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Riga, Latvia
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    (1201- )
    Capital and largest city of Latvia
    Area: 304 km² (city), 10,133 km² (metro)
    Population (2017): 704,476 (city), 1,018,295 (metro)
    Name derived from a corruption of the Livonian word 'ringa', meaning loop; the Latvian word 'rija', meaning threshing barn; or Riege, the German name for the Rīdzene River
    First settled by an ancient Finnic tribe called the Livs
    Joined the Hanseatic League (1282)
    Free Imperial City of the Holy Roman Empire (1561–January 14, 1581)
    Ruled by the PolishLithuanian Commonwealth (January 14, 1581–September 25, 1621), Sweden (September 25, 1621–August 30, 1721), and Russia (August 30, 1721–September 13, 1917)
    Occupied by Germany (September 13, 1917–November 11, 1918, July 10, 1941–October 13, 1944) and the Soviet Union (June 17, 1940–July 10, 1941, October 13, 1944–May 4, 1991)
    European Capital of Culture along with Umeå, Sweden (2014)
    Iconclasts burned a Virgin Mary statue from its cathedral when it floated on water ('proof' of the defendant's 'guilt' for witchcraft). (1524)
    The Nazis massacred about 25,000 Jews, including 24,000 Jews from the city's ghetto, in nearby Rumbula forest. (November 30 and December 8, 1941)
    Its Baltic German population was expelled to Germany by the end of World War II.
    The steamboat Mayakovsky sank in its waters, killing 147 people. (August 13, 1950)
    Near the end of the Soviet era, its ethnic Latvian population had dropped to 36.5% as a result of deportations of Latvians to other parts of the Soviet Union and massive immigration of non-Latvians, especially Russians. (1989)
    A roof collapse at a supermarket killed 54 people and injured 55 more. (November 21, 2013)
    Local mobs often scam men into entering their bars and charging them with bills for as much as €300.
    Ongoing snow cover in the city may last for eighty days.
    Its name sounds like 'rigor'.
    It is rivals with Tallinn over which city had the world's first decorated Christmas tree (Riga claimed 1510 while Tallinn claimed 1441).
    It has been a center of trade since the Vikings used its present location as a trade route.
    It was a haven of Enlightenment thought during the late 18th Century, when major writings of philosophers like Immanuel Kant were published.
    Richard Wagner used to live there, where there's a concert hall named after him.
    It was the center of the First Latvian National Awakening, which promoted Latvian culture and laid the basis for Latvian statehood.
    Russification in the late 19th Century failed to shake off its German historical heritage entirely.
    By the end of the 19th Century, it had developed into one of the most industrialized and prosperous cities in the Russian Empire.
    UNESCO designated its historic center, which contains many medieval and Art Nouveau buildings, a World Heritage Site. (1997)
    It is a popular tourist destination during the Christmas season.
    It is Europe's WiFi capital, with almost 1,000 places to go online for free.

Credit: Big Lenny

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