The city origins date back from the beginning of the 13th century, back in 1201, when the Bishop Albrecht von Buxthoeven founded the city on the banks of river Daugava. The development was rapid, thanks to the river and the Baltic sea, and Riga turned immediately into a lively commercial port. Between the 14th and 15th century the city joined the Hanseatic league, gaining more prestige and affirming itself as the hub of the trades in Northern Europe. Between 1620 and 1710 the Swedish ruled the city, before Russia took over. Riga and Latvia shared the same tragic destiny of the other Baltic countries, and the aftermath of the long Soviet occupation left a deep feeling of resentment and hatred among the population, just like in Estonia and Lithuania.
From 1891 until the Second World War, the official language remained Russian. After the fall of the Tsarist empire in 1918, the city became the capital of the independent republic of Latvia, but again it had to succumb to foreign occupations and military interventions, until 1991, when finally the birth of the independent Republic of Latvia was declared. The entry into the European Union in 2004 marked the end of the Country’s historic isolation and the beginning of a new age of modernity and freedom.