Latvians have a distinctive cultural and linguistic heritage. Latvia is a Baltic state of just less than two million people, of whom a third live in the country's capital, Riga. This attractive, cobbled 'old city' is known as the Pearl of the Baltic, and the natural harbour and port of Riga at the mouth of the Daugava River has been a valuable commercial asset since its foundation in 1201. The fiercely pagan inhabitants of Latvia were converted to Christianity through crusades in the 12th century, and Riga became an integral city within the mercantile Hanseatic League in the Middle Ages. For much of their history, individual Latvians have made their mark whilst being subject to foreign powers, including the Soviet regime. The aspirations of the Latvians for self-determination gave rise to the Singing Revolution, and independence was again achieved in 1991. Latvia became a Member of the European Union in 2004 and is actively promoting itself as a unique travel destination of culture, festivals, forests and beautiful Baltic beaches.