The name "Latvia"
originates from the ancient Latgalians, one of four eastern Baltic
tribes that formed the ethnic core of the Latvian people (ca. 8th-12th
centuries A.D.). The region subsequently came under the control of
Germans, Poles, Swedes, and finally, Russians. A Latvian republic
emerged following World War I, but it was annexed by the USSR in 1940 -
an action never recognized by the US and many other countries. Latvia
reestablished its independence in 1991 following the breakup of the
Soviet Union. Although the last Russian troops left in 1994, the status
of the Russian minority (some 30% of the population) remains of concern
to Moscow. Latvia joined both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004.
Latvian is the official language; Russian and Lithuanian are also