Present-day Latvia was settled by the Balts sometime around 3000 BCE, and their descendants still comprise most of the population. After centuries of being relatively undisturbed, the Livs, Latvians, etc. were the target of a crusade by German knights in the early thirteenth century CE. Foreign rule would continue until after World War I, when an independent Latvian state was created (following a nasty little war). After a brief occupation by Soviet forces (supposedly to protect it from Nazi Germany), it was forcibly annexed to the USSR in 1940, and ceased to exist as a de facto independent state until 1990, although German forces did, ironically enough, briefly seize power during Barbarossa.