Estonia is the most northerly of the three Baltic states, and has linguistic ties with Finland.
Since regaining its independence with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Estonia has become one of the most economically successful of the European Union’s newer eastern European members.
Ruled at various times during the middle ages by Denmark, the German knights of the Livonian Order, and Sweden, Estonia ended up part of the Russian Empire in the 18th century.
It experienced its first period of independence in 1918, following the end of the First World War and the collapse of the Russian Empire.
Each year on February 24th, The Republic of Estonia celebrates its Independence Day. Festivities are already gearing up for the centenary in 2018. The Estonia 100 festivities will for the most part be shaped by the people of Estonia themselves, as this is everyone’s celebration.
Roughly 100 years ago, the Estonian people were caught in a battle for independence from the Russian Empire, from 1917 to 1920. The most significant day was February 24th, 1918, on which Estonia declared statehood, which is commemorated as a national holiday.
The Estonian (Finno-Ugric) language is closely related to Finnish and – more distantly – Hungarian, but not to the Indo-European languages of the two other Baltic states – Latvia and Lithuania – or Russian for that matter.
There is no state religion in Estonia, and many of the people are either nonreligious or atheist. The
Christian majority includes a large slice of unaffiliated Christians, along with significant Evangelical Lutheran and Eastern Orthodox communities, as well as lesser numbers of Baptists, Methodists, and Roman Catholics.
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 on the islands to 18.1 °C inland in July, the warmest month, and from −3.5 °C on the islands to −7.6 °C inland in February, the coldest month. The average annual temperature in Estonia is 5.2 °C. The average precipitation in 1961–1990 ranged from 535 to 727 mm per year.
Estonians 67.9%, Russians 25.6%, Ukrainians 2.1%, Byelorussians 1.3%, Finnish 0.9%
Estonia is a democratic parliamentary republic. Its head of government – the prime minister – is nominated by the president and approved by parliament. He or she is in charge of the executive power vested in government.
Estonia has borders to the south with Latvia and Russia to the east. It is separated from Finland in the north by the narrow Gulf of Finland and from Sweden in the west by the Baltic Sea.
Estonia lies in the Central European Time zone (GMT +2 hours, or the same as, for instance, Helsinki, Riga, and Vilnius).
Population: 1.3 million
Official languages: Estonian