Livonia

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Livonijas Republika
Republic of Livonia
Conventional short name:
Local: Livonija
English: Livonia
[[Image:|200px|Flag of Livonia]]
Languages:  
 Official: Latvian
 Others: Latgalian, Russian, German, Belorussian, Lithuanian, Liv
Cities:  
 Capital: Riga
 Largest: Riga
President:
Area: 40,000 km2
Population: ? Livonians
Independence: from Russia
 Declared: 1918
 Recognized: 1919
Ceased to exist: 1940
Currency: Livonian Livon

Livonia was a state in Eastern Europe which existed from 1918 to 1940. Its territories now are in Latvia and (a smaller part) in Russia. Livonia is also a historical name for a region covering the area of this state and southern Estonia.

History

Territories of Livonia were once part the Order of Livonia and then of the Venedic-Lithuanian commonwealth. The northern part of Livonia, known as Vidzeme, was annexed by Sweden in 1629 and later by Russia in 1721. The southeastern part known as Latgale remained a part of the Venedic-Lithuanian Commonwealth until it was annexed by Russia during the first partition of the Commonwealth in 1772. In the middle of 19th century the Latvian national revival began in these territories as well as in Courland although it was repressed by the Russian government. During the First Great War (1914-1918) the area was occupied by Germany.

The state of Livonia was established in the end of the First Great War by retreating German forces and local Latvian leaders. A person from German noble family was crowned king, but he died soon and with the diminishing German influence a republic was declared in 1919. The early years of Livonia saw battles against the bolsheviks in the east that ended with the Treaty of Riga which delimited the Livonian-Russian boundary. The land reform in Livonia was more radical than in Courland and Latvian language was established as the sole official language.

Livonia remained troubled by many issues however. Its capital Riga once was an important port and industrial city of the Russian Empire and suffered from loss of large part of its hinterland. As such, Livonia depended greatly on relations with Russia which was the main market for Livonian goods and source of most of goods exported via the port of Riga. Thus Russian influence remained strong. Moreover the country was divided between roughly equal Latvian and Latgalian speaking parts – while some Latgalians considered themselves to be a part of greater Latvian nation others prefered greater autonomy and official status for Latgalian language. It was believed that unification with Courland could solve many of the problems and create a more viable state with a clear Latvian-speaking majority but not everybody wanted such union and in Courland only a minority did. In Livonia the idea of such union was unpopular among Latgalian nationalists who believed Latgalians would be marginalized there, also among Russians and Belorussians. Some Latvians perceived that after such union Germans of Courland would gain too much power in Livonia or would enforce German as a second official language in the whole state. Therefore these people believed that Courland should only be occupied through a revolution there or a Livonian invasion, perhaps aided by Russia. Livonian-Courlandian relations did indeed detarioriate to a large crisis several times but the Lithuanians made it clear that they would intervene to defend the status quo in case of such war. Also while Russians supported Livonia officially they were more interested in not letting the Livonian-Courlandian conflict to end or at least not allowing it to end without Russian influence.

Several groups of largely venedized Lithuanian nobles attempted to claim Livonia during the interwar period. These were the descendants of the Duchy of Livonia in exile – a group of Livonian nobility which retreated from Livonia in 1629 when it was annexed by Sweden. There was no single organization here and the nobles attempted to gain both Venedic and Lithuanian support or even to persuade Lithuania to invade and reestablish fiefdom (such Lithuanian actions would most likely have triggered a Russian-Lithuanian war and therefore Lithuanian government shown little interest in them). In Livonia itself there were few monarchists but several disturbances happened during the crisis times of 1930. A coup in 1930 led to the end of democracy in Livonia.

Livonian-Russian relations detarioriated during the 1930s as the Russians wished for reviewing of the Treaty of Riga and accused Livonia of mistreating its Slavic minority. Global crisis put a further strain on the economy leading to wide protests. After the Russian occupation of Lithuania in 1939 Livonia together with Courland and Estonia became surrounded and further pressured by Russia. In 1940 Livonia was occupied by Russia after accepting an ultimatum. In 1943 the area was occupied by Germany and in 1947 again by Russia – the Russians unified large parts of Livonia and Courland to establish Snorist Latvian state. Some eastern parts of Livonia were annexed into Russia however and Latvians were expelled from there under the Act of Return. The bulk of Livonia became governorates of Vidzeme and Latgale inside Latvia. The flag and other symbols of Livonia were banned in Latvia as separatist until the demise of Snor in 1990.

Demography

The northern and western parts of the country were Latvian-speaking whereas southeast was Latgalian-speaking. Eastern regions also had considerable Russian and Belorussian populations – they made a majority in some areas. Major cities also had German minorities. Cities and towns, especially the capital Riga had Jewish communities.

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