[Overview] Riga is Latvia's capital as well as political, economic, technological, cultural and transportation center. Situated at the junction of western and eastern Europe and that of Russia and Scandinavia, in the heart of the Baltic countries, on the edge of Riga Bay, the city covers an area of 307.17 square kilometers and has a population of 638,000.
[Politics] The Riga City Council performs city management functions of the government. The city council is composed of 60 members, directly elected by secret ballot by citizens for a term of four years. The chairman of the city council also serves as the mayor of the city, and the vice chairman also serves as the deputy mayor. Both are elected by the city council from its members. There are three districts under the jurisdiction of the city. The incumbent Mayor Martins Stakis will serve a four-year term from September 2020.
[Economy] Riga is the industrial center of Latvia. The city's major industries are shipbuilding, electrical appliances, machinery, vehicles, glass, consumer goods, and food processing. Main exports are textiles, fiberglass, footwear, and fish products.
Riga is the largest commercial and financial center as well as transportation hub on the Baltic Sea coast. The Port of Riga is world-famous. The city also has well-developed railways, highways and shipping industry.
[Culture and Education] Riga is Latvia's education center. There are various institutions of higher education in the city, including academy of sciences, universities, industrial colleges, and academy of music.
[Relations with Beijing] In September 2017, Beijing and Riga officially became sister cities. In April 2004, the two cities signed an economic, social and cultural cooperation agreement in Beijing. In recent years, Beijing and Riga have maintained good official ties and engaged in productive cooperation in the fields of tourism, culture and education.
Tourism and Culture: Riga joined the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) when it was established on the initiative of Beijing in 2012 and has since then been in active interactions with Beijing within the WTCF framework. In February 2014, Beijing presented the “Happy Chinese New Year” show in Riga. This was the first time that the event had come to Latvia and it received positive response from local people. In April 2019, Beijing Dance Academy sent a team of dancers to present the classical Chinese dance show “Beauty beyond Words” at the 24th International Baltic Ballet Festival in Riga, which consisted of 13 dance performances, including On the Wings of the Song, Goddess, One-Thousand-Hand Avalokitesvara, and Moonlit River in Spring, showcasing the beauty of Chinese culture with Chinese features and artistic characteristics to local people.
Education: In March 2018, Beijing International Studies University and Riga Technical University signed an exchange agreement for undergraduates studying Latvian language, providing an additional training channel for students learning languages of Central and Eastern Europe. The two universities renewed the undergraduate exchange agreement in March 2019 and signed an undergraduate training agreement in July 2019. In October 2019, Riga sent a delegation to participate in the youth camp activities organized in Beijing. The participants shared the two cities' practices and experience in promoting science, technology, culture, and green development and thus got better understanding of each other.
Landscaping: In October 2012, Beijing Gardening and Greening Bureau sent a delegation to Riga to learn about the city's forest management and planning practices. In May 2014, a delegation of the Housing and Environment Department of the Riga City Council visited Beijing to check the city's landscaping efforts and signed a cooperation agreement with Beijing Gardening and Greening Bureau.