Estonia is a European nation that regained its independence in 1991, after
more than 50 years of forced annexation to the Soviet Union.
It had been independent from 1918 until 1940, when the Soviet Union occupied it
and made it one of the 15 republics of the Soviet Union.
A Short Background
After centuries of Swedish and Russian rule, Estonia attained independence in
1918. Forcibly incorporated into the USSR in 1940, it regained its freedom in
1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Since the last Russian troops left in 1994, Estonia has been free to promote
economic and political ties with Western Europe.
Estonia lies along the Baltic Sea, just south of Finland and has a climate of
icy, snowy winters and long light summers. It is a country about the same size
as the Netherlands, and is sparsely populated with around 1.4m people. Tallinn,
Estonia's capital city, is about 80 km or 50 miles south of Helsinki, across the
Gulf of Finland. Sweden is Estonia's western neighbor across the Baltic. Russia
lies to the east, Latvia to the south.
The country is mostly flat, with many lakes and islands although in the south
there are rolling hills and skiing is possible in towns like Otepää. In the east
of Estonia, lake Peipus, the 4th largest lake in Europe, forms a natural
frontier with Russia. On the Western Coast, the islands and islets have been
designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and are a mecca for Estonians and tourists
alike during the summer. Across Estonia, much of the land is farmed or forested,
with industrial production concentrated around Tallinn and in the Northeast.
||Eastern Europe, bordering the
Baltic Sea and Gulf of Finland, between Latvia and Russia
59 00 N, 26 00 E
||Estonian (official), Russian,
Ukrainian, English, Finnish, other
||1.36 million (2002), 80% citizens of Estonia,
7% citizens of other countries and 13% stateless
||Estonian kroon (EEK)
||1 EURO to Estonian Kroon:
15,650 (April 2004)
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