Encyclopedia  |   World Factbook  |   World Flags  |   Reference Tables  |   List of Lists     
   Academic Disciplines  |   Historical Timeline  |   Themed Timelines  |   Biographies  |   How-Tos     
Sponsor by The Tattoo Collection
Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


For other uses, see Estonia (disambiguation).

The Republic of Estonia is a small country in Northeastern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea to the west and the north (including the Gulf of Finland to the north), and sharing a land border with its fellow Baltic state Latvia to the south and with Russia to the east.

Eesti Vabariik
(In Detail) (In Detail)
National motto: None
Official languageEstonian
PresidentArnold Rüütel;
Prime MinisterJuhan Parts
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 129th
45,226 km²
 - Total (2003)
 - Density
Ranked 150th
 - Declared
 - Recognised
From Russia
24 February 1918
2 February 1920
Currency Estonian kroon
Time zone UTC +2
National anthem Mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm;
Internet TLD .ee
Calling Code 372

Table of contents
1 History
2 Politics
3 Counties
4 Geography
5 Economy
6 Demographics
7 Religion
8 Language
9 Culture
10 Miscellaneous topics
11 External links


Main article: History of Estonia

Estonia has been populated by the native Finno Ugric Estonians since prehistory. It was first christianised when the German Sword Brethren and Denmark conquered the land by 1227. Subsequent foreign powers that controlled Estonia at various times included Denmark, Sweden, Poland and finally Russia.

Following the collapse of Imperial Russia after the October Revolution, Estonia declared its independence as a republic on 24 February 1918. Forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union in June 1940, it regained its freedom on 20 August 1991 with the Singing Revolution and collapse of the Soviet Union. 20 August remains a national holiday in Estonia because of this.

Since the last Russian troops left on 31 August 1994, Estonia has been free to promote economic and political ties with Western Europe and outside, becoming a member of NATO on 29 March 2004. Estonia opened accession negotiations with the European Union in 1998 and joined on 1 May 2004.


Main article: Politics of Estonia

Estonia is a constitutional democracy, with a president elected by the parliament (elections every five years) and a unicameral parliament. The government or the executive branch is formed by the prime minister, nominated by the president, and a total of 14 ministers. The government is appointed by the president after approval by the parliament.

Legislative power lies with the unicameral parliament, the Riigikogu or State Assembly, which consists of 101 seats. Members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms. The supreme judiciary court is the National Court or Riigikohus, with 17 justices whose chairman is appointed by the parliament for life on nomination by the president.


Main article: Counties of Estonia

Estonia numbers 15 main administrative subdivisions, called counties (maakonnad, singular - maakond):


Main article:
Geography of Estonia

Between 57.3 and 59.5 latitude and 21.5 and 28.1 longitude, Estonia lies on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea on the level northwestern part of the rising east European platform. Average elevation reaches only 50 m.

Oil shale (or kukersite) and limestone deposits, along with forests which cover 47% of the land, play key economic roles in this generally resource-poor country. Estonia boasts over 1,400 lakes (most very small, with the largest, Lake Peipsi, being 3,555 km²), numerous bogs, and 3,794 kilometers of coastline marked by numerous bays, straits, and inlets. The number of islands and islets is estimated at some 1,500 with two large enough to constitute their own counties, Saaremaa and Hiiumaa.

Its highest point is the Suur Munamägi in the southeastern corner of the country (318 m).


Main article: Economy of Estonia

In 1999, Estonia experienced its worst year economically since it regained independence in 1991, largely because of the impact of the August 1998 Russian financial crisis. Estonia joined the WTO in November 1999 - the second Baltic state to join - and continued its EU accession talks. Privatization of energy, telecommunications, railways, and other state-owned companies is a continuing process. Estonia completed most of its preparations for EU membership by the end of 2002 and now has one of the strongest economies of the new members states of the European Union, which Estonia joined on 1 May 2004. The Estonian economy is growing fast, partly due to a number of Finnish companies relocating their routine operations, and has a strong IT sector.


Main article: Demographics of Estonia

About two thirds of the population consist of Estonians, with the rest from other former Soviet republics, mainly Russia, who predominantly live in the capital Tallinn. There is also a small group of Finnish descent.

The country's official language is Estonian, which is closely related to Finnish. Russian is also widely spoken.


According to a census untertaken in 2002, the Estonian people are:


Traditional religion of the Estonians is the Christian belief in the form the Evangelical Lutheran confession (as in many other countries in Scandinavia).

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 heathen traditions are held in high regard.

Today, about 32 % of the population are members of a church or religious group, thereof:

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


The Estonian language is a member of the Finno-Ugric family, one of only two linqustic families in Europe (the other is Basque) that are not characterized as Indo-European languages.


Main article: Culture of Estonia

Miscellaneous topics

External links

European Union (EU)
Austria | Belgium | Cyprus | Czech Republic | Denmark | Estonia | Finland | France | Germany | Greece | Hungary | Ireland | Italy | Latvia | Lithuania | Luxembourg | Malta | Netherlands | Poland | Portugal | Slovakia | Slovenia | Spain | Sweden | United Kingdom

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)
Belgium | Bulgaria | Canada | Czech Republic | Denmark | Estonia | France | Germany | Greece | Hungary | Iceland | Italy | Latvia | Lithuania | Luxembourg | The Netherlands | Norway | Poland | Portugal | Romania | Slovakia | Slovenia | Spain | Turkey | United Kingdom | United States

Countries of Europe not in the European Union
Albania | Andorra | Armenia | Azerbaijan | Belarus | Bosnia and Herzegovina | Bulgaria* | Croatia* | Georgia | Iceland | Kazakhstan | Liechtenstein | Macedonia | Moldova | Monaco | Norway | Romania* | Russia | San Marino | Serbia and Montenegro | Switzerland | Turkey* | Ukraine | Vatican City
* Official EU candidate countries