Riga is the capital of Latvia with 703.581 inhabitants and largest city in the Baltics. With over 882 000 inhabitants in the agglomeration of Riga is also the largest metropolitan area in the three Baltic States. Riga is the political, economic and cultural center of the country. The old Hanseatic town is famous for its architecture and its spacious grounds and for the well-preserved downtown, including especially the old town.
The old town of Riga is situated on the lower reaches of the Daugava (Latvian: Daugava), the northern suburban counties are already in the Gulf of Riga. The hinterland to the south and west of the city is relatively sparsely populated, vast swamps and marshes here were once a natural protection. The stronghold of the last ice age landscape of Riga has a multitude of small lakes and streams, to the east and north of the town was still in the late 19 Century, a vast wasteland of sand dunes.
Riga is the most populous city in the Baltics, but the population has declined sharply since 1990 and continues to fall. The decline is partly due to the emigration of Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians in the early years after independence, as well as the relocation of members of all ethnic groups in Great Britain and Ireland in recent years, partly from low birth rates. If this trend is not reversed, could halve the population by 2050.
The city is the seat of the President, the Parliament (Saeima), the ministries, the Supreme Court (Latvijas Republikas Augstākā tiesa) as well as numerous diplomatic missions. The municipality is located in the Town Hall on Town Hall Square (Ratslaukums) in the old town. The City Council has 60 members who are elected every four years and then the chairman of the mayor and thus from their ranks. With Nils Ušakovs first elected in 2009, an ethnic Russian as mayor. The Executive Council consists of members from all factions Council and the Mayor. Public meetings are usually held once a month.