The Republic of Estonia is a country in Northern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea to the west and 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.
|National motto: None|
|Prime Minister||Juhan Parts|
- % water
- Total (2003)
|Ranked 150th |
24 February 1918
2 February 1920
20 August 1991
|Time zone||UTC +2|
|National anthem||Mu isamaa, mu Ãµnn ja rÃµÃµm|
|National Bird||Barn Swallow|
|National Flower||Blue Cornflower|
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 its unicameral parliament (elections every five years). 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. Due to the geographical and demographic size of these subdivisions, they are to be considered counties rather than states (Estonian: pl. maakonnad; sg. - maakond). Here is a list of them:
- Harju County (Estonian: Harjumaa)
- Hiiu County (Estonian: Hiiumaa)
- Ida-Viru County (Estonian: Ida-Virumaa)
- JÃ¤rva County (Estonian: JÃ¤rvamaa)
- JÃµgeva County (Estonian: JÃµgevamaa)
- LÃ¤Ã¤ne County (Estonian: LÃ¤Ã¤nemaa)
- LÃ¤Ã¤ne-Viru County (Estonian: LÃ¤Ã¤ne-Virumaa)
- PÃ¤rnu County (Estonian: PÃ¤rnumaa)
- PÃµlva County (Estonian: PÃµlvamaa)
- Rapla County (Estonian: Raplamaa)
- Saare County (Estonian: Saaremaa)
- Tartu County (Estonian: Tartumaa)
- Valga County (Estonian: Valgamaa)
- Viljandi County (Estonian: Viljandimaa)
- VÃµru County (Estonian: VÃµrumaa)
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 MunamÃ¤gi in the southeastern corner of the country (318 m).
Main article: Economy of Estonia
As a member of the European Union, Estonia is part of the world'1999" title ="1999">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. GDP PPP is at $12,300, the highest in the Baltic states.
In 1994, Estonia became among the first in the world to adopt the flat tax, with a uniform rate of 26% regardless of the income a person makes.
Main article: Demographics of Estonia
About seventy percent of the population consist of ethnic Estonians, with the rest from other former Soviet republics, mainly Russia, who predominantly live in the industrial north eastern county of Ida-Virumaa and in the capital Tallinn. There is also a small group of Finnish descent.
According to a census undertaken in 2002, the Estonian people are:
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:
- 14.8 % Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church
- 13.9 % Orthodox
- ca. 6,000 Baptists
- ca. 3,500 Roman-Catholics
The Estonian language, together with Finnish and Hungarian, form a language group called the Finno-Ugric languages. They are linguistically unrelated to what linguists call the Indo-European language family, which includes nearly all other European languages. Speakers of English or another Indo-European language (such as Spanish, Russian, or German) who learn Estonian, or speakers of Estonian who learn an Indo-European language, face a harder task than speakers of one Indo-European language learning another.
Estonia is widely praised for having the highest practical rate of literacy in the world.
Main article: Culture of Estonia
- Communications in Estonia
- Transportation in Estonia
- Military of Estonia
- Foreign relations of Estonia
- Tourism in the Baltics
- List of cities in Estonia
- List of municipalities in Estonia
- Crime in Estonia
- The Estonian State Decorations
- List of people on stamps of Estonia
- Public holidays in Estonia
- Official State Website (eRiik) - in English
- Estonia Country Guide
- Estonica - from A to Z about Estonia
- Estonia at Wikitravel
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