San Francisco, CA, Dec. 2, 2013 – Today the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Latvia representing Northern California announced that Latvian Ambassador to the United States, the Honorable Mr. Andris Razâns, personally accepted an award on behalf of the Republic of Latvia from the Ethical Traveler Organization. The award establishes Latvia, an independent republic on the Baltic Sea border, as one of the top ten ethical travel destinations in the world. The announcement was made today during a presentation by Ambassador Razâns at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.
“Accepting this award in 2013 demonstrates our country’s dedication and commitment to sustainable economic development and environmental policies since regaining our independence two decades ago and reaffirms Latvia as a vital destination for European-bound ethical travelers worldwide,” said Ambassador Razâns.
During its 50 years of Soviet occupation after World War II, Latvia’s environment was largely neglected with most major river and Bay of Riga waterways severely polluted with chemical waste, which severely curtailed swimming or drinking the water. However, in the last 22 years, Latvia has regained its place on the world stage as one of three ‘Baltic Circle’ States that are members of NATO, the European Union, the WTO and on track to soon join the OECD. Today, Latvia as part of the Baltic Circle is an active global trading partner for Europe, Asia and the United States and produces green hydro electric energy that powers fifty percent of its domestic electrical energy needs with opportunity to sell the remainder in the local European market. Additionally, Latvia through its human rights and social welfare policies has re-established its presence as a destination for ethical travelers worldwide, welcoming over 1.5 million foreign travelers annually, which has been growing by over ten percent per year since 2009.. In addition to winning this year’s prestigious Top Ten Ethical Traveler Award, in 2014 Riga, the capitol of Latvia, will be crowned by the EU as the EU capital of culture and eventually as rotating head of the European Union Presidency in 2015.
"Latvia represents the new face of Europe with its sustained economic growth within a balanced budget while also promoting progressive social, environmental and human rights policies," said Liga Hoy, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Latvia representing Northern California.
While in the Bay Area, Latvian Ambassador Andris Razâns will meet with technology companies and Bay area universities to discuss business and academic exchange opportunities between Latvia and the Northern California region.
Latvia is an independent republic in Northern Europe on the border of the Baltic Sea across from Sweden. Immediate neighboring countries to Latvia include Sweden, Belarus, Russia and the Baltic Circle countries of Estonia and Lithuania. Latvia has one of the highest literacy rates in the world (99.8 percent) according to 2007 data from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Its population is approximately 2 million with a highly educated labor force of approximately 1 million according to The CIA’s World Factbook. Latvia sources about half of its domestic electrical energy from green sources, specifically from its own hydroelectric plants and biofuels. Exports through Latvia’s active ports cities of Riga, Ventspils and Liepaja on the Baltic Sea and a vibrant services sector are the primary contributors to Latvia’s gross domestic product. Additionally, machinery, electrical equipment, wood, metal and mineral products are the main non service exports according to The Latvian Institute. In 2004, Latvia joined the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Latvia is also a member of the United Nations Organization and the World Trade Organization.
About Latvian Ambassador Andris Razâns:
Andris Razâns became ambassador of Latvia to the United States on July 27, 2012. Ambassador Razâns previously served as political director/undersecretary of state at the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2010-12), he also held posts as ambassador at large of the ministry's Policy Planning Group (2009-10); counselor and head of the Policy Planning Group (2003-04); head of the EU Policy Division (1997-98); and desk officer of the Northern Europe Division (1993-94). In addition, he was Latvia's ambassador to Denmark (2004-09), diplomatic advisor to the Latvian prime minister (2004), and deputy head of mission of the Latvian Embassy in Sweden (2000-03). Ambassador Razâns was also diplomatic advisor to two Latvian presidents (1998-2000), as well as second secretary and third secretary at the Latvian Embassy in Denmark (1994-97).
Ambassador Razâns holds a master's degree in history from Latvian State University and has studied at Sweden's Stockholm University and Lund University, where he was a guest researcher, as well as the London School of Economics and USIA Visitors program for young leaders. He speaks Latvian, English, Russian and Swedish as well as some German, Danish, Norwegian and French.