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city and port, western Latvia. It lies at the mouth of the Venta River on the Baltic Sea coast. A settlement existed there in the 2nd millennium BC, and by the 10th century AD it was inhabited by Wends (a Slavic people). In 1242 the Teutonic Knights built a castle there, and in 1378 town status was conferred. A shipyard was established in 1642, and in 1904 Ventspils was reached by the railway. Its port is ice-free and is a major site for the export of oil and chemicals. It has a pipeline from the Volga-Urals oil field (Russia), a fishing fleet, and a large fish cannery. Pop. (1993 est.) 49,000.