Jūrmala is a city in Latvia, about 25 kilometres (16 miles) west of Riga. Jūrmala is a resort town stretching 32 km (20 miles) and sandwiched between the Gulf of Riga and the Lielupe River. It has a 33 km (21 miles) stretch of white-sand beach, and a population of 56,646, making it the fifth largest city in Latvia.
While Latvia was part of the Soviet Union, Jūrmala was a favorite holiday-resort and tourist destination for high-level Communist Party officials, particularly Leonid Brezhnev and Nikita Khrushchev. Although it has many amenities such as beach-houses and concrete hotels remain, some have fallen into disrepair. Jūrmala remains a tourist attraction with long beaches facing the Gulf of Riga and romantic wooden houses in the Art Nouveau style.
In publications dating from the Soviet period, the city name was occasionally spelled in English as Yurmala, a back-transliteration from Russian.
Jūrmala's beach is 33 km (21 mi) long, covered with white quartz sand. The shallow coastal waters are suitable and safe for children. The beach is equipped with playgrounds, small benches, football fields and volleyball courts, as well as descents for prams and wheelchairs. In Spring and Autumn amber pieces can be found on the beach.
Each region's beach has its own character. In Majori and Bulduri, where the Blue Flag flies, it is possible to rent water bicycles or relax in the beach cafe. In Dubulti and Dzintari competitions in beach football and volleyball take place, but on Pumpuri beach there is kite surfing and windsurfing.
International water sports contests, including rowing, sailing, and waterskiing that take place on the river Lielupe. In January 2012, Jūrmala hosted the 2012 Winter Swimming World Championships.