Ventspils is a city in northwestern Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

 in the Courland
Courland is one of the historical and cultural regions of Latvia. The regions of Semigallia and Selonia are sometimes considered as part of Courland.- Geography and climate :...

 historical region of Latvia, the sixth largest city in the country. As of 2006, Ventspils had a population of 43,806. Ventspils is situated on the Venta River
Venta River
Venta River is a river in north-western Lithuania and western Latvia. Its source is near Kuršėnai in the Lithuanian Šiauliai County. It flows into the Baltic Sea at Ventspils in Latvia....

 and the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

, and has an ice-free port. The city's name literally means "Castle on the Venta" referring to the Venta River.


Ventspils developed around the Livonian Order
Livonian Order
The Livonian Order was an autonomous Livonian branch of the Teutonic Order and a member of the Livonian Confederation from 1435–1561. After being defeated by Samogitians in the 1236 Battle of Schaulen , the remnants of the Livonian Brothers of the Sword were incorporated into the Teutonic Knights...

 Ventspils Castle
Ventspils Castle
Ventspils Castle is located in Ventspils, Latvia. It is one of the oldest and most well-preserved Livonian Order castles remaining, in that it has retained its original layout since the 13th century. Through its 700 year history, it has been used as a fortress, residence, garrison, school,...

, built along the Venta River
Venta River
Venta River is a river in north-western Lithuania and western Latvia. Its source is near Kuršėnai in the Lithuanian Šiauliai County. It flows into the Baltic Sea at Ventspils in Latvia....

. It was chartered in 1314 and became an important mercantile city of the Hanseatic League
Hanseatic League
The Hanseatic League was an economic alliance of trading cities and their merchant guilds that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe...


As part of the Duchy of Courland, Ventspils blossomed as a shipbuilding center. 44 warships and 79 trading ships were built in the town, and it was from Ventspils that the Duke's
Jacob Kettler
Jacob Kettler was a Baltic German Duke of the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia . Under his rule, the duchy was brought to its greatest peak in wealth and engaged in colonization.- Life :...

 fleet set out to colonize Gambia and Tobago
Tobago is the smaller of the two main islands that make up the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. It is located in the southern Caribbean, northeast of the island of Trinidad and southeast of Grenada. The island lies outside the hurricane belt...

. Metal, amber, and wood-working shops also became important to the city's development.

During the Polish-Swedish War and the Great Northern War
Great Northern War
The Great Northern War was a conflict in which a coalition led by the Tsardom of Russia successfully contested the supremacy of the Swedish Empire in northern Central Europe and Eastern Europe. The initial leaders of the anti-Swedish alliance were Peter I the Great of Russia, Frederick IV of...

, Ventspils was destroyed, and in 1711 a plague wiped out most of the remaining inhabitants. Ventspils fell under the control of Imperial Russia and its re-growth was stalled.

It was not until about 1850 that shipbuilding and trade became important again. The port was modernized in the 1890s and connected to Moscow by rail. It became one of Imperial Russia's most profitable ports, by 1913 turning a yearly profit of 130 million rubles. The population soared as well, growing from 7,000 in 1897, to 29,000 in 1913.
During the German occupation from 1915–1919, the population decreased almost by half, though some returned home during the First Republic of Latvia (1918–1940).

In 1939, the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 established a base in Ventspils. Under Soviet rule, an oil pipeline was built to Ventspils, and became USSR's leading port in crude oil export. Thirty kilometres north of Ventspils is the ex-Soviet radioastronomy installation VIRAC
Ventspils Starptautiskais Radioastronomijas Centrs
left|thumb|200pxVIRAC, Ventspils Starptautiskais Radioastronomijas Centrs or the Ventspils International Radio Astronomy Centre is an ex-Soviet installation 30 km north of Ventspils, Latvia, on the coast of the Baltic Sea...

 (Ventspils Starptautiskais Radioastronomijas Centrs or Ventspils International Radio Astronomy Centre). The existence of the Centrs was unknown to most Latvians until 1994. After independence, the Latvian government began a city-beautification process to make the city more attractive to tourists.

In 2004, Ventspils was a host city for a multi-national (United States, United Kingdom, Poland, Sweden, Russia, Latvia, Denmark, Finland, Norway) naval exercise called Baltic Operations XXXIII (BALTOPS)
BALTOPS is an annual military exercise, held and sponsored by the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe since 1971, in the Baltic Sea and the regions surrounding it....

. The force was led by the guided missile cruiser USS Anzio
USS Anzio (CG-68)
USS Anzio is a guided missile cruiser of the United States Navy, named for the site of a beachhead invasion of Italy by Allied troops from 22 January to 23 May 1944. It was laid down by the Litton-Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation at Pascagoula, Mississippi on 21 August 1989, launched on 2...

 and the destroyer . The US vessels were the first American warships to visit the port of Ventspils since Latvian independence was declared.


A characteristic feature of Ventspils economy is the high development level compared to that of Latvia in general. At the moment, employment indicators (lower unemployment, higher employment) and indicators on income (higher average salary) suggest that Ventspils has created a favourable environment for business development.

Gross domestic product (GDP) referring to the market value of all final goods and services produced by the public and private sector of certain territory within a year is considered the key indicator of economic growth. As of year 2008, GDPs of republic cities are no more being calculated. Consequently, one can only follow the dynamics of Ventspils GDP until 2007. Starting from 2008, Ventspils indicators are being added to those of Courland region and the Republic of Latvia.

In 2007, Ventspils nominal GDP was 327.87 million lats (7.9% increase compared to year 2006). Ventspils GDP of 2007 per capita was LVL 7,530, i.e. 16% higher than Latvia's average GDP per capita (LVL 6,493) and 51% higher than Courland region's average GDP per capita (LVL 4,979). Among cities, Ventspils recorded the second best indicator after Riga (LVL 11,163).

Other indicators of economic growth are non-financial investment and comparative index; like GDP, since 2007 they are no more being calculated in regard to each city separately. Non-financial investment in Ventspils in 2006 was 155.4 million lats; in 2007 it was 149.2 million lats (Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia (CSP), On Key Indicators of Structural Business Statistics. Latvia 2009). Ventspils non-financial investment per capita was the highest in Latvia. Non-financial investment per capita in Latvia in 2006 was LVL 1,810.1, in Riga – LVL 2,816.5, in Ventspils – LVL 3,568.8; in 2007 it was LVL 1,939.5 in Latvia, LVL 2,926.2 in Riga, and LVL 3.445.8 in Ventspils (State Regional Development Agency, Regional Development in Latvia. Latvia 2009).

In 2009, Ventspils had almost 2,000 registered business companies, of which 1,083 were economically active. Over the last few years, the economic activity of inhabitants and the number of economically active companies in Ventspils has grown. Thus, in 2004 Ventspils had only 890 economically active companies compared to 1,083 in 2009.

For a long time, there was only one dominating sector of activity in Ventspils; the situation has recently changed. Taking into account the city's specific location and its ice-free harbor, the principal sector of activity in Ventspils still is transport & storage (by value added and number of employed), however, its share during the last decade has decreased, while that of productive industry and service sector has significantly increased. At the moment, the city may be considered a multi-economy.

Value added by activity in Ventspils in 2000 and 2007, % (CSP data):
Sectors 2000 2007
Agriculture; forestry;fishery 14.4 1.9
Extractive industry;manufacturing; electricity, gas and water supply 3.6 6.7
Construction 20.8 16.7
Trade; repair of cars, household appliances and devices 6.6 10.6
Hotel, restaurant and catering sector 0.6 0.7
Transport, storage, communication 53.1 32.6
Financial mediation; real estate operations 3.7 14.4
State administration; education; health and social care; other services 10.2 16.4

Despite a decrease in the share of transport and communication industry, it is still the dominating sector in Ventspils, represented by such well-known companies as SIA "Ventspils naftas terminals", AS "Ventbunkers", AS "Ventamonjaks serviss", AS "Ventspils Tirdzniecibas osta", AS "Kalija parks", etc. It accounts for a high proportion of employed (22.5% of the total number of employed in Ventspils), as well as a high proportion of collected peoples income tax (hereinafter PIT) – 59% of the total PIT amount.

The second major sector in Ventspils is construction, which employs 13.5% of the total number of economically active inhabitants and accounts for 15.6% of collected PIT.

A rapidly developing sector over the last few years has been the manufacturing industry. According to information provided by CSP, the number of persons employed in manufacturing has risen from 1,500 in 2003 to 2,000 in 2009. The proportion of persons employed in productive industry is about 12% of the total number of employed. At the beginning of 2009, the manufacturing industry employed a total of 1,750 persons: 585 of them were engaged in food and beverage production, followed by 275 people in hardware production except industrial machinery and equipment manufacturing, and 226 people in furniture production.

Also the tourism industry (trade, public catering and consumer services) plays an important role in the economy of the city. It employs 14.8% of the total number of economically active inhabitants. The number of tourist accommodation places and the quality of service in the city continue to increase. In 2010, there were 52 tourist accommodation places in Ventspils with a total of 1,703 beds. New public catering enterprises are being registered in Ventspils every year. In 2010, there were 95 places (e.g. cafés, cafeterias, bistros, restaurants, etc.) rendering public catering services. Every year, Ventspils City Council presents awards to the best public catering enterprises and their employees, organizing a competition "The Best Public Catering Enterprise in Ventspils".


At the beginning of 2011, Ventspils had an official population of 42, 509 (54.3% of them were women compared with 45.7% men).

66% of Ventspils population
A population is all the organisms that both belong to the same group or species and live in the same geographical area. The area that is used to define a sexual population is such that inter-breeding is possible between any pair within the area and more probable than cross-breeding with individuals...

 (28, 200 people) are 15–62 years old, 13.9% (5,949 people) are 0–14 years old, and 20.1% (8,585 people) are 62 years and over.

Population of Ventspils according to ethnic group
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

Ethnic groups Per cent of total population
Latvians 55.0
Russians 28.9
Ukrainians 4.7
Byelorussians 4.5
Poles 1.1
Lithuanians 0.9
Others 4.9


Sectors of work experience (year 2010)
Sector Per cent of total number of employed
Transport, rescue and communication 21.3
Construction 11.2
Trade, equipment repair service 11.3
Manufacturing 11.5
Education 9.7
Other 35.0

In May 2011, 10.9% of all economically active inhabitants of Ventspils were looking for work (actual unemployment
Unemployment , as defined by the International Labour Organization, occurs when people are without jobs and they have actively sought work within the past four weeks...

) compared to Latvia's average unemployment rate of 13.5%.

There were 1,869 registered companies in Ventspils in 2009, mainly engaged in trade, transport repair service, construction, and transport & storage.


The municipality tries to provide all inhabitants of Ventspils with good opportunities to attend various cultural and leisure events according to their interests ensuring both the availability of professional art, and opportunity to cultivate one's artistic talent in amateur art groups. After the reconstruction of Theatre House "Juras varti" and the construction of the new building of Parventa Library, Ventspils has certainly become an important regional cultural centre.

Ventspils is famous for its big concerts, festivals and other cultural and leisure events gathering thousands of people. The municipality does its best to establish new traditions and turn ordinary days into holidays.

Every winter Ventspils hosts the awarding ceremony of the Latvian Radio broadcast "Musical Bank" and the televised national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest. In July everyone can enjoy the final concert of the Latvian pop music poll "The Musical Hits" in Renka Garden.

On the second weekend of July, the city holds celebrations of the Sea Festival. On the first weekend of August, people from far and near places come to Ventspils to take part in the annual City Festival.

Other traditional celebrations include the formal opening of summer tourism season, the Parventa Festival, the Children's Festival, the Blue Flag Raising Celebrations, the Festival of National Cultures "Ventspils Crown", the Meet of Baltic Sea Region's Bikers, the International Modern Rhythm Music Festival & Master Class organized in collaboration with Ventspils Music College, etc.

Educational and entertaining programmes for children are an integral part of the cultural life of Ventspils. Ventspils families with kids eagerly attend Sunday events in the children's playground "Children's Town" and the children's park "Fantasy".

Ventspils City Council regularly supplies a number of grants to help fund cultural events and free-time activities for the youth, thus promoting participation and engagement in the city life and increasing diversity of professional art.

There are several institutions taking responsibility for the cultural life of Ventspils, including:

Theatre House "Juras varti"

The Theatre House presents professional performing art of various genres – theater, opera and ballet performances; concerts of classical, popular, experimental, folk and other music; exhibitions of visual and new media art, and supports the development of professional interdisciplinary projects and activities.

Ventspils Museum

Ventspils Museum is engaged in the research and recording of history of the city and region of Ventspils. It writes a Ventspils City Chronicle, builds up the collections of the museum and carries out scientific work, including organization and promotion of different scientific conferences, archeological expeditions, etc. Besides, the museum is systematically improving its permanent exposition and the unique digital exposition "Living History". Ventspils Museum manages several branches: Livonian Order Castle, Open-Air Seaside Museum, Memorial Museum of the Writer H.Dorbe, House of Crafts; all of which actively participate in the cultural life of the city.

Ventspils Library

Ventspils Library is a municipal cultural, educational and information institution. The library deals with reposition, systematization, cataloging, bibliographic description and maintenance of printed works, electronic materials, manuscripts, and other documents and makes the information available to inhabitants of the city.

Ventspils Library consists of 5 structural units: Main Library, Children's Library, Library of Ventspils University College, Galinciems Library, and Parventa Library. Ventspils Library offers the community more than 206,000 printed works, 100 different periodicals and 8,000 audiovisual materials, free internet access points as well as bibliographical and full-text databases subscribed or created by the library itself.

International Writers and Translators' House

The International Writers and Translators' House is a non-profit organizations aimed at creation of an international multi-functional centre for writers and translators in Latvia to further the development of literature, encourage intercultural dialogue, promote local literary processes on the international level, as well as to facilitate decentralization of literature development process in Latvia, thus creating a favourable cultural environment in the regions.


Ventspils has a well developed sports infrastructure and represents a favourable environment with all preconditions for sporting and leisure activities according to every person's abilities and preferences. Modern sports complexes foster sports development in Ventspils. Sports facilities are constantly being improved so that each inhabitant of the city has plenty of opportunity to do sports and spend their free time in leisure.

Every year, Ventspils municipality allocates funds for maintenance of city's sports complexes to ensure that everybody is given an opportunity to use the stadium, football fields and the skate park free of charge. Sporting activities are done by inhabitants of all generations. Also, more than 40 children from children's home and those with disabilities can use the city's sports complexes and attend sports events free of charge.

The goal of the city authorities is to stimulate young people's interest in sport therefore one of annual events in Ventspils is the competition for students of comprehensive schools. Within the project "Come and Do Sport!" the community is offered to do sports free of charge. Project activities include open presentations of local sports services, sporting events for families, and Nordic walking training.

One of the most popular sporting facility in Ventspils is the Olympic Centre 'Ventspils' offering a basketball hall, ice hall, track-and-field arena, and football stadiums. You can also enjoy the Water Adventure Park,Seaside Aqua-Park, and Adventure Park that turns into a Skiing Hill 'Lemberga hūte' during the winter.


Ventspils is a family-friendly city offering various possibilities both for families living here, and visitors with children from other cities and countries. Harmony between the modern port, innovative plants and factories, and the beautiful and tidy beach that has been flying the Blue Flag
Blue flag
Blue flag or Blue Flag may refer to:*Blue Flag, the flag of Chelsea F.C.*Blue Flag beach, a beach or marina that meets certain quality standards*Larger Blue Flag or Iris versicolor, a type of iris...

 since 1999 makes Ventspils a very special place.

Ventspils is a capital of flowers and fountains; all over the city (even in electrical posts) you can find colourful cow sculptures, but streets, parks, squares and courtyards are decorated with flower sculptures, figurative flower compositions and tasteful flowerbeds. Ventspils is in unwithering bloom even during the hottest summer days.

Ventspils is always an attractive tourism destination with its Narrow Gauge Train Mazbānītis and children's playgrounds that are perfect for families with children; the Beach of the Blue Flag and dunes offer good sunbathing conditions even if the air temperature is just 15 °C (59 °F), not to mention the stargazing with an up-to-date telescope at the observatory and unforgettable cosmic impressions at the most contemporary digital planetarium in the Baltics (which is the only one in Latvia).

Old Town of Ventspils
Ventspils developed rapidly as a commercial harbour in the years of growth of Duchy of Courland and Semigallia, therefore the most active building works took place in vicinity of the present Market Square where a number of former storehouses of 17th century are preserved, and a dwelling house at the crossing of Tirgus and Skolas Streets is one of the most ancient houses of such type in Latvia (built in 1646).

Next to the Market Square, in historical school building on Skolas street, there is located Ventspils House of the Crafts (2007). International Writers’ and Translators’ House (2006) was opened in premises of the former City Hall (1850), on the City-Hall Square. The building is reconstructed to accommodate creative work and everyday needs of its writers. The recently renovated Ventspils Central Library (2006) and Evangelic-Lutheran Church of Nikolay (1835) are located next to it. The City-Hall Square, the Market Square and the Ostas Street Promenade are popular walk places.

CowParade is an international public art exhibit that has been featured in major world cities. Fiberglass sculptures of cows are decorated by local artists, and distributed over the city centre, in public places such as train stations, important avenues, and parks. They often feature artwork and...

 in Ventspils took place in 2002, and now several cow sculptures reside in the city:
‘Latvijas melnā’ (Latvian Black Cow) dwells on the Promenade of Ostas iela;

‘Pretim gaismai’ (Towards the Light) that usually climbs the lamp post on Pils iela next to ‘Latvenergo’ JSC;

‘Ms. Moo-Dunk’ the basketball cow resides near the Basketball Hall of the Olympic Centre ‘Ventspils’;

‘Dzīve ir skaista’ (Life is Beautiful) is situated at the Children’s Park ‘Bērnu pilsētiņa’ (Children’s Town);

‘Jūras govs’ (Cow of the Sea) dwells next to the Livonian Order Castle facing the River Venta;

‘Nafta’ (Oil) lives next to the Children’s Home ‘Selga’;

‘Londonas govs’ (London Cow) welcomes the residents of the camping site ‘Piejūras kempings’.

There are also three considerably larger cows:

‘Ceļojošā govs’ (Travelling Cow) is shaped like a huge suit-case and awaits the city guests on the Promenade of Ostas iela to take some pictures;

‘Govs-Matrozis’ (The Sailor Cow) is a giant blue-coloured cow dressed as a seafarer and situated at the Southern Pier of Ventspils;

‘Šūpojošā govs’ (Cow on the Swings) is a large, but cute and girly cow sitting on the swings not far from the excursion boat ‘Hercogs Jēkabs’.
For more information please visit the site of Ventspils Tourism Information Centre


Ventspils is situated at the mouth of the Venta River
Venta River
Venta River is a river in north-western Lithuania and western Latvia. Its source is near Kuršėnai in the Lithuanian Šiauliai County. It flows into the Baltic Sea at Ventspils in Latvia....

, where it empties into the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

, and is an important ice-free port. Large amounts of oil
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 and other mineral resources from Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 are loaded aboard ships at Ventspils. The revenue from port services has made Ventspils the wealthiest city in Latvia.

Ventspils Airport, one of the three international airports in Latvia, is located in the city. Ventspils High Technology Park
Ventspils High Technology Park
Ventspils High Technology Park was founded in 2005. The Organisation is an active player in promoting high technology industry development in Ventspils city which is one of the major economic centres in the Republic of Latvia...

 provides infrastructure and services to IT and electronics companies.

The city has a basketball
Basketball is a team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules...

 team that has won the Latvian championship in the last several years. In the 2001/2002 season, the team took third place in the North European Basketball
Basketball is a team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules...

 League (NEBL). Ventspils also has a football
Football (soccer)
Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a sport played between two teams of eleven players with a spherical ball...

 team in FK Ventspils
FK Ventspils
FK Ventspils is a Latvian football club, based at Ventspils Olimpiskais Stadions in Ventspils city and is one of the most popular football clubs in the country. FK Ventspils plays in the Latvian Virsliga. They are the current champions of the tournament....

 who compete in the Virsliga
-Past Virslīga winners:-Top scorers:-Riga football league winners:* 1910 Union Riga* 1911 British FC Riga* 1912 Union Riga* 1913 British FC Riga* 1914 British FC Riga* 1915 British FC Riga-Champions of Latvia before Virslīga:* 1922 Ķeizarmežs...

. In the 2006 season the team has won the Latvian championship for the first time.


  • Gatis Gūts
    Gatis Guts
    Gatis Gūts is a former Latvian bobsleigh pilot who had competed since 1994. Currently he is one of the coaches of Latvian bobsleigh team. His two last seasons have seen him twice in the top ten in the World Cup, both times with co-pilot Intars Dīcmanis...

     (1976-) - bobsleigh pilot
  • Ingus Janevics
    Ingus Janevics
    Ingus Janevics is a Latvian race walker.-Achievements:-References:...

     (1986-) - speedwalker
  • Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis
    Girts Valdis Kristovskis
    Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis is a Latvian politician and the current Foreign Minister of Latvia in the Cabinet of Valdis Dombrovskis....

     (1962-) - politician
  • Sandis Prūsis
    Sandis Prusis
    Sandis Prūsis is a Latvian bobsledder who competed from 1983 to 2003. Competing in three Winter Olympics, he earned his best finish of fifth in the two-man event at Nagano in 1998....

     (1965-) - bobsleigh pilot
  • Ēriks Rags
    Eriks Rags
    Ēriks Rags is a Latvian javelin thrower. His personal best throw is 86.47 metres, achieved in July 2001 in London.-Achievements:-External links:...

     (1975-) - javelin thrower
  • Gundars Vētra
    Gundars Vetra
    Gundars Vetra is a retired Latvian professional basketball player.Vētra was the first Latvian to play in the United States' National Basketball Association...

    (1967-) - basketball star

External links

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