North Kurzeme has got an important historic feature - it is the last territory compactly inhabited by the Livs. Scientists believe that the stone-heaped burial grounds found in North Kurzeme at the beginning of the 1st millennium and characteristic of Baltic Finnish culture give evidence of the Liv ancestors in this region. Written sources about the Livs of Kurzeme dates back to the 14th century, but scientists, having specially investigated the case, hold the opinion that already in the 12th - 13th centuries the Livs have lived in this territory in mixture with the Kurši.
The Livs remained in the coast of the peninsula (the Liv coast) as a small, densely living ethnos until the middle of the 20th century.
During the 1st Republic of Latvia from 1918 till the WWII active business and culture life went on in the coastal villages. Mazirbe used to be the centre of the Livs culture life at that time. The most active part of the Livs culture executives founded the public organization "Livonian Union" in 1923. On its own initiative and with the help of related nations - Finns, Estonians and Hungarians - the national house of Livs was built.
Soviet regime determined the coastal territory of the Baltic Sea from Ventspils to Kolka a closed area. Military interests of the soviet state were concentrated there; therefore the movement of the civil inhabitants through this territory was limited. The above mentioned conditions, as well as the model of the state economic development tending to liquidate individual farms and developing collective farm centres forced the inhabitants to move from the coastal villages to other dwelling places. Kolka became the centre of the collective farm. Only elderly people stayed in the coastal villages of the Baltic Sea. Kolka is the only Liv village having been developed during the last 50 years. After the Republic of Latvia gained its independence, several private fish processing enterprises were established on the basis of the former collective farms. These enterprises provide the largest number of working places in Kolka municipality.
Paradoxically, the isolation caused by the soviet state made it possible to keep the material culture of the Liv villages. Although, the traditional ways of management and Liv intellectual culture were being exterminated. One would not hear people speaking their native Liv language there any more, though, under the influence of it, a dialect of the Latvian language used in North Kurzeme has been formed.
Buildings from the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century and even settlement structures of particular villages have remained in the Liv villages of the Baltic Sea shore. A forest road, called by the locals "the old Mazirbe road", runs through the villages from Kolka to Sīkrags. The new one was built in 1950s for the needs of the army and nowadays has been used for the traffic between Kolka and Ventspils, whereas the old Mazirbe road is suitable for cycling. 1-2 days long cycle race is the best way to feel the peculiar aura of the Liv villages and at the same time observe the nature in Slitere National Park.
The way of speaking of North Kurzeme inhabitants - the Tamnieki dialect - gives an unambiguous evidence of the Livs in this region.
Līvõ kultūr sidām (Liv Culture Center): www.livones.lv
Līvu fonds: www.livodfond.lv