Riga, city, capital of Latvia. Situated on the Daugava River, near its mouth on the Gulf of Riga (an arm of the Baltic Sea), the city is a major seaport and a cultural and industrial center. Manufactures incorporate boats, electrical hardware, pharmaceuticals, processed nourishment, and wood products. The old area of Riga is surrounded by a channel and contains several medieval structures, including a thirteenth century cathedral and society lobbies from the fourteenth century. The city is the seat of a university and of the Latvian Academy of Sciences. It likewise has an ensemble orchestra, several theaters and exhibition halls, and a zoo.
Probably established in the twelfth century, Riga was made the seat of the priest of Livonia in 1201. The city formed into a commercial and craft center, joining the Hanseatic League in 1282. It therefore accomplished a measure of autonomy, yet in 1581 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The city was taken by Sweden in 1621 and was granted self-government. In 1721 it was surrendered to Russia after Sweden was crushed in the Great Northern War.
Before the finish of the nineteenth century Riga was one of Russia’s most industrialized urban communities. During World War I it was involved by the Germans from 1917 to 1918, when it turned into the capital of autonomous Latvia. During World War II it was attached (1940) by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and after that held (1941-44) by the Germans before being returned to Soviet control. The city was the capital of the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) until 1991, when Latvia again ended up autonomous.