Latvia is a country located in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It shares borders with Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, Russia to the east, and Belarus to the southeast. The country has a diverse landscape, with forests covering around 56% of the land, and more than 12,000 lakes and rivers. The capital city is Riga, which is known for its Art Nouveau architecture and vibrant cultural scene. Latvia has a long and complex history, with periods of both Swedish and Russian rule, and it gained independence in 1918. Today, Latvia is a parliamentary democracy and a member of the European Union and NATO. The country has a strong economy, with a high standard of living and a highly educated population.