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(1) A tribe of Finno-Ugric origin (the Lib’ in Russian manuscripts) that in ancient times inhabited the northern and western parts of the territory of present-day Latvia.
By the end of the first millennium A.D., the region settled by the Livs, who had been assimilated by the Curonians and Latgali, had diminished in size. Between the ninth and 12th centuries the Liv nationality occupied the territory adjacent to the Gulf of Riga. Their chief occupation was farming, although fishing, the gathering of wild honey, and trade played a large role. The emergence, in the ninth and 12th centuries, of the early feudal elite among the Livs was reflected in both written sources (the Liv “princes and elders”—Kaupo, Dabrelis, and others) and archaeological remains (rich burials and treasures containing objects made of silver).
(2) A small ethnic group in the Latvian SSR, the descendants of the ancient Livs, who dwell mainly along the Baltic Sea coast within the Ventspils Raion. The Livonian language is used only by the older and middle generations; otherwise, the Latvian language is more commonly spoken. The believers among the Livs are Lutherans. The Livs work chiefly in fishing artels.