National Bird of Latvia
The Latvian national bird is the balta cielava or white wagtail (Motacilla alba). This slender and graceful bird is often found in Latvia from April till October. The white wagtail can usually be seen running briskly along the ground, wagging its tail up and down. This bird usually nests in the rafters and eaves of buildings, woodpiles, stone piles, and birdhouses. During the winter it migrates to Southern Europe and North Africa. The white wagtail was affirmed the national bird of Latvia in 1960 by the International Bird Protection Council.
The Latvian national insect is the two-spot ladybird (Adalia bipunctata). The two-spot ladybird is familiar as a useful insect that protects plants from parasites. Although rather slow by nature, it can defend itself well. Due to its appearance and behaviour it is widely known and liked throughout Latvia. The insect's Latvian name - marite - is a synonym for the ancient Latvian goddess Mara, who embodies the power of the earth. The two-spot ladybird was designated the national insect of Latvia by the Entomological Society of Latvia.
The National Flower of Latvia
The Latvian national flower is the pipene or daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare, earlier also known as Chrysanthemum leucanthemum), which also grows here in the wild. In Latvian conditions the common or wild daisy blossoms from June till September. Daisies are a very popular flower and are often used in flower arrangements or given as gifts.
National Trees of Latvia
The linden, or lime tree (Tilia cordata, Latvian: liepa) and the oak (Quercus robur, Latvian: ozols) are considered the national trees of Latvia. The oak and the linden tree are characteristic elements of the Latvian landscape. Both trees are still widely used for medical purposes. Medicinal infusions are made of linden blossoms as well as oak bark. Latvian dainas (folk songs) often reflect ethical and moral concepts of earlier times. Amongst other trees, these folk songs most often mention the oak and linden tree. In traditional Latvian folk beliefs and folklore the linden tree is looked upon as a female symbol, but the oak - a male symbol. The nation's reverence for these trees, which in earlier times were considered sacred, can be witnessed, for example, in a landscape where, in the middle of a cultivated field there still remains a lone large, sacred oak or linden tree.
The Freedom monument, or Brivibas piemineklis, in the capital city Riga has become an undisputed symbol of independence. It was built from 1931 until 1935 from donated funds. The monument is designed by Latvian sculptor Karlis Zale.
At the base of the monument sculptural reliefs illustrate different significant moments in Latvia's history, while the very top displays the symbol of freedom a woman who embodies the idea of Latvia's sovereignty. At the foot of the freedom monument there is never a lack of flowers, which are placed here with deep respect for those, who have formed this nation and who have sacrificed their lives in the fight for independence for the good of the nation and its people.
The Daugava is considered the Latvian national river. The Daugava is the largest river that flows through Latvia (total length 1005 km, of these 352 km flow through Latvian territory).
Known as the "river of fate" or "mother of rivers", the Daugava has served as an ancient trade route linking the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, profoundly influencing the flow of Latvian history. For centuries the Daugava has served as an essential transport artery, means of livelihood, and source of energy. (Latvia's hydroelectric stations are located along the Daugava). Today, as in the past, the Daugava serves as a borderline between distinct Latvian cultural and historical regions, separating Kurzeme and Zemgale from Vidzeme and Latgale.
What is the significance of the Latvian word for amber dzintars? Our choral music is brought to audiences abroad by the Dzintars Choir, and dance is presented by the children's dance ensemble Dzintarins. The name of our main perfumery company is Dzintars; we love to put Dzintars cheese spread on our bread at breakfast. We all have somebody called Dzintars or Dzintra among our friends the name is so common among us who live at the shore of Dzintara jura, the Amber Sea, and who have so many fine songs about amber and the sea that nurtures it. What is this sun-stone caressed by the currents of the Baltic Sea?
Amber has a special place among all the precious and semi-precious stones. Unlike other decorative materials, amber absorbs body heat and is comparatively easy to work. This is because amber consists primarily of organic compounds, instead of being formed through the action of inorganic substances. Amber is fossil resin. The chemical formula for amber is taken to be C40H64O4, but in reality the chemical composition differs for each piece of amber.