Around eight thousand inhabitants of Latvia have the surnames Kalniņš/-a and Ozoliņš/-a. More than five thousand persons have the surname Jansons, Ozols, Liepiņš, Krūmiņš and Vasiļjevs (and the female forms thereof).
Among the other more common surnames are Millers, Zālītis, Dmitrijevs, Antonovs and Gūtmanis with more than a thousand persons each.
Flora and fauna to the fore
As usual, many of the common Latvian surnames have their origins in the natural world. For example Bērziņš is derived from birch (bērzs), Ozoliņš from oak (ozols) and Liepiņš from linden (liepa).
Also popular are birds and animals as surnames: Balodis (pigeon), Vanags (hawk), Lācis (bear), Cīrulis (lark) and Gulbis (swan) are prime examples.
Slightly less common are surnames with toponymic origins such as Avotiņš (spring), Sala (island), and Cēsnieks (person from Cēsis), but as previously noted, Kalniņš (hill) is a big hitter. Less common still are surnames related to occupations such as Arājs (ploughman) and Kalējs (blacksmith).
The most common surnames in Rīga in 2021 were Ivanovs (3,842), Bērziņš (2,711) and Kalniņš (2,259). These were also the most common surnames in Zemgale.
In Vidzeme, apart from Riga, the most common surname was Bērziņš (4,846), followed by Kalniņš (3,696) and Ozoliņš (3,254), while in Kurzeme the top three were Jansons (1,701), Bērziņš (1,349) and Freimanis (1,050).
In Latgale, as usual, things are a bit different with the three most common surnames being Ivanovs (3,028), Vasilijevs (1,321) and Bogdanovs (1,252).
There are 80 thousand permanent residents of Latvia with unique surnames, and another 30,000 residents with surnames shared by only two people.
More information about the most common names and surnames, as well as the population, gender and age, migration, ethnic composition, household size, family types, education level, economic activity, housing can be seen in the publication Main results of the 2021 population and housing census of Latvia.