Uh, Is Latvia a Real Country?

ScarlettWestSubjects relating to my books2 Comments

Latvia who? Latvia where? One of the main settings for my first vampire, romance series is Latvia. Since most people don’t know about it, I decided to share a bit. (Don’t feel bad if you’re clueless, I sure don’t mind talking about it.) By the way, people have frequently asked me if it’s a real country.

My paternal grandparents were from Latvia, a north, eastern European country. Growing up, people would always ask where it was and what language they speak. I would answer, “Latvian.” And they would promptly reply, “Latin?”

Then I would proceed to tell them about the two Latvian camps in the United States which I attended. I would say, “One time at Latvian camp…” and people would reply “One time at band camp…” before I even finished my story.

LOL! Okey-dokey. Here’s a map in case you don’t know where it is.

map-of-latvia-black-and-white

Latvia is north of Poland, east of Russia, south of Finland, and sandwiched between Estonia and Lithuania. What a mouthful!

Cities Within Latvia

You can drive across Latvia in about six hours, but it is a beautiful country with lots of interesting places to visit.

A few cities pop up in the story, since different vampire covens live in various areas. The two main covens live in Riga, the capital of Latvia, and Liepaja, another main town in the country. They are about three hours apart by car. Liepaja is a quaint, coastal town. Their motto is “where the wind was born” because it’s always windy there.

Other cities include Daugavpils and Jekabpils. Both of those cities are in the southeastern side, closer to Russia.

Here’s a map of Latvia up close so you can get a peek of the city locations.

map-of-latvia-in-tan

Some of the countryside settings are Jurmala, Salacgriva, and Gauja National Park. I also make up an island off the northwestern coast. Jurmala is a premier, coastal resort town with white beaches and calm waters. You can find Salacgriva also on the coast with lots of lovely forest around it. Gauja National Park is a romantic place, with a green forest, a beautiful flowing river, and sandstone caves.

salacgriva-forest

A forest in Salacgriva. One of the sexiest scenes in the books takes place here! Source: https://therealriga.wordpress.com/2016/05/29/riga-bay2-salacgriva-to-dzeni/

A Bit About Latvia

Latvians have lived in the area for at least 4,000 years with the original people called Livs and Latvians. Once part of the Soviet Union, most of the population is made up of Latvians and Russians, with some other Eastern European peoples represented. The majority of the population lives in Riga, and because density is so low, 44% of the country is forested. About 2 million people live in the country, which despite appearances, is slightly larger than Switzerland.

One of the coolest thing about the country is the Song and Dance Festival which occurs every five years. During the biggest events, around 30,000 singers sing at one time in a chorus, and 17,000 dancers dance in the same evening. It’s quite a spectacle!

Why Latvia?

One of the reasons I chose Latvia as a setting is precisely because it is not well known. Maybe through my books, a few more people will know where it is. I was raised having contact with Latvian culture and lived in Latvia, and I know the ancient culture has many interesting aspects to it. Parts of these old ways are woven into the plot, just like Nordic or Celtic paranormal romance.

Also, Riga, Liepaja, and other areas have ancient Old Towns and other locations that make it a very intriguing place for vampire romances to occur.

I like that many vampire legends stem from Eastern Europe like Romania, and I thought, what if I used other countries like Latvia and Poland for my settings? I might even wander to Romania one of these days!

People may not immediately think of Eastern Europe as a place to visit or where novels might take place, but I hope when you read my series you’ll change your mind. You may not travel there, but at least it can be known as somewhere interesting you may not have thought of before.

Besides Latvia, so far my books also take place in Poland, Italy, the United States and a few other spots that will be announced in the future.

There’s a lot more to Latvia than that, and even more places show up in my stories, but I hope you enjoyed my brief overview.

If you love to read Paranormal Romance with vampires, please sign-up for my newsletter, Scarlett West’s Pulse.

 

Thanks for reading,

Scarlett West

 

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2 Comments on “Uh, Is Latvia a Real Country?”

    1. Thanks/Paldies, Dzintra! I hope you like them. Besides loving writing about vampires and romance, one of my goals is to bring interest amoung Latvians and non-Latvians about our culture. I think it’s really neat how authors intertwine Celtic or other “Old Way” beliefs in their novels and decided to do it with Latvian stuff.

      I always maintain the focus on romance and vampires, but it has been fun and I’ve learned a lot as well!

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