Riga was originally settled by a native population about which little is known.  The first modern settlement of Riga occurred in the late 1100’s, when German missionaries arrived in the area, building a monastery and working to convert the people who were living there to the Christian faith.  The main motivator behind this was Bishop Albert ,who arrived at the beginning of the thirteen century, along with a fleet of more than twenty ships, and established an order of what would eventually become the Teutonic Knights.

At the end of thirteenth century, Riga became active in international trade as part of the Hanseatic League.  The economy of the area strengthened.  Politics became more centralized ,and Riga began to function as a major city.  This strength grew until the sixteenth century, when several successive wars began to affect the area. 1621 Riga finally came under the rule of Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden and until 1721 remained the biggest city in Sweden. From this period Riga inherited its Scandinavian flair.  1721 Riga was anexed by Russia that officially controlled the area until the end of World War I. Although all this period Riga remained predominantly German-Latvian city with a small Russian minority only.  when Latvia became an independent country and Riga became its capital.

Unfortunately, Riga had trouble re-establishing its former economic and political stability because World War I was quickly followed by World War II.  This was a time of struggle for the people in the area.  The area was again taken over by Russia.  Independence was finally fully gained in the early 1990’s.  Since then, Riga has been working to re-establish itself and has developed tourism as a means of doing so.

Readers who are interested in a more detailed history of Riga should consider reading some of the books on the recommended reading list at http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g27... .