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During the Closing Ceremony of the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, one million people held their breath as the dream of flying became true. Those flying people were Latvians.

At the Beijing EXPO in the summer of 2010, people queud to enter a shiny, cylinder shaped pavilion. Those who came out were happy and overwhelmed by the sight they had seen – people freely flying without wings. The particular pavilion belonged to Latvia, where Latvians were demonstrating the Aerodium vertical wind tunnel - an innovation developed and promoted by Latvia. Even the Latvian Prime minister of the time Mr. Dombrovskis enjoyed a flight.

The technology itself was already invented in 1979 in Canada, however it was the Latvians who had the dream and idea to further develop it and make it accessible for everyone – to spread the happiness around. It is therefore called the technology for happiness. Flying in the vertical wind tunnel is an exciting experience, so its accessibility is the aim of Aerodium. Aerodium technologies have been used in many events, movies, advertisements and celebrations.

Gadgets for James Bond

In the 1969 film “On Her Majesty`s Secret Service”, George Lazenby as James Bond destroys a lair of criminals and takes photos using a palm-size camera.  Agent 007 was using a Minox A - a portable camera designed by Latvian engineer Walter Zapp and produced in VEF (State Electro-technical Plant). When it was first invented in 1937, it was the first miniature photo camera in the world, having dimensions of 1.3 x 2.7 x 7.5 cm.

Small, fast, effective and easy to use, and revolutionary in itself, it was widely used by spies. 17 000 cameras were produced and exported around the world from 1937 – 1942. The legend is still alive and continues to be produced by German company Minox Ltd. Even though this is the only Latvian invention in the field of photography, it has revolutionised the technical world.

Creating Olympic History

At the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, the young Latvian BMX racer Māris Štrombergs, who had already won both European and World Championships, became the first-ever Olympic Champion in men’s BMX Cycling. This was a great achievement for Latvia as a nation, as it’s only Latvia’s second Olympic gold medal.

Four years later at the 2012 London Games, Štrombergs was back on track after having sustained an injury. In the final race, he won a second consecutive Olympic gold medal, becoming the only one with such an achievement and the only one to own gold medals is this Olympic discipline.

Needless to say, we are looking forward to the Rio De Janeiro Games in 2016!

First in the Europe - an incredible Moment in History

In 1935, Latvia won the first FIBA EuroBasket Championship, which took place in Switzerland with 10 nations participating. Yes, even though there are more famous national basketball teams than Latvia, it was the Latvians who managed to be the first to earn the Champion’s title. The 2012 movie “Dream Team 1935” was created in 2012 about this particular competition and Latvia’s road to success in it.

An inspiring Place of Birth

  • Mark Rothko (1903 – 1970) - an Abstract Expressionist whose colourful paintings broke records in New York’s auction houses.
  • Sir Isaiah Berlin (1909 – 1997) - a philosopher whose liberal theories influenced discussion on political freedom and values.
  • Gustavs Klucis (1895 – 1938) - a poster artist whose style changed the view on what a poster is and what it communicates.

These and many more worldwide known musicians and artists have one thing in common – their birthplace. They were all born in territory of and in Latvia! Latvia’s surroundings, language and traditions have contributed to the development of their recognised and unique talents. This really is an inspirational place.

The largest Choir in the World

One thing that everyone should know about Latvia - we are the singing nation! It began with the Latvian dainas (see section Questions and Answers) and continued with the so-called Singing revolution, where songs with powerful lyrics helped to unite Latvians during the regaining of independence at the end of the 1980’s.

Latvians demonstrate their passion for song every day, but starting from 1873, they come together for the National Song and Dance festival every five years. This festival brings together more than 40 000 participants (singers, dancers, musicians) of which around 15 000 form one great choir to perform at the Final Gala concert. The National Song and dance festival inspires and unites the Latvian nation.