South Kurzeme Municipality

South Kurzeme Municipality (Latvian: Dienvidkurzemes novads) is one of the 35 municipalities established in Latvia in 2021. It surrounds Liepāja, Latvia's third largest city. Its first elected municipal council will take office on 1 July 2021. Its seat is at Grobiņa.[4]

South Kurzeme Municipality
Dienvidkurzemes novads
Ruins of Grobiņa Castle in South Kurzeme Municipality
Ruins of Grobiņa Castle in South Kurzeme Municipality
Coat of arms of South Kurzeme Municipality
Location of South Kurzeme Municipality in Latvia
Location of South Kurzeme Municipality in Latvia
Coordinates: 56°33′N 21°09′E / 56.55°N 21.15°E / 56.55; 21.15Coordinates: 56°33′N 21°09′E / 56.55°N 21.15°E / 56.55; 21.15
Country Latvia
Established1 July 2021
 • Total3,591 km2 (1,386 sq mi)
Highest elevation190 m (620 ft)
 • Estimate 
(1 January 2021)[3]
 • Seat
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+3 (EEST)


Map of South Kurzeme Municipality and its parishes.
Beach and dunes at Cape Bernāti, Latvia's westernmost point.
The countryside in Cīrava Parish.
Former Aizpute town hall, now Aizpute Art School.[5]

South Kurzeme is Latvia's largest municipality, covering an area of 3,591 square kilometres (1,386 sq mi).[1] It is located in the southwestern part of the Courland region in western Latvia, on the coast of the Baltic Sea. It borders Ventspils Municipality to the north, Kuldīga Municipality to the northeast, and Saldus Municipality to the east. It surrounds the port city of Liepāja in the west.[6] It also borders the Lithuanian counties of Klaipėda and Telšiai to the south and southeast respectively. The westernmost point of Latvia is located at Cape Bernāti in Nīca Parish south of Liepāja.[7][8]

The coastline of South Kurzeme Municipality is over 100 kilometres (62 mi) long.[9] Erosion of the coast north of Liepāja has been accelerated because breakwaters at Liepāja's seaport intercept sand drifting northward along the coast. The coast south of Liepāja features sandy beaches and dunes, behind which are lagoons and marshy plains. The largest of the lagoons are Lake Liepāja and Lake Tosmare [lv] on the municipality's border with Liepāja, and Lake Pape near the Lithuanian border.[10] The Rietumkursa Upland [lv] rises east of the coastal lowlands, its highest point being Krievukalns [lv] at 190 metres (620 ft) in Embūte Parish.[2]

Rivers in the municipality include the Bārta which flows from its headwaters in Lithuania into Lake Liepāja; and the Durbe [lv] and Tebra, which join to form the Saka [lv] at the village of the same name. The Saka drains into the Baltic Sea at Pāvilosta.

Pape Nature Reserve covers 10,853 hectares (26,820 acres) and protects Lake Pape and the surrounding land areas.[11] It forms the terrestrial component of the Pape Wetland Complex Ramsar site, which also covers the adjacent marine area and has a total area of 51,725 hectares (127,820 acres).[12][13] Bernāti Nature Park [lv] protects Cape Bernāti and Pūsēnu Hill, Latvia's highest sand dune at 37 metres (121 ft).[8] Grīņu Nature Reserve is located in the northern part of the municipality.


South Kurzeme Municipality corresponds in extent to the former Liepāja District as it existed from 1991 to 2009. In the 2009 territorial reforms, Liepāja District was divided into the municipalities of Aizpute, Durbe, Grobiņa, Nīca, Pāvilosta, Priekule, Rucava, and Vaiņode. In 2020, the Saeima approved reducing the number of administrative divisions at the municipal level from 119 to 42, including rejoining the aforementioned municipalities to form South Kurzeme Municipality.[14][15] Elections for Latvia's new municipal councils were held on 5 June 2021,[16] and the new municipalities including South Kurzeme will go into effect on 1 July 2021.[14]


The municipal council of South Kurzeme currently comprises 19 councillors.[17] The municipality is to form joint authorities with the city of Liepāja for the administration of civil protection, education, and waste management.[4][14]

The municipality is subdivided into five towns and 26 parishes:[4][14]


The Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia estimated a population of 33,364 living in what is now South Kurzeme Municipality at the beginning of 2021. This represented a 28% decrease from an estimated population of 46,451 at the beginning of 2000, and a 13% decrease from an estimated population of 38,351 at the beginning of 2011.[3][6]

The municipal seat of Grobiņa had an estimated population of 3522 at the beginning of 2021. The largest town in the district is Aizpute, with an estimated population of 4036 at the beginning of 2021.[18]

Economy and infrastructureEdit

Significant economic activities in South Kurzeme Municipality include tourism, agriculture, forestry and fishing.[9] The municipality is served by national roads A9, which connects Liepāja to Riga, and A11, which runs from Liepāja to the Lithuanian border crossing near Rucava. The Jelgava–Liepāja Railway runs east to west through the municipality. Liepāja International Airport is located in South Kurzeme Municipality at Cimdenieki just east of Liepāja.


  1. ^ a b Līcīte, Madara (10 June 2020). "Saeima nobalso par novadu reformu: būs 42 vietvaras, valstspilsētas un nulles līmeņa pašvaldības". LSM (in Latvian). Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  2. ^ a b "The highest hill summits in Latvia". Official Statistics Portal. Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia. 16 April 2021. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  3. ^ a b "IRS040. Provisional indcators characterising population in 42 local governments (after administrative-territorial reform in 2021) by Indicator, Territorial unit and Time period". National Statistical System of Latvia. Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia. 6 February 2021. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  4. ^ a b c "Law on Administrative Territories and Populated Areas". Likumi. Latvijas Vēstnesis. 22 June 2020. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  5. ^ "Atmodas iela 19" (in Latvian). Aizpute Local History Museum. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  6. ^ a b Brinkhoff, Thomas (31 May 2021). "Latvia: Administrative Division". City Population. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  7. ^ Markots, Aivars (8 June 2020). "Latvijas galējie punkti". Latvian National Encyclopedia. National Library of Latvia. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  8. ^ a b "Nature Park "Bernāti"". Liepāja region tourism information office. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  9. ^ a b "Liepājas rajons". Liepāja District. Archived from the original on 14 April 2009.
  10. ^ Bird, Eric C. F., ed. (2010). "Latvia". Encyclopedia of the World's Coastal Landforms. Springer. ISBN 9781402086380. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  11. ^ "Nature Park". Pape Nature Park. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  12. ^ "Latvia". NorBalWet. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  13. ^ "Pape Wetland Complex". Ramsar Sites Information Service. 27 March 2003. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  14. ^ a b c d "From mid-2021 onward Latvia will have 42 municipalities". Baltic News Network. 11 June 2020. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  15. ^ "Elections in the new South Kurzeme region are awaiting with concern and ignorance". Baltics News. 26 May 2021. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  16. ^ "Latvia votes in landmark local elections". LSM. 5 June 2021. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  17. ^ "New South Kurzeme region: From the bog border to the sea coast". Baltics News. 8 April 2021. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  18. ^ "IRD060. Population by sex in regions, cities, municipalities, towns and rural territories at the beginning of the year by Sex, Territorial unit, Indicator and Time period". National Statistical System of Latvia. Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia. 31 May 2021. Retrieved 6 June 2021.