The World Floorball Championships are starting this weekend. For the first time they will take place outside of the top four countries. A good idea. This is why.

1) Latvia has the 5th fastest average internet speed in the world, placed just between Hong Kong and the Netherlands.

2) The last World Championships in Riga were held in Women’s Curling 2013.

3) Don’t mess with the Latvians. When Swedish Vikings attacked in 1187, Latvian chiefdoms first repelled their attacks and then sent a fleet of ships to the capital of Sigtuna and burned it to the ground.

4) In 1914 Riga’s population was over 550.000, making it the 4th largest city in the Russian Empire after Saint-Petersburg, Moscow and Warsaw. Since 1990 (909.135) the population dropped heavily (698.529 in 2012)

5) With 368,5 meters the radio and TV tower of Riga is the tallest structure in the Baltic States.

6) Sister cities of Riga are for example Aalborg (DK), Norrköping (SWE), Pori (FIN), Stockholm (SWE), Prague (CZ), Bremen (GER) or Dallas (USA).

Say "hello" to Riga. Photo: Xiquinho Silva, flickr
Say “hello” to Riga. Photo: Xiquinho Silva, flickr

7) The Latvian flag is supposed to be one of the oldest in the world, dating way back to the 13th century – originated when a Latvian chief was bleeding while wrapped in a white sheet.

8) Riga’s Art Nouveau architecture has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage.

9) Latvia was (kind of) a colonial power. In the 17th century the Duchy of Courland built colonies in Tobago, Trinidad and Gambia.

10) The floorball brand Blind Save was founded by the still active Latvian goalie Andis Blinds.

11) The country is supposed to have one of the highest rates of fashion models per capita in the world.

12) The Latvian scientist Juris Upatnieks is one of the inventors and pioneers of 3D holography.

13) Riga enjoys a humid continental climate with warm and humid summers, cold and snowy winters and an average annual temperature of just 6.1°C.

14) So close. The Latvian male floorball team ranked four times on fifth position at WFC’s but never reached the semis or a medal.

Some Latvian fans take floorball very seriously. / Photo: Tommy Holl, IFF
Some Latvian fans take floorball very seriously. / Photo: Tommy Holl, IFF

15) The earliest found evidence of the first decorated Christmas Tree was more than 500 years ago in Riga, when German traders pimped an evergreen tree.

16) Famous Latvians? Ballet dancer Mikhail Nikolaevich Baryshnikov was born in Riga, explorer Aleksandrs Laime, discoverer of the Angel Falls in Venezuela, was Latvian, architect Gunnar Birkerts, too. Walter Zapp invented and built the first Minox ‘Spy Camera’ in Riga and Arvīds Blūmentāls from Dundaga is said to be the inspiration behind the character of Crocodile Dundee.

17) You’ll find the widest waterfall of Europe in Latvia. The ‘Ventas Rumba’ is over 240 meters long.

18) Lithuanians and Latvians are friends most of the time. And when they’re not, as an affectionate insult, they call each other ‘horse heads’.

19) The longest day in Latvia runs to over 17 hours of sunlight.

20) Alternative things to see in Riga: Central market, Cili Pizza, P.Stradins Museum for History of Medicine, The Corner House, Hospitalis Restaurant, Floating Gallery, Perkons Saule Daugava Graffiti, Irbene Locator Satellite Antenna, Museum of Photography and Terrace Riga.