Infobox Country
native_name = _et. "Eesti Vabariik"
conventional_long_name = Republic of Estonia
common_name = Estonia
national_anthem = "Mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm"
(English: _en. "My Fatherland, My Happiness and Joy")

map_caption = map_caption|location_color=dark red|region=Europe|region_color=white|subregion=the European Union|subregion_color=light red|

capital =
latd=59 |latm=25 |latNS=N |longd=24 |longm=45 |longEW=E
largest_city = capital
official_languages = Estonian1
ethnic_groups = 68.8 % Estonians, 25.6% Russians, 2.1 % Ukrainians, 4.5 % others
government_type = Parliamentary republic
leader_title1 = President
leader_name1 = Toomas Hendrik Ilves
leader_title2 = Prime Minister
leader_name2 = Andrus Ansip (RE)
leader_title3 = Parliament speaker
leader_name3 = Ene Ergma (IRL)
leader_title4 = Current coalition
leader_name4 = (RE, IRL, SDE)
sovereignty_type = Independence from
sovereignty_note = Russia and Germany
established_event4 = Autonomy declared
established_date4 = 12 April 1917
established_event5 = Independence declared
Officially recognised
established_date5 = 24 February 1918
2 February 1920
established_event6 = 1st Soviet occupation
established_date6 = 1940-1941
established_event7 = German occupation
established_date7 = 1941-1944
established_event8 = 2nd Soviet occupation
established_date8 = 1944-1991
established_event9 = Independence restored
established_date9 = 20 August 1991
accessionEUdate = 1 May 2004
EUseats =
area_km2 = 45,227
area_sq_mi = 17,413
area_rank = 132nd2
area_magnitude = 1 E10
percent_water = 4.45%
population_estimate = 1,340,602 [ [ Estonian Statistics Bureau] ]
population_estimate_year = 2007
population_estimate_rank = 151st
population_census = 1,376,743
population_census_year = 2000
population_density_km2 = 29
population_density_sq_mi = 75
population_density_rank = 173rd
GDP_PPP_year = 2007
GDP_PPP = $27.633 billioncite web|url=|title=Report for Selected Countries and Subjects ]
GDP_PPP_rank = 103th
GDP_PPP_per_capita = $20,584 (IMF)
GDP_PPP_per_capita_rank =
GDP_nominal = $20.900 billion
GDP_nominal_rank = 91st
GDP_nominal_year = 2007
GDP_nominal_per_capita = $15,569 (IMF)
GDP_nominal_per_capita_rank = 41st
HDI_year = 2007
HDI = increase 0.860
HDI_rank = 44th
HDI_category = high
Gini = 34
Gini_year = 2005
Gini_category = medium
currency = Estonian kroon
currency_code = EEK
time_zone = EET
utc_offset = +2
time_zone_DST = EEST
utc_offset_DST = +3
cctld = .ee3
calling_code = 372
ISO_3166-1_alpha2 = EE
ISO_3166-1_alpha3 = EST
ISO_3166-1_numeric = ?
alt_sport_code = EST
vehicle_code = EST
aircraft_code = EST
demonym = Estonian
footnote1 = Võro and Seto in southern counties are spoken along with Estonian. Russian is widely spoken in Ida-Virumaa due to the Soviet program promoting mass immigration of urban industrial workers from the USSR in the post-war period.
footnote2 = 90,198 km were defined according to the Tartu Peace Treaty in 1920 between Estonia and Russia. Today the remaining 2,323 km² are nowadays part of Russia.
The ceded areas include the Petserimaa county and the boundary in the north of Lake Peipus as the Lands behind the city of Narva including Ivangorod (Jaanilinn). [Territorial changes of the Baltic states#Actual territorial changes after World War II Soviet territorial changes against Estonia after World War II] [ Pechory under Russian control]
footnote3 = .eu is also shared with other member states of the European Union.

Estonia Audio-IPA|en-us-Estonia.ogg| [ɛsˈtoʊniə] , officially the Republic of Estonia ( _et. Eesti or Eesti Vabariik) is a country in Northern Europe in the Baltic region. It is bordered to the north by Finland across the Gulf of Finland, to the west by Sweden, to the south by Latvia (343 km), and to the east by the Russian Federation (338,6 km). [ [ Portal of the Republic of Estonia] , Et_icon] The territory of Estonia covers 45,227 km² and is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate.

The Estonians are a Finnic people closely related to the Finns, with the Estonian language sharing many similarities to Finnish. The modern name of Estonia is thought to originate from the Roman historian Tacitus, who in his book "Germania" (ca. AD 98) described a people called the Aestii. Similarly, ancient Scandinavian sagas refer to a land called "Eistland", close to the German term "Estland" for the country. Early Latin and other ancient versions of the name are "Estia" and "Hestia". Until the late 1930s, the name was often written as "Esthonia" in most English speaking countries.

Estonia is a democratic parliamentary republic and is divided into fifteen counties. The capital and largest city is Tallinn. Estonia was a member of the League of Nations from 22 September 1921, [ [ The Law of Nations: cases, documents and notes - Page 106] ] has been a member of the United Nations since 17 September 1991, [ Estonian date of admission into the United Nations] of the European Union since 1 May 2004 [ Estonian date of admission into the European Union] and of NATO since 29 March 2004. [ Estonian date of admission into the NATO] Estonia has also signed the Kyoto protocol. With only 1.4 million inhabitants, it comprises one of the smallest populations of the European Union countries.

The settlement of modern day Estonia began around 8500 BC, immediately after the Ice Age. Over the centuries, the Estonians were subjected to Danish, Teutonic, Swedish and Russian rule. Foreign rule in Estonia began in 1227, when as a consequence of the Northern Crusades the area was conquered by Danes and Germans. From 1228–1562, parts or most of Estonia were incorporated into the loosely organized Livonian Confederation of Teutonic Knights, during which time economic activity centered around the Hanseatic League. In the 1500s Estonia passed to Swedish rule, under which it remained until 1721, when it was ceded to the Russian Empire. The Estophile Enlightenment Period (1750-1840) led to a national awakening in the mid-19th century. In 1918 the Estonian Declaration of Independence was issued, to be followed by the Estonian War of Independence (1918-1920), which resulted in the Tartu Peace Treaty recognizing Estonian independence in perpetuity. During World War II, Estonia was occupied and annexed first by the Soviet Union [ U.S.-Baltic Relations: Celebrating 85 Years of Friendship] at] [ [ Motion for a resolution on the Situation in Estonia] by EU] [European Court of Human Rights cases on Occupation of Baltic States] and subsequently by the Third Reich, only to be re-occupied by the Soviet Union in 1944.

Estonia regained its independence on 20 August 1991. It has since embarked on a rapid program of social and economic reform. Today, the country has gained recognition for its economic freedom, [ [ Index of Economic Freedom] ] its adaptation of new technologies [ [ BBC NEWS Europe Tiny Estonia leads internet revolution] ] and as one of the world's fastest growing economies. [ [ The Estonian Economic Miracle] ]


Human settlement in Estonia became possible 11,000 to 13,000 years ago, when the ice from the last glacial era melted away. The oldest known settlement in Estonia is the Pulli settlement, which was located on the banks of the river Pärnu, near the town of Sindi, in southern Estonia. According to radiocarbon dating, it was settled around 11,000 years ago, at the beginning of the 9th millennium BC.


Evidence has been found of hunting and fishing communities existing around 6500 BC near the town of Kunda in northern Estonia. Bone and stone artifacts similar to those found at Kunda have been discovered elsewhere in Estonia, as well as in Latvia, northern Lithuania and in southern Finland. The Kunda culture belongs to the middle stone age, or Mesolithic period.

The end of the Bronze Age and the early Iron Age were marked by great cultural changes. The most significant was the transition to farming, which has remained at the core of Estonian economy and culture. From approximately the first to 5th centuries AD, resident farming was widely established, the population grew, and settlement expanded. Cultural influences from the Roman Empire reached Estonia, and this era is therefore also known as the Roman Iron Age.

A more troubled and war-ridden middle Iron Age followed with external dangers coming both from the Baltic tribes, who attacked across the southern land border, and from overseas. Several Scandinavian sagas refer to campaigns against Estonia. Estonian pirates conducted similar raids in the Viking age and sacked and burned the Swedish town of Sigtuna in 1187. [ [ Raid on Sigtuna ] ]

In the first centuries AD political and administrative subdivisions began to emerge in Estonia. Two larger subdivisions appeared: the province (Estonian: "kihelkond") and the land (Estonian: "maakond"). The province comprised several elderships or villages. Nearly all provinces had at least one fortress. The defense of the local area was directed by the highest official, the king or elder. The terra was composed of one or several provinces, also headed by an elder, king or their collegium. By the 13th century the following major lands had developed in Estonia: Revala, Harjumaa, Saaremaa, Hiiumaa, Läänemaa, Alempois, Sakala, Ugandi, Jogentagana, Soopoolitse, Vaiga, Mõhu, Nurmekund, Järvamaa and Virumaa. [ Estonia and the Estonians (Studies of Nationalities) Toivo U. Raun p.11 ISBN 0817928529]

Estonia retained a pagan religion centered around a deity called Tharapita. The Chronicle of Henry of Livonia mentions Tharapita as the superior god of Oeselians (inhabitants of Saaremaa island), also well known to Vironian tribes in northern Estonia. According to the chronicle, when the crusaders invaded Vironia in 1220, there was a beautiful wooded hill in Virumaa, where locals believe the Oeselian god Tharapita was born and from which he flew to Saaremaa. The hill is believed to be the Ebavere Hill ("Ebavere mägi") in modern Lääne-Viru County.

The Middle Ages period

At the beginning of the 13th century, Lembitu of Lehola, a chieftain of Sakala sought to unify the Estonian people and thwart Danish and Germanic conquest during the Livonian Crusade. He managed to assemble an army of 6,000 Estonian men from different counties, but he was killed during the Battle of St. Matthew's Day in September, 1217. [ [ "Lembitu"] ]

Estonia was a part of the Livonian Confederation from 1228 to the 1560s. The country was Christianized when the German "Livonian Brothers of the Sword" conquered southern Estonia as part of the Northern Crusades in the early thirteenth century. At the same time, Denmark attempted to take possession of northern Estonia. Estonia was consolidated under the two forces by 1227. Northern Estonia remained a possession of Denmark until 1346. Reval (known as Tallinn since 1918) was given its Lübeck Rights in 1248 and joined an alliance of trading guilds called the Hanseatic League at the end of the thirteenth century. In 1343, the people of northern Estonia and Saaremaa rebelled against German rule in the St. George's Night Uprising, which was put down by 1345. Russia attempted unsuccessful invasions in 1481 and 1558.

The Reformation period

The Reformation in Europe officially began in 1517 with Martin Luther (1483-1546) and his 95 Theses. The Reformation resulted in great change in the Baltic region. Ideas entered the Livonian Confederation very quickly and by the 1520s they were well known. Language, education, religion, and politics were greatly transformed. The Church services were now given in the local vernacular, instead of Latin, as was previously used. [ [ Protestant Reformation in the Baltic] at University of Washington] During the Livonian War in 1561, northern Estonia submitted to Swedish control, while southern Estonia briefly came under the control of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 1580s. In 1625, mainland Estonia came entirely under Swedish rule. Estonia was administratively divided between the provinces of Estonia in the north and Livonia in southern Estonia and northern Latvia, a division which persisted until the early twentieth century.

In 1631, the Swedish king Gustaf II Adolf, Gustavus Adolphus, forced the nobility to grant the peasantry greater rights, although serfdom was retained. In 1632 a printing press and university were established in the city of Dorpat (known as Tartu since 1918). This period is known in Estonian history as "the Good Old Swedish Time."

Estonia in the Russian Empire

Following the Great Northern War, the Swedish empire lost Estonia to Russia by the Treaty of Nystad. However, the upper classes and the higher middle class remained primarily Baltic German. The war devastated the population of Estonia, but it recovered quickly. Although the rights of peasants were initially weakened, serfdom was abolished in 1816 in the province of Estonia and in 1819 in Livonia. After the Russian revolution of 1917, Tallinn remained under Soviet control until 24 February 1918, when Estonian independence was declared.

Declaration of Independence

As a result of the abolition of serfdom and the availability of education to the native Estonian-speaking population, an active Estonian nationalist movement developed in the nineteenth century. It began on a cultural level, resulting in the establishment of Estonian language literature, theatre and professional music and led into the formation of the Estonian national identity and late 1800s' Age of Awakening. Among the leaders of the movement were Johann Voldemar Jannsen, Jakob Hurt and Carl Robert Jakobson.
Declaration of the independence in Pärnu on 23 February in 1918. One of the first images of the Republic.] Significant accomplishments were the publication of the national epic, Kalevipoeg, in 1862, and the organization of the first national song festival in 1869. In response to a period of Russification initiated by the Russian empire in the 1890s, Estonian nationalism took on more political tones, with intellectuals first calling for greater autonomy, and later, complete independence from the Russian empire. Following the Bolshevik takeover of power in Russia after the October Revolution of 1917 and German victories against the Russian army, between the Russian Red Army's retreat and the arrival of advancing German troops, the Committee of Elders of the Maapäev issued the Estonian Declaration of Independence [ [ Estonian Declaration of Independence 24 February 1918] at] in Pärnu on 23 February and in Tallinn on 24 February 1918.

After winning the Estonian Liberation War against Soviet Russia and at the same time German Freikorps volunteers (the Tartu Peace Treaty was signed on 2 February 1920). The Republic of Estonia was recognized (de jure) by Finland on 7 July 1920, Poland on 31 December 1920, Argentina on 12 January 1921 and by the Western Allies on 26 January 1921. Estonia maintained its independence for twenty-two years. Initially a parliamentary democracy, the parliament (Riigikogu) was disbanded in 1934, following political unrest caused by the global economic crisis. Subsequently the country was ruled by decree by Konstantin Päts, who became President in 1938, the year parliamentary elections resumed.

Estonia in World War II

The fate of Estonia in World War II was decided by the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact and its of August 1939. World War II losses in Estonia, estimated at around 25% of population, were among the highest in Europe. War and occupation deaths have been estimated at 90,000. These include the Soviet deportations in 1941, the German deportations and Holocaust victims.Encyclopædia Britannica: [ Baltic states, World War II losses] ]
World War II began with the invasion and subsequent partition of an important regional ally of Estonia – Poland, by a joint operation of Nazi Germany and Soviet Union.

oviet annexation

The fate of the Republic of Estonia before World War II was decided by the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact of August 1939 after Stalin gained Hitler's agreement to divide Eastern Europe into "spheres of special interest" according to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and its . [ The World Book Encyclopedia ISBN 0716601036] [ The History of the Baltic States by Kevin O'Connor ISBN 0313323550] [The History of the Baltic States by Kevin O'Connor ISBN 0313323550]

On 24 September 1939, warships of the Red Navy appeared off Estonian ports and Soviet bombers began a patrol over Tallinn and the nearby countryside. [,9171,762664,00.html Moscow's Week] at Time Magazine on Monday, 9 October 1939] The Estonian government was forced to give their assent to an agreement which allowed the USSR to establish military bases and station 25,000 troops on Estonian soil for "mutual defence". [ The Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania by David J. Smith, Page 24, ISBN 0415285801] On 12 June 1940, the order for a total military blockade on Estonia was given to the Soviet Baltic Fleet. [fi icon [ Pavel Petrov ] at Finnish Defence Forces home page] [ru icon [ documents published] from the State Archive of the Russian Navy] On 14 June 1940, while world’s attention was focused on the fall of Paris to Nazi Germany a day earlier, the Soviet military blockade on Estonia went into effect, two Soviet bombers downed a Finnish passenger airplane "Kaleva" flying from Tallinn to Helsinki carrying three diplomatic pouches from the U.S. legations in Tallinn, Riga and Helsinki. [ [ The Last Flight from Tallinn] at American Foreign Service Association] On 16 June 1940, the Soviet Union invaded Estonia. [,9171,764071-2,00.html Five Years of Dates] at Time magazine on Monday, Jun. 24, 1940 ] The Red Army exited from their military bases in Estonia on 17 June. [Estonia: Identity and Independence by Jean-Jacques Subrenat, David Cousins, Alexander Harding, Richard C. Waterhouse ISBN 9042008903 ] The following day, some 90,000 additional troops entered the country.In the face of overwhelming Soviet force, the Estonian government capitulated on 17 June 1940 to avoid bloodshed. [The Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania by David J. Smith p.19 ISBN 0415285801] The military occupation of Estonia was complete by the 21 June 1940. [ The Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania by David J. Smith, Page 27, ISBN 0415285801 ] Most of the Estonian Defence Forces and the Estonian Defence League surrendered according to the orders believing that resistance would be crushed and were disarmed by the Red Army. Only the Estonian Single (Independent) Signal Battalion stationed in Tallinn at Raua Street continued to resist. As the Red Army brought in additional reinforcements supported by six armoured fighting vehicles, the battle lasted several hours until sundown. There was one dead, several wounded on the Estonian side and about 10 killed and more wounded on the Soviet side. Finally the military resistance was ended with negotiations and the Single (Independent) Signal Battalion surrendered and was disarmed. [et icon [ 51 years from the Raua Street Battle] at Estonian Defence Forces Home Page]

In August 1940, Estonia was illegally annexed by the Soviet Union as the Estonian SSR. Those who had failed to do their "political duty" of voting Estonia into the USSR, specifically those who had failed to have their passports stamped for voting, were condemned to death by Soviet tribunals. [,9171,764407,00.html Justice in The Baltic] at Time magazine on Monday, Aug. 19, 1940 ] The repressions followed with the mass deportations carried out by the Soviets in Estonia on 14 June 1941. Many of the country's political and intellectual leaders were killed or deported to remote areas of the USSR by the Soviet authorities in 1940–1941. Repressive actions were also taken against thousands of ordinary people.

When the German Operation Barbarossa started against the Soviet Union, about 34,000 young Estonian men were forcibly drafted into the Red Army. Fewer than 30% of them survived the war. Political prisoners who could not be evacuated were executed by the NKVD. [The Baltic Revolution: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Path to Independence by Anatol Lieven p424 ISBN 0300060785]

Many countries, including the United States, did not recognize the annexation of Estonia by the USSR. Such countries recognized Estonian diplomats and consuls who still functioned in many countries in the name of their former governments. These diplomats persisted in this anomalous situation until the ultimate restoration of Baltic independence. [Diplomats Without a Country: Baltic Diplomacy, International Law, and the Cold War by James T. McHugh , James S. Pacy ISBN 0313318786]

Contemporary Russian politicians deny that the Republic of Estonia was illegally annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940. They state that the Soviet troops had entered Estonia in 1940 following the agreements and with the consent of the government of the Republic of Estonia, regardless of how their actions can be interpreted today. They maintain that the USSR was not in a state of war and was not waging any combat activities on the territory of Estonia, therefore there could be no occupation. The official Soviet and current Russian version claims that Estonians voluntarily gave up their statehood. Freedom fighters of 1944–1976 are labeled "bandits" or "nazis". The Russian position is not recognized internationally. [ [ Russia denies it illegally annexed the Baltic republics in 1940 - Pravda.Ru ] ] [ [ Presidential aide: the term "occupation" inapplicable for Baltic States - Pravda.Ru ] ]

German occupation

After the Third Reich invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, the Wehrmacht reached Estonia in (July 1941). The German Army crossed the Estonian southern border on 7 July. The Red Army retreated behind the Pärnu River- the Emajõgi line on 12 July.At the end of July the Germans resumed their advance in Estonia working in tandem with the Estonian Forest Brothers. Both German troops and Estonian partisans took Narva on 17 August and the Estonian capital Tallinn on 28 August. After the Soviets were driven out from Estonia German troops disarmed all the partisan groups. [Resistance! Occupied Europe and Its Defiance of Hitler by Dave Lande on Page 188, ISBN 0760307458] Although initially the Germans were perceived by most Estonians as liberators from the USSR and its repressions, and hopes were raised for the restoration of the country's independence, it was soon realized that they were but another occupying power. The Germans pillaged the country for the war effort and unleashed the Holocaust. For the duration of the occupation Estonia was incorporated into the German province of Ostland. This led to many Estonians, unwilling to side with the Nazis, join the Finnish Army to fight against the Soviet Union. The Finnish Infantry Regiment 200 (Estonian: "soomepoisid") was formed out of Estonian volunteers in Finland. Although many Estonians were recruited in to the German armed forces (including Waffen-SS), the majority did so only in 1944 when the threat of a new invasion of Estonia by the Red Army had become imminent and it was clear that Germany could not win the war. [Estonia 1940–1945, Estonian International Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity, p.613 ISBN 9949-13-040-9 ] By January 1944, the front was pushed back by the Red Army almost all the way to the former Estonian border. Narva was evacuated. Jüri Uluots, the last legitimate prime minister of the Republic of Estonia (according to the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia) prior to its fall to the Soviet Union in 1940, delivered a radio address that appealed to all able-bodied men born from 1904 through 1923 to report for military service (Before this, Jüri Uluots had opposed Estonian mobilization.) The call drew support from all across the country: 38,000 volunteers jammed registration centers. [Resistance! Occupied Europe and Its Defiance of Hitler (Paperback)by Dave Lande on Page 200 ISBN 0760307458] Several thousand Estonians who had joined the Finnish Army came back across the Gulf of Finland to join the newly formed Territorial Defense Force, assigned to defend Estonia against the Soviet advance. It was hoped that by engaging in such a war Estonia would be able to attract Western support for the cause of Estonia's independence from the USSR and thus ultimately succeed in achieving independence. [ The Baltic States: The National Self-Determination of Estonia, Latvia and LithuaniaGraham Smith p.91 ISBN 0312161921 ]

oviet occupation

The Soviet forces reconquered Estonia in the autumn of 1944 after fierce battles in the northeast of the country on the Narva river and on the Tannenberg Line (Sinimäed) as part of the Baltic Strategic Offensive Operation, a twofold military-political operation to rout forces of the Wehrmacht and the so-called "liberation of the Soviet Baltic peoples".Д. Муриев, "Описание подготовки и проведения балтийской операции 1944 года", Военно-исторический журнал, сентябрь 1984. Translation available, D. Muriyev, "Preparations, Conduct of 1944 Baltic Operation Described", "Military History Journal" (USSR Report, Military affairs), 1984-9, pp. 22-28]

In the face of the country being re-occupied by the Red Army, tens of thousands of Estonians (including mayority of the education, culture, science, political and social specialists) (estimates as much as 80,000) chose to either retreat together with the Germans or flee to Finland or Sweden. On 12 January 1949 the Soviet Council of Ministers issued a decree "on the expulsion and deportation" from Baltic states of "all kulaks and their families, the families of bandits and nationalists", and others. Stephane Courtois; Werth, Nicolas; Panne, Jean-Louis; Paczkowski, Andrzej; Bartosek, Karel; Margolin, Jean-Louis & Kramer, Mark (1999). "The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression". Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-07608-7. ] More than 200,000 people are estimated to have been deported from the Baltic in 1940–1953. In addition, at least 75,000 were sent to Gulag. More than 10% of the entire adult Baltic population was deported or sent to Soviet labor and deathcamps. In response to the continuing insurgency against Soviet rule, [Heinrihs Strods, Matthew Kott, "The file on operation "Priboi": A re-assessment of the mass deportations of 1949", Journal of Baltic Studies, Volume 33, Issue 1 Spring 2002 , pages 1 - 36] more than 20,000 Estonians were forcibly deported either to labor camps or Siberia (see Gulag). [ Valge raamat] , page 18] Within the few weeks that followed, almost all of the remaining rural households were collectivized. After World War II, as part of the goal to more fully integrate Baltic countries into the Soviet Union, mass deportations were concluded in the Baltic countries and the policy of encouraging Soviet immigration to the Baltic states continued. [ Background Note: Latvia] at US Department of State] In addition to the human and material losses suffered due to war, thousands of civilians were killed and tens of thousands of people deported from Estonia by the Soviet authorities until Joseph Stalin's death in 1953.

Half of the deported perished, the other half were not allowed to return until the early 1960s (years after Stalin's death). The various repressive activities of Soviet forces in 1940–1941 and after reoccupation sparked a guerrilla war against the Soviet authorities in Estonia which was waged into the early 1950s by "forest brothers" ("metsavennad") consisting mostly of Estonian veterans of both the German and Finnish armies as well as some civilians. [ Valge raamat] , pages 25-30] Material damage caused by the world war and the following Soviet era significantly slowed Estonia's economic growth, resulting in a wide wealth gap in comparison with neighboring Finland and Sweden. [ [ Valge raamat] , pages 125, 148]

Militarization was another aspect of the Soviet regime. Large parts of the country, especially the coastal areas were restricted to all but the Soviet military. Most of the sea shore and all sea islands (including Saaremaa and Hiiumaa) were declared "border zones". People not actually resident there were restricted from traveling to them without a permit. A notable closed military installation was the city of Paldiski which was entirely closed to all public access. The city had a support base for the Soviet Baltic Fleet's submarines and several large military bases, including a nuclear submarine training centre complete with a full-scale model of a nuclear submarine with working nuclear reactors. The Paldiski reactors building passed into Estonian control in 1994 after the last Soviet troops left the country. [ [ Tuumarelvade leviku tõkestamisegaseotud probleemidest Eestis] ] [ [ Estonia had a nuclear submarine fleet - The Paldiski nuclear object] ] Immigration was another effect of Soviet occupation. Hundreds of thousands of migrants were relocated to Estonia from other parts of Soviet Union to assist industrialization and militarization, contributing an increase of about half million people within 45 years. [ Valge raamat] ] By 1980, when the Olympic Regatta of the 1980 Olympic Games was held in Tallinn, Russification and immigration had achieved a level at which it began to spark popular protests.

Restoration of independence

The United States, United Kingdom, France and the majority of other western democracies considered the annexation of Estonia by USSR illegal. They retained diplomatic relations with the representatives of the independent Republic of Estonia, never "de jure" recognized the existence of the Estonian SSR, and never recognized Estonia as a legal constituent part of the Soviet Union. [cite journal | last=European Parliament | title=Resolution on the situation in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania | journal=Official Journal of the European Communities | volume=C 42/78 | date=13 January 1983 | url= "whereas the Soviet annexiassic of the three Baltic States still has not been formally recognized by most European States and the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and the Vatican still adhere to the concept of the Baltic States".] Estonia's return to independence became possible as the Soviet Union faced internal regime challenges, loosening its hold on outer empire. As the 1980s progressed, a movement for Estonian autonomy started. In the initial period of 1987–1989, this was partially for more economic independence, but as the Soviet Union weakened and it became increasingly obvious that nothing short of full independence would do, the country began a course towards self-determination.

In 1989, during the "Singing Revolution", in a landmark demonstration for more independence, called The Baltic Way, a human chain of more than two million people was formed, stretching through Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. All three nations had similar experiences of occupation and similar aspirations for regaining independence. Estonia formally declared independence on 20 August 1991, reconstituting the pre-1940 state, during the Soviet military coup attempt in Moscow. The first country to diplomatically recognize Estonia's reclaimed independence was Iceland. The last Russian troops left on 31 August 1994.



Estonia lies on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea immediately across the Gulf of Finland from Finland on the level northwestern part of the rising east European platform between 57.3° and 59.5° N and 21.5° and 28.1° E. Average elevation reaches only 50 meters (164 ft) and the country's highest point is the Suur Munamägi in the southeast at 318 meters (1,043 ft).cite web |title=World InfoZone - Estonia |url= |publisher=World InfoZonek, LTD. |work=World InfoZone |access_date=2007-2-20] Estonia has over 1,400 lakes. Most are very small, with the largest, Lake Peipus, (Peipsi in Estonian) being 3,555 km² (1372 sq mi). There are many rivers in the country. The largest are the Võhandu (162 km), Pärnu (144 km), and Põltsamaa (135 km). [ World Info Zone] ] Estonia also has numerous bogs, and 3,794 kilometers (2,357 mi) of coastline marked by numerous bays, straits, and inlets. The number of islands and islets is estimated at some 1,500. Two are large enough to constitute their own counties: Saaremaa and Hiiumaa. [ World Info Zone] ]


Estonia lies in the northern part of the temperate climate zone and in the transition zone between maritime and continental climate. Because Estonia (and all of Northern Europe) is continuously warmed by the Gulf Stream it has a milder climate despite its northern latitude. The Baltic Sea causes differences between the climate of coastal and inland areas. The average annual temperature in Estonia is 5 °C. The average temperature in February, the coldest month of the year, is -5.2 °C. The average temperature in July, which is considered the warmest month of the year, is 18 °C. The climate is also influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, the North-Atlantic Stream and the Icelandic Minimum, which is an area known for the formation of cyclones and where the average air pressure is lower than in neighbouring areas. Estonia is located in a humid zone in which the amount of precipitation is greater than total evaporation. There are about 160 to 190 rainy days a year, and average precipitation is most plentiful on the western slopes of the Sakala and Haanja Uplands. Snow cover, which is deepest in the south-eastern part of Estonia, usually lasts from mid-December to late March.


Phytogeographically, Estonia is shared between the Central European and Eastern European provinces of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. According to the WWF, the territory of Estonia belongs to the ecoregion of Sarmatic mixed forests.

Estonia's sparse population and large areas of forest have allowed stocks of European Lynx, Wild Boar, Brown Bears, and moose to survive, among other animals. [ [ Systematic list of Estonian mammals] ] Estonia is thought to have a wolf population of 500, though it is decreasing as the species is outlawed, and no livestock compensation is in effect, as the insurance is considered too expensive.cite book | author= L. David Mech & Luigi Boitani | url = | title=Wolves: Behaviour, Ecology and Conservation | year=2001 | pages= p 448 | id= ISBN 0226516962 ] Its birdlife includes Golden Eagles and White Storks. It has around a dozen national parks and protected areas, including Lahemaa National Park, the country’s largest park, on the northern coast. Soomaa National Park, near Pärnu, is known for its ancient wetlands. Reserves such as Käina Bay Bird Reserve and Matsalu Nature Reserve (a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention) are also popular with locals and tourists and support a wide variety of birdlife. [ [ Birds Of Estonia] ]

Local government

{| style="background:transparent;" cellspacing="2px"|


With only 1.3 million inhabitants, Estonia is one of the least populous countries in the European Union. The current fertility rate is 1.41 children per mother, [ CIA Fact book] and has been increasing in recent years. Estonia has a small number of larger cities, the most populous being Tallinn, Tartu, Narva, Kohtla-Järve and Pärnu.

By far the largest conurbation is the Tallinn region, including cities of Maardu, Saue and smaller municipalities of Viimsi, Tabasalu, Vääna-Jõesuu and Männiku.

Ethnic and cultural diversity

Tolerance and democracy are illustrated by the Law on the [ Cultural Autonomy for National Minorities] , passed already in 1925, which was not only the first in Europe at the time but also very progressive. Prior to World War II, Estonia was a relatively homogeneous society – ethnic Estonians constituted 88% of the population, with national minorities constituting the remaining 12%. [ [ Ethnic minorities in Estonia: past and present] ] The largest minority groups in 1934 were Russians, Germans, Swedes, Latvians, Jews, Poles, Finns and Ingrians. Cultural autonomies could be granted to minorities numbering more than 3,000 people with longstanding ties to the Republic of Estonia. Prior to the Soviet occupation, the Germans and Jewish minorities managed to elect a cultural council. The Law on Cultural Autonomy for National Minorities was reinstated in 1993.The country's official language is Estonian, which belongs to the Finnic branch of the Finno-Ugric languages. Estonian is thus closely related to Finnish, spoken on the other side of the Gulf of Finland, and is one of the few languages of Europe that is not of an Indo-European origin. Despite some overlaps in the vocabulary due to borrowings, in terms of its origin, Estonian is not related to its nearest neighbours, Swedish, Latvian and Russian, which are all Indo-European languages. Russian is widely spoken as a secondary language by thirty- to seventy-year-old ethnic Estonians, because Russian was the unofficial language of the occupied Estonia from 1944 to 1991 taught as a compulsory second language during the Soviet era. First and second generation of industrial immigrants from various parts of the former Soviet Union (mainly Russia) do not speak Estonian. [ [ Kirch, Aksel. "Russians in contemporary Estonia — different strategies of the integration in to the nation-state."] ] The latter, mostly Russian-speaking ethnic minorities, reside predominantly in the capital city (Tallinn) and the industrial urban areas in Ida-Virumaa. Most common foreign languages learned by Estonians are English, German, Russian, Swedish, Finnish and in recent years also LatvianFact|date=June 2008.


Estonia has the highest level of irreligious individuals in the world, with over 75% of the population stating no specific religious affiliation. Less than a third of the population define themselves as believers, of those the majority are Lutheran, whereas the Russian minority is Eastern Orthodox. Ancient equinoctial traditions are held in high regard. Today, about 32 % of the population are members of a church or religious group:

* 14.8 % Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church
* 13.9 % Estonian Orthodox Church
* ca. 10,000 Muslims
* ca. 6,000 Baptists
* ca. 3,500 Roman Catholics

There are also a number of smaller Protestant, Jewish, and Buddhist groups.

Culture and arts

The culture of Estonia incorporates indigenous heritage, as represented by the country's rare Finno-Ugric national language Estonian and the sauna, with mainstream Nordic and European cultural aspects. Due to its history and geography, Estonia's culture has been influenced by the traditions of the adjacent area's various Finnic, Baltic and Germanic peoples as well as the cultural developments in the former dominant powers Sweden and Russia. Traditionally, Estonia has been seen as an area of rivalry between western and eastern Europe on many levels. An example of this geopolitical legacy is an exceptional combination of nationally recognized Christian traditions: a western Protestant and an eastern Orthodox Church. Like the mainstream culture in the other Nordic countries, Estonian culture can be seen to build upon the ascetic environmental realities and traditional livelihoods, a heritage of comparatively widespread egalitarianism out of practical reasons (see: Everyman's right and universal suffrage), and the ideals of closeness to nature and self-sufficiency (see: summer cottage). [ [ Culture of Estonia] , Wikipedia En icon]


The literature of Estonia refers to literature written in the Estonian language (ca. 1 million speakers). [ [ Estonian literature] at Encyclopædia Britannica] The domination of Estonia after the Northern Crusades, from the 13th century to 1918 by Germany, Sweden, and Russia resulted few early written literary works in Estonian language. The oldest records of written Estonian date from the 13th century. "Originates Livoniae" in Chronicle of Henry of Livonia contains Estonian place names, words and fragments of sentences. The "Liber Census Daniae" (1241) contains Estonian place and family names. [ The Development of Written Estonian By George Kurman] ISBN 0700703802]

The cultural stratum of Estonian, was originally characterised by a largely lyrical form of folk poetry based on syllabic quantity. Apart from a few albeit remarkable exceptions, this archaic form has not been much employed in later times. The most outstanding achievements in this field are the national epic Kalevipoeg. At a professional level, traditional folk song reached its new heyday during the last quarter of the 20th century, primarily thanks to the work of composer Veljo Tormis. In modern times Jaan Kross and Jaan Kaplinski remain to be Estonia's best known and most translated writers. [ [ Jaan Kross] at google.books]


The cinema of Estonia started in 1908 with the production of a newsreel about Swedish King Gustav V’s visit to Tallinn. [ [ Cinema of Estonia] ]

The first public TV broadcast in Estonia was in July 1955. Regular, live radio-broadcasts began already in December 1926. Deregulation in the field of electronic media has brought radical changes compared to the beginning of 1990s. The first licenses for private TV broadcasters were issued in 1992. The first private radio station went on the air in 1990.

Today the media is a vibrant sector at the forefront of change in Estonian society. There is a plethora of weekly newspapers and magazines. Estonians face a choice of 9 domestic TV channels and a host of radio stations. The Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and the fact that Estonia does have a free press is recognized by various international press freedom bodies, like the US-based Freedom House. Estonia has two news agencies. The Baltic News Service (BNS), founded in 1990, is a private regional news agency covering Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The ETV24 is a agency owned by Eesti Rahvusringhääling who is a publicly funded radio and television organization created on 30 June 2007 to take over the functions of the formerly separate Eesti Raadio and Eesti Televisioon under the terms of the Estonian National Broadcasting Act.

The best known Estonian media celebrity has been an international supermodel Carmen Kass [cite book |title=Europe on a Shoestring |last=Johnstone |first=Sarah |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=2007 |publisher=Lonely Planet |location=p.325 |isbn=9781741045918 |pages= |url= ] [cite book |title=Campaigning in Europe |last=Maier |first=Michaela |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=2006 |publisher=LIT Verlag Berlin-Hamburg-Münster |location= |isbn=9783825893224 |pages=p.398 |url= ]


The earliest mentioning of Estonian singing dates back to Saxo Grammaticus "Gesta Danorum" (ca. 1179). [ [ The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians; p.358] ISBN 0333231112] Saxo speaks of Estonian warriors who sang at night while waiting for a battle. The older folksongs are also referred to as regilaulud, songs in the poetic metre regivärss the tradition shared by all Baltic Finns. Runic singing was widespread among Estonians until the 18th century, when it started to be replaced by rhythmic folksongs. Professional Estonian musicians emerged in the late 19th century at the time of Estonian national awakening. Nowadays the most known Estonian composers are Arvo Pärt and Veljo Tormis. Traditional wind instruments derived from those used by shepherds were once widespread, but are now becoming again more commonly played. Other instruments, including the fiddle, zither, concertina and accordion are used to play polka or other dance music. The kannel is a native instrument that is now again becoming more popular in Estonia. A [ Native Music Preserving Center] was opened in 2008 in Viljandi. [ [ Estonian Native Music Preserving Center is opened] Et icon]

The Estonian Song Festival ("Laulupidu") is an event which takes place in Tallinns Song Festival Ground ("Lauluväljak") every five years in July. The last song festival was in 2007 and the next festival will be in 2009. Nowadays those festivals are held on The Tallinn Song Festival Grounds. Estonia entered the Eurovision Song Contest in 1994 and in 2001, Tanel Padar and Dave Benton's "Everybody" won the contest. This was the first time any of the Eastern Europe countries has won the contest. In 2008 Estonia's entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 2008 was performed by Kreisiraadio comedy group with a song Leto Svet which created some controversy amongst Estonian and international Eurovision fans. [ [ Eurovision Song Contest 2008 Estonia´s entry] WikipediaEn icon]


Today's Estonia is a multinational country where, according to the 2000 census, altogether 109 languages are spoken. 83.4% of Estonian citizens speak Estonian as their mother tongue, 15.3% – Russian and 1% speak other languages. 83.6% of Estonian residents are Estonian citizens, 7.4% are citizens of other countries and 9% are "citizens with undetermined citizenship". The number of Estonian citizens who have become citizens through naturalization process (over 140,000 persons) exceeds the number of residents of undetermined citizenship (ac. 120,000 persons). [ Population by Nationality ]

There is only one "Nationality Holiday" in Estonia which is on the 24 February and marks the Independence Day of Estonia, which is also a day of rest. There are 12 "State Holidays" and 10 "Over-National Days" celebrated in the country. [ [ The Portal of Estonia: National symbols] ]


Historically the cuisine of Estonia has been heavily dependent on seasons and simple peasant food, which today is influenced by many countries. Today it includes many typical international foods. The most typical foods in Estonia are black bread, pork, potatoes and dairy products. [ [,8 Estonian Food Inforserver] Et icon] Traditionally in summer and spring, Estonians like to eat everything fresh - berries, herbs, vegetables and everything else that comes straight from the garden. Hunting and fishing have also been very common, although currently hunting and fishing are enjoyed mostly as hobbies. Today it is also very popular to grill outside in summer. Traditionally in winter jams, preserves and pickles are brought to the table. Estonia has been through rough times in the past and thus gathering and conserving fruits, mushrooms and vegetables for winter has always been essential. Today gathering and conserving is not that common because everything can be bought from stores, but preparing food for winter is still very popular in the countryside and still has somewhat ritual significance. Being a country with a large coastal line, fish has also been very important. [ [ Cuisine of Estonia] , WikipediaEn icon]

Education and science

The history of formal education in Estonia dates back to the 13–14th centuries when the first monastic and cathedral schools were founded. The first primer in the Estonian language was published in 1575. The oldest university is the University of Tartu which was established by the Swedish king Gustav II Adolf in 1632. In 1919, university courses were first taught in the Estonian language.

Today's education in Estonia is divided into general, vocational and hobby education. The education system is based on four levels which include the pre-school, basic, secondary and higher education. [ [ Ministry of Education and Research] , En_icon] A wide network of schools and supporting educational institutions has been established. The Estonian educational system consists of state, municipal, public and private educational institutions. There are currently 589 schools in Estonia. [ Estonian Education Infosystem] , Et_icon]

Academic higher education in Estonia is divided into three levels: bachelor’s studies, master’s studies, and doctoral studies. In some specialties (basic medical studies, veterinary, pharmacy, dentistry, architect-engineer and a classroom teacher program) the Bachelors and Master’s levels are integrated into one unit. [ [ The Education System in Estonia: 2002-2003] , Eurydice En_icon] Estonian public universities have significantly more autonomy than applied higher education institutions. In addition to organizing the academic life of the university, universities can create new curricula, establish admission terms and conditions, approve the budget, approve the development plan, elect the rector and make restricted decisions in matters concerning assets. [ [ Implementation of Bologna Declaration in Estonia] , En_icon] Estonia has a moderate number of public and private universities. The largest public universities are Tartu University, Tallinn University of Technology, Tallinn University, Estonian University of Life Sciences, Estonian Academy of Arts, and the largest private university is the International University of Audentes.

The Estonian Academy of Sciences is Estonia's national academy of science. The IT industry of Estonia in late 1950s as the first computer centers were established in Tartu and Tallinn. Estonian specialists contributed in the development of software engineering standards for different ministries of the Soviet Union during the 1980s.A. Kalja, J. Pruuden, B. Tamm, E. Tyugu, "Two Families of Knowledge Based CAD Environments. In: Software for Manufacturing" (North-Holland), 1989, pp 125-134] H. Jaakkola, A. Kalja, "Estonian Information Technology Policy in Government, Industry and Research. In: Technology Management: Strategies and Applications." (Vol. 3, No. 3), 1997, pp 299-307]


Estonia first competed as a nation at the 1920 Summer Olympics, although the National Olympic Committee was established in 1923. The first Winter Olympics were the 1924 Winter Olympics. Estonian athletes took part of the Olympic Games until the country was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940. The 1980 Summer Olympics Sailing regatta was held in the capital city Tallinn. After regaining independence in 1991, Estonia has participated in all Olympics. Estonia has won most of its medals in athletics, weightlifting, wrestling and cross-country skiing. [ [ Estonia at the Olympics] , WikipediaEn icon]

International rankings

Further reading


Notes and references

External links

* [ Official Estonian Portal]
* [ Encyclopedia Estonica]
* [ Tourism portal]

Template group
title = Geographic locale
list =
Template group
title = International membership
list =

coord|59|00|N|26|00|E|type:country_scale:9000000_region:EN|display=title [ Estonia´s geographic coordinates]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем сделать НИР

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Estonia — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Eesti Vabariik República de Estonia …   Wikipedia Español

  • Estonia — M/S Estonia Werft: Meyer Werft, Papenburg, Deutschland Ersteigentümer: Viking Line letzter Eigentümer: EstLine …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • ESTONIA — (Est. Esti), independent state from the 1990s, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, bordering on the gulfs of Finland and Riga. Estonia was an independent republic from 1918 to 1940. From 1940 to the dissolution of the U.S.S.R., with an… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Estonia — often said to be from a Germanic source akin to east, but perhaps rather from a native name meaning waterside dwellers …   Etymology dictionary

  • Estonia — [e stō′nē ə, estōn′yə] country in N Europe, on the Baltic Sea: from 1940 to 1991 it was a republic of the U.S.S.R.: 17,413 sq mi (45,099 sq km); pop. 1,566,000; cap. Tallinn: formerly, Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic …   English World dictionary

  • Estonia — /e stoh nee euh, e stohn yeuh/, n. a republic in N Europe, on the Baltic, S of the Gulf of Finland: an independent republic 1918 40; annexed by the Soviet Union 1940; regained independence 1991. 1,444,721; 17,413 sq. mi. (45,100 sq. km). Cap.:… …   Universalium

  • Estonia — <p></p> <p></p> Introduction ::Estonia <p></p> Background: <p></p> After centuries of Danish, Swedish, German, and Russian rule, Estonia attained independence in 1918. Forcibly incorporated into the …   The World Factbook

  • Estonia — La República de Estonia está situada en el noreste de Europa y forma parte de la Unión Europea (UE). Linda con el Mar Báltico al oeste, el Golfo de Finlandia al norte, el estado báltico de Letonia al sur y Rusia al este. * * * (Eesti) ► Estado de …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Estonia —    Following the pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in August 1939, the Baltic states of Estonia, Finland, Latvia, and Lithuania became part of the Soviet sphere of influence in the region. In August 1940, Estonia was annexed as a… …   Historical dictionary of the Holocaust

  • Estonia —    The Roman Catholic Church became the dominant force in Estonia between the 10th and the 13th centuries, though the Eastern orthodox presence is almost as ancient.    Estonia s geographical position near Germany ensured that Lutheranism would… …   Encyclopedia of Protestantism

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”