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Republic of Estonia

Eesti Vabariik  (Estonian)
Anthem: 
Location of  Estonia  (dark green)– on the European continent  (green & grey)– in the European Union  (green)  —  [Legend]
Location of  Estonia  (dark green)

– on the European continent  (green & grey)
– in the European Union  (green)  —  [Legend]

Capital
and largest city
Tallinn
59°25′N 24°45′E / 59.417°N 24.750°E / 59.417; 24.750
Official language
Ethnic groups
(2021)
Religion
(2011)
Demonym(s) Estonian
Government Unitary parliamentary republic
Kersti Kaljulaid
Kaja Kallas
Jüri Ratas
Legislature Riigikogu
Independence 
from Russia and Soviet Union
• Autonomy
12 April 1917
• Declared
24 February 1918
• Recognised
2 February 1920
• Soviet occupation
1940–1991
• Restored
20 August 1991
• Joined the EU
1 May 2004
Area
• Total
45,227 km2 (17,462 sq mi) (129thd)
• Water (%)
5.16 (as of 2015)
Population
• 2021 estimate
Neutral increase 1,330,068
• Census
1,294,455
• Density
30.9/km2 (80.0/sq mi) (148th)
GDP (PPP) 2021 estimate
• Total
$49.644 billion
• Per capita
$39,543 (37th)
GDP (nominal) 2021 estimate
• Total
$34.97 billion (97th)
• Per capita
$26,377 (35th)
Gini (2020) Steady 30.5
medium
HDI (2019) Increase 0.892
very high · 29th
Currency Euro () (EUR)
Time zone UTC+02:00 (EET)
• Summer (DST)
UTC+03:00 (EEST)
Calling code +372
ISO 3166 code EE
Internet TLD .eee
  1. The Supreme Court and one ministry are based in Tartu.
  2. According to the Constitution of Estonia, Estonian is the sole official language. In southern counties, Võro and Seto are spoken along with it. Russian is spoken in parts of Ida-Virumaa and Tallinn.
  3. Including 5.4% Võros and 0.93% Setos.
  4. 47,549 km2 (18,359 sq mi) were defined according to the Treaty of Tartu in 1920 between Estonia and Soviet Russia (then under communist Bolshevik revolutionary government prior to the founding of the USSR in 1922). Today, the remaining 2,323 km2 (897 sq mi) are part of the Russian Federation. The ceded areas include most of the former Petseri County and areas east of the Narva river including Ivangorod (Jaanilinn). Pechory remains under Russian administration.
  5. Also .eu, shared with other member states of the European Union.

Estonia, officially the Republic of Estonia is a small country in the Baltic Region of Northern Europe. The capital city is Tallinn. Estonia's neighbors are Sweden, Finland, Russia and Latvia. Its population is 1,332,893.

Estonia became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on 29 March 2004. It joined the European Union on 1 May 2004.

Estonia is east from the Baltic Sea and the northest of the Baltic States.

Estonia is divided into 15 counties (maakond): Harjumaa, Hiiumaa, Ida-Virumaa, Jõgevamaa, Järvamaa, Läänemaa, Lääne-Virumaa, Põlvamaa, Pärnumaa, Raplamaa, Saaremaa, Tartumaa, Valgamaa, Viljandimaa, Võrumaa.

Estonia has many forests, almost 50% of the land is covered with forests. Estonia has over 1,400 lakes and 1,500 islands.

History

Kalmeväli
Bronze Age stone-cist graves

People have lived in Estonia since at least 9,000 BC. The oldest known settlement in Estonia is the Pulli settlement, which was on the banks of the Pärnu River.

Estonia became independent from Russia in 1920 after a brief War of Independence at the end of World War I. During World War II (1939–1945), Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union and Germany. It then became the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic and lost its independence.

Estonia had its independence restored in 1991. It became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on 29 March 2004. It joined the European Union on 1 May 2004.

In January 2021, Estonia became the only country in the world led by women by having a female president (Kersti Kaljulaid) and female prime minister (Kaja Kallas).

Geography

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 metres (164 ft) and the country's highest point is the Suur Munamägi in the southeast at 318 metres (1,043 ft). There is 3,794 kilometres (2,357 mi) of coastline marked by numerous bays, straits, and inlets. The number of islands and islets is estimated at some 2,355 (including those in lakes). Two of them are large enough to constitute separate counties: Saaremaa and Hiiumaa. A small, recent cluster of meteorite craters, the largest of which is called Kaali is found on Saaremaa, Estonia.

Estonia is situated in the northern part of the temperate climate zone and in the transition zone between maritime and continental climate. Estonia has four seasons of near-equal length. Average temperatures range from 16.3 °C (61.3 °F) on the islands to 18.1 °C (64.6 °F) inland in July, the warmest month, and from −3.5 °C (25.7 °F) on the islands to −7.6 °C (18.3 °F) inland in February, the coldest month. The average annual temperature in Estonia is 5.2 °C (41.4 °F). The average precipitation in 1961–1990 ranged from 535 to 727 mm (21.1 to 28.6 in) per year.

Snow cover, which is deepest in the south-eastern part of Estonia, usually lasts from mid-December to late March. Estonia has over 1,400 lakes. Most are very small, with the largest, Lake Peipus, being 3,555 km2 (1,373 sq mi). There are many rivers in the country. The longest of them are Võhandu (162 km or 101 mi), Pärnu (144 km or 89 mi), and Põltsamaa (135 km or 84 mi). Estonia has numerous fens and bogs. Forest land covers 50% of Estonia. The most common tree species are pine, spruce and birch.
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.

Panga pank-2-mauricedb
The northern coast of Estonia consists mainly of limestone cliffs.

Politics

Estonia is a parliamentary representative democratic republic in which the Prime Minister of Estonia is the head of government and which includes a multi-party system. The political culture is stable in Estonia, where power is held between two and three parties that have been in politics for a long time.

This situation is similar to other countries in Northern Europe. The former Prime Minister of Estonia, Andrus Ansip, is also Europe's longest-serving Prime Minister (from 2005 until 2014).

Government

The Government of Estonia (Estonian: Vabariigi Valitsus) or the executive branch is formed by the Prime Minister of Estonia, nominated by the president and approved by the parliament. The government exercises executive power pursuant to the Constitution of Estonia and the laws of the Republic of Estonia and consists of twelve ministers, including the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister also has the right to appoint other ministers and assign them a subject to deal with. These are ministers without portfolio – they don't have a ministry to control.

Stenbock House
Stenbock House, the seat of the Government of Estonia on Toompea Hill

The Prime Minister has the right to appoint a maximum of three such ministers, as the limit of ministers in one government is fifteen. It is also known as the cabinet. The cabinet carries out the country's domestic and foreign policy, shaped by parliament; it directs and co-ordinates the work of government institutions and bears full responsibility for everything occurring within the authority of executive power. The government, headed by the Prime Minister, thus represents the political leadership of the country and makes decisions in the name of the whole executive power.

Estonia has pursued the development of the e-state and e-government. Internet voting is used in elections in Estonia. The first internet voting took place in the 2005 local elections and the first in a parliamentary election was made available for the 2007 elections, in which 30,275 individuals voted over the internet. Voters have a chance to invalidate their electronic vote in traditional elections, if they wish to. In 2009 in its eighth Worldwide Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders ranked Estonia sixth out of 175 countries. In the first ever State of World Liberty Index report, Estonia was ranked first out of 159 countries.

Economy

Resources

Estonian shale
The oil shale industry in Estonia is one of the most developed in the world. In 2012, oil shale supplied 70% of Estonia's total primary energy and accounted for 4% of Estonia's gross domestic product.

Although Estonia is in general resource-poor, the land still offers a large variety of smaller resources. The country has large oil shale and limestone deposits, along with forests that cover 48% of the land. In addition to oil shale and limestone, Estonia also has large reserves of phosphorite, pitchblende, and granite that currently are not mined, or not mined extensively.

Industry and environment

Hanila tuulepark 2
Rõuste wind farm in Hanila Parish.

Food, construction, and electronic industries are currently among the most important branches of Estonia's industry. In 2007, the construction industry employed more than 80,000 people, around 12% of the entire country's workforce. Another important industrial sector is the machinery and chemical industry, which is mainly located in Ida-Viru County and around Tallinn.

The oil shale based mining industry, which is also concentrated in East-Estonia, produces around 90% of the entire country's electricity.

Estonia has a strong information technology sector.

Skype was written by Estonia-based developers Ahti Heinla, Priit Kasesalu, and Jaan Tallinn, who had also originally developed Kazaa. Other notable tech startups include GrabCAD, Fortumo and TransferWise. It is even claimed that Estonia has the most startups per person in world.

Estonia exports mainly machinery and equipment, wood and paper, textiles, food products, furniture, and metals and chemical products. Estonia also exports 1.562 billion kilowatt hours of electricity annually. At the same time Estonia imports machinery and equipment, chemical products, textiles, food products and transportation equipment. Estonia imports 200 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually.

Demographics

Oskar Friberg
Oskar Friberg is the last male Estonian Swede on the island of Vormsi who outlived the Soviet Occupation
Residents of Estonia by ethnicity (2016)
Estonians
  
68.8%
Russians
  
25%
Ukrainians
  
1.8%
Belarusians
  
0.9%
Finns
  
0.6%
Others
  
2.9%

Thirteen of Estonia's 15 counties are over 80% ethnic Estonian, the most homogeneous being Hiiumaa, where Estonians account for 98.4% of the population. In the counties of Harju (including the capital city, Tallinn) and Ida-Viru, however, ethnic Estonians make up 60% and 20% of the population, respectively. Russians make up 25.6% of the total population but account for 36% of the population in Harju county and 70% of the population in Ida-Viru county.

Urbanization

Tallinn is the capital and the largest city of Estonia. It lies on the northern coast of Estonia, along the Gulf of Finland. There are 33 cities and several town-parish towns in the country. In total, there are 47 linna, with "linn" in English meaning both "cities" and "towns". More than 70% of the population lives in towns. The 20 largest cities are listed below:

Largest cities of Estonia by population

Таллин. Панорама старого города. - panoramio
Tallinn
Тарту1999
Tartu
Narva castle 2008
Narva
Pärnu kesklinn - Aerial photo of Pärnu in Estonia (2)
Pärnu
Largest cities or towns in Estonia
Rank Pop.
1 Tallinn 434,562
2 Tartu 96,974
3 Narva 55,249
4 Pärnu 50,643
5 Kohtla-Järve 33,743
6 Viljandi 17,407
7 Maardu 15,332
8 Rakvere 15,189
9 Kuressaare 13,097
10 Haapsalu 13,077

Religion

Ruhnu puukirik
Ruhnu stave church, built in 1644, is the oldest surviving wooden building in Estonia

According to Livonian Chronicle of Henry, Tharapita was the predominant deity for the Oeselians before Christianization.

Estonia was Christianised by the Teutonic Knights in the 13th century. During the Reformation, Protestantism spread, and the Lutheran church was officially established in Estonia in 1686. Before the Second World War, Estonia was approximately 80% Protestant; overwhelmingly Lutheran, with individuals adhering to Calvinism, as well as other Protestant branches. Many Estonians profess not to be particularly religious, because religion through the 19th century was associated with German feudal rule. Historically, there has been another minority religion, Russian Old-believers, near Lake Peipus area in Tartu County.

Today, Estonia's constitution guarantees freedom of religion, separation of church and state, and individual rights to privacy of belief and religion. According to the Dentsu Communication Institute Inc, Estonia is one of the least religious countries in the world, with 75.7% of the population claiming to be irreligious. The Eurobarometer Poll 2005 found that only 16% of Estonians profess a belief in a god, the lowest belief of all countries studied. According to the Lutheran World Federation, the historic Lutheran denomination has a large presence with 180,000 registered members.

The most recent Pew Research Center, found that in 2015 51% of the population of Estonia declared itself Christians, 45% religiously unaffiliated—a category which includes atheists, agnostics and those who describe their religion as "Nothing in Particular", while 2% belonged to other faiths. The Christians divided between 25% Eastern Orthodox, 20% Lutherans, 5% other Christians and 1% Roman Catholic. While the religiously unaffiliated divided between 9% as atheists, 1% as agnostics and 35% as Nothing in Particular.

Korghoone
St. Olaf's Church, Tallinn was possibly the tallest building in the world from 1549 to 1625

The largest religious denomination in the country is Lutheranism, adhered to by 160,000 Estonians (or 13% of the population), principally ethnic Estonians. Other organisations, such as the World Council of Churches, report that there are as many as 265,700 Estonian Lutherans. Additionally, there are between 8,000–9,000 members abroad.

Another major group, inhabitants who follow Eastern Orthodox Christianity, practised chiefly by the Russian minority, and the Russian Orthodox Church is the second largest denomination with 150,000 members.

Languages

Lenguas fino-bálticas
The Finnic languages

The official language, Estonian, belongs to the Finnic branch of the Uralic languages. Estonian is closely related to Finnish, spoken in Finland, across 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 and Finnish are not related to their nearest geographical neighbours, Swedish, Latvian, and Russian, which are all Indo-European languages.

The most common foreign languages learned by Estonian students are English, Russian, German and French. Other popular languages include Finnish, Spanish and Swedish.

Culture

The culture of Estonia incorporates indigenous heritage, as represented by the Estonian language and the sauna, with mainstream Nordic and European cultural aspects. Because of its history and geography, Estonia's culture has been influenced by the traditions of the adjacent area's various Finnic, Baltic, Slavic and Germanic peoples as well as the cultural developments in the former dominant powers Sweden and Russia.

Music

The earliest mention of Estonian singing dates back to Saxo Grammaticus Gesta Danorum (ca. 1179). 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 rhythmic folk songs began to replace them.

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 Centre was opened in 2008 in Viljandi.

Arvo Pärt
Arvo Pärt has been the world's most performed living composer since 2010.

The tradition of Estonian Song Festivals (Laulupidu) started at the height of the Estonian national awakening in 1869. Today, it is one of the largest amateur choral events in the world. In 2004, about 100,000 people participated in the Song Festival. Since 1928, the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds (Lauluväljak) have hosted the event every five years in July. The last festival took place in July 2014. In addition, Youth Song Festivals are also held every four or five years, the last of them in 2017.

Professional Estonian musicians and composers such as Rudolf Tobias, Miina Härma, Mart Saar, Artur Kapp, Juhan Aavik, Aleksander Kunileid, Artur Lemba and Heino Eller emerged in the late 19th century. At the time of this writing, the most known Estonian composers are Arvo Pärt, Eduard Tubin, and Veljo Tormis. In 2014, Arvo Pärt was the world's most performed living composer for the fourth year in a row.

In the 1950s, Estonian baritone Georg Ots rose to worldwide prominence as an opera singer.

In popular music, Estonian artist Kerli Kõiv has become popular in Europe, as well as gaining moderate popularity in North America. She has provided music for the 2010 Disney film Alice in Wonderland and the television series Smallville in the United States of America.

Architecture

Musée de plein air (Tallinn) (7644656256)
A traditional farmhouse built in the Estonian vernacular style.

The architectural history of Estonia mainly reflects its contemporary development in northern Europe. Worth mentioning is especially the architectural ensemble that makes out the medieval old town of Tallinn, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In addition, the country has several unique, more or less preserved hill forts dating from pre-Christian times, a large number of still intact medieval castles and churches, while the countryside is still shaped by the presence of a vast number of manor houses from earlier centuries.

Cuisine

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. 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. Gathering and conserving fruits, mushrooms, and vegetables for winter has always been popular, but today gathering and conserving is becoming less common because everything can be bought from stores. However, preparing food for winter is still very popular in the countryside.

Sports

2010 Opening Ceremony - Estonia entering
Estonian delegation in Vancouver, 2010.

Sport plays an important role in Estonian culture. After declaring independence from Russia in 1918, Estonia first competed as a nation at the 1920 Summer Olympics, although the National Olympic Committee was established in 1923. 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 has had very good success at the Olympic games given the country's small population. Estonia's best results were being ranked 13th in the medal table at the 1936 Summer Olympics, and 12th at the 2006 Winter Olympics.

The list of notable Estonian athletes include wrestlers Kristjan Palusalu, Johannes Kotkas, Voldemar Väli, and Georg Lurich, skiers Andrus Veerpalu and Kristina Šmigun-Vähi, fencer Nikolai Novosjolov, decathlete Erki Nool, tennis players Kaia Kanepi and Anett Kontaveit, cyclists Jaan Kirsipuu and Erika Salumäe and discus throwers Gerd Kanter and Aleksander Tammert.

Dn nasva 0854
Ice yachting DN European Championship 2011, Nasva, Estonia. Torsten Siems.

Kiiking, a relatively new sport, was invented in 1996 by Ado Kosk in Estonia. Kiiking involves a modified swing in which the rider of the swing tries to go around 360 degrees.

Paul Keres, Estonian and Soviet chess grandmaster, was among the world's top players from the mid-1930s to the mid-1960s. He narrowly missed a chance at a World Chess Championship match on five occasions.

Basketball is also a notable sport in Estonia. The domestic top-tier basketball championship is called the Korvpalli Meistriliiga. BC Kalev/Cramo are the most recent champions, having won the league in the 2015–16 season. University of Tartu team has won the league a record 26 times. Estonian clubs also participate in European and regional competitions. Estonia national basketball team previously participated in 1936 Summer Olympics, appeared in EuroBasket four times. Estonian national team also competed at the EuroBasket 2015.

Kelly Sildaru, an Estonian freestyle skier, won the gold medal in the slopestyle event in the 2016 Winter X Games. At age 13, she became the youngest gold medalist to date at a Winter X Games event, and the first person to win a Winter X Games medal for Estonia. She has also won the women's slopestyle at 2015 and 2016 Winter Dew Tour.

In modern era motorsports, World Rally Championship has seen two very successful Estonian drivers reach high results, with Markko Märtin achieving 5 rally victories and finishing 3rd overall in the 2004 World Rally Championship and Ott Tänak (active driver) winning his first WRC event at 2017 Rally d'Italia. In circuit racing, Marko Asmer was the first Estonian driver to test a Formula One car in 2003 with Williams Grand Prix Engineering, in other series Sten Pentus and Kevin Korjus (active driver) have enjoyed success on a global scale.

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