1. Statistical data

Area north-south distance east-west distance forest of the total territory arable land swamps and bogs
64 600 km2 210 km 450 km 45% 30% 4%

Population density urban population rural
2 480 000 38 people/km2 69% 31%

    2. Administrative organisation

General administrative organisation of the country

The Satversme (basic law) of the Republic of Latvia establishes Latvia as an independent democratic republic with separation of legislature, executive and judiciary. The Saeima (Parliament) has legislature power.

Executive power is represented by the Cabinet of Ministers. The Cabinet has the power (when delegated by law) to issue regulations, which are binding for juridical persons and private individuals. There are two levels of local governments in Latvia. Regional level is represented by districts (rajons); district councils are elected from among the representatives of local municipalities. The local level is represented by local rural (pagasts) and urban municipalities (pilseta). Local municipalities are elected directly. There are also seven biggest cities (the so-called national cities (republikas pilseta)) with a special status: they have the functions of both - local and regional municipalities; councils of national cities are elected directly.

The Cabinet of Ministers may delegate specified tasks to municipal governments, assigning for that purpose also corresponding finances.

The supervision of municipalities is the responsibility of the Administration of Local Government Affairs, subordinate to the Minister of Special Assignments for Public Administration and Local Government Reform.

Role division on planning administration


Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development is responsible for preparation of the National Plan (nacionalais planojums), as well as methodical guidance, control and co-ordination of the physical planning process in the country.

The Cabinet of Ministers makes decisions about producing spatial development programs on the national level, decides about their contents and the adoption procedure.

Spatial development plans of the national level refer to the whole territory of the country.

In co-operation with state institutions, non-governmental organisations and municipalities,

  • the Ministry of Economics prepares the State Economic Development Programme,
  • the Ministry of Welfare prepares the State Social Development Programme,
  • the Ministry of Culture prepares the State Culture Heritage Protection Programme,
  • the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development prepares

- the State Environmental Protection Program,

  • the National Plan of Latvia and spatial development plans of special territories.
  • the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development
  1. evaluates sectoral territorial development programmes, spatial development plans of districts, national cities, town and rural local municipalities from the point of view of their accordance with the law (validity);
  2. makes decisions about the spatial development planning issues municipalities have not come to an agreement in the case the involved municipalities have submitted such a petition (application);
  3. establishes and maintains the data base of spatial development planning.

Every ministry has the right to participate in preparation of any spatial development plan.

The Centre of Spatial Development Planning (implementing body) under the authority of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, has the following main tasks:

  • - preparation of the National Plan of Latvia and preparation of spatial development plans for Special Territories (such territories can be determined by the Cabinet of Ministers – upon necessity);
  • - establishment and maintaining of spatial development planning data base.


The county or district (rajons) is a regional municipal government. There are 26 districts in Latvia, average population of districts – 46987, average area - 2640 square kilometres

District municipalities and national cities may establish planning regions (planošanas regions) on condition that the involved municipalities sign an agreement on co-operation in the sphere of spatial development planning; establish the council of planning region, accept its statutes and delegate representatives (deputies) as the council members;


There are 481 rural municipalities (pagasts) in the country, plus 68 towns (pilseta) with roughly the same functions as rural municipalities. There are two reformed rural municipalities (novads) – Kandava and Livani - where several rural municipalities and towns are amalgamated under the Law of Administrative Territorial Reform. There are also 7 so called national cities) which are independent of the districts (rajons) surrounding them. These cities are: Riga, Daugavpils, Jelgava, Jurmala, Liepāja, Rezekne and Ventspils.

Biggest city – Riga, population 801365;
smallest town – Durbe – population 435;
average town population – (Riga included) – 21956; (Riga excluded) – 11700;
biggest rural municipality – Kekava (Riga district); population – 11533;
smallest rural municipality - Kalncempji (Aluksne district); population – 380;
average rural municipality population – 1598,

    3. Brief overview of planning legislation

The first legislative document of direct planning requirements issued since re-independence of the Republic of Latvia was the Regulations on Physical Planning, No194, issued by the Cabinet of Ministers on September 6, 1994.

The main legislative act concerning planning, Law On Spatial Development Planning was issued by the Parliament (Saeima) on October 15, 1998.

The Act is the first law issued by the Saeima, determining overall principles, objectives and tasks of spatial development planning (where development planning and physical planning issues are put together in an integrated system of spatial development planning) and clarifying competencies and co-operation of the national, regional (district) and municipal authorities in the spatial development planning process.

Regulations on Physical Plans, Regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers, No62, issued on February 24, 1998.

The previous Regulations of Physical Planning were renewed due to the fact that the first version did not describe a considerable number of planning issues, for instance - the national planning process and contents. Many requirements in the new version have been clarified as well, for instance - competencies of state institutions, contents and preparation order of plans of all levels, public discussion of plans.

There are no other legal acts directly regulating planning, indirectly related to planning are the following legal documents: Act on Municipal Governments, Building Act, and Building Regulations, Act on Environmental Impact Assessment, Protective Belts Act, Civil Law.

Planning and building regulations are regulated in different acts.

The structure of the Law on Spatial Development Planning:

  • Chapter I. General Issues.
  •    Paragraph 1. Terms used in this Law.
  •    Paragraph 2. The Objective and Goals of the Law.
  •    Paragraph 3. Principles of Spatial Development Planning.
  •    Paragraph 4. Spatial Development Planning Goals.
  •    Paragraph 5. Spatial Development Planning Documents.
  • Chapter II. Procedure of Spatial Development Planning.
  •    Paragraph 6. Planning Procedure.
  •    Paragraph 7. Competence of State Institutions.
  •    Paragraph 8. Competence of Municipalities.
  • Chapter III. Public Discussion of Spatial Development Plans.
  •     Paragraph 9. Organisation of Public Discussion of Spatial Development Planning.
  •     Paragraph 10. Rights of Physical Persons and Legal Entity to Participate in Public
  •     Examination of Spatial Development Plans.
  • Chapter IV. Financing of Spatial Development Planning.
  •     Paragraph 11. Financing of Spatial Development Planning at the Municipality Level.


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