Latvian language (Latvian: latviešu valoda ), is the official state language of Latvia. Alternative names include Lettish and Lettisch. There are about 1.39 million native Latvian speakers in Latvia and about 150,000 abroad. The Latvian language has a relatively large number of non-native speakers, atypical for a small language. Because of language policy in Latvia approximately 60% of the 900,000 ethnic-minority population of Latvia speak Latvian. The use of the Latvian language in various areas of the social life in Latvia is increasing.
Latvian is a Baltic language, closely related to Lithuanian; however, they are not mutually intelligible to each other.
Latvian first appeared in Western print in the mid-16th century with the reproduction of the Lord's Prayer in Latvian in Sebastian Münster's Cosmographia Universalis , in Roman script. Prior to this westernization, earlier Latvian was written in runic characters.