Located on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, Latvia has had a turbulent past. Its larger neighbors -- Russia, Germany, Poland, Sweden -- all occupied this area of the Baltic littoral at different times in the past, but it was not until the twentieth century that Latvia emerged as an independent country. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Latvia, together with the other two Baltic states, Estonia and Lithuania, regained independence that they had already had between the two World Wars. Plakans' intention here is to offer a stepping stone towards the eventual creation of a work presenting the "significant core" of Latvian history in English. "The Historical Dictionary of Latvia" takes a detailed look at the recent political and economic situation of Latvia as well as its long and sometimes complicated history. There are also entries on the artists, writers, scientists, and other personalities who made their contribution to the culture of the state. The "Dictionary" is further expanded by the inclusion of a map, listings of acronyms and abbreviations, a chronology, and a bibliography.