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Region, eastern coast of Baltic Sea, north of Lithuania. Originally inhabited by the Livs, a Finno-Ugric people, it eventually expanded to include nearly all of modern Latvia and Estonia. In the 13th century it was conquered and Christianized by the Order of the Brothers of the Sword and organized into the Livonian confederation. A Russian invasion set off the Livonian War (1558–82), in which Russia, Poland, and Sweden seized portions of it. Sweden eventually gained control of most of it but ceded the region to Russia in 1721. In 1918 the northern portion became part of independent Estonia and the southern portion joined independent Latvia.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Livonia, visit Britannica.com.