The livs, people of the Baltic coastThursday 29 th July 2010 - 16:37
Still travelling on the Baltic coast and particularly in the north, I get interested in the Livs, a nation considered as one of the oldest in Europe.
The coup de grace is reached during the Livonian War (1558 - 1583) where competing Poland, Teutonic, Russia and Sweden. The goal: take control of the Baltic Sea. Indeed, the Courland coast offers a strategic opening to maritime trade. Sweden was the winner before losing everything in 1721 in favor of Russia.
During this period, the Lives are associated with Latvians and it was not until 1918, when the country gained its independence that the community knows some recognition. Finally, under the Soviet occupation, they are repressed.
Today, the population is estimated at about 500 people but many Latvians have Livs origins. When I was at Kolka, I met Alex, the ranger of National Slitere Park. His family is typically liv: his parents and grandparents come from different villages of the north coast and are fishermen. They speak liv, a dialect likely to Finnish or Estonian. Their flag symbolizes nature: the forest green, white beach and blue sea.
The Latvian government encourages the preservation of their customs and their language for the people to survive.