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January 6, 2014, 15:58

Heading north: Umeå and Riga are Europe's Cultural Capitals for 2014

Umeå in Sweden and Riga in Latvia are Europe's Cultural Capitals for 2014.

Cultural Capitals highlight the diversity and richness of European culture while also fostering a European identity. The first was Athens in Greece in 1985 but since then more than 40 cities around Europe have enjoyed the honour, including Reykjavík in 2000. Since 2011 two cities from two different European countries share the title each year.

Cultural exchanges
Umeå is the first Swedish city to be awarded European Cultural Capital since Stockholm in 1998. Located more than 600 kilometres north of Stockholm, Umeå is at the forefront of Swedish research with its university and 34,000 students. The city’s aim for the year is to exhibit northern Sweden to Europeans and to strengthen cultural exchanges between Umeå and the rest of Europe.

Where modernity and history mix
Riga is the capital of Latvia and the largest city of the Baltic States. Its history goes back more than 800 years and each century has left its mark on the architecture of the city. Its central position in the Baltic Sea region makes the Riga an important centre for culture, industry, commerce and finance.

Further information on the Europe's Cultural Capitals for 2014 can be found here.