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Stanley’s great-great-grandfather Elya lived in Latvia before he immigrated to the United States. Latvia is a country in north-east Europe, on the Baltic Sea. In Elya’s time a large part of the country was farmland, and there were a growing number of independent farmers who purchased the land they had previously worked on. At the same time, however, there were many landless poor, for whom opportunities abroad in places like the United States were very appealing.


Latvia has a temperate climate, with harsher winters away from the coastal areas. The land is made up of forests and large fertile plains. It is a beautiful country with four national parks (the first established in the 1970s) and a strong tradition of conservation. The main language is Latvian and the principal religion is Christianity.