After the proclamation of Latvia's independence on November 18, 1918, a provisional government was established, with the distinguished statesman Zigfrīds Anna Meierovics becoming the country's first foreign minister. The work of the government was encumbered by liberation battles that continued for more than a year, and so foreign affairs issues were largely handled abroad. A delegation from Latvia attended the Paris Peace Conference, seeking to gain international recognition of the new country.  In November 1818, Latvia's first diplomatic office was opened in London. The first major achievements in international relations related to Germany, with which the first international agreements were concluded.

The founding of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was on July 29, 1919, when Meierovics returned to Rīga and hired four senior employees for the ministry.  Latvia's intelligentsia had no innate experience with diplomacy, but during the first period of independence, Latvia had a diplomatic presence in 25 countries.

After the occupation during and after WWII, Latvia's diplomats abroad continued their work, albeit under reduced circumstances. The primary aim was to constantly remind people of Latvia and its occupation.

After the restoration of independence in 1991, the new staff at the Foreign Ministry pretty much had the same problems as their forebears 90 years before. There were no experienced foreign policy specialists, but the ministry had to ensure international recognition of Latvia's independence, establish embassies, create a visa regime and receive foreign officials.  Latvia's embassies in Washington and London had never halted their work during the occupation, and they were of invaluable assistance as Latvia sought to join the United Nations, the European Union and NATO.  Also helpful were émigré Latvian organisations.

In honour of Latvia's centennial, a monument to the first foreign minister, Zigfrīds Anna Meierovics, was unveiled in the old city of Tukums, where he perished in an automobile accident in 1925 and at the age of only 38.