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Latvia Born Community of Australia


Although there was some Latvian migration to Australia in the aftermath of the abortive 1905 revolution against Tsarist Russia, the most significant wave of Latvian emigrants arrived after the second world war. During the war Latvia was under Soviet occupation and the Latvian peoplewere subjected to oppression and mass deportations. By 1945, 156,000 Latvians had escaped to western Europe. They were among the 12 million war refugees awaiting resettlement in Displaced Persons camps. Approximately 20,000 Latvians arrived in Australia between November 27, 1947, and the end of 1952.


The latest Census in 2001 recorded 6,620 Latvia-born persons in Australia, a decrease of 18 per cent from the 1996 Census. The 2001 distribution by State and Territory showed
Victoria had the largest number with 2,120 followed by New South Wales (1,940), South Australia (1,040) and Queensland (710).

The median age of the Latvia-born in 2001 was 72.8 years ompared with 46.0 years for all overseas-born and 35.6 years for the total Australian population. The age distribution showed 0.8 per cent were aged 0-14 years, 1.8 per cent were 15-24 years, 2.3 per cent were 25-44 years, 26.6 per cent were 45-64 years and 68.6 per cent were 65 and over. Of the Latvia-born in Australia, there were 3,070 males (46.4 per cent) and 3,550 females (53.6 per cent). The sex ratio was 86.4 males per 100 females.

The age and gender distribution of the population, along with the significant decrease of numbers over time is of concern to members of the Latvia born community in Australia. Without a critical mass of new arrivals, community heritage organisations very often struggle to survive. Those who still need them and rely upon them find it difficult to keep up services as the population ages.

Sources used to compile this entry: Jupp, James (ed.), The Australian People: An Encyclopaedia of the Nation, Its People and Their Origins, 2 edn, Cambridge University Press, 2001; Putnins, A., Latvians in Australia, Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1981; Department of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA), Community Information Summary: The Latvia-born Community, Jointly produced by Multicultural Affairs Branch and the Economic and Demographic Analysis Section of DIMIA, 2003; The Latvian Community of South Australia, Pamphlet produced by the South Australian Migration Museum, Adelaide, 2003.

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  • Kristovskis, Vita

    Vita Kristokskis has been involved in the broadcast of Latvian language radio programmes since 1975

Archival resources

State Library of South Australia

  • Interview with Dzidra Knochs [sound recording] Interviewer: Bronwyn Mewett, 30 October 1989, OH 66; J. D. Somerville Oral History Collection; State Library of South Australia. Details
  • Latvian Community Museum Oral History Project: SUMMARY RECORD [sound recording] Interviewer: Mara Kolomitsev, 16 October 2001 - 23 October 2001, OH 625; J. D. Somerville Oral History Collection; State Library of South Australia. Details

State Library of Victoria

  • Reminiscences of a woman migrant from Latvia, 1944-1948 ca. 1970-ca. 1979. [manuscript]., Accession no: MS 11544; State Library of Victoria. Details

Nikki Henningham

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