Definitions

Liepāja District

Liepāja

[lye-pah-yah; Eng. lee-ep-uh-yuh]
Liepāja (li:epa:ja, ) is a city in western Latvia on the Baltic sea and the administrative center of Liepāja district. It is the largest city in the Kurzeme (Courland) region of Latvia, the third largest city in Latvia after Riga and Daugavpils and an important ice-free port. As of 1 January 2007, Liepāja had a population of 85,132. Liepāja is located directly at 21°E.

Liepāja is known throughout Latvia as "the city where the wind is born", possibly due to the constant sea breeze. A song of the same name (Pilsētā, kurā piedzimst vējš ) was composed by Imants Kalniņš and has become the anthem of the city. The reputation of Liepāja as the windiest city in Latvia has been further endorsed as the biggest wind power plant in Latvia (33 Enercon wind turbines) was constructed nearby.

The Coat of Arms of Liepāja was adopted four days after it gained city rights on 18 March 1625. These are described as: "on a silver background, the lion of Kurzeme with a divided tail, who leans upon a linden (Liepa) tree with its forelegs. "The flag of Liepāja has the coat of arms in the center, with red in the top half and green in the bottom.

History

Piemare

The original settlement in the place of modern Liepāja was founded by Curonian fishermen and known by the name Līva (from the name of the river Lyva on which Liepāja was located, which in turn originated from Livonian word Liiv meaning "sand"). The oldest written text mentioning the name is dated 4 April 1253. The Livonian Order under the aegis of the Teutonic Order established the settlement as the village of Liba(u) in 1263. In 1418 the city was sacked and burned by the Lithuanians. In 15th century, through the Līva, passed a trade route from Amsterdam to Moscow, part of which was named the "white road to Lyva portus". By 1520 the river Līva became too shallow for easy navigation, and this negatively influenced the development of the city.

Duchy of Courland and Semigallia

In 1560, Gotthard Kettler loaned all the Grobiņa district including Liepāja to Albert, Duke of Prussia for 50,000 guldens. Only in 1609 after the marriage of Sofie Hohenzollern, princess of Prussia, to Wilhelm Kettler did the territory return to the Duchy. During the Livonian War, Liepāja was attacked and destroyed by the Swedes. In 1625, Duke Friedrich Kettler of Courland granted the town city rights, which were affirmed by King Sigismund III of Poland in 1626. The name Liepāja was mentioned for the first time in 1649 by Paul Einhorn in his work "Historia Lettica". Under Duke Jacob Kettler (1642-1681), Liepāja became one of the main ports of Courland as it reached the height of its prosperity. In 1637 Courland colonization was started from the ports of Liepāja and Ventspils.

Jacob was an eager proponent of mercantilist ideas. Metalworking and ship building became much more developed and trading relations developed not only with nearby countries, but also with Britain, France, the Netherlands and Portugal. In 1697-1703 a canal was cut to the sea and a port was built. In 1701, during the Great Northern War, Liepāja was captured by Charles XII of Sweden, but the end of the war saw the city in Polish possession.

In 1710 an epidemic of plague killed about a third of the population of Liepāja.

Russian Empire

Courland passed to the control of Russian Empire in 1795 during the third Partition of Poland and became the Courland Governorate of Russia. Growth during the nineteenth century was rapid. In 1857 the engineer Heidatel developed a project to reconstruct the port of Liepāja. In 1861-1868 the project was realized - including the building of a lighthouse and breakwaters.

Between 1877-1882 the political and literature weekly newspaper Liepājas Pastnieks was published - the first Latvian language newspaper in Liepāja. In the 1870s the rapid development of the Russian railways and the 1871 opening of the Libava-Kaunas and the 1876 Liepāja-Romni railways ensured that a large proportion of central Russian trade passed through Liepāja.

By 1900, 7% of Russian exports were passing through Liepāja. The city became a major port of the Russian Empire on the Baltic Sea, as well as popular resort. On the orders of Alexander III Liepāja was fortified against possible German attacks. The Libava fortress was subsequently built around the city, and in the early 20th century a major military base was established on the northern edge, including formidable coastal fortifications and extensive quarters for military personnel. As part of the military development a separate military port was excavated. This area became known as Kara Osta (War Port) and served military needs throughout the twentieth century.

Early in the twentieth century the port of Liepāja became a central point of embarkation for immigrants traveling to the United States. By 1906 the direct service to the United States was used by 40,000 migrants a year. Simultaneously, the first Russian training detachment of submarine navigation was founded. In 1912 one of the first water aerodromes in Russia was opened in Liepāja. By 1913, 1738 ships entered Libava with 1,548,119 tones of cargo passing through the Port. The population had increased from 10,000 to over 100,000 within about 60 years.

World War I

During World War I German dirigibles bombed Liepāja in January, 1915. Liepāja was occupied by the German army on May 7, 1915, in memory of this event the monument was constructed on Kūrmājas prospect in 1916 (destroyed in 1919). On 23 October 1915, German cruiser SMS Prinz Adalbert has sunk by the British submarine E8, 37 kilometers west of Liepāja. In the 1915 Liepāja's local government issued its own money - Libava rubles.

During the war words of The Jäger March were written in Liepāja by Heikki Nurmio.

1918-1940

After the war, when the independent state of Latvia was founded, Liepāja became the de facto capital of Latvia for six months when the interim government of Latvia, headed by Kārlis Ulmanis, fled from Riga on a ship "Saratov". In 1918 Libava was renamed Liepāja. In 1935 KOD (Kara ostas darbnīcas) started to manufacture the light aircraft KOD-1 and KOD-2.

World War II

The ports and human capital of Liepāja and Ventspils were targets of Stalin and part of the reason for the signing of Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. In 1940 upon annexation by the Soviet Union the private property was nationalized and many thousands of former owners were arrested and deported to Siberia; and thousands also fled to North America, Australia and western Europe. In 1941 Liepāja was among the first cities captured by 291 division of Army Group North when Nazi Germany began the war with the Soviet Union in 1941. The local Jewish population, which numbered about 7,000 before the war, was virtually exterminated by German Nazis and Latvian collaborators. Most of this mass murder took place in the dunes of Šķēde north of the city. Fewer than 30 Jews remained alive in Liepāja by the end of the war. Film footage of an Einsatzgruppen execution of local Jews was made in Liepāja. In 1944-1945 years Liepāja was located in the "Courland Pocket" and was only recaptured by the Soviet army on 9 May 1945. World War II devastated the city, most of the buildings and plants were destroyed.

Latvian SSR

On 25–29 March, 1949, a second mass deportation to Siberia occurred from Liepāja. In 1950 the monument to Stalin was erected on Station square (Stacijas laukums) but was dismantled in 1958.

During 1953-1957 the city center was reconstructed under the direction of architects A. Kruglov and M. Žagare. In 1952-1955 the Liepāja Academy of Pedagogy building was constructed under the direction of A. Aivars. In 1960 the Kurzeme shopping centre was opened.

During the Soviet occupation, Liepāja was a closed city and even nearby farmers and villagers needed a special permit to enter the city. The Soviet military set up its Baltic naval base and nuclear weapon warehouses there; sandpit Beberliņš was dug out for extraction of the sand used for construction of underground warehouses. The port was completely closed to commercial traffic in 1967.

One third of the city was taken up with a Soviet naval base with 26 thousand military staff. In Liepāja the 14th submarine squadron of the Baltic Fleet of USSR (14 эскадрилья ЛиВМБ ДКБФ, call sign "Комплекс") was stationed with 16 submarines (613, 629a, 651); as was the 6th group of rear supply of Baltic Fleet, and the 81st design bureau and reserve command center of the same force.

In 1977, Liepāja was awarded the Order of the October Revolution for heroic defense against the Nazi Germany in 1941. In Liepāja 5 people were awarded the honorary title Hero of Socialist Labor - Anatolijs Filatkins, Artūrs Fridrihsons, Voldemārs Lazdups, Valentins Šuvajevs and Otīlija Žagata.

Because of the rapid growth of the city population, a shortage of apartment houses became an issue. To solve this, most of the modern Liepāja districts - Dienvidrietumi, Ezerkrasts, Ziemeļu priekšpilsēta, Zaļa birze and Tosmare - were built. The majority of these blocks were constructed of ferro-concrete panels on standard projects of Latgyprogorstroy (Латгипрогорстрой). In 1986 the new central city hospital in Zaļa birze was opened.

In 1987 a part of the film Moonzund was filmed in the town.

1990-present

After Latvia regained independence, Liepāja has worked hard to change from a military city into a modern port city (now marked on European maps after secrecy in the Soviet period). The commercial port was re-opened in 1991. In 1994 the last Russian troops left Liepāja.

Since then, Liepāja has engaged in international co-operation, has been associated with 10 twin and partner cities and is an active partner in several co-operation networks. Facilities are being improved as the city hosts Latvia's largest naval flotilla, the biggest warehouses of ammunition and weapon in the Baltic states and the main centre of supply of the Latvian army.

In the beginning of the 21st century many ambitious projects were planned for construction in the city, including building of the NATO military base, the biggest amusement park in Baltic states - Baltic Sea Park and modern concert hall "Lielais Dzintars"; but most of them haven't been realised because of economic and political motives.

In 2006, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, a direct descendant of Jacob Kettler visited Liepāja. In 2008 Cabinet of Ministers of Latvia decided to build the coal cogeneration 400 mWt power plant near Liepāja.

Climate

Liepāja is located in a zone with a temperate marine climate. The major factor influencing the weather in the region is the Baltic Sea, providing a mild winter and a cool summer. During the winter the sea around Liepāja is virtually ice-free. Although occasionally some land-fast ice may develop, it seldom reaches a hundred meters from the shore and does not last long before melting. The sea warms up fully only in the beginning of August, so the best bathing season in Liepāja is from August to September. Regular meteorological observations in the city have been conducted from 1857.

  • Average temperatures:

February: −3.1 °C (26.4 °F)
July: +16.0 °C (60.8 °F)

  • Absolute minimum of temperature: −33 °C (−36 °F)
  • Absolute maximum of temperature: +34 °C (93 °F)
  • Number of sunny days per year: 196
  • Average speed of wind: 5.8 m/s (13 mph)
  • Average annual norm of precipitation (mostly rain): 692 mm (27.2 in)
  • Typical wind directions:

Winter: south
Summer: western

Geography

Liepāja is situated on the coast of the Baltic sea in the south-western part of Latvia. The westernmost geographical point of Latvia is located approximately 15 kilometers to the south thus making Liepāja Latvia's furthest west city. Liepāja is situated between the Baltic Sea and Liepāja Lake with residential and industrial areas spreading north of the lake. The Trade Channel (Tirdzniecības kanāls) connects the lake to the sea dividing the city into southern and northern parts, which are often referred to as the Old Town (Vecliepāja) and the New Town (Jaunliepāja) respectively. The city center is located in the southern part and, although called the Old Town, is relatively more developed. Most of the administrative and cultural buildings are found here as well as the main leisure areas. Along the coast the city extends northwards until it reaches the Tosmare Channel (Tosmares kanāls). North of the Tosmare Channel is an area called Karosta which is now fully integrated into Liepāja and is the northernmost district of the city. Liepāja's coastline consists of an unbroken sandy beach and dunes as does most of Latvia's coastline. The beach of Liepāja is not as exploited as other places (e.g. the Gulf of Riga, Jūrmala and Pärnu in Estonia) but also lacks the tourist infrastructure needed for a fashionable, modern resort.

The closest city to Liepāja is Grobiņa located about 10 km away along the way to Riga. Other main cities in the region are Klaipėda (approx. 110 km to the south), Ventspils (approx. 115 km to the north) and Saldus (approx. 100 km to the east). The distance to Riga (the capital of Latvia) is about 200 km to the east. The nearest point to Liepāja across the Baltic sea is the Swedish island of Gotland approximately 160 km to the north-west. The distance to Stockholm is 216 nautical miles.

Jūrmalas parks

Libava's fortress

Liepāja neighbourhoods

Suburban settlements

Architecture and Sights

Liepāja is rich in different architecture styles. Wooden houses, Jugend (Art Nouveau) buildings and Soviet-era apartment buildings and lots of green parks and waterfronts are characteristic of Liepāja. The main areas of interest for tourists are the city centre with many churches and the seaside park with white, soft sandy beaches; as well as Karosta, which is the northern suburb and used to be a secret military town, now a place for tourists and artists. Karosta boasts beaches with scenic blasted fortresses, a big orthodox cathedral, a prison now operating as a hostel and many other things. Another area for tourists might be the Ezerkrasts (Lakeside), which is near the Liepāja lake.

Monuments and Memorials

Former monuments

Notable buildings

  • Rose square (Rožu laukums)
  • Swan Pond (remnant of river Līva)
  • Hotel "Libava"
  • Peter The Great house - the oldest house in Liepāja
  • Graudu 45 - Graudu nams (Jugendstil)
  • Graudu 42 - Former "Bonic Café"
  • Pētertirgus - Central market
  • Liepājas teatris
  • City council building - Former District court
  • Restaurant "Vecais Kapteins"
  • Liela 14 - LPA building
  • 1st Latvian Rock Café

Churches

Museums

  • The Liepāja Museum
  • The Liepaja Museum Department “Liepaja during the occupational regimes”
  • Museum "History of Liepāja Community of Jews"
  • Museum "Liepājas Metalurgs" (founded in 2007)
  • Museum "Karosta Prison

Transport

The urban transport network of Liepāja relies mainly on buses and minicoaches. There are 11 bus routes and 6 minibus routes in Liepāja. The city also has a single two-way 6.9 km long tram line running through some parts of the city from north-east to south-west, which also provides a vital transport link. The tram line was founded after the opening of the first Liepāja power plant in 1899, which makes it the oldest electric tram line in the Baltic states and now operated by municipal company Liepājas tramvajs.

The Port of Liepāja has a wide water area and consists of three main parts. The Winter harbor is located in the Trade channel and serves for the small local fishing vessels as well as medium cargo ships. Immediately north of the Trade channel is the main area of the port separated from the open sea by a line of breakwaters. This part of the port can accept large ships and ferry lines. Further north is Tosmare harbor also called Tosmare channel which formerly was a military harbor, but now is used for ship repairs and other commercial purposes. Liepāja also welcomes yachts and other leisure vessels which can enter the Trade channel and moor almost in the center of the city.

Liepāja has a railway connection to Jelgava and Riga and through them to the rest of Latvia's railway network. There is one passenger station in the New town, but the railway extends further and links to the port. There is also a northward railway track leading to Ventspils, but in recent decades it has fallen in disuse due to economical reasons. The railway provides the main means of delivering cargo to the port.

Two main highways A9 and A11 lead out of the city providing another important transport link to the port. A9 road leads north-west towards Riga and central Latvia. A11 road leads south to the border with Lithuania and its only port Klaipeda and to Palanga International Airport.

City also hosts Liepāja International Airport, one of the three international airports in Latvia, which is located out of city limits north of the Lake of Liepāja in a little town named Cimdenieki. Regular daily flights to Riga, Hamburg and Copenhagen are available by the Latvian national airline AirBaltic.

Communications

Communications in Liepāja are quite developed. Liepāja is connected to global Internet by two optical lines owned by Lattelecom and TeliaSonera International Carrier and radio relay line owned by LVRTC. In Liepāja are located 5 Lattelecom telephone exchanges and LVRTC TV station and tower, from which are translated 4 national TV channels, 1 local TV channel "TV Dzintare" and 6 radio stations. City also has two local cable TV operators with total number of clients about 15000 and 3 local ISP. City also has its own amateur radio team and city-wide wireless video monitoring system. In 2008-2009 is planned to start digital TV (DVB-T and DVB-H) broadcasting and install city-wide Wi-Fi network. All 4 Latvian mobile operators have stable zones of coverage (GSM 900/1800, CDMA) and client service centers in Liepāja. City also hosts 14 post offices and DHL, UPS and DPD depots.

Economy

In the second half of 20th century under the USSR rule Liepāja has become industrial city and big number of high technology plants has been founded, including:

  • Mashzavod (Машзавод, Лиепайский машиностроительный завод)
  • Liepajselmash (Лиепайсельмаш) - 1954 (now Hidrolats)
  • Sarkanais Metalurgs (now Liepājas Metalurgs)
  • SRZ-29 (СРЗ-29, 29-й судоремонтный завод) (now Tosmares kuģu būvētava)
  • LBORF (ЛБОРФ, Лиепайская база Океанрыбфлота) - 1964
  • Bolshevik (Рыболовецкий колхоз "Большевик") - 1949 (now Kursa)
  • Perambulator factory "Liepāja" (Колясочная фабрика "Лиепая")
  • Mixed fodder plant (Лиепайский комбикормовый завод)
  • Sugar plant (Лиепайская сахарная фабрика)
  • Match factory "Baltija" (Лиепайская спичечная фабрика "Балтия") - 1957
  • Ferro-concrete constructions plant (Лиепайский 5-й завод железобетонных конструкций) - 1959
  • Oil extraction plant (Mаслоэкстракционный завод)
  • SU-426 of BMGS (СУ-426 треста Балтморгидрострой) (now BMGS)
  • Lauma (Лиепайский галантерейный комбинат Лаума) - 1972
  • Linoleum plant
  • Shoes factory

After collapse of USSR's centrally planned economy, only a small number of these plants continue to work.

Within Latvia Liepāja is well know mostly by coffee brand Liepājas kafija', beer Līvu alus and sugar Liepājas cukurs. In 1997 the Liepaja Special Economic Zone was established for 20 years providing a low tax environment in order to attract foreign investments and facilitate the economic development of Liepāja, but investments growth slows down shortage of skilled labor force. The main industries in Liepāja is the steel producer Liepājas Metalurgs, building firm UPB and the underwear brand Lauma. Economy of Liepāja also relies heavily on its port which accepts wide range of cargo. Most notable companies working in Liepaja's port are Baltic Transshipment Center, Liepajas Osta LM, Laskana, Astramar and Terrabalt. After joining European Union in 2004, most Liepāja companies was faced with strict European rules and terse competition and was forced to stop production or to sell enterprises to European companies. In 2007 were closed Liepājas cukurfabrika and Liepājas sērkociņi; Līvu alus, Liepājas maiznieks and Lauma has been sold to European investors.

Infrastructure

Roads

  • Komunālā pārvalde

Electricity distribution and generation

Gas

Sewer & Water

  • Liepājas Udens

Heating

Waste management

  • Liepājas RAS

Society and Culture

Art

Literature, theater and films

In Liepāja now located one cinema "Kino Balle (in 1985 was 5 cinemas), one theater "Liepājas teatris, one puppet theater and issued two regional newspapers "Kurzemes Vārds" with circulation of about 10000 and "Kursas laiks" with circulation of about 6500. City also has 3 regional internet portals. Internet forums, IRC, online games and social networking sites are very popular among young people.

Music

Liepaja is often called the capital of Latvian rock music. Many famous composers and bands have been inspired by Liepaja, including Līvi, Credo, 2xBBM and Tumsa. In the very heart of Liepaja you can find the 1st Latvian Rock Café and Latvian Musician’s Walk of Fame. The city features the regionally acclaimed annual music festival Liepājas Dzintars presenting bands from Baltic states as well as internationally famous guests. The city is also a place of the annual Baltic Beach Party which features a stage for rock bands raised directly on the beach and draws thousands of fans each year. Liepāja is also a place of Organ Music festival and Piano Stars festival.

Sport

In 1998 an ice hall was built in the city which has since hosted regular ice hockey games including two youth World championship games. In the Liepāja also located Daugava Stadium and Olimpija Stadium - the home stadiums of FHK Liepājas Metalurgs and tennis courts. On August 2, 2008 a new multifunctional sport center was officially openned. The city is also a place of international rally Kurzeme and chess tournament Liepājas Rokade.

Leisure and entertainment

Liepāja encourages tourism the main attraction being pristine Blue Flag beach with white sand and rolling dunes, but it also offers number of historical sites including Protestant and orthodox churches and the ruins of military fortifications from the times of the Russian Empire. Another historical place is a surprisingly well preserved wooden hut, where the Russian tsar Peter the Great lived for some time while traveling through the area during the Grand Embassy in 1697.

Demographics

With 85,345 inhabitants in 2007, Liepāja is the third largest city in the Latvia, though its population has been on the decrease since 1991. The most notable decrease of population was due to the withdrawal of Soviet army personnel and emigration of many Russian speaking families to Russia in 1991-2000. Other causes include movement to EU countries after 2004 and low birth rates. Some have estimated that the population may fall by as much as 50% by 2050.

According to the 2007 data, native Latvians make up 52.0% of the population of Liepāja (by comparison, proportion of Latvians countrywide is 59%). Russian speaking people form a considerable minority. In 2007, Liepāja had a predominantly white population.

Year 1638 1800 1840 1881 1897 1907 1914 1921 1940 1950 1959 1970 1975 1989 1995 2000 2007
Th. people 1.0 4.5 11.0 29.6 64.5 81.0 94.0 51.6 52.9 64.2 71.0 92.9 100.0 114.5 100.3 89.1 85.3

Religion

Liepāja has a number of churches, as would be expected in a city of its size. As elsewhere in central and western Latvia, Protestant churches — mostly Lutheran and Baptist — are predominant. The congregations of St. Anne church (Lutheran) and St. Paul church (Baptist) are among the most well-established. Due to the regional importance of Liepāja during the last decades of the Russian Empire a number of Russian Orthodox churches were established in the city early in the twentieth century, and are still attended mainly by the Russian speaking population. Catholic faith is represented in Liepaja by a well established church, Catholic primary school and the Catholic centre established in a pavilion, which represented the Vatican in Expo 2000 in Hanover and was transferred to Liepāja after the event. Several other Christian churches such as Old Believers, Adventist, Pentecostal, Latter Day Saints and Jehova's Witnesses are also represented in the city by single congregations.

Government

Fourteen deputies and a mayor make up the Liepāja City Council. City's voters select a new government every four years, in March. The Council selects from its members the Chairman of City Council (also called City Mayor), the First Vice Chairperson and a Vice Chairperson (Deputy Mayors) which are full time positions. City Council also appoints the members of four standing committees, which prepare issues to be discussed in the Council meetings: Finance Committee; City Economy and Development Committee; Social Affairs, Health Care, Education and Public Order Committee; Culture and Sports Committee. The City of Liepāja had an operating budget of LVL 31 millions in 2006, more than half of which comes from income tax. Traditionally, political leanings in Liepāja have been right-wing, although only about 70% of city population have voting right. The Liepājas partija have dominated the polls.

Former city mayors

Russian Empire

Independent Latvia (1918-1940)

USSR

Independent Latvia (1990-present)

Education and Science

Liepāja has wide educational resources and long traditions of Soviet education, but most well educated young people leave the city because of lack of high-technology and prospective firms and low wages. City has 21 kindergartens, 8 Latvian schools, 5 Russian schools, 1 school with mixed language of education, 1 evening school, 2 music schools and two internat schools. Interest education for children and youth is available in 8 municipal institutions: Children and Youth Centre, Youth Centre, Centre for Young Technicians, Art and Creation Centre "Vaduguns", Complex Sport School, Gymnastics School, Tennis Sports School, Sports School "Daugava" (football, track-and-field athletics) and Basketball Sports School.

Higher and professional education in Liepāja represented by:

Liepāja Central Library has 6 branches and audio record library. Literature fund consists of about 460000 copies and online catalog. Average annual number of visitors - 25000.

  • Percent of resident population with only primary education (2001) - 14%
  • Percent of resident population with secondary education (2001) - 40%
  • Percent of resident population with tertiary education (2001) - 9%

Notable natives

Sister cities

Liepāja maintains sister city relationships with the following cities:

Nynäshamn, Sweden (1990) Elbląg, Poland (1991) Bellevue, Washington, USA (1992)
Darmstadt, Germany (1993) Nykobing Falster, Denmark (1993) Homyel, Belarus (1999)
Karlshamn, Sweden (1997) Klaipeda, Lithuania (1997) Gdynia, Poland (1999)
Rogaland county, Norway (1999) Arstad District in Bergen, Norway (2001) Palanga, Lithuania (2001)
Helsingborg, Sweden (2005)

Gallery

See also

Notes and references

Bibliography

External links

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