Ilmars Mezs

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Joseph Stoltman

Second Advisor

Dr. Rasma Karklins

Third Advisor

Dr. Eldor Quandt

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


This study examines current and historic ethnic and demographic trends and their spatial and cultural contexts within Latvia. Comparisons with the other two Baltic states are also presented and discussed. The Latvian population underwent fifty years of Soviet rule, with deliberate policies to dilute the homogeneity of Latvians through Russification, in-migration, and political dominance. The period from 1940 to 1991 greatly impacted Latvians and immigrants, who were mainly Russians, by placing stresses on the spatial structure of the ethnic groups and their cultural relationship.

Latvians in particular feared ethnic and cultural extinction. The process of ethnic dilution and mixing under the Soviets is examined in terms of rural-urban contexts, the workplace, employment, housing, and education. Current demographic trends are analyzed and prospects for ethnic harmony in a multi-cultural society are interpreted. The major turning point of Latvia's ethnic processes is analyzed as well as predictions for future developments are made.