Riga is the capital of Latvia, and one of the key economic and financial centers of the Batilc States. With 641,007 inhabitants, Riga is the largest city on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. Riga's historical centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, noted for its Art Nouveau/Jugendstil architecture and 19th century wooden architecture. Riga was the European Capital of Culture during 2014, it also hosted the 2006 NATO Summit, the Eurovision Song Contest of 2003, and the 2006 IIHF Men's World Ice Hockey Championships. The city is served by Riga International Airport, the largest airport in the Baltic states.Riga's administrative divisions consist of six administrative entities: Central, Kurzeme and Northern Districts and the Latgale, Vidzeme and Zemgale Suburbs.
The climate of Riga is humid continental. The coldest months are January and February, when the average temperature is −5 °C (23 °F) but temperatures as low as −20 to −25 °C (−4 to −13 °F) can be observed almost every year on the coldest days. The proximity of the sea causes frequent autumn rains and fogs. Continuous snow cover may last eighty days. The summers in Riga are warm and humid with the average temperature of 18 °C (64 °F), while the temperature on the hottest days can exceed 30 °C (86 °F).
Riga is a thriving and prosperous economic and financial center. Roughly half of all the jobs in Latvia are in Riga and the city generates more than 50% of Latvia's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as well as around half of Latvia's exports. The biggest exporters are in wood products, IT, food and beverage manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and transport and metallurgy. Riga Port is one of the largest in the Baltics. It handled a record 34 million tons of cargo in 2011 and has potential for future growth with new port developments on Krievu Sala. Tourism is also a large industry in Riga and after a slowdown during the recent global economic recessions, grew 22% in 2011 alone. The Freeport of Riga facilitates cargo and passenger traffic by sea. Sea ferries currently connect Riga Passenger Terminal to Stockholm operated by Tallink.
As a city situated by a river, Riga also has several bridges. The oldest standing bridge is the Railway Bridge, which is also the only railroad-carrying bridge in Riga. In 2008, the first stage of the new Southern Bridge route across the Daugava was completed, and was opened to traffic on 17 November. The Southern Bridge was the biggest construction project in the Baltic states in 20 years, and its purpose was to reduce traffic congestion in the city centre. Another major construction project is the planned Riga Northern Transport Corridor; its first segment detailed project was completed in 2015.
Riga has one active airport that serves commercial airlines—the Riga International Airport (RIX), built in 1973. Renovation and modernization of the airport was completed in 2001, coinciding with the 800th anniversary of the city. The annual number of passengers has grown from 310,000 in 1993 to 4.7 million in 2014, making Riga International Airport the largest in the Baltic States.
The head of the city government in Riga is the Mayor. Incumbent Mayor Nils Ušakovs took office on 1 July 2009. The city council is a democratically elected institution and is the final decision-making authority in the city. The Council consists of 60 members who are elected every four years. The Presidium of the Riga City Council consists of the Chairman of the Riga City Council and the representatives delegated by the political parties or party blocks elected to the City Council.
According to the 2011 census data, ethnic Latvians made up 49.33% of the population of Riga, with the percentage of ethnic Russians at 37.21%, Belarusians at 3.88%, Ukrainians at 3.45%, Poles at 1.85%, Lithuanians at 0.83% and other ethnicities at 3.46%. By comparison, 67.1% of Latvia's total population are ethnic Latvians, 21.9% are Russians, 3.3% are Belarusians, 2.2% are Ukrainians, 2.2% are Polish, 1.2% are Lithuanians and the remaining 2.1% are accounted for by other ethnicities.
The radio and TV tower of Riga is the tallest structure in Latvia and the Baltic States, and one of the tallest in the European Union, reaching 368.5 m (1,209 ft). Riga centre also has many great examples of Art Nouveauarchitecture, as well as a medieval old town. It is generally recognized that Riga has the finest and the largest collection of art nouveau buildings in the world.
The only two professional football clubs of Riga are FS Metta and Skonto FC. Skonto FC is a football club established in 1991. The club won fourteen successive Latvian Higher League (Virsliga) titles. For a long time it provided the core of the Latvian national football team. Skonto FC play in Skonto Stadium, a football stadium, built in 2000. It is the main stadium used for games of the Latvian national football team.
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