At the end of 2008, the regional reform was finally adopted by the Parliament. Previously, Latvia had numerous small municipalities operating on two territorial levels of local administration. In 2008, there were 525 local governments operating at local or first territorial level (including 52 towns and 7 cities; 36 amalgamated local municipalities; 430 parishes), and 26 counties operating at regional or second territorial level. The aim of the reform that started 1992 was to reduce the number of administrative levels and to increase the capacity of local administrative units.
Since July 1st 2009, there are 110 local governments (counties) and 9 republican cities, instead of more than 500 administrative units.
By the end of the 2019, a new reform is to be presented to the Parliament with an aim to reduce the number of administrative units and to enable 36 municipalities to provide all necessary autonomous functions.
The Law on Local Governments (1994) defines the division of labour and responsibilities between the state and local authorities in providing services, including those in the cultural field. Section 15 of the Law on Local Governments defines the autonomous functions of local governments including the following: “to maintain culture and facilitate the safeguarding of traditional cultural values and the development of creative folk activity (organisational and financial assistance to cultural institutions and events, support for the preservation of cultural monuments, and others)”.
Decentralisation in the field of culture is connected to the long and complicated process of regional administrative reform that was completed in 2009. Gradually, municipalities are developing their own cultural policies and are becoming more independent regarding the content and character of cultural life in the regions.