(U//FOUO) U.S. State Department Social Media Landscape: Latvia

Latvia, one of the three Baltic states, has a diverse population totaling 2.3 million – 59% Latvians, 29% Russian nationals and 3.8% Belo Russians amongst other ethnic groups. The media industry reflects this and is divided into Latvian or Russian language outlets and broadcasters. Internet penetration in the country currently stands at 59% which is just below the EU average (60%). However, significant growth centered particularly around the capital Riga and amongst Latvia’s youth demographic shows the signs of increasingly widespread digital inclusion and Internet literacy. Social media is still in the early stages of development, focused primarily on local social networks such as Draugiem, although globally popular platforms including Twitter and Facebook are growing in Latvian members. Commercial engagement with social media reflects this growing trend and is led primarily by telecommunication companies such as IZZI and Lattlecom. The Latvian government is also beginning to embrace social media as part of its communications strategy although its current presence is largely passive with an emphasis on broadcast rather than engagement.