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Dobele ( pronunciation ; German: Doblen) is a town in the cultural region Zemgale in Latvia, and is located near the center of Latvia on the banks of the river Bērze. It received town rights in 1917 whilst being a part of the German occupied Courland Governorate during the First World War. In 2006, its population numbered 10,827 people.
Dobele is first mentioned in historical sources in 1254; however, at that time it was only a wooden fortress which was destroyed during the Semigallian War of Independence (1279–1290), the final phase of the Northern Crusades in Latvia. On its spot, a new stone castle was erected in 1335 and a small settlement grew up around it. The ruins of this fortress are still visible and are in the process of being restored. The original church was constructed in 1495, and eventually the fortress developed into a trading post. In the 17th century, a watermill, sawmill, and cardiganmill as well as a vinegar-works were constructed during the reign of duke Jacob Kettler. In 1927, the Jelgava–Liepāja Railway connected the city to other important towns and a period of development resulted. More here.
Dobele is the home of many large enterprises, such as mills, the "Spodrība" chemical plant, and the "Baltic Candles" candle factory. A complete list of major corporations is viewable here.
In Dobele, as in other Latvian towns, there are several educational establishments: five comprehensive schools, including the Dobele State Grammar School, four kindergartens, Music and Art schools, a Vocational school and Adult Education Center, as well as Children and Youth Centres.
The town of Dobele has a Cultural Centre as well as a museum. The town is also the location of 8 nationally protected monuments, such as the old castle, church, and town hall.
There are several annual festivals and holidays celebrated (see this) including the Ielīgosim Jāņus, the Midsummer celebration, and the jubileja, or festival, which changes yearly.
Latvians make up 75.5% of the population while Russians, at 14%, are a significant minority. Other groups include Belarusians - 3.3%, Lithuanians - 2.3%, Ukrainians -1.8%, Poles - 1.5%, and 1.6% are of other nationalities.Viktors Ščerbatihs, an Olympic silver-medalist.
Lauris Reiniks, a musician.
Alexei Kudrin, Minister of Finances of Russia.
Kristaps Abimeicevs, Floorball star.
Gunārs Saliņš, Latvian modernist poet
Dobele is twinned with: Bryansk, Bryansk Oblast, Russia