Press Release

Latvian is mother tongue of 60.8 % of the population of Latvia

Data of the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia (CSB) show that at the end of 2017 Latvian was mother tongue of 60.8 % of the country’s usually resident population. Compared to the results of Population and Housing Census 2000, the share of inhabitants the mother tongue whereof is Latvian has risen by 2.6 percentage points and the share of people having other mother tongue has declined.

The statistics for the population mother tongue is similar to that for ethnic composition – at the beginning of 2018 Latvians accounted for 62.2 % of the population.

Mother tongue of population of Latvia
(as per cent of total population)

 

2000

Population and Housing Census data

2017

External Migration Survey results

Latvian

58.2

60.8

Russian

37.5

36.0

Other

4.3

3.2

Latvian is mother tongue of 89.2 % population in Vidzeme, 76.4 % of population in Kurzeme, 75.2 % of population in Pierīga, and 72.8 % of population in Zemgale. In Latgale and Riga, Latvian is mother tongue of less than 50 % of population – 41.4 and 43 %, respectively. Compared to 2000, the share of population having Latvian mother tongue has gone up in all regions, however Pierīga is indicating the highest rise (of 4.6 percentage points). The share of inhabitants having Russian mother tongue, in turn, has dropped in all regions, with the sharpest decline in Riga (of 1.6 percentage points) and Pierīga (2.9 percentage points). In Latgale the share of population having Russian mother tongue has not changed.

Not always people speak their mother tongue at home. Results acquired in 2017 show that 61.3 % of the country’s population spoke Latvian at home, while the share of population speaking Russian accounted for 37.7 %. The proportions have not changed notably since 2011, when statistics for the language mainly spoken at home was acquired in the Population and Housing Census.

Change of the language mainly spoken at home sometimes is related to having spouse of different nationality. Official marriage statistics shows that 37 % of marriages in Latvia are registered by Latvians having spouse of different nationality.

Compared to the results of Population and Housing Census 2011, the share of people at home mainly speaking Latvian has risen by 1.9 percentage points, while the share of people speaking mainly Russian has dropped by 2.6 percentage points.

At the end of 2017, 1.9 % of Latvians indicated that at home communicate in Latvian and 7.5 % indicated that speak Russian. Out of Russian population, 90.7 % indicated that at home mainly speak Russian and 8.5 % indicated that use Latvian.

Regional breakdown of statistics for the language mainly used at home is similar to the mother tongue statistics – the largest share of population mainly using Latvian is recorded in Vidzeme (91.4 %) and the smallest in Latgale (38.6 %) and Riga (42.7 %). In Kurzeme, Latvian in used by 78.4 %, in Pierīga by 75.9 %, and in Zemgale by 75.8 % of the population. The greatest difference between the mother tongue and the language mainly used at home may be observed in Latgale – Russian is mainly used at home by 4.8 percentage points more people than the share having it as mother tongue.

Russian at home is used by approximately 45 % of population aged 50 and over, while in younger age groups the share does not exceed 40 %.

In 2017 and 2018, CSB conducted External Migration Survey that was aimed at acquiring additional information on migration flows. To meet the data user needs, the survey covered also questions on languages – mother tongue, language mainly used at home, as well as foreign language skills.

External Migration Survey results are available in the CSB website section Migration.

 

More information on data:
Sigita Šulca
Social Statistics Methodology Section
E-mail: Sigita.Sulca@csb.gov.lv
Phone: +371 67366806

 

Release date
Share this press release:

Statistical themes related to this press release