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In the 12th century in the territory of Latvia, there were 14 lands with their rulers: Vanema, Ventava, Bandava, Piemare, Duvzare, Ceklis, Megava, Pilsāts, Upmale, Sēlija, Koknese, Jersika, Tālava and Adzele.German crusaders were sent, or more likely decided to go on their own accord as they were known to do in search of pagans to kill and loot throughout eastern Europe.As a consequence of centuries of Russian rule (1710–1918) and later Soviet occupation, Latvia is home to a large number of ethnic Russians (26.9% in Latvia), some of whom (14.1% of Latvian residents) have not gained citizenship, leaving them with no citizenship at all.Until World War II, Latvia also had significant minorities of ethnic Germans and Jews.
Its capital Riga served as the European Capital of Culture in 2014. Latvia is a unitary state, divided into 119 administrative divisions, of which 110 are municipalities and 9 are cities.
However, by the 1930s, the country became increasingly autocratic after the coup in 1934 establishing an authoritarian regime under Kārlis Ulmanis.
The country's de facto independence was interrupted at the outset of World War II, beginning with Latvia's forcible incorporation into the Soviet Union, followed by the invasion and occupation by Nazi Germany in 1941, and the re-occupation by the Soviets in 1944 to form the Latvian SSR for the next fifty years.
The terms inspired the variations on the country's name in Romance languages from "Letonia" and in several Germanic languages from "Lettland".
By 900 AD, four distinct Baltic tribes inhabited Latvia: Curonians, Latgalians, Selonians, Semigallians (in Latvian: kurši, latgaļi, sēļi and zemgaļi), as well as the Livonians (lībieši) speaking a Finnic language.
Latvian and Lithuanian are the only two surviving Baltic languages.