The Latvian national coat of arms was formed after the proclamation of an independent Latvian Republic and was specially created for its independent statehood. The national coat of arms combines symbols of Latvian national statehood as well as symbols of ancient historical districts. The sun in the upper part of the coat of arms symbolises Latvian national statehood. A stylised depiction of the sun was used as a symbol of distinction and national identity by Latvian riflemen latviesu strelnieki - recruited into the Russian imperial army during WWI. During WWI the sun figure was fashioned with 17 rays that symbolised the 17 Latvian-inhabited districts. The three stars above the coat of arms embody the idea of the inclusion of historical districts (Vidzeme, Latgale and combined Kurzeme-Zemgale) into a united Latvia.
Culturally historical regions are also characterised by older heraldic figures, which already appeared in the 1600s. Kuzeme and Zemgale (Western Latvia) are symbolised by a red lion. The lion appears as early as 1569 in the coat of arms of the former Duke of Kurzeme. Vidzeme and Latgale (Eastern Latvia) are symbolised by the legendary winged silver creature with an eagle's head, a griffin. This symbol appeared in 1566, when the territories known today as Vidzeme and Latgale had come under Polish-Lithuanian control. The Latvian artist Rihards Zarins designed the Latvian national coat of arms.
The proper use of the Latvian coat of arms is firmly regulated. Three types of symbols are used - large, small enhanced and small.
Large Coat of Arms of Latvia
The large coat of arms, for example, can be used by the State President, Parliament, Prime Minister, Cabinet of Ministers, government ministries, the Supreme Court and Prosecutor General, as well as Latvia's diplomatic and consular missions.
Small Enhanced Coat of Arms of Latvia
The small enhanced coat of arms can be used by agencies of the Parliament, Cabinet of Ministers and other institutions under direct or indirect supervision of the government ministries.
Small Coat of Arms of Latvia
The small coat of arms, for example, can be used by other government institutions, municipal authorities and educational institutions on official documents.