About Latgale

Latgale is one of the four historical and cultural regions of Latvia recognised in the Constitution of the Latvian Republic. It is the easternmost region north of the Daugava River. While most of Latvia is historically Lutheran, Latgale is historically predominantly Roman Catholic.

The region has a large population of ethnic Russians, especially in Daugavpils, the largest city in the region. Many of the Russians who lived in Latgale before the Soviet occupation are Old Believers. R?zekne, often called the heart of Latgola, Kr?slava, and Ludza are other large towns in the region, which also has a Belarusian minority. There is still a significant Polish minority (Daugavpils has almost as many Poles as Latvians). As part of the Polotsk and Vitebsk guberniyas, the region was part of the Pale of Settlement and had a very large Jewish population – but most of the Jews perished in the Holocaust and much of the remainder has emigrated. The region is one of the poorest in the European Union, and unlike in the rest of Latvia, a majority of voters was opposed to EU membership in the referendum on accession.

Due to its history several different names are historically used for Latgale.

*    Other names for the region include Lettigallia, Latgallia, and Latgola.

*    The people are called latgalieši in Latvian (as distinct from latga?i, which refers to the ancient tribe, though some modern Latgalians prefer latga?i) – latgal?ši in Latgalian, sometimes latgali – Latgalians, Latgallians, or Lettigalls in English, and are sometimes referred to as ?anga?i (sometimes derogatory – the reference is to a novel, and Latgalians often call other Latvians "?iu?i"). The term latgalieši dates only to the early 20th century, and before that Latgalians were long refrred to as Vitebsk Latvians or Inflantians (Latgalian: vitebsk?ši, inflant?ši).

*    The language or dialect is called Latgalian