Three more Latvian settlements become official 'cities'

Five villages and towns were given the status of a city upon implementing the widespread administrative-territorial reforms of last year.

This month, Mārupe, Ādaži and Ķekava became full-fledged 'cities' in the eyes of the law, even if the official staus of these relatively small settlements may seem a little odd to foreign visitors.

The change of status will not bring any significant change in practice, though, Vidzeme television reported on July 6.

“Honestly, I only learned about it yesterday and was in shock, but very pleased,” said Ķekava resident Ivars. 

The mayor of the new city, Juris Zilko, commented that the new status is unlikely to bring about significant changes.

“There were two cities in the municipality so far. But they were not an administrative centre, and Ķekava was a village with the role of the administrative centre. At the moment, this shortage has been rectified, but in practical terms, there will be no deterioration in real estate tax, neither in terms of address nor in terms of economy,” Gilko said.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development (VARAM) said that city status is provided on the basis of population, but services are equal. The time of arrival of firefighters or emergency medical services in cities is shorter, though.

This year, Ādaži, Mārupe and Ķekava gained the status of the city, last year it was Iecava and Koknese. With the new cities, there are currently 81 of them in Latvia.

The city status in Latvia is determined either by population count (for which there is not always a clear threshold but the standard is 2,000) or historical importance as well as "cultural and commercial infrastructure", according to the official Latvian portal. Some places holding the 'city' title actually have fewer than 1,000 residents and so would be considered villages or small towns in many countries. 

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