Welcome to Western Latvia
Kurzeme wasn’t always so quiet; the region used to be run by the namesake Cours, a rebellious tribe known for teaming up with the Vikings for raids and battles. During the 13th century, German crusaders ploughed through, subjugating the Cours, alongside the other tribes living in Latvia. When the Livonian Order collapsed under assault from Russia’s Ivan the Terrible in 1561, the Order’s last master, Gotthard Kettler, salvaged Courland and neighbouring Zemgale as his own personal fiefdom.
Duke Jakob, Courland’s ruler from 1640 to 1682, really put the region on the map when he developed a fleet of navy and merchant ships, and purchased two far-flung (and totally random) colonies: Tobago, in the Caribbean, and an island in the mouth of Africa’s Gambia River. He even had plans to colonise Australia! The Courland empire didn't live for long, but US and Canadian Latvians still gather for reunions on Tobago, although the tropical island is hardly a substitute for the Nordic melacholy of their ancestor's land.