Riga is the largest city in the Baltic States, and it is evident with its 703,581 inhabitants. Data shows that ethnic Latvians make up 42.4% of the population of Riga, with the percentage of ethnic Russians at 40.7%, Belarusians at 4.2%, Ukrainians at 3.8%, Poles at 2.0%, and other ethnicities at 6.9%. By comparison, 59.4% of Latvia’s total population is ethnic Latvians, 27.6% are Russians, 3.6% are Belarusians, 2.5% are Ukrainians, 2.3% are Polish, 1.3% is Lithuanians and the remaining 3.3% are accounted for by other ethnicities. Although there’s a remarkable decrease of 1 million in 1991, notable causes include emigration and low birth rates.

Riga’s inhabitants have always been proud of the achievements of their contemporaries who have made the city known around the world. Many dynamic and different personalities have lived in Riga, each of whom has worked in accordance with their own understanding, conviction and the temper of their times.

Below are some of the prominent people who excelled in their chosen field.



Carolina Hurricanes’ goalkeeper Artūrs Irbe of the NHL is a Riga native. He started playing in the Soviet team in 1989 and in 1991 was awarded the title of best goalkeeper of the world championship. When Latvia regained its independence in 1991, he courageously refused to represent the USSR and went instead to America.



Ballet dancer Mihail Barishnikov was born in Riga and educated at the Riga Choreography High School. In 1974 he migrated to the USA. He has danced with many famous troupes including Britain’s Royal Ballet. From 1980 to 1989 he was artistic director of the American Ballet Theatre, and from 1990 served as ballet master for the M. Morris Ballet Troupe. Since the 80s he has hosted several American TV shows, appeared in films, and taken part in Broadway productions.

It only goes to show that people of Riga truly have the talent to show to the rest of the world, and can excel globally in whatever field they have chosen.