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(both: lēĕ`päyä), Ger. Libau, city (2011 provisional pop. 76,570), W Latvia. An ice-free port on the Baltic Sea, it is located at the end of an isthmus separating the Baltic from Lake Liepaja. The city has a naval base as well as a commercial harbor. Liepaja is second only to Riga in size and industrial development among Latvian cities. Metallurgy is the leading industry; others include shipbuilding, food and fish processing, and sugar refining. Founded by the Teutonic Knights in 1263, the city was part of LivoniaLivonia
, region and former Russian province, comprising present Estonia and parts of Latvia (Vidzeme and Latgale). It borders on the Baltic Sea and its arms, the Gulf of Riga and the Gulf of Finland, in the west and the north and extends E to Lake Peipus (Chudskoye) and the
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 and later of the duchy of CourlandCourland
or Kurland
, Latvian Kurzeme, historic region and former duchy, in Latvia, between the Baltic Sea and the Western Dvina River. It is an agricultural and wooded lowland. Jelgava (Ger. Mitau), the historic capital, and Liepaja (Ger.
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, with which it passed to Russia in 1795. In the late 19th and early 20th cent. Liepaja acquired great commercial importance and became one of the main Russian emigration ports with a direct shipping line to the United States. The city was under German occupation during most of World War I. It was briefly the site of the provisional Latvian government when Bolshevik forces attacked Riga in 1918. Held by the Germans from 1941–45, Liepaja suffered heavy damage. After World War II it was annexed by the USSR along with the rest of Latvia. City landmarks include a residence of Peter the Great and the 18th-century Church of the Trinity. It is also spelled Liepaya.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(formerly Libava or Libau), a city in the western part of the Latvian SSR. Ice-free port on the Baltic Sea. Junction of railroad lines to Riga, Vilnius, and Ventspils. Population, 95,000 (1972; 53,000 in 1939 and 71,000 in 1959). It is located on an isthmus separating Lake Liepāja from the sea. There is a ship canal, which carries the waters of Lake Liepāja to the sea and divides the city into Old Liepāja and New Liepāja. It is third among the cities of Latvia (after Riga and Daugavpils) in population and second in industrial importance.

Liepāja was first mentioned as a settlement in 1253; it has been a city since 1625. In 1795, along with Courland, it became part of Russia. The construction of a canal and an ice-free port (1697–1703 and 1860–1904) and of the Libava-Romny railroad (1877), transformed Liepāja into a major port and industrial center. In 1910 the city had more than 50 industrial enterprises (producing metal, wire, and linoleum; also creameries), with 7,000 workers.

On June 15 (28), 1905, an armed uprising broke out among the sailors at the naval base. From May 1915 through February 1919, Liepāja was occupied by German troops; it then became a base for the British fleet in its intervention against Soviet Russia. Beginning in 1919 the city was part of bourgeois Latvia.

After the formation of the Latvian SSR (July 21, 1940), Liepāja became part of the USSR. It earned fame for its heroic defense during the first few days of the Great Patriotic War (June 23–29, 1941). During the fascist German occupation (June 29, 1941, to May 8, 1945), Liepāja was badly damaged, and more than 30,000 persons were victims of the fascist terror.

Liepāja was liberated by Soviet troops on May 9, 1945. Rapid growth of the city’s industry began in the postwar years. Its most important enterprise, the Sarkanais Metalurgs Reduction Metallurgy Plant, produces rolled steel, zinc-coated sheet iron, wire, and nails. An agricultural machine-building plant and a fish cannery were built in 1954. Older enterprises—a cork and linoleum plant, wood-products and creamery combines, a sugar refinery, and a shoe factory—were redesigned and expanded during the postwar years. In 1972 a textile and haberdashery combine began production.

Liepāja has a medieval, irregular layout. In 1953–57 the city’s center was modernized (architects V. G. Kruglov and M. Žagare). Among its architectural landmarks are the Church of the Trinity (1742–58, architect J. Dorn), with its carved wooden altar and “ducal loge” in the rococo style. The house in which Peter I lived in 1697 (now a branch of the Museum of History and Art) has been preserved. During the modernization period the Pedagogical Institute (1952–55, architect A. Ajvars) and the House of Trade (1959–60, architects I. Goldenbergs and J. Ginters) were also built. There are monuments to the defenders of Liepāja (bronze, 1960; sculptor E. Zvīrbulis, architect J. Līcītis) and to V. I. Lenin (bronze and granite, 1970; sculptor A. Terpilovski, architect K. Plūksne). The city has a pedagogical institute, a general technical department of the Riga Polytechnic Institute, and an evening polytechnic school. There are also schools of navigation, medicine, music, and applied art. There are two drama theaters, as well as a historical and art museum.

Liepāja is a seaside pelotherapeutic and climatic health resort. The summers are moderately warm (average July temperature, 16°C); the winters are mild (average January temperature, — 2°C). Annual precipitation is 630 mm. The city has medicinal muds (from Lakes Liepāja and Saules-Muska), climate therapy, and ocean bathing. Patients are treated for diseases of the organs of motion and support, gynecological disorders, and disorders of the nervous system. There is a sanatorium with facilities for balneotherapy and pelotherapy.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


, Lepaya
a port in W Latvia on the Baltic Sea; founded by the Teutonic Knights in 1263: a naval and industrial centre, with a fishing fleet. Pop.: 86 985 (2002 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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