Tomorrow, on 15 November 2016, Latvijas Banka is issuing a 2 euro commemorative coin dedicated to Vidzeme. This coin, featuring the coat of arms of Vidzeme, is the first one in the series of 2 euro commemorative coins dedicated to Latvia's cultural and historical regions. It is one of Latvijas Banka's contributions to the country's centenary. The coin is legal tender in the Republic of Latvia and other euro area countries. Thus, in the run-up to the centenary of the country, it will travel across Europe telling a story of Latvia.
The programme for Latvia's centenary celebration is based on the concept of involving the general public, each individual and institution in the process of creating the celebration and the associated long-lasting values. Preparations for Latvia's centenary will commence with the tasks and events planned already for 2017, but the festivities and activities celebrating Latvia will continue for five years. Latvijas Banka will contribute to Latvia's centenary programme by ensuring research on significant developments in the financial history of Latvia and assessment of the contribution of outstanding personalities. Also, a number of commemorative and collector coin series and several coins dedicated to the foundation of an independent state will be created. Latvijas Banka will conclude Latvia's centenary celebration by marking the 100th anniversary of the central bank on 1 November 2022.
The graphic design of the national side of the commemorative coin has been created by artist Laimonis Šēnbergs, but the plaster model – by Jānis Strupulis. Laimonis Šēnbergs is the Deputy Chairman of the Coin Design Commission of Latvijas Banka and author of the graphic design of 19 collector coins. Jānis Strupulis has created the graphic design of two coins and plaster models of several dozens of Latvijas Banka's collector and circulation coins. The European side of commemorative or special design coins bearing the nominal value (artist Luc Luycx) is the same as that of other 2 euro circulation coins, including material and size.
The new commemorative coins will be circulated in the same way as any other circulation money, reaching commercial and other enterprises as well as population through banks. As of Tuesday, 15 November, the coin will be available for exchange at the Cashier's Offices of Latvijas Banka in Riga and Liepāja. The mintage of the 2 euro commemorative coin "Vidzeme" is one million pieces. Experience of Latvijas Banka shows that this quantity is sufficient to allow all interested persons to exchange the coin over a period of at least several weeks. 10 000 coins of Brilliant Uncirculated quality in a special souvenir packing will also be on sale. The price of the coin at Latvijas Banka Cashier's Offices is 7.30 euro.
It will be possible to reserve numismatic products and commemorative coins in rolls (one roll contains 25 coins) for purchase from today, 14 November, via the new collector coin and other numismatic product online reservation service under the Banknotes and Coins Section (https://rezervetmonetu.bank.lv) of Latvijas Banka's website www.bank.lv. This system provides the most important advantage for customers, i.e. they have an opportunity to purchase new collector coins and various numismatic products offered by Latvijas Banka in a convenient way in their own time without queueing. It is most likely to suit the needs of customers, e.g. from regions, who are busy on the initial days of launching a new coin or due to other reasons cannot visit the Cashier's Offices of Latvijas Banka.
1 000 commemorative coins of Brilliant Uncirculated quality in a special souvenir packing as well as 2 000 rolls of coins or 50 000 commemorative coins featuring the coat of arms of Vidzeme will be available for reservation.
These products will also be available at such traditional points of sale as numismatic shops, book stores and souvenir and jewellery shops (https://monetas.bank.lv/images/stories/pielikumi/nauda/Monetu-tirdzniecibas-vietas.pdf). Collector coins issued by Latvijas Banka and other numismatic products are for sale also online from the JSC "Latvijas Pasts" at http://old.pasts.lv/lv/veikals/
The reverse of the coins issued by Latvijas Banka features the inscription "LATVIJA", and the edge of the coin, like all other 2 euro circulation coins of the Republic of Latvia, features the inscription "DIEVS * SVĒTĪ * LATVIJU *". The new 2 euro coins have been minted by UAB Lietuvos monetų kalykla (Lithuania).
The division of Latvia into cultural and historical regions (Vidzeme, Latgale, Kurzeme and Zemgale) is stipulated by Article 3 of Satversme (the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia). Four euro commemorative coins featuring the coats of arms of Latvia's cultural and historical regions will be issued by the end of 2018 as Latvijas Banka's contribution to Latvia's centenary. The symbols incorporated in the coats of arms established by the Regulations on Coats of Arms of Latvia's Regions adopted on 26 April 1930 in accordance with Article 81 of Satversme are related to historical developments in the present-day territory of Latvia. In 2012, a special law was passed to lay down legal protection of these coats of arms as national symbols. A silver elk (golden on Kettler's coat of arms) on a blue background, featured on the coat of arms of Zemgale, and a red lion on a silver background, turned in the opposite direction and depicted on the coat of arms of Kurzeme, have been carried over from Gotthard Kettler's coat of arms. He was the first Duke of Kurzeme and Zemgale. Meanwhile, a silver griffin on a red background with a sword in its right paw, currently without a gold crown, incorporated in the coat of arms of the Duchy of Pārdaugava can be seen on the coat of arms of Vidzeme (on a red background) and on that of Latgale (on a blue background turned in the opposite direction). Images of coats of arms of Latvia's cultural and historical regions have not been used in coin design so far.
Vidzeme is the most populated region of Latvia, accounting for more than a half of Latvia's population. The longest river of Latvia, the Gauja River, the highest peak Gaiziņš and the largest cave Gūtmaņala are located in Vidzeme.
Vidzeme formed in the territory inhabited by Latgallians and Livs until the 13th century. The borders of the territory coincide with those of the so-called Latvian part of the Swedish Livonia of the 17th century. The borderline stretched along the rivers Daugava, Aiviekste and Pededze. The movement of brethren congregations played an important role here in the 18th century, but the 19th century saw many remarkable rural craft centres and the building of sailing vessels on the coast of the Gulf of Riga. During the period of the New Latvians movement, activity of Latvian cultural players increased in Vidzeme. Numerous cultural and artistic specialists have come from this region. Inhabitants of Vidzeme speak the Middle dialect of Latvian, the Latgallian and Selonian accents of the High Latvian dialect and the Vidzeme accent of the Livonian dialect. Janīna Kursīte believes that the latter should be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List just like the Suiti cultural space.
Latvijas Banka continues the tradition of minting circulation coins of special design in Latvia. Each year, every euro area country is entitled to issue two 2 euro commemorative coins as well as one more commemorative coin within a joint programme of several euro area countries provided that such a programme is organised.