This country in the Baltic emerged in late-medieval and early-modern times as a trading area, with a large German merchant business class dominating cities such as Riga. The region was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and then the Swedish Empire, and later the Russian Empire. It was independent from 1918 through 1940, when it was occupied by the Red Army, then the Nazis, and then the Red Army again, regaining its independence in 1990 and 1991.

During World War I, the Russians evacuated much of the industry in Latvia. During the fighting that led to the German occupation, and then with fighting during the Russian Civil War, much of the region was devastated. However, during the 1920s and 1930s, the independent Republic of Latvia managed to ...

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