Riga, a city of Russia, capital of Livonia, on the right bank of the Düna, about 8 m. from the gulf of Riga, and 300 m. S. W. of St. Petersburg; pop. in 1867, 102,043, of whom 47,000 were Germans, 25,000 Russians, and the rest chiefly Letts. It is the seat of the authorities of the Baltic provinces, and next to St. Petersburg and Odessa the greatest commercial emporium of Russia. The walls of the city were in 1857 converted into promenades; the citadel was razed in 1867, and no fortifications remain excepting Fort Dünamünde for the protection of the harbor. There are three suburbs: the Moscow suburb, inhabited chiefly by Russians; the St. Petersburg, by Germans; and the Mitau suburb. St. Peter's, the principal of the nine Lutheran churches, has a tower 470 ft. high, and there are four Greek and several other churches and a synagogue. There are two gymnasiums, a new polytechnic institute and school of navigation, and various other schools, and a conservatory of music was established in 1875. One of the finest public buildings is the exchange.
The arrivals of vessels in 1873 were 3,177, and the departures 3,181. The imports amounted to 19,611,660 rubles, including coal, salt, iron, and miscellaneous articles; the exports to 20,-153,453 rubles, consisting chiefly of flax, hemp, timber, grain, and tobacco. The registered shipping is about 100 vessels, about one fourth steamers. There are in Riga and vicinity nearly 100 manufactories of woollen, cotton, and other goods, and many ships are built. - The city was founded in 1201 by the Livonian bishop Albert von Apeldern, who here established the order of knights sword-bearers, which in 1237 united with that of the Teutonic knights, and the latter for a considerable time wielded supreme authority together with the see of Riga, which was early raised to the dignity of an archbishopric. The city, however, paid but limited obedience to its rulers, having grown prosperous and become a member of the Hanseatic league. The last of the archbishops, the margrave William of Brandenburg, favored the reformation, which had been introduced under his predecessor (about 1530). The city was subsequently a protectorate of Poland, excepting from 1561 to 1581, when it was free.
In 1621 it was conquered by the Swedes, and in 1710 by Russia, but without losing any of its ancient privileges.