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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Speak Shenzhen
Latvia
    2017-June-29  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

James Baquet

Latvia is one of the three Baltic states, along with Estonia (lying to its north) and Lithuania (to the south). Russia and Belarus are on its east and southeast, respectively. Sweden is located west, across the Baltic Sea.

The people speak Latvian (also called “Lettish”), one of the two so-called Baltic languages, the other being Lithuanian, to which it is closely related. The language of Estonia is more closely related to Finnish.

The capital, Riga, is also Latvia’s largest city, and home to roughly one-third of the country’s inhabitants.

An early people referred to as the Balts settled the area roughly 5,000 years ago, and gave rise to the Baltic peoples. They traded with Rome and Byzantium, and eventually split into four distinct tribes within the borders of modern Latvia. By the Middle Ages there were 14 kingdoms in the area, but after incursions by missionaries and crusaders the people were largely subjugated first to Germany, later to Sweden, and then to Poland and Lithuania.

Although by the 17th century there was a distinct Latvian language and culture, there still had never been a Latvian state. From 1710-1917 the area was part of the Russian Empire, but at the end of World War I, they declared independence — only to fall subject to the Soviets in 1939, a situation that lasted more or less until 1991. In that year the nation at last achieved independence, becoming a “unitary parliamentary constitutional republic,” a one-party state with an elected president and parliament, and a constitution.

Nearly four out of five Latvians are Christian: Lutheran, Roman Catholic, and Russian Orthodox. Neopagans (worshipping the gods of Latvian mythology), Jews, Muslims, and Buddhist constitute much of the remaining 20 percent.

A Latvian legend says that a 13th-century king was wounded in battle, and wrapped in a white sheet. That is said to be the origin of today’s Latvian flag (considered one of the oldest in the world), a white horizontal stripe running through top and bottom stripes of blood red.

Vocabulary:

Which word above means:

1. representatives of the Church

2. modern people following an ancient religion

3. people who use military power to convert people to Christianity

4. separated

5. different, clearly defined

6. brought under control

7. law-making body

8. approximately

9. invasions, raids

10. followers of the German preacher Martin Luther

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