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Baltic States

Riga

The Historic Centre of Riga has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the city is particularly notable for its extensive Art Nouveau architecture, comparable in significance only with Vienna, Saint Petersburg and Barcelona. Riga is home to numerous academic institutions, including the University of Latvia, Riga Technical University and Riga Stradins University. The Latvian Parliament also sits in Riga, as does the President of Latvia, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, who resides in Riga Castle.

Business and leisure travel to Riga has increased significantly in recent years due to the improved commercial and travel infrastructure. Riga as a city-port is a major transportation hub and is the center of the local road and railway system. Most tourists travel to Riga by air via the Riga International Airport, the largest airport in the Baltic states, which was renovated and modernized in 2001, coincident with Riga's 800th anniversary. Air traffic has doubled between 1993 and 2004. Baltic sea ferries connect Riga to Stockholm, Kiel and Lübeck.

Almost all important financial institutions are located in Riga, including the Bank of Latvia, which is Latvia's central bank. Foreign commercial trade through Riga has been on the increase in recent years and received a new impetus on May 1, 2004 when Latvia became a member of the European Union. Riga accounts for about half of the total industrial output of Latvia, focusing on the financial sector, public utilities, food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, wood processing, printing and publishing, textiles and furniture, and communications equipment manufacturing. The port of Riga is an important cargo shipping center.

Riga has unique values due to its rather intact medieval architecture and that of later periods, the urban structure, the richness and quality of Art Noveau architecture and the 19-th century wooden architecture of the city. Riga has hundreds of ways for enticing visitors – its rich history, architecture, spacious gardens and parks, museums, art galleries and world-class opera…and daily treats like a walk in the enormous colorful central market or going to a cosy café, club or pub…