I'll admit, I struggled for a day as to whether I actually wanted to tackle this subject. I used Google AdWords' keyword tool for keywords relevant to [Latvia], and [latvian women] appears to receive about 3,000 global searches / month. (SEO geek bonus: Anyone want to check that number for Italian-language searches?)
Obviously, there is some kind of market for this information. A quick Google search for "latvian women" turns up 1.) mail-order brides sites, 2.) some pseudoscientific theories as to why Latvian women are so beautiful, and 3.) an interesting BBC article published a year ago (from the publication date of this piece) on the demographic gender gaps in Latvia.
Below, I will distill much of the information I've found, offer some of my own observations and try to offer up some advice for any adventurous soul who is ready to hop on a flight to Riga in search of romance.
Latvian women: Not in normal attire
My figures below come from this BBC article:
- There are almost 9,000 more men than women in the under-30s age group
- There are 3,000 more women aged 30-39 than men
- The country has 8% more women than men
- Women live 11 years longer on average, the highest disparity in the EU
This sounds like an amazing opportunity for anyone who loves fit, blonde women, right? To be sure, there are plenty such women to go around -- the stereotype implied from my Google search results had to come from somewhere, didn't it? From later in the piece:
In the busy entry hall of the University of Latvia, Riga, the gender imbalance is visible.
According to sociologist and lecturer Baiba Bela, there are 50% more women enrolled there than men.
She says this means that women often find it harder to find a partner with an equal level of education.
These figures indicate Latvian women are also quite disproportionately better-educated than their male counterparts. I cannot verify this, but I can certainly confirm the tinge of embarrassment a foreigner can feel when he meets someone with a professional degree and a fluent comprehension of three or four languages (usually Latvian, Russian, English and German; sometimes French or Spanish, too).
So what does this mean for the amorous traveler?
First and foremost, bring your A-game, player. That girl in three-inch heels you met at the club who continues to refuse your offer for a drink speaks more languages than you do and may be educated more than one level above you. Beyond that, be interesting, be sober, and be aware that Latvia is an independent republic with its own language and culture (i.e. not Russia).
Further research should be conducted on populations with similar, if not greater, demographic disparities. For example, according to the New York Times, American universities have 14% more female students than male students. The romantic tourist, statistically speaking, should find even greater success in American college towns such as Madison, Wisconsin, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina.