5 Interesting People From Latvia – you probably didn’t know

So Latvia is a small country on the Eastern edge of Europe that little is known about apart from the Soviet Occupation. Here are 5 short stories about some famous-ish people from Latvia.

  1. Arvids Blumentālsaka Crocodile Harry aka The original Crocodile Dundee (1925-2006)
    Arvids Blumentāls , Crocodile Harry

    Arvids Blumentāls – The real life person that the Crocodile Dundee character was based on

    Arvids Blumentāls was born in north-western Latvia in the small town of Dundaga and was the inspiration behind the Crocodile Dundee charcter played by Paul Hogan. He became Australia’s most famous Crocodile Hunter and from 1955 is reputed to have killed over 10,000 crocs. His home town of Dundaga has erected a huge stone crocodile monument in his honour. This is one Aussie Croc Hunter that wasn’t killed by a fish.

  2. Uļjana Semjonova
    Uljana Semjonova

    Uljana Semjonova – The tallest female basketball player in Olympic History

    Born in 1952, Uljana is recorded as the 7th tallest woman in the world and for a time was the tallest female basketball player in the world. Also known for having the largest feet in womens basketball and we all know what people say about big feet… She was the first non-US woman to enter the Basketball Hall of Fame. She’s so tall she wouldn’t fit in the door of our Hostel in Riga.

  3. Jacob Davis
    Jacob Davis - Inventor of Denim

    Original Patent application for the copper rivets on denim Jeans

    Jacob was an inventor, born in Riga in 1831 and moved to Nevada in 1868. He was making tents and wagon covers, with material bought from Levi Strauss, when he was approached by a woman to manufacture a strong pair of pants for her ginormous husband. He re-inforced the trousers with copper rivets. For fear of piracy on this technique he approached Levi Strauss to share the patent on this technology. He then worked at one of Levi’s factories in San Francisco until 1908.

  4. Elīna Garanča
Elīna Garanča

Elina playing Carmen in Carmen

Elina has played varying roles from Cinderella to Carmen. Her live music performances in Riga National Opera House got her international recognition and the oppurtunity to play Carmen in New York.


5.  Aleksandrs Laime

Aleksandrs Laime - The Great Explorer

Aleksandrs and his expedition team

Aleksandrs was a famous Latvian explorer. He moved to Venezuela in 1939. His most famous discovery was Angle Falls and he named the river, from which Angle Falls flows, Gauja. He also named 3 other rivers in Venezuela after Latvian Rivers such as Daugava (Riga), Venta (Kuldiga, Ventspils) and Ogre.