Riga, the capital of the Republic of Latvia, lies on the banks of the Daugava river not far from where the river flows into the Gulf of Riga. The territory of Riga covers 307 square kilometres and the total population was 815 thousand in January 1997. Riga is not only the largest city in the Baltic States, but also the most important centre of industry, finance and transport in the Baltic region.
It is mentioned in the chronicle of Latvian Indrikis that the City Council of Riga was founded in 1201 although it is also stressed in that document that the first house-holders arrived in 1202. The bishops of Riga and the Livonian order with all their might tried to promote the immigration and settlement of the German population in Riga. After the defeat of the local tribes and the subsequent consolidation of German feudal lords in the 13th century, a number of elements of German culture were introduced in Riga. Even today this heritage is reflected in the buildings that were built during the middle ages. Several forms of urban organisations formerly characteristic only to German cities were introduced too. These forms include fraternities, guilds, corporations and others. Later on the political fortune of Riga was largely determined by the Livonian war (1558 -- 1583). …