Latvia is traditionally seen as a tiny country. In terms of its population of about 2.6 million, it deserves this designation. Geographically, however, Latvia encompasses 64,589 square kilometers, a size surpassing that of better-known European states such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Denmark. Seen from the air, Latvia is an extension of the East European Plain. Its flat terrain differs little from that of its surrounding neighbors. Latvia's only distinct border is the Baltic Sea coast, which extends for 531 kilometers. Its neighbors include Estonia on the north (267 kilometers of common border), Lithuania on the south (453 kilometers), Belarus on the southeast (141 kilometers), and Russia on the east (217 kilometers). Prior to World War II, Latvia bordered eastern Poland, but as a result of boundary changes by the Soviet Union, this territory was attached to Belorussia. Also, in 1944 Russia annexed the northeastern border district of Latvia, known as Abrene, including the town of Pytalovo.
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