Today, November 18, is Latvian Independence Day.
More accurately, today is known as Latvijas Republikas proklamēšanas diena (Day of Proclamation of the Republic of Latvia).
On this day, in 1918, the People’s Council (Tautas padome), a temporary parliament formed the day before, declared Latvia a sovereign state, independent from the recently-dissolved Russian Empire, and elected Kārlis Augusts Vilhelms Ulmanis as its first Prime Minister. This came a week after the end of World War I, with many former German- and Austrian-held countries becoming republics (Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary).
The country remained a sovereign nation from that day to August 5, 1940, when the Soviet Union invaded the region and declared it the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic. With a brief interruption by Nazi Germany during World War II, Latvia would remain under the Soviet control until the LSSR’s dissolution in 1991.
Many celebrations take place on this holiday, including a speech from the President of Latvia. Recently it has been given in front of Freedom Monument in Riga, unveiled in 1935 to honor the fallen in the War of Independence from 1918 to 1920.
I’ll close this post with a recording of the national anthem, Dievs, svētī Latviju! (G0d bless Latvia!), written by Kārlis Baumanis in 1873 and adopted as the anthem in 1920:
You can click here for the history, lyrics, and translation of the anthem.
Happy Independence Day, Latvia! Dievs, svētī Latviju!