Latvian is the mother tongue of 60.8% of the population of Latvia

At the end of 2017, Latvian was the mother tongue of 60.8% of Latvia’s population, according to data released by the Central Statistical Bureau, published on August 2.

Compared to the results of the Population and Housing Census 2000, the share of inhabitants whose mother tongue is Latvian has risen by 2.6%, while the share of people with a different mother tongue has declined.

The mother tongue data are closely correlated to ethnic composition statistics: at the start of 2018, ethnic Latvians accounted for 62.2% of the population.

Latvian is the mother tongue of 89.2% of the population in Vidzeme, 76.4% of the population in Kurzeme, 75.2% of the population in Pierīga, and 72.8% of the population in Zemgale. In Latgale and Riga, however, Latvian is the mother tongue of less then 50% of the population – 41.4% and 43%, respectively.



Compared to 2000, the share of the population having Latvian as their mother tongue has gone up in all regions, with Pierīga witnessing the highest increase (4.6%). The number of inhabitants having Russian as their mother tongue has dropped in all regions, with the sharpest decline being in Rīga (1.6%) and Pierīga (2.9%). In Latgale, the share of the population having Russian as their mother tongue has not changed.

People do not always speak their mother tongue at home. Results acquired in 2017 show that 61.3% of the country’s population speak Latvian at home, while the share of the population speaking Russian at home accounted for 37.7 percent. The proportions have not changed significantly since 2011, when the data for the language mainly spoken at home were collected in the Population and Housing Census.

The change of the language mainly spoken at home is sometimes related to having a spouse of a different nationality. Official marriage statistics show that 37% of marriages in Latvia are contracted between a Latvian and a person of a different nationality. 

Compared to the results of Population and Housing Census 2011, the number of people speaking Latvian at home has risen by 1.9%, while the number of people speaking Russian has dropped by 2.6%.

At the end of 2017, 1.9 % of Latvians indicated that they spoke Latvian at home and 7.5 % indicated that they spoke Russian. Among the Russian population, 90.7 % indicated that they speak Russian at home and 8.5 % indicated that they speak Latvian.

Regional breakdown of statistics for the language mainly spoken at home is similar to the mother tongue statistics – the largest share of the population mainly speaking Latvian is recorded in Vidzeme (91.4 %) and the smallest in Latgale (38.6 %) and Rīga (42.7 %). In Kurzeme, Latvian is spoken by 78.4 %, in Pierīga by 75.9 %, and in Zemgale by 75.8 % of the population. The greatest difference between the mother tongue and the language mainly spoken at home was observed in Latgale – Russian is mainly spoken at home by 4.8% more people than the share having it as mother tongue.



Approximately 45% of the population aged 50 and over speak Russian at home, while among the population aged under 50 the number does not exceed 40%.

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