A country cannot be imagined without a central bank that takes care of monetary policy. In Latvia, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the central bank in 2022. Latvijas Banka was established and became operational on 1 November 1922. It carried the idea of an economically strong and independent country through the periods of freedom and occupation.

The year 2022 brought upheavals and tragedies to the world. Therefore, we can appreciate even more how thoughtfully and far-sighted Latvia followed its path after regaining independence, joining and fully integrating into the family of European countries. Now our folk maiden decorates euro coins and tells other euro area countries about Latvia.

Simultaneously with the founding of the state of Latvia, the need for its own money and central bank arose. At that time – at the beginning of the 20th century, after World War I and the years of the Independence War – it was a very difficult task. The war had destroyed the country, we were poor and a large part of the population had emigrated. However, there were people who believed and did their job, and Latvijas Banka and Latvian money were created. Even today, Latvijas Banka continues its mission – to ensure that our money is safe and reliable.

At the time of the establishment of Latvijas Banka, there was a clear idea – the national bank, in carrying out its tasks, should only be guided by the interests of the national economy. This principle was followed for 18 years until the occupation of Latvia; it was used as a basis for the operation of the central bank even after regaining independence in the 1990s, and it is still respected today.

It was already in the 1920s and 1930s that Latvijas Banka actively participated in public work, contributing to economic science and statistics. Our competence is also an important resource for the state of Latvia today to make forward-looking economic development decisions. We will continue to strengthen our research and analysis capacity. Moreover, as of 2023, Latvijas Banka is also entrusted with the functions of supervision and financial and capital market development.

We not only received congratulations on the occasion of Latvijas Banka’s centenary but also held events, giving society knowledge, historical evidence, cultural values, the joy of celebration and discovery. An exhibition of coin art brought together spectators at the Latvian National Museum of Art, a scientific publication on the central bank’s activities in 1922–1940 was published electronically and an exhibition of historical materials toured the cities of Latvia where branches of Latvijas Banka were located in the interwar period.

The culmination of the anniversary celebrations was the exhibition of Latvian coin art “Our Values”, organised by Latvijas Banka together with the Latvian National Museum of Art. The exhibition was based on the idea that money can serve as an important symbol of Latvia’s image and national values.

The unique, miniature art objects tell a story about significant events and outstanding personalities of Latvia, creating a long-term connection between the past, present and future. The exhibition attracted almost 73 thousand visitors, becoming the third most visited exhibition of the Latvian National Museum of Art over the last 30 years. Historian Dr hist. Ineta Lipša has made a significant contribution to the exploration of Latvijas Banka’s operation which resulted in a study “History of Latvijas Banka 1922–1940: Scientific publication dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Latvijas Banka” (scientific editor – Dr habil. hist. Aivars Stranga). The study reveals the work of Latvijas Banka, its managers, employees and state public figures in decision-making processes and in the interaction of institutions – from the founding of the central bank in 1922 until its liquidation in 1940. It allows the reader to understand the story of the central bank in a broader time context and provides a factual basis for arriving at a conclusion as to how our understanding of the role of the central bank has evolved.

The sources analysed in the book about the interwar history of Latvijas Banka were also used in creating the travelling exhibition “From Ventspils to Valka. Latvijas Banka in Regions (1922–1940)”. The purpose of the exhibition was to give an idea of the history of Latvijas Banka and to help understand how its tasks and role played during the Latvian statehood have changed over time. One of the cornerstones of the exhibition was personalities who played an important part in the operation of Latvijas Banka between 1922 and 1940. From 14 May 2022 to 15 January 2023, the exhibition was on display in 10 cities – Riga, Ventspils, Kuldīga, Jelgava, Cēsis, Madona, Jēkabpils, Daugavpils, Rēzekne and Valka.

The buildings of Latvijas Banka in Riga opened their doors to visitors, organising architectural and historical tours “Two Buildings” and a visitor’s day “Open the vault!” During these events, more than 1500 people visited the historical buildings of Latvijas Banka.

To raise public awareness of economic issues and promote discussions, in 2022 Latvijas Banka held its economic conference “Sustainability and Money: Shaping the Economy of the Future” in the atmosphere of the centenary and invited recognised world leaders: ECB President Christine Lagarde, Executive Vice- President of the European Commission Valdis Dombrovskis, Member of the ECB ’s Governing Council and Governor of Banque de France François Villeroy de Galhau, the ECB ’s Executive Board Member Frank Elderson, Governor of Sveriges Riksbank Stefan Ingves, etc.

As part of the LAMPA Conversation Festival, Latvijas Banka participated in a special two-day programme, stimulating the exchange of ideas and questions about the future of society, the economy and money. Public good, sustainability, financial literacy, new forms of money, investments, money security and various economic issues were discussed and debated together with partners.

100 years is not a long period in the history of a country and its central bank, but it is a significant milestone on the way towards future challenges and development.