RURAL TERRITORIES AS SPACE FOR SUSTAINABLE AND SMART DEVELOPMENT
Rural territory is an important part of the community's living space, moreover, it is a living space for sustainable and smart development. With the growing public demand for a healthy living environment and healthy food, the role of rural territory as a living space for community and the necessity to maintain its sustainable development is increasing. However, the sustainability of the rural territories as a living space will be preserved only when residents will be ready for the changes and if the state institutions and local governments are promoting trends politically and practically. Latvia is one of the three Baltic states that geographically is located on the east coast of the Baltic Sea and has undergone the same historical development processes over the past 100 years.
The research of the autors on the economic situation of these countries over the past decade allows making a number of conclusions. Firstly, Latvia after the regaining of national independence has received the lowest competitiveness rating among the Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. At the same time, it showed the highest growth rates and reduced distances between these countries. Secondly, the reduction of these differences was significantly influenced by the growth rate of the economy segment in Latvia. Thirdly, the growth of the economy in the rural territories has been faster than in larger cities. Fourthly, the rural space has confirmed its suitability for the growth of the economy.