Vidzeme (pronounced [ˈvid̪͡z̪eme]; Old Latvian orthography: Widda-semme, Livonian: Vidūmō[3]) is one of the Historical Latvian Lands. The capital of Latvia, Riga, is situated in the southwestern part of the region. Literally meaning "the Middle Land", it is situated in north-central Latvia north of the Daugava River. Sometimes in German, it was also known as Livland, the German form from Latin Livonia, though it comprises only a small part of Medieval Livonia and about half (the Latvian part) of Swedish Livonia. Most of the region's inhabitants are Latvians (85%), thus Vidzeme is the most ethnically Latvian region in the country.[4]

Riga Old Town
Old townhouses at Jomas iela in Jūrmala
Ķemeri National Park
Turaida Castle
Location of Vidzeme in Latvia
Location of Vidzeme in Latvia
Coordinates: 57°15′N 25°30′E / 57.250°N 25.500°E / 57.250; 25.500[1]
Largest cityRiga
 • Total1.3 million
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+3 (EEST)
HDI (2019)0.854[2]
very high · 4th

The historic Governorate of Livonia is also larger than Vidzeme, since it corresponds roughly to Swedish Livonia.

History edit

Battle of Kircholm, 1605

In ancient times, the territory of Vidzeme was inhabited by Latgalians and Livs (near the coast of the Gulf of Riga and along the lower reaches of the Daugava and Gauja rivers). Until the German conquest in the 13th century the Daugava, which now forms the south-east border of Vidzeme, was the boundary between the lands of the Livs and Latgalians on the right bank and those of the Semigallians and Selonians on the left bank of the river. The most notable Latgalian region in today's Vidzeme was Tālava.

After the Livonian War, part of the Livonian Confederation on the right bank of the Daugava river and the Patrimony of Riga was ceded to the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Duchy of Livonia (the left bank forming the Duchy of Courland and Semigalia).

Afterwards, the region was invaded by Sweden in 1600, 1617 and 1621. After the Polish-Swedish War concluded by the Truce of Altmark in 1629, Sweden acquired the western part of the Duchy of Livonia roughly as far as the Aiviekste River, since then forming Vidzeme's eastern border.

During the course of the Great Northern War, Swedish Livonia was conquered by the Russian Empire and ceded to Russia at the Treaty of Nystad in 1721. In place of Livonia the Russians created the Riga Governorate, but in 1796 the Riga Governorate was renamed the Governorate of Livonia, administered autonomously by the local German Baltic nobility through a feudal Landtag. After the end of World War I it was split between the newly independent countries of Latvia and Estonia.

Old Town of Riga, the largest city of Vidzeme, in the interbellum

During World War II, the region was occupied by the Soviet Union from 1940, and then by Nazi Germany from 1941 to 1944.

Subregions edit

The territory of the region of Vidzeme is defined by Latvian law as follows:[5]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Vidzeme, Latvia in (cc-by)
  2. ^ "Sub-national HDI - Area Database". Global Data Lab. Retrieved 20 July 2021.
  3. ^ Līvõkīel-ēstikīel-lețkīel sõnārōntõz: Vidzeme
  4. ^ "Vidzeme (Northern Latvia): Cities, Towns and Sights". Retrieved 30 May 2022.
  5. ^ [1] Latviešu vēsturisko zemju likums

External links edit