March 5, 2013

0541 LATVIA - The map of the country in 1919

Located between Lithuania and Estonia, with outlet to the Baltic Sea, Latvia is one of the least populous and least densely populated countries of the European Union. More than 1,000 years ago, four Baltic tribes inhabited Latvia (Curonians, Latgalians, Selonians, and Semigallians), as well as the Livonians, speaking a Finnic language. Conquered in the 13th century by Teutonic Knights (who Christianized, with the sword, the indigenous tribes) it formed, together with Southern Estonia, the crusader state that became known as Terra Mariana or Livonia.

In 16th century it fell under Polish and Lithuanian rule, and in the following two centuries it has been involved in a struggle between the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Sweden, and Russia for supremacy in the eastern Baltic. Northern Livonia was conquered by Swedish, and throughout the 18th century Russia gradually occupied the whole territory, and so things remained until 1991, with only two interruptions (1918-1939 and 1941-1944).

Like many other European countries under a foreign yoke, Latvia took advantage of the power vacuum created by the Russian 1917 Revolution and the end of WWI and proclaimed its independence on 5 December 1918, which had to defend it with the gun in the hand for 20 months, until 11 August 1920. The map which is on this postcard is part of the series of drawings by Latvian artist Ansis Cirulis, published by photographer Janis Rieksts în 1919, and now belongs to the National History Museum of Latvia.

Now the country's area (64,589 km2) is almost the same as in 1919 (64,299 km2), and the population (2,217,053 inhabitants) is lower than before the WWI (2,552,000 in 1914), both world wars being devastating for Latvians. On the map appears also the old coat of arms of Latvia, adopted on 2 December 1918 and designed by professor Burkards Dzenis. It is formed from a rising sun with a L and three stars, the historical latvian provinces of Kurzeme (Courland), Vidzeme (part of Livonia) and Latgale.

About the stamps
The first stamp is part of a History of Latvia Railway series, issued on 5 August 2010 and designed by Ludis Danilans. The second stamp is part of a set of five belonging to a very large definitive series of Latvian county and city coat of arms. With a value of 10 LVL, it depicts the coat of arms of Dobele, a little town located in the Zemgale region, near the center of Latvia, on the banks of the river Bērze.

Latvia - Wikipedia

sender: Oksana Mizgajeva (direct swap)
sent from Riga (Latvia), on 21.02.2013

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