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This process of consolidation started in the 13th century after the Livonian Crusade and forced christianization.These tribes came under Livonian rule thus forming a unified political, economic and religious space.Throughout this period, many Latvians and Latvia’s other ethnicities faced deportation and persecution.A massive immigration from the Soviet republics of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and others followed, largely as a result of Stalin's plan to integrate Latvia and the other Baltic republics into the Soviet Union by means of Russian colonization.As a result, the proportion of the ethnic Latvian population within the total population was reduced from 80% in 1935 to 52% in 1989.In Soviet Latvia, most of the immigrants who settled in the country did not learn Latvian.Altogether, 2 million, or 80% of the population of Latvia, speak Latvian.As a Baltic language, Latvian is most closely related to neighboring Lithuanian.

For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help: IPA. It is the language of Latvians and the official language of Latvia as well as one of the official languages of the European Union.In the middle of the 19th century the First Latvian National Awakening was started, led by “Young Latvians” who popularized the use of Latvian language.Participants in this movement laid the foundations for standard Latvian and also popularized the Latvianization of loan words.He wrote the first illustrated Latvian alphabet book (1787) and the first encyclopedia “The book of high wisdom of the world and nature” (1774), the Grammar books and the Latvian-German and German-Latvian dictionaries.Until the 19th century, the Latvian language was heavily influenced by the German language, because the upper class of local society was formed by Baltic Germans.However, in the 1880s, when Czar Alexander III came into power, Russification started.During this period, some Latvian scholars suggested adopting Cyrillic for use in Latvian.After the czar's death, around the start of the 20th century, nationalist movements reemerged.In 1908, Latvian linguists Kārlis Mīlenbahs and Jānis Endzelīns elaborated the modern Latvian alphabet, which slowly replaced the old orthography used before.According to some glottochronological speculations, the Eastern Baltic languages split from Western Baltic (or, perhaps, from the hypothetical proto-Baltic language) between 400 and 600.The differentiation between Lithuanian and Latvian started after 800, with a long period of being one language but different dialects.

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