The Republic of Latvia (population 2,231,503 in 2009) is a Baltic nation in eastern Europe. It has been a member of the United Nations since 1991, shortly after its independence was declared amidst the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union since 2004. The citizenry is a mix of ethnic Latvians and Livonians (the Baltic groups indigenous to the country, about 59.2 percent of the population) and Russians (28 percent, many of whom were only recently granted citizenship), with small groups of Belarusians, Ukrainians, Poles, Lithuanians, and other minorities. Latgalians, residents of the Latgale region who make up about 8.8 percent (150,000) of the Latvian population, sometimes consider themselves a distinct ethnic group, ...

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