In the course of time administrative territorial divisions in Latvia have undergone substantial changes.
Before the loss of independence in 1940, Latvia was divided into 5 regions (Riga, Vidzeme, Kurzeme, Zemgale and Latgale), which were further subdivided into 517 pagasts (civil parishes) and 60 towns.
At the end of 2003, there were 7 cities under state jurisdiction (the area of these cities is not included in the territory of the administrative districts), 26 districts comprising 70 towns and 453 pagasts.
In 1998, the Law on Administrative Territorial Reform was adopted.
Until the completion of this reform, the country's division into 5 statistical regions (the Riga region including the cities of Riga and Jurmala and the district of Riga, plus the regions of Vidzeme, Kurzeme, Zemgale and Latgale) remains in force.
This division aligns best with the NUTS level 3 regional criteria that are accepted in the European Union and it is closely based on the administrative territorial division of Latvia during the first period of independence. Accordingly, these regions form the basis of the analysis in this publication.