to allow others to cross.

Types of bridges

Bridges can be categorized in several different ways. Common categories include the type of structural elements used, by what they carry, whether they are fixed or movable, and by the materials used.

Structure type

Bridges may be classified by how the forces of tensioncompressionbendingtorsion and shear are distributed through their structure. Most bridges will employ all of the principal forces to some degree, but only a few will predominate. The separation of forces may be quite clear. In a suspension or cable-stayed span, the elements in tension are distinct in shape and placement. In other cases the forces may be distributed among a large number of members, as in a truss.

BeamBridge-diagram.svgBeam bridge

Beam bridges are horizontal beams supported at each end by substructure units and can be either simply supported when the beams only connect across a single span, or continuous when the beams are connected across two or more spans. When there are multiple spans, the intermediate supports are known as piers. The earliest beam bridges were simple logs that sat across streams and similar simple structures. In modern times, beam bridges can range from small, wooden beams to large, steel boxes. The vertical force on the bridge becomes a shear and flexural load on the beam which is transferred down its length to the substructures on either side[12] They are typically made of steel, concrete or wood. Girder bridgesand Plate girder bridges, usually made from steel, are types of Beam bridges. Box girder bridges, made from steel, concrete, or both are also beam bridges. Beam bridge spans rarely exceed 250 feet (76 m) long, as the flexural stresses increase proportional to the square of the length (and deflection increases proportional to the 4th power of the length).[13]However, the main span of the Rio-Niteroi Bridge, a box girder bridge, is 300 metres (980 ft).[citation needed]The world’s longest beam bridge is Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in southern Louisiana in the United States, at 23.83 miles (38.35 km), with individual spans of 56 feet (17 m).[14] Beam bridges are the simplest and oldest type[15] of bridge in use today, and are a popular type.[16]
TrussBridge-diagram.svgTruss bridge

A truss bridge is a bridge whose load-bearing superstructure is composed of a truss. This truss is a structure of connected elements forming triangular units. The connected elements (typically straight) may be stressed from tension, compression, or sometimes both in response to dynamic loads. Truss bridges are one of the oldest types of modern bridges. The basic types of truss bridges shown in this article have simple designs which could be easily analyzed by nineteenth and early twentieth century engineers. A truss bridge is economical to construct owing to its efficient use of materials.
CantileverBridge-diagram.svgCantilever bridge

Cantilever bridges are built using cantilevers—horizontal beams supported on only one end. Most cantilever bridges use a pair of continuous spans that extend from opposite sides of the supporting piers to meet at the center of the obstacle the bridge crosses. Cantilever bridges are constructed using much the same materials & techniques as beam bridges. The difference comes in the action of the forces through the bridge.Some cantilever bridges also have a smaller beam connecting the two cantilevers, for extra strength.

The largest cantilever bridge is the 549-metre (1,801 ft) Quebec Bridge in Quebec, Canada.

ArchBridge-diagram.svgArch bridge

Arch bridges have abutments at each end. The weight of the bridge is thrust into the abutments at either side. The earliest known arch bridges were built by the Greeks, and include the Arkadiko Bridge.With the span of 220 metres (720 ft), the Solkan Bridge over the Soča River at Solkan in Slovenia is the second largest stone bridge in the world and the longest railroad stone bridge. It was completed in 1905. Its arch, which was constructed from over 5,000 tonnes (4,900 long tons; 5,500 short tons) of stone blocks in just 18 days, is the second largest stone arch in the world, surpassed only by the Friedensbrücke (Syratalviadukt) in Plauen, and the largest railroad stone arch. The arch of the Friedensbrücke, which was built in the same year, has the span of 90 m (295 ft) and crosses the valley of the Syrabach River. The difference between the two is that the Solkan Bridge was built from stone blocks, whereas the Friedensbrücke was built from a mixture of crushed stone and cement mortar.[17]

The world’s current largest arch bridge is the Chaotianmen Bridge over the Yangtze River with a length of 1,741 m (5,712 ft) and a span of 552 m (1,811 ft). The bridge was opened April 29, 2009 in Chongqing, China.[18]

TiedarchBridge-diagram.svgTied arch bridge

Tied arch bridges have an arch-shaped superstructure, but differ from conventional arch bridges. Instead of transferring the weight of the bridge and traffic loads into thrust forces into the abutments, the ends of the arches are restrained by tension in the bottom chord of the structure. They are also called bowstring arches.
SuspensionBridge-diagram.svgSuspension bridge

Suspension bridges are suspended from cables. The earliest suspension bridges were made of ropes or vines covered with pieces of bamboo. In modern bridges, the cables hang from towers that are attached to caissons or cofferdams. The caissons or cofferdams are implanted deep into the bed of the lake, river or sea. Sub-types include the simple suspension bridge, the stressed ribbon bridge, the underspanned suspension bridge, the suspended-deck suspension bridge, and the self-anchored suspension bridge. There is also what is sometimes called a “semi-suspension” bridge, of which the Ferry Bridge in Burton-upon-Trent is the only one of its kind in Europe.[19]The longest suspension bridge in the world is the 3,909 m (12,825 ft) Akashi Kaikyō Bridge in Japan.[20]
CableStayedBridge-diagram.svgCable-stayed bridge

Cable-stayed bridges, like suspension bridges, are held up by cables. However, in a cable-stayed bridge, less cable is required and the towers holding the cables are proportionately higher.[21] The first known cable-stayed bridge was designed in 1784 by C. T. (or C. J.) Löscher.[22][23]The longest cable-stayed bridge since 2012 is the Russky Bridge in VladivostokRussia.[24]

Fixed or movable bridges

File:Moving a Bloomingdale Trail bridge from Ashland to Western on a Saturday in Chicago.webmhd.webm

Moving a Bloomingdale Trail bridge from Ashland to Western in Chicago.

Most bridges are fixed bridges, meaning they have no moving parts and stay in one place until they fail or are demolished. Temporary bridges, such as Bailey bridges, are designed to be assembled, and taken apart, transported to a different site, and re-used. They are important in military engineering, and are also used to carry traffic while an old bridge is being rebuilt. Movable bridges are designed to move out of the way of boats or other kinds of traffic, which would otherwise be too tall to fit. These are generally electrically powered.

Double-decked bridges

The double-decked George Washington Bridge, connecting New York City to Bergen CountyNew Jersey, US, is the world’s busiest bridge, carrying 102 million vehicles annually.[25][26]

Double-decked (or double-decker) bridges have two levels, such as the George Washington Bridge, connecting New York City to Bergen CountyNew Jersey, US, as the world’s busiest bridge, carrying 102 million vehicles annually;[25][26] truss work between the roadway levels provided stiffness to the roadways and reduced movement of the upper level when the lower level was installed three decades after the upper level. The Tsing Ma Bridge and Kap Shui Mun Bridge in Hong Kong have six lanes on their upper decks, and on their lower decks there are two lanes and a pair of tracks for MTR metro trains. Some double-decked bridges only use one level for street traffic; the Washington Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis reserves its lower level for automobile and light rail traffic and its upper level for pedestrian and bicycle traffic (predominantly students at the University of Minnesota). Likewise, in Toronto, the Prince Edward Viaduct has five lanes of motor traffic, bicycle lanes, and sidewalks on its upper deck; and a pair of tracks for the Bloor–Danforth subway line on its lower deck. The western span of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge also has two levels.

Robert Stephenson‘s High Level Bridge across the River Tyne in Newcastle upon Tyne, completed in 1849, is an early example of a double-decked bridge. The upper level carries a railway, and the lower level is used for road traffic. Other examples include Britannia Bridge over the Menai Strait and Craigavon Bridge in DerryNorthern Ireland. The Oresund Bridge between Copenhagen and Malmö consists of a four-lane highway on the upper level and a pair of railway tracks at the lower level. Tower Bridge in London is different example of a double-decked bridge, with the central section consisting of a low level bascule span and a high level footbridge.


A viaduct is made up of multiple bridges connected into one longer structure. The longest and some of the highest bridges are viaducts, such as the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway and Millau Viaduct.

Three-way bridges

The three-way Tridge

A three-way bridge has three separate spans which meet near the center of the bridge. The bridge appears as a “T” or “Y” when viewed from above. Three-way bridges are extremely rare. The TridgeMargaret Bridge, and Zanesville Y-Bridge are examples.

Bridge types by use

A bridge can be categorized by what it is designed to carry, such as trains, pedestrian or road traffic, a pipeline or waterway for water transport or barge traffic. An aqueduct is a bridge that carries water, resembling a viaduct, which is a bridge that connects points of equal height. A road-rail bridge carries both road and rail traffic. A bridge can carry overhead power lines as does the Storstrøm Bridge.

Some bridges accommodate other purposes, such as the tower of Nový Most Bridge in Bratislava, which features a restaurant, or a bridge-restaurant which is a bridge built to serve as a restaurant. Other suspension bridge towers carry transmission antennas.

Bridges are subject to unplanned uses as well. The areas underneath some bridges have become makeshift shelters and homes to homeless people, and the undertimbers of bridges all around the world are spots of prevalent graffiti. Some bridges attract people attempting suicide, and become known as suicide bridges.

Bridge types by material

The Iron Bridge completed in 1781 was the first cast iron bridge.

Krämerbrücke in ErfurtGermany – with half timbered buildings

Small stone bridge, OthonoiGreece

The materials used to build the structure are also used to categorize bridges. Until the end of the 18th Century, bridges were made out of timber, stone and masonry. Modern bridges are currently built in concrete, steel, fiber reinforced polymers (FRP), stainless steel or combinations of those materials. Living bridges have been constructed of live plants such as Ficus elastica tree roots in India[27] and wisteria vines in Japan.[28]

Bridge type Materials used
Cantilever For small footbridges, the cantilevers may be simple beams; however, large cantilever bridges designed to handle road or rail traffic use trusses built from structural steel, or box girders built from prestressed concrete.[29]
Suspension The cables are usually made of steel cables galvanised with zinc, along with most of the bridge, but some bridges are still made with steel reinforced concrete.[30]
Arch Stonebrick and other such materials that are strong in compression and somewhat so in shear.
Beam Beam bridges can use pre-stressed concrete, an inexpensive building material, which is then embedded with rebar. The resulting bridge can resist both compression and tension forces.[31]
Truss The triangular pieces of Truss bridges are manufactured from straight and steel bars, according to the truss bridge designs.[32]


The World Heritage Site of Stari Most (Old Bridge) gives its name to the city of MostarBosnia and Herzegovina

Most bridges are utilitarian in appearance, but in some cases, the appearance of the bridge can have great importance. Often, this is the case with a large bridge that serves as an entrance to a city, or crosses over a main harbor entrance. These are sometimes known as signature bridges. Designers of bridges in parks and along parkways often place more importance to aesthetics, as well. Examples include the stone-faced bridges along the Taconic State Parkway in New York.

To create a beautiful image, some bridges are built much taller than necessary. This type, often found in east-Asian style gardens, is called a Moon bridge, evoking a rising full moon. Other garden bridges may cross only a dry bed of stream washed pebbles, intended only to convey an impression of a stream. Often in palaces a bridge will be built over an artificial waterway as symbolic of a passage to an important place or state of mind. A set of five bridges cross a sinuous waterway in an important courtyard of the Forbidden City in BeijingChina. The central bridge was reserved exclusively for the use of the Emperor, Empress, and their attendants.

Bridge maintenance

Highway bridge treated with high-frequency impact treatment

Bridge maintenance consisting of a combination of structural health monitoring and testing. This is regulated in country-specific engineer standards and includes e.g. an ongoing monitoring every three to six months, a simple test or inspection every two to three years and a major inspection every six to ten years. In Europe, the cost of maintenance is higher than spending on new bridges. The lifetime of welded steel bridges can be significantly extended by aftertreatment of the weld transitions . This results in a potential high benefit, using existing bridges far beyond the planned lifetime.

Bridge failures

The failure of bridges is of special concern for structural engineers in trying to learn lessons vital to bridge design, construction and maintenance. The failure of bridges first assumed national interest during the Victorian era when many new designs were being built, often using new materials.

In the United States, the National Bridge Inventory tracks the structural evaluations of all bridges, including designations such as “structurally deficient” and “functionally obsolete”.

Bridge monitoring

There are several methods used to monitor the stress on large structures like bridges. The most common method is the use of an accelerometer, which is integrated into the bridge while it is being built. This technology is used for long-term surveillance of the bridge.[33]

Another option for structural-integrity monitoring is “non-contact monitoring”, which uses the Doppler effect (Doppler shift). A laser beam from a Laser Doppler Vibrometer is directed at the point of interest, and the vibration amplitude and frequency are extracted from the Doppler shift of the laser beam frequency due to the motion of the surface.[34] The advantage of this method is that the setup time for the equipment is faster and, unlike an accelerometer, this makes measurements possible on multiple structures in as short a time as possible. Additionally, this method can measure specific points on a bridge that might be difficult to access.

Visual index

See also


  1. Jump up^ Fowler (1925). The Concise Oxford Dictionary. Oxford University Press. p. 102.
  2. Jump up^ Kutz, Myer (2011). Handbook of Transportation Engineering, Volume II: Applications and Technologies, Second Edition. McGraw-Hill Professional. ISBN 978-0-07-161477-1.
  3. Jump up^ DeLony, Eric (1996). “Context for World Heritage Bridges”. Archived from the original on February 21, 2005.
  4. Jump up^ “History of BRIDGES”. Archived from the original on January 6, 2012. Retrieved January 4, 2012.
  5. Jump up^ “Lessons from Roman Cement and Concrete”. Archived from the original on February 10, 2005. Retrieved January 4, 2012.
  6. Jump up^ Dikshitar, V. R. R. Dikshitar (1993). The Mauryan Polity, Motilal Banarsidass, p. 332 ISBN 81-208-1023-6.
  7. Jump up to:a b Dutt, Romesh Chunder (2000). A History of Civilisation in Ancient India: Vol II, Routledge, p. 46, ISBN 0-415-23188-4.
  8. Jump up^ “suspension bridge” in Encyclopædia Britannica (2008). 2008 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
  9. Jump up^ Nath, R. (1982). History of Mughal Architecture, Abhinav Publications, p. 213, ISBN 81-7017-159-8.
  10. Jump up^ “Iron Bridge”Engineering Timelines. Engineering Timelines. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  11. Jump up^ Sapp, Mark E. (February 22, 2008). “Welding Timeline 1900–1950”. Archived from the original on August 3, 2008. Retrieved April 29, 2008.
  12. Jump up^ “Beam bridges”. Design Technology. Archived from the original on May 18, 2008. Retrieved May 14, 2008.
  13. Jump up^ Structural Beam Deflection Stress Bending Equations / Calculation Supported on Both Ends Uniform Loading Archived January 22, 2013, at Engineers Edge. Retrieved on April 23, 2013.
  14. Jump up^ “A big prefabricated bridge”. Life40 (22): 53–60. May 28, 1956.
  15. Jump up^ “ASCE | Civil What? | Bridges”www.asceville.orgArchived from the original on February 3, 2017. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  16. Jump up^ Naito, Clay; Sause, Richard; Hodgson, Ian; Pessiki, Stephen; Macioce, Thomas (2010). “Forensic Examination of a Noncomposite Adjacent Precast Prestressed Concrete Box Beam Bridge”Journal of Bridge Engineering15 (4): 408–418. doi:10.1061/(ASCE)BE.1943-5592.0000110.
  17. Jump up^ Gorazd Humar (September 2001). “World Famous Arch Bridges in Slovenia”. In Charles Abdunur. Arch’01: troisième Conférence internationale sur les ponts en arc Paris: (in English and French). Paris: Presses des Ponts. pp. 121–124. ISBN 2-85978-347-4Archived from the original on July 30, 2016.
  18. Jump up^ “Longest bridge, steel arch bridge”. Guinness World Records. Archived from the original on October 19, 2013. Retrieved February 18, 2013.
  19. Jump up^ A.O.P. Guide to Burton-on-Trent, 1911, p.13
  20. Jump up^ Sigmund, Pete (February 7, 2007). “The Mighty Mac: A Sublime Engineering Feat”. Construction Equipment Guide. Archived from the original on April 5, 2013. Retrieved May 14,2008.
  21. Jump up^ Johnson, Andy. “Cable Stay vs Suspension Bridges”. U.S. Department of Energy. Archivedfrom the original on May 18, 2008.
  22. Jump up^ Earliest cable-stayed bridge Archived November 15, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  23. Jump up^ Earliest cable-stayed bridge Archived February 9, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  24. Jump up^ Elder, Miriam (July 2, 2012). “Russian city of Vladivostok unveils record-breaking suspension bridge”. The Guardian. Archived from the original on January 20, 2016. Retrieved February 3,2016.
  25. Jump up to:a b “Port Authority of New York and New Jersey – George Washington Bridge”. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Archived from the original on September 20, 2013. Retrieved September 13, 2013.
  26. Jump up to:a b Bod Woodruff; Lana Zak & Stephanie Wash (November 20, 2012). “GW Bridge Painters: Dangerous Job on Top of the World’s Busiest Bridge”. ABC News. Archived from the original on September 28, 2013. Retrieved September 13, 2013.
  27. Jump up^ “How are Living Root Bridges Made?”The Living Root Bridge Project. May 5, 2017. Archivedfrom the original on September 5, 2017. Retrieved September 8, 2017.
  28. Jump up^ “The Vine Bridges of Iya Valley”Atlas ObscuraArchived from the original on September 8, 2017. Retrieved September 8, 2017.
  29. Jump up^ “Cantilever”Bridges of DublinArchived from the original on October 29, 2014.
  30. Jump up^ “Suspension Bridges”Made HowArchived from the original on January 2, 2015.
  31. Jump up^ “Beam Bridges”PBSArchived from the original on January 6, 2015.
  32. Jump up^ K, Aggeliki; Stonecypher, Lamar. “Truss Bridge Designs”Bright Hub EngineeringArchivedfrom the original on February 19, 2015.
  33. Jump up^ “The new Minnesota smart bridge” (PDF). mnme.comArchived (PDF) from the original on August 23, 2012. Retrieved January 30, 2012.
  34. Jump up^ “Basic Principles of Vibrometry”polytec.comArchived from the original on June 10, 2012. Retrieved January 25, 2012.

Further reading

  • Brown, David J. Bridges: Three Thousand Years of Defying Nature. Richmond Hill, Ont: Firefly Books, 2005. ISBN 1-55407-099-6.
  • Sandak, Cass R. Bridges. An Easy-read modern wonders book. New York: F. Watts, 1983. ISBN 0-531-04624-9.
  • Whitney, Charles S. Bridges of the World: Their Design and Construction. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2003. ISBN 0-486-42995-4 (Unabridged republication of Bridges : a study in their art, science, and evolution. 1929.)

External links


Atafu atoll in Tokelau

A small Fijian island
The British Isles are a large group of islands. The main islands are Great Britain and Ireland.
A small island in Lower Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks in the U.S.
Bangchuidao Island is an islet composed mostly of rock, in DalianLiaoning Province, China.
The islands of Fernando de NoronhaBrazil, are the visible parts of submerged mountains.
A subterranean isle in Cross Cave
Manhattan, U.S. is home to over 1.6 million people.
Kansai Airport is built on an artificial island in Japan.

An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water.[2] Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called isletsskerriescays or keys. An island in a river or a lake island may be called an eyot or ait, and a small island off the coast may be called a holm. A grouping of geographically or geologically related islands is called an archipelago, such as the Philippines, for example.

Little island in bog of Cenu (Cenu tīrelis) at Riga in Latvia. Photo: Atis Luguzs, summer of 2017
A little island in the bog of Cenas (Cenas tīrelis) near Riga in Latvia. Photo: Atis Luguzs, summer of 2017

An island may be described as such, despite the presence of an artificial land bridge; examples are Singapore and its causeway, and the various Dutch delta islands, such as IJsselmonde. Some places may even retain “island” in their names for historical reasons after being connected to a larger landmass by a land bridge or landfill, such as Coney Island and Coronado Island, though these are strictly tied islands. Conversely, when a piece of land is separated from the mainland by a man-made canal, for example the Peloponnese by the Corinth Canalor Marble Hill in northern Manhattan during the time between the building of the United States Ship Canal and the filling-in of the Harlem River which surrounded the area, it is generally not considered an island.

There are two main types of islands in the sea: continental and oceanic. There are also artificial islands.

Sala latviešu valodā > šeit >


The word island derives from Middle English iland, from Old English igland (from ig or ieg, similarly meaning ‘island’ when used independently, and -land carrying its contemporary meaning; cf. Dutch eiland (“island”), German Eiland (“small island”)). However, the spelling of the word was modified in the 15th century because of a false etymology caused by an incorrect association with the etymologically unrelated Old French loanword isle, which itself comes from the Latin word insula.[3] Old English ieg is actually a cognate of Swedish ö and German Aue, and related to Latin aqua (water).[4]

Difference between islands and continents

Greenland is the world’s largest island, with an area of over 2.1 million km2, while Australia, the world’s smallest continent, has an area of 7.6 million km2, but there is no standard of size which distinguishes islands from continents,[5] or from islets.[6] There is a difference between islands and continents in terms of geology. Continents sit on continental lithosphere which is part of tectonic plates floating high on Earth’s mantleOceanic crust is also part of tectonic plates, but it is denser than continental lithosphere, so it floats low on the mantle. Islands are either extensions of the oceanic crust (e.g. volcanic islands) or geologically they are part of some continent sitting on continental lithosphere (e.g. Greenland). This holds true for Australia, which sits on its own continental lithosphere and tectonic plate.

Types of islands

Continental islands

Continental islands are bodies of land that lie on the continental shelf of a continent.[7] Examples are BorneoJavaSumatraSakhalinTaiwan and Hainan off AsiaNew GuineaTasmania, and Kangaroo Island off AustraliaGreat BritainIreland, and Sicily off EuropeGreenlandNewfoundlandLong Island, and Sable Island off North America; and BarbadosFalklands and Trinidad off South America.

A special type of continental island is the microcontinental island, which is created when a continent is rifted. Examples are Madagascar and Socotra off Africa, the Kerguelen IslandsNew CaledoniaNew Zealand, and some of the Seychelles.

Another subtype is an island or bar formed by deposition of tiny rocks where water current loses some of its carrying capacity. This includes:

  • barrier islands, which are accumulations of sand deposited by sea currents on the continental shelves
  • fluvial or alluvial islands formed in river deltas or midstream within large rivers. While some are transitory and may disappear if the volume or speed of the current changes, others are stable and long-lived.

Islets are very small islands.

Oceanic islands

Oceanic islands are islands that do not sit on continental shelves. The vast majority are volcanic in origin, such as Saint Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean.[8] The few oceanic islands that are not volcanic are tectonic in origin and arise where plate movements have lifted up the ocean floor above the surface. Examples are Saint Peter and Paul Rocks in the Atlantic Ocean and Macquarie Island in the Pacific.

One type of volcanic oceanic island is found in a volcanic island arc. These islands arise from volcanoes where the subduction of one plate under another is occurring. Examples are the Aleutian Islands, the Mariana Islands, and most of Tonga in the Pacific Ocean. The only examples in the Atlantic Ocean are some of the Lesser Antilles and the South Sandwich Islands.

Another type of volcanic oceanic island occurs where an oceanic rift reaches the surface. There are two examples: Iceland, which is the world’s second largest volcanic island, and Jan Mayen. Both are in the Atlantic.

A third type of volcanic oceanic island is formed over volcanic hotspots. A hotspot is more or less stationary relative to the moving tectonic plate above it, so a chain of islands results as the plate drifts. Over long periods of time, this type of island is eventually “drowned” by isostatic adjustment and eroded, becoming a seamount. Plate movement across a hot-spot produces a line of islands oriented in the direction of the plate movement. An example is the Hawaiian Islands, from Hawaii to Kure, which continue beneath the sea surface in a more northerly direction as the Emperor Seamounts. Another chain with similar orientation is the Tuamotu Archipelago; its older, northerly trend is the Line Islands. The southernmost chain is the Austral Islands, with its northerly trending part the atolls in the nation of TuvaluTristan da Cunha is an example of a hotspot volcano in the Atlantic Ocean. Another hot spot in the Atlantic is the island of Surtsey, which was formed in 1963.

An atoll is an island formed from a coral reef that has grown on an eroded and submerged volcanic island. The reef rises to the surface of the water and forms a new island. Atolls are typically ring-shaped with a central lagoon. Examples are the Line Islands in the Pacific and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean.

Tropical islands

Approximately 45,000 tropical islands with an area of at least 5 hectares (12 acres) exist.[9] Examples formed from coral reefs include MaldivesTongaSamoaNauru, and Polynesia.[9] Granite islands include Seychelles and Tioman and volcanic islands such as Saint Helena.

The socio-economic diversity of tropical islands ranges from the Stone Age societies in the interior of MadagascarBorneo, and Papua New Guinea to the high-tech lifestyles of the city-islands of Singapore and Hong Kong.[10]

International tourism is a significant factor in the economy of many tropical islands including Seychelles, Sri LankaMauritiusRéunionHawaii, and the Maldives.

Artificial islands

Almost all of the Earth’s islands are natural and have been formed by tectonic forces or volcanic eruptions. However, artificial (man-made) islands also exist, such as the island in Osaka Bay off the Japanese island of Honshu, on which Kansai International Airport is located. Artificial islands can be built using natural materials (e.g., earth, rock, or sand) or artificial ones (e.g., concrete slabs or recycled waste).[11][12] Sometimes natural islands are artificially enlarged, such as Vasilyevsky Island in the Russian city of St. Petersburg, which had its western shore extended westward by some 0.5 km in the construction of the Passenger Port of St. Petersburg.[13]

Artificial islands are sometimes built on pre-existing “low-tide elevation”, a naturally formed area of land which is surrounded by and above water at low tide but submerged at high tide. Legally it is not an island and has no territorial sea of its own.[14]

Island superlatives

See also



  1. Jump up^ “Hawaii : Image of the Day”Archived from the original on January 10, 2015. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
  2. Jump up^ “Webster’s Dictionary-Island”Archived from the original on October 9, 2011.
  3. Jump up^ “Island”Dictionary.comArchived from the original on March 7, 2007. Retrieved March 5, 2007.
  4. Jump up^ Ringe, Donald A. (2006). A Linguistic History of English: From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic. Oxford University Press. p. 109. ISBN 0-19-928413-X.
  5. Jump up^ Brown, Mike. How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It ComingArchived April 19, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.. New York: Random House Digital, 2010. ISBN 0-385-53108-7
  6. Jump up^ Royle, Stephen A. A Geography of Islands: Small Island Insularity Archived September 21, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.. Psychology Press, 2001. pp. 7–11 ISBN 1-85728-865-3
  7. Jump up^ “Island (geography)”Encyclopædia BritannicaArchivedfrom the original on October 8, 2014. Retrieved September 16,2014.
  8. Jump up^ Lomolino, Mark V. (editor); (et al.) (2004) Foundations of Biogeography: Classic Papers with CommentariesArchived April 18, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.. University of Chicago Press. p. 316. ISBN 0226492362
  9. Jump up to:a b Austrian Academy of Sciences. “The Tropical Islands of the Indian and Pacific Oceans”. doi:10.1553/3-7001-2738-3.
  10. Jump up^ Arnberger, Hertha, Erik (2011). The Tropical Islands of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences Press. ISBN 978-3700127383.
  11. Jump up^ “Building Artificial Islands That Rise With the Sea”Archived from the original on June 5, 2016. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  12. Jump up^ “What Makes an Island? Land Reclamation and the South China Sea Arbitration | Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative”. July 15, 2015. Archived from the original on May 27, 2016. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  13. Jump up^ “Conception of development of the artificial lands of Vasilievsky island”. Archived from the original on September 25, 2016. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  14. Jump up^ United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Article 13Archived from the original on September 2, 2017. Retrieved August 25, 2017.

External links

Vanšu tilts, Rīga

Vanšu tilts
Vanšu tilts
Transporta veids Autotransports
Šķērso Daugava
Atrašanās vieta RīgaLatvija
Koordinātas 56°57′04″N 24°05′43″E
Apkalpo Rīgas Tilti
Tilta tips Slīpsaišu
Balstu skaits 2
Posma garums 312 metri
Garums 625 metri (595) [1]
Platums 28,4 metri
Augstums 109 metri
Tilts atklāts 1981. gads 21. jūlijs
 Vanšu tilts Vikikrātuvē

Vanšu tilta celtniecība

Vanšu tilts ir slīpsaišu tilts pār Daugavu Rīgā, tā garums ir 312 metri. Tilts atklāts 1981. gada 17. jūlijā,[2] pēc citas informācijas 21. jūlijā,[3] kā Gorkija tilts. Tas ir viena pilona slīpsaišu tilts ar vienā plaknē izvietotām vantīm ar garāko laidumu pasaulē. [4] Tilts ir vistālāk uz ziemeļiem esošais Daugavas šķērsojums.

2011. gadā tika uzsākta tilta pabeigšanas stadija, sākot būvēt kreisā krasta brauktuvju un ietvju gultnes, ieguldot jaunas apakšzemes komunikācijas, estakāžu balstu būvi. Palpašināta Daugavgrīvas iela, plānota arī jauna tiltu pār Zunda kanālu celšana, kas kalpos kā jauns pieslēgums Daugavgrīvas ielai pie Ķīpsalas virzienā no Raņķa dambja uz Kr.Valdemāra ielu.[5]

Vanšu tilta Vēsture

Vanšu tilts tika uzbūvēts blakus vietai, kur kādreiz atradās pār Daugavu 1945. gadā uzceltais koka pagaidu tilts (tā saucamais Valdemāra tilts). Valdemāra tilts darbojās līdz 1950. gadu beigām. Sakarā ar jaunā Oktobra (tagad Akmens tilta) atklāšanu 1957. gadā, pontontilts, kas līdz tam nodrošināja satiksmi pār Daugavu Akmens tilta vietā, tika pārvietots blakus Valdemāra tiltam. Valdemāra tilta paliekas pastāvēja līdz 1964. gadam, kad tas tika pakāpeniski demontēts.[6]

Vanšu tilts naktī

Vanšu tilta kāpēji pieprasa eklērus

Portāls 2009. gada 27. oktobra rakstā apkopo visus Vanšu tilta iekarotājus.

2005. gadā tiesa par nepieskaitāmu atzina pašu pirmo, turklāt divkārtējo Vanšu tilta iekarotāju Silardu Ilgaču. Viņš pirmais uzkāpa vantīs, par ko saņēma piespiedu ārstēšanu apsardzes uzraudzībā.

2002. gada 4. jūnijā septiņas reizes par zādzībām sodītais Silards sasniedza tilta smaili. Viņa vienīgais ekipējums bija elastīgā saite, aptīta ap labo roku. Silarda kaklā karājās liels koka krusts.

Iepriekšējā vakarā bezpajumtnieku patversmē Silards likteņa biedriem savus plānus neslēpa — esot grēkojis, un, ja nenositīsies, Dievs piedos. Policijas specvienībai Silards lūdza četrus eklērus ar balto pildījumu un minerālūdeni, bet saņēma tikai pēdējo. Jau 10. jūlija vakarā Silards kāpa vēlreiz un atkal prasīja eklērus — jau desmit, bet nedabūja.

Dzeloņstieplēm rotātās Vanšu tilta vantis attur potenciālos kāpējus no tilta smailes iekarošanas. Foto: Atis Luguzs 2018.g. 3.feb.
Dzeloņstieplēm rotātās Vanšu tilta vantis attur potenciālos kāpējus no tilta smailes iekarošanas. Foto: Atis Luguzs 2018.g. 3.feb.

Skatīt arī

Piezīmes un atsauces

  1. Pārlēkt uz augšu Nepārtraukts laidums, kurš ir atbalstīts tikai ar balstiem.
  2. Pārlēkt uz augšu Pēteris Jērāns (redaktors). Rīga: enciklopēdija. Rīga : Galvenā enciklopēdiju redakcija, 1988. 768. lpp.
  3. Pārlēkt uz augšu Citas Padomju Rīgas apskates vietas / Vanšu tilts,
  4. Pārlēkt uz augšu Nový Most.
  5. Pārlēkt uz augšu Rīgā pieliks punktu tilta būvei, paplašina maģistrāli. // Dienas bizness. 16.01.2012. 12. lpp.
  6. Pārlēkt uz augšu Gorkija tilts,
  7. Vanšu tilts dod labus skatpunktus Vecrīgas, Daugavas, Rīgas tiltu un Pārdaugavas fotografēšanai.

Ārējās saites

Vecrīgas panorāma no Vanšu tilta

Vanšu tilts dod dažus ļoti labus skatpunktus Vecrīgas panorāmas un arhitektūras siluetu fotografēšanai. Sv. Pētera baznīca, Rīgas Doms un Rīgas pils kopā ar citām pilsētas torņu smailēm veido fotogrāfa saldo ēdienu. Pavisam jaukas fotogrāfijas izdodas, kad Daugava bezvējā ir gluda kā spogulis un dāvā skaistus baznīcu torņu atspulgus.

Sv Pētera Baznīca Vecrīgā no Daugavas krastmalas Rīgā. Foto: Atis Luguzs
Sv Pētera Baznīca VecrīgāDaugavas krastmalas ainava Rīgā no Vanšu tilta. Foto: Atis Luguzs, 2018.g. 3.feb.
Rīgas panorāma, Doms un Sv. Pētera baznīca. Daugavas krasta ainava no Vanšu tilta. Foto: Atis Luguzs, 2018.g. 3.feb.
Rīgas panorāma, Doms un Sv. Pētera baznīca. Daugavas krasta ainava no Vanšu tilta. Foto: Atis Luguzs, 2018.g. 3.feb.
Rīga, Vecrīgas panorāma, ( rindā no kreisās) Doma, Anglikāņu un Sv. Pētera baznīcas. Foto: Atis Luguzs, 2018.g. 3.feb.
Rīga, Vecrīgas panorāma, ( rindā no kreisās) Rīgas Doms, Anglikāņu un Sv. Pētera baznīcas. Foto: Atis Luguzs, 2018.g. 3.feb.
Rīga, Vecrīgas panorāma, (rindā no kreisās) Doma, Sv. Pētera un Anglikāņu baznīca. Foto: Atis Luguzs, 2018.g. 3.feb.
Rīga, Vecrīgas panorāma, (rindā no kreisās) Rīgas Doms, Sv. Pētera un Anglikāņu baznīca. Foto: Atis Luguzs, 2018.g. 3.feb.
Rīgas pils Daugavas krastmalā Vecrīgā pie Vanšu tilta. Aiz pils redzams Sv. Jēkaba katedrāles tornis. Labajā pusē pils ainavā iekļaujas Sāpju Dievmātes katoļu baznīca.
Rīgas pils Daugavas krastmalā Vecrīgā pie Vanšu tilta. Aiz pils redzams Sv. Jēkaba katedrāles tornis. Labajā pusē pils ainavā iekļaujas Sāpju Dievmātes katoļu baznīca.


Riga (/ˈrɡə/LatvianRīgapronounced [ˈriːɡa] (About this sound listen)) is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 641,481 inhabitants (2016),[3] it is also the largest city in the three Baltic states, home to one third of Latvia’s population and one tenth of the three Baltic states’ combined population.[6] The city lies on the Gulf of Riga, at the mouth of the Daugava. Riga’s territory covers 307.17 square kilometres (118.60 square miles) and lies between one and ten metres (3 feet 3 inches and 32 feet 10 inches) above sea level,[7] on a flat and sandy plain.[7]Lasīt par Rīgu latviešu valodā > šeit >

From top, left to right: the Freedom Monument, the Riga City Council building, the House of the Blackheads, Līvu Square, and the Latvian National Opera

From top, left to right: the Freedom Monument, the Riga City Council building, the House of the Blackheads, Līvu Square, and the Latvian National Opera
Flag of Riga
Coat of arms of Riga
Coat of arms
Location of Riga within Latvia
Location of Riga within Latvia
Coordinates: 56°56′56″N 24°6′23″ECoordinates56°56′56″N 24°6′23″E
Country  Latvia
 • Type City council
 • Mayor Nils Ušakovs
Area (2002)[2]
 • City 324 km2 (125 sq mi)
 • Land 275.5 km2 (106.4 sq mi)
 • Water 48.50 km2 (18.73 sq mi)  15.8%
 • Metro 10,133 km2 (3,912 sq mi)
Population (2017)[3]
 • City 641,423
 • Density 2,000/km2 (5,100/sq mi)
 • Metro 1,018,295 (Riga Planning Region)
 • Metro density 101.4/km2 (263/sq mi)
 • Demonym Rīdzinieki
Ethnicity (2016)[4]
 • Latvians 46.2%
 • Russians 37.7%
 • Belarusians 3.9%
 • Ukrainians 3.5%
 • Poles 1.8%
 • Lithuanians 0.8%
 • Romanies 0.1%
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Calling codes 66 and 67
GDP(nominal) 2012
 – Total €12($15) billion[5]
 – Per capita €18,000($21,000)
Historic Centre of Riga
UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Old Town of Riga

The old town of Riga – Vecrīga
Criteria Cultural: i, ii
Reference 852
Inscription 1997 (21st Session)
Area 438.3 ha
Buffer zone 1,574.2 ha

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.[8]Riga was the European Capital of Culture during 2014, along with Umeå in Sweden. Riga hosted the 2006 NATO Summit, the Eurovision Song Contest 2003, the 2006 IIHF Men’s World Ice Hockey Championships and the 2013 World Women’s Curling Championship. It is home to the European Union‘s office of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC).

In 2016, Riga received 2.3 million visitors.[9] It is served by Riga International Airport, the largest and busiest airport in the Baltic states. Riga is a member of Eurocities,[10] the Union of the Baltic Cities (UBC)[11] and Union of Capitals of the European Union (UCEU).[12]

Origin of the name Riga

One theory about the origin of the name Riga is that it is a corrupted borrowing from the Liv ringa meaning loop, referring to the ancient natural harbour formed by the tributary loop of the Daugava River.[13][14] The other is that Riga owes its name to this already-established role in commerce between East and West,[15] as a borrowing of the Latvian rija, for threshing barn, the “j” becoming a “g” in German — notably, Riga is called Rie by English geographer Richard Hakluyt (1589),[16][17] and German historian Dionysius Fabricius (1610) confirms the origin of Riga from rija.[16][18] Another theory could be that Riga was named after Riege, the German name for the River Rīdzene, a tributary of the Daugava.[19]

History of Riga

Historical affiliations
 Terra Mariana (condominium of Archbishops of Riga and Livonian Order) 1201–1561
 Imperial Free City 1561–1582
 Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth 1582–1629
 Swedish Empire 1629–1721
 Russian Empire 1721–1917
 German Empire 1917–1918
Latvia Republic of Latvia 1918–1940
 Soviet Union 1940–1941
 Nazi Germany 1941–1944
Soviet UnionLatvian Soviet Socialist Republic Soviet Union 1944–1991Latvia Republic of Latvia 1991–present

Founding of Riga

The river Daugava has been a trade route since antiquity, part of the Vikings’ Dvina-Dnieper navigation route to Byzantium.[16] A sheltered natural harbour 15 km (9.3 mi) upriver from the mouth of the Daugava — the site of today’s Riga — has been recorded, as Duna Urbs, as early as the 2nd century.[16] It was settled by the Livs, an ancient Finnic tribe.[13]

The building of the Brotherhood of Blackheads is one of the most iconic buildings of Old Riga (Vecrīga)

Riga began to develop as a centre of Viking trade during the early Middle Ages.[16] Riga’s inhabitants occupied themselves mainly with fishing, animal husbandry, and trading, later developing crafts (in bone, wood, amber, and iron).[16]

The Livonian Chronicle of Henry testifies to Riga having long been a trading centre by the 12th century, referring to it as portus antiquus (ancient port), and describes dwellings and warehouses used to store mostly corn, flax, and hides.[16] German traders began visiting Riga, establishing a nearby outpost in 1158.

Along with German traders also arrived the monk Meinhard of Segeberg[15] to convert the Livonian pagans to ChristianityCatholic and Orthodox Christianity had already arrived in Latvia more than a century earlier, and many Latvians baptised.[15][16] Meinhard settled among the Livs, building a castle and church at Ikšķile, upstream from Riga, and established his bishopric there.[15] The Livs, however, continued to practice paganism and Meinhard died in Ikšķile in 1196, having failed his mission.[20] In 1198, the Bishop Berthold arrived with a contingent of crusaders[20] and commenced a campaign of forced Christianization.[15][16] Berthold was killed soon afterwards and his forces defeated.[20]

The Church mobilised to avenge. Pope Innocent III issued a bull declaring a crusade against the Livonians.[20] Bishop Albert was proclaimed Bishop of Livonia by his uncle Hartwig of UthledePrince-Archbishop of Bremen and Hamburg in 1199. Albert landed in Riga in 1200[16][20] with 23 ships[21] and 500 Westphalian crusaders.[22] In 1201, he transferred the seat of the Livonian bishopric from Ikšķile to Riga, extorting agreement to do so from the elders of Riga by force.[16]

Under Bishop Albert

The year 1201 also marked the first arrival of German merchants in Novgorod, via the Dvina.[23] To defend territory[24] and trade, Albert established the Order of Livonian Brothers of the Sword in 1202, open to nobles and merchants.[23]

Christianization of the Livs continued. In 1207, Albert started on fortification of the town.[23][25] Emperor Philip invested Albert with Livonia as a fief[26] and principality of the Holy Roman Empire.[16] To promote a permanent military presence, territorial ownership was divided between the Church and the Order, with the Church taking Riga and two-thirds of all lands conquered and granting the Order a third.[27] Until then, it had been customary for crusaders to serve for a year and then return home.[27]

Albert had ensured Riga’s commercial future by obtaining papal bulls which decreed that all German merchants had to carry on their Baltic trade through Riga.[27] In 1211, Riga minted its first coinage,[16] and Albert laid the cornerstone for the Riga Dom.[28] Riga was not yet secure as an alliance of tribes failed to take Riga.[27] In 1212, Albert led a campaign to compel Polotsk to grant German merchants free river passage.[23] Polotsk conceded Kukenois (Koknese) and Jersika to Albert, also ending the Livs’ tribute to Polotsk.[29]

Riga’s merchant citizenry chafed and sought greater autonomy from the Church. In 1221, they acquired the right to independently self-administer Riga[24] and adopted a city constitution.[30]

That same year Albert was compelled to recognise Danish rule over lands they had conquered in Estonia and Livonia.[31] Albert had sought the aid of King Valdemar of Denmark to protect Riga and Livonian lands against Liv insurrection when reinforcements could not reach Riga. The Danes landed in Livonia, built a fortress at Reval (Tallinn) and set about conquering Estonian and Livonian lands. The Germans attempted, but failed, to assassinate Valdemar.[32] Albert was able to reach an accommodation with them a year later, however and, in 1222, Valdemar returned all Livonian lands and possessions to Albert’s control.[33]

Albert’s difficulties with Riga’s citizenry continued; with papal intervention, a settlement was reached in 1225 whereby they no longer had to pay tax to the Bishop of Riga,[34] and Riga’s citizens acquired the right to elect their magistrates and town councillors.[34] In 1226, Albert consecrated the Dom Cathedral,[16] built St. James’s Church,[16] (now a cathedral) and founded a parochial school at the Church of St. George.[15]

In 1227, Albert conquered Oesel[35] and the city of Riga concluded a treaty with the Principality of Smolensk giving Polotsk to Riga.[36]

Albert died in January 1229.[37] He failed in his aspiration to be anointed archbishop[26] but the German hegemony he established over the Baltic would last for seven centuries.[27]

Riga in the 16th century

Riga and Hanseatic League

In 1282, Riga became a member of the Hanseatic League. The Hansa was instrumental in giving Riga economic and political stability, thus providing the city with a strong foundation which endured the political conflagrations that were to come, down to modern times.

Riga in 1650. Drawing by Johann Christoph Brotze

Holy Roman Empire, Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Swedish and Russian Empires

As the influence of the Hanseatic League waned, Riga became the object of foreign military, political, religious and economic aspirations. Riga accepted the Reformation in 1522, ending the power of the archbishops. In 1524, iconoclasts targeted a statue of the Virgin Mary in the Cathedral to make a statement against religious icons. It was accused of being a witch, and given a trial by water in the Daugava River. The statue floated, so it was denounced as a witch and burnt at Kubsberg.[38] With the demise of the Livonian Order during the Livonian War, Riga for twenty years had the status of a Free Imperial City of the Holy Roman Empire before it came under the influence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth by the Treaty of Drohiczyn, which ended the war for Riga in 1581. In 1621, during the Polish–Swedish War (1621–1625), Riga and the outlying fortress of Daugavgriva came under the rule of Gustavus AdolphusKing of Sweden, who intervened in the Thirty Years’ War not only for political and economic gain but also in favour of German Lutheran Protestantism. During the Russo-Swedish War (1656–1658), Riga withstood a siege by Russian forces.

Riga remained the largest city in Sweden until 1710,[citation needed] a period during which the city retained a great deal of autonomous self-government. In that year, in the course of the Great Northern War, Russia under Tsar Peter the Great besieged plague-stricken Riga. Along with the other Livonian towns and gentry, Riga capitulated to Russia, but largely retained their privileges. Riga was made the capital of the Governorate of Riga (later: Livonia)Sweden’s northern dominance had ended, and Russia’s emergence as the strongest Northern power was formalised through the Treaty of Nystad in 1721. Riga became an industrialised port city of the Russian empire, in which it remained until World War I. By 1900, Riga was the third largest city in Russia after Moscow and Saint Petersburg in terms of the number of industrial workers and number of theatres.

German troops entering Riga during World War I.

During these many centuries of war and changes of power in the Baltic, and despite demographic changes, the Baltic Germans in Riga had maintained a dominant position. By 1867, Riga’s population was 42.9% German.[39] Riga employed German as its official language of administration until the installation of Russian in 1891 as the official language in the Baltic provinces, as part of the policy of Russification of the non-Russian speaking territories of the Russian Empire, including Congress Poland, Finland and the Baltics, undertaken by Tsar Alexander III. More and more Latvians started moving to the city during the mid-19th century. The rise of a Latvian bourgeoisie made Riga a centre of the Latvian National Awakening with the founding of the Riga Latvian Association in 1868 and the organisation of the first national song festival in 1873. The nationalist movement of the Neo-Latvians was followed by the socialist New Current during the city’s rapid industrialisation, culminating in the 1905 Revolution led by the Latvian Social Democratic Workers’ Party.

World War I impact to Riga

The 20th century brought World War I and the impact of the Russian Revolution of 1917 to Riga. In consequence of the battle of Jugla, the German army marched into Riga on 3 September 1917.[40] On 3 March 1918, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed, giving the Baltic countries to Germany. Because of the Armistice with Germany of 11 November 1918, Germany had to renounce that treaty, as did Russia, leaving Latvia and the other Baltic States in a position to claim independence. Latvia, with Riga as its capital city, thus declared its independence on 18 November 1918. Between World War I and World War II (1918–1940), Riga and Latvia shifted their focus from Russia to the countries of Western Europe. The United Kingdom and Germany replaced Russia as Latvia’s major trade partners. The majority of the Baltic Germans were resettled in late 1939, prior to the occupation of Estonia and Latvia by the Soviet Union in June 1940.

World War II

During World War II, Latvia was occupied by the Soviet Union in June 1940 and then was occupied by Nazi Germany in 1941–1944. On June 17, 1940, the Soviet forces invaded Latvia occupying bridges, post/telephone, telegraph, and broadcasting offices. Three days later, Latvian president Karlis Ulmanis was forced to approve a pro-Soviet government which had taken office. On July 14–15, rigged elections were held in Latvia and the other Baltic states, The ballots held following instructions: “Only the list of the Latvian Working People’s Bloc must be deposited in the ballot box. The ballot must be deposited without any changes.” The alleged voter activity index was 97.6%. Most notably, the complete election results were published in Moscow 12 hours before the election closed. Soviet electoral documents found later substantiated that the results were completely fabricated. Tribunals were set up to punish “traitors to the people” – those who had fallen short of the “political duty” of voting Latvia into the USSR and those who failed to have their passports stamped for so voting were allowed to be shot in the back of the head. The Soviet authorities, having regained control over Riga and Latvia imposed a regime of terror, opening the headquarters of the KGB, massive deportations started. Hundreds of men were arrested, including leaders of the former Latvian government. The most notorious deportation, the June deportation took place on June 13 and June 14, 1941, estimated at 15,600 men, women, and children, and including 20% of Latvia’s last legal government. Similar deportations were repeated after the end of WWII. The building of the KGB located in Brīvības iela 61, known as ‘the corner house’, is now a museum. Stalin’s deportations also included thousands of Latvian Jews. (The mass deportation totalled 131,500 across the Baltics.) Similar atrocities were made after the Nazi occupation of Latvia when the city’s Jewish community was forced into the Riga Ghetto and a Nazi concentration camp was constructed in Kaiserwald. On 25 October 1941, the Nazis relocated all Jews from Riga and the vicinity to the ghetto. Most of Latvia’s Jews (about 24,000) were killed on 30 November and 8 December 1941 in the Rumbula massacre.[41] By the end of the war, the remaining Baltic Germans were expelled to Germany.

The Soviet Red Army re-entered Riga on 13 October 1944. In the following years the massive influx of labourers, administrators, military personnel, and their dependents from Russia and other Soviet republics started. Microdistricts of the large multi-storied housing blocks were built to house immigrant workers.

By the end of the war, Rīga’s historical centre was heavily damaged because of constant bombing. After the war, huge efforts were made to reconstruct and renovate most of the famous buildings that were part of the skyline of the city before the war. Such buildings were, amongst others: St. Peter’s Church which lost its wooden tower after a fire caused by the Wehrmacht (renovated in 1954). Other example is The House of the Blackheads, completely destroyed, its ruins were subsequently demolished. A facsimile was subsequently constructed in 1995.

In 1989, the percentage of Latvians in Riga had fallen to 36.5%.[42]

Riga 21st century

In 2004, the arrival of low-cost airlines resulted in cheaper flights from other European cities such as London and Berlin and consequently a substantial increase in numbers of tourists.[43]

In November 2013, the roof of a supermarket collapsed, possibly as a result of the weight of materials used in the construction of a garden on the roof. At least 54 people were killed. The Latvian President Andris Berzins described the disaster as “a large scale murder of many defenceless people”.[44]

Riga was the European Capital of Culture in 2014.[45] During the Latvia’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2015 the 4th Eastern Partnership Summit took place in Riga.[46]

Geography of Riga

The river Daugava flows through Riga

Administrative divisions of Riga

Riga’s administrative divisions consist of six administrative entities: CentralKurzeme and Northern Districts and the LatgaleVidzeme and Zemgale Suburbs. Three entities were established on 1 September 1941, and the other three were established in October 1969.[47] There are no official lower level administrative units, but the Riga City Council Development Agency is working on a plan, which officially makes Riga consist of 58 neighbourhoods.[48] The current names were confirmed on 28 December 1990.[49]

Panorama over Riga from St. Peter’s Church

Climate of Riga

The climate of Riga is humid continental (Köppen Dfb). The coldest months are January and February, when the average temperature is −5 °C (23 °F) but temperatures as low as −20 to −25 °C (−4 to −13 °F) can be observed almost every year on the coldest days. The proximity of the sea causes frequent autumn rains and fogs. Continuous snow cover may last eighty days. The summers in Riga are cool and humid with the average temperature of 18 °C (64 °F), while the temperature on the hottest days can exceed 30 °C (86 °F).

Climate data for Riga
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F)
Average high °C (°F)
Daily mean °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Record low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Average precipitation days
21.5 18.6 15.7 11.0 11.8 12.1 12.8 13.7 13.0 16.0 18.9 20.6 185.7
Average relative humidity (%)
87.9 85.2 79.4 69.7 67.7 72.0 74.2 76.7 81.1 85.1 90.2 89.4 79.9
Mean monthly sunshine hours
31.0 62.2 127.1 183.0 263.5 288.0 263.5 229.4 153.0 93.0 39.0 21.7 1,754.4
Source #1: Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Agency (avg high and low)[50]
Source #2: NOAA (sun and extremes)[51]

Government of Riga

Nils Ušakovs, the first ethnic Russian mayor of Riga in independent Latvia

The head of the city government in Riga is the mayor. Incumbent mayor Nils Ušakovs, who is a member of the Harmony party, took office on 1 July 2009.

The city council is a democratically elected institution and is the final decision-making authority in the city. The Council consists of 60 members who are elected every four years. The Presidium of the Riga City Council consists of the Chairman of the Riga City Council and the representatives delegated by the political parties or party blocks elected to the City Council.

Demographics of Riga

With 639,630 inhabitants in 2016 as according to the Central statistical administration of Latvia,[3] Riga is the largest city in the Baltic States, though its population has decreased from just over 900,000 in 1991.[3] Notable causes include emigration and low birth rates. Some have estimated that the population may fall by as much as 50% by 2050.[52][not in citation given][who?] According to the 2017 data, ethnic Latvians made up 44.03% of the population of Riga, while ethnic Russians formed 37.88%, Belarusians 3.72%, Ukrainians 3.66%, Poles 1.83% and other ethnicities 9.10%. By comparison, 60.1% of Latvia’s total population was ethnically Latvian, 26.2% Russian, 3.3% Belarusian, 2.4% Ukrainian, 2.1% Polish, 1.2% are Lithuanian and the rest of other origins.[53]

Upon the restoration of Latvia’s independence in 1991, Soviet era immigrants (and any of their offspring born before 1991) were not automatically granted Latvian citizenship because they had migrated to the territory of Latvia during the years when Latvia was part of the Soviet Union. In 2013 citizens of Latvia made up 73.1%, non-citizens 21.9% and citizens of other countries 4.9% of the population of Riga.[54] The proportion of ethnic Latvians in Riga increased from 36.5% in 1989 to 42.4% in 2010. In contrast, the percentage of Russians fell from 47.3% to 40.7% in the same time period. Latvians overtook Russians as the largest ethnic group in 2006.[4] Further projections show that the ethnic Russian population will continue a steady decline, despite higher birth rates, due to emigration.[citation needed]

Historic population figures of Riga

population in thousands.

Econom of Riga

Riga is one of the key economic and financial centres of the Baltic States. Roughly half of all the jobs in Latvia are in Riga and the city generates more than 50% of Latvia’s GDP as well as around half of Latvia’s exports. The biggest exporters are in wood products, IT, food and beverage manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, transport and metallurgy.[55] Riga Port is one of the largest in the Baltics. It handled a record 34 million tons of cargo in 2011[56] and has potential for future growth with new port developments on Krievu Sala.[57]Tourism is also a large industry in Riga and after a slowdown during the recent global economic recessions, grew 22% in 2011 alone.[58]

Culture of Riga

Theatres of Riga

  • The Latvian National Opera was founded in 1918. The repertoire of the theatre embraces all opera masterpieces. The Latvian National Opera is famous not only for its operas, but for its ballet troupe as well.[59]
  • The Latvian National Theatre was founded in 1919. The Latvian National Theatre preserves the traditions of Latvian drama school. It is one of the biggest theatres in Latvia.[60]
  • The Mikhail Chekhov Riga Russian Theatre is the oldest professional drama theatre in Latvia, established in 1883. The repertoire of the theatre includes classical plays and experimental performances of Russian and other foreign playwrights.
  • The Daile Theatre was opened for the first time in 1920. It is one of the most successful theatres in Latvia. This theatre is distinguished by its frequent productions of modern foreign plays.[61]
  • Latvian State Puppet Theatre was founded in 1944. This theatre presents shows for children and adults.[62]
  • The New Riga Theatre was opened in 1992. It has an intelligent and attractive repertoire of high quality that focused on a modern, educated and socially active audience.

World Choir Games in Riga

Riga hosted the biannual 2014 World Choir Games from 9–19 July 2014 which coincided with the city being named European Capital of Culture for 2014.[63][64] The event, organised by the choral foundation, Interkultur, takes place at various host cities every two years and was originally known as the “Choir Olympics”.[65] The event regularly sees over 15’000 choristers in over 300 choirs from over 60 nations compete for gold, silver and bronze medals in over 20 categories. The competition is further divided into a Champions Competition and an Open Competition to allow choirs from all backgrounds to enter.[63] Choral workshops and festivals are also witnessed in the host cities and are usually open to the public.[66]

Architecture of Riga

Rīga, Vecrīgas panorāma, (rindā no kreisās) Doma, Sv. Pētera un Anglikāņu baznīca. Foto: Atis Luguzs, 2018.g. 3.feb.
Panorama of Riga – Towers of three churches, (from left) Rīgas Doms, Pēterbaznīca un Anglikāņu baznīca. Photo by  Atis Luguzs from photo session on Vanšu bridge over river Daugava.

The radio and TV tower of Riga is the tallest structure in Latvia and the Baltic States, and one of the tallest in the European Union, reaching 368.5 m (1,209 ft).

Riga centre also has many great examples of Art Nouveau architecture, as well as a medieval old town.

Art Nouveau of Riga

Art Nouveau building on Alberta ieladesigned by Mikhail Eisenstein

It is generally recognized that Riga has largest collection of Art Nouveau buildings in the world. This is due to the fact that at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, when Art Nouveau was at the height of its popularity, Riga experienced an unprecedented financial and demographic boom.[67] In the period from 1857 to 1914 its population grew from 282,000 (256,200 in Riga itself and another 26,200 inhabitants beyond the city limits in patrimonial district and military town of Ust-Dvinsk) to 558,000 making it the 4th largest city in the Russian Empire (after Saint-PetersburgMoscow and Warsaw) and its largest port.[67] The middle class of Riga used their acquired wealth to build imposing apartment blocks outside the former city walls. Local architects, mostly graduates of Riga Technical University, adopted current European movements and in particular Art Nouveau.[68] Between 1910 and 1913, between 300 and 500 new buildings were built each year in Riga, most of them in Art Nouveau style and most of them outside the old town.[68]

Sports in Riga

Riga has a rich basketball history. In the 1950s ASK Riga became the best club in the Soviet Union and also in Europe, winning the first three editions of the European Cup for Men’s Champions Clubs from 1958 to 1960.[69]

In 1960, ASK was not the only team from Riga to take the European crown. TTT Riga clinched their first title in the European Cup for Women’s Champion Clubs, turning Riga into the capital city of European basketball because for the first and, so far, only time in the history of European basketball, clubs from the same city were concurrent European Men’s and Women’s club champions.[70]

In 2015, Riga was one of the hosts for EuroBasket 2015.

Sports clubs of Riga

Sports facilities of Riga

Sports events in Riga

Transport in Riga

One of the several Trolleybus types in Riga

Riga, with its central geographic position and concentration of population, has always been the infrastructural hub of Latvia. Several national roads begin in Riga, and European route E22 crosses Riga from the east and west, while the Via Baltica crosses Riga from the south and north.

As a city situated by a river, Riga also has several bridges. The oldest standing bridge is the Railway Bridge, which is also the only railroad-carrying bridge in Riga. The Stone Bridge (Akmens tilts) connects Old Riga and Pārdaugava; the Island Bridge (Salu tilts) connects Maskavas Forštate and Pārdaugava via Zaķusala; and the Shroud Bridge (Vanšu tilts) connects Old Riga and Pārdaugava via Ķīpsala. In 2008, the first stage of the new Southern Bridge (Dienvidu tilts) route across the Daugava was completed, and was opened to traffic on 17 November.[72]

The Southern Bridge was the biggest construction project in the Baltic states in 20 years, and its purpose was to reduce traffic congestion in the city centre.[73][74] Another major construction project is the planned Riga Northern Transport Corridor;[75] its first segment detailed project was completed in 2015.[76]

The Freeport of Riga facilitates cargo and passenger traffic by sea. Sea ferries currently connect Riga Passenger Terminal to Stockholm operated by Tallink.[77]

Škoda 15 T tram in Riga

Riga has one active airport that serves commercial airlines—the Riga International Airport (RIX), built in 1973. Renovation and modernization of the airport was completed in 2001, coinciding with the 800th anniversary of the city. In 2006, a new terminal extension was opened. Extension of the runway was completed in October 2008, and the airport is now able to accommodate large aircraft such as the Airbus A340, Boeing 747, 757, 767 and 777. Another terminal extension is under construction as of 2014.[78] The annual number of passengers has grown from 310,000 in 1993 to 4.7 million in 2014, making Riga International Airport the largest in the Baltic States.

The former international airport of Riga, Spilve Airport, located 5 km (3.11 mi) from Riga city centre, is currently used for small aircraft, pilot training and recreational aviation. Riga was also home to a military air base during the Cold War — Rumbula Air Base.

Public transportation in the city is provided by Rīgas Satiksme which operates a large number of tramsbuses and trolleybuses on an extensive network of routes across the city. In addition, up until 2012 many private owners operated minibus services, after which the City Council established the unified transport company Rīgas mikroautobusu satiksme, establishing a monopoly over the service.

Riga is connected to the rest of Latvia by trains operated by the national carrier Passenger Train, whose headquarters are in Riga. There are also international rail services to Russia and Belarus, and plans to revive passenger rail traffic with Estonia. A TEN-T project called Rail Baltica envisages building a high-speed railway line via Riga connecting Tallinn to Warsaw using standard gauge,[79] expected to be put into operation in 2024.[80]

Riga International Coach Terminal provides domestic and international connections by coach.

Universities in Riga

Notable residents of Riga

Sister cities of Riga

Riga maintains sister city relationships with the following cities:[81]

See also

References for Riga

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External links