Estonia Geography - History

Estonia Geography - History


Estonia is located in Eastern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Finland, between Latvia and Russia.Its terrain is mostly low-lying land with many lakes, rivers, and forests.Climate: The climate of Estonia is emperate, influenced by Eurasian land mass to east, Baltic Sea to west, and North Atlantic Ocean farther west. Cool summers and mild winters. Rainfall moderate, averaging about 568 millimeters per year.

Maps of Estonia

Estonia is a Baltic country in Northern Europe with an area of 45,227 km 2 (17,462 sq mi). As observed on the physical map of Estonia, the country is mostly low and flat (close to sea level). It is also nearly surrounded by water on all sides.

Estonia has 3,794 km (2,357 mi) of coastline indented by numerous bays, straits, and inlets. The number of islands and islets is estimated at some 2,222 most are small with a few large islands off the western coastline. Some of the major islands like Saaremaa, Vormsi, Kardla, Muhu, Kihnu, etc., have been shown on the map above.

Central and south, the land is hillier, rising to its highest point - the Munamagi - at 1,042 ft. (318m). A yellow upright triangle marks the position of this point on the map. The country's average elevation reaches only 50 meters (164 ft).

Over 1,400 small lakes dot the western parts of the country. The largest lakes includes Peipus and Pskov, (shared with Russia) and Lake Vorts-Jarv.

Rivers of size include the Emojogi, Manamagi and Parnu. The lowest point in Estonia is 0 m at sea level.


Literature Edit

Though the written Estonian language could be said to have existed since Jacob Johann Köhler translated the New Testament into Estonian in the 18th century, few notable works of literature were written until the 19th century, which saw the beginning of an Estonian national romantic movement. This prompted Friedrich Robert Faehlmann to collect Estonian folk poetry, and Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald to arrange and publish them as Kalevipoeg, the Estonian national epic. That era also saw the rise of other poets and novelists who wrote in Estonian, notably Lydia Koidula.

After Estonia became independent, there was a movement of modernist writers, most famously Jaan Kross. The second World War prompted a repression of national interests. Literature in modern Estonia is in a healthy state, with detective stories in particular enjoying a boom in popularity.

Music Edit

Despite its relatively short history of art music, Estonia today is well respected for its musicianship, with the quality education of classical musicians having produced a high proportion of world-class conductors and singers. Estonian art music came to the forefront as a part of the national romantic movement.

Modern Estonian popular music has also received attention abroad, especially on the rock and metal scenes, with bands such as Vanilla Ninja and Metsatöll, Kerli and composers as Arvo Pärt, gaining international acclaim.

Visual arts Edit

The Art Museum of Estonia is the main national museum of visual arts, and has a large collection of Estonian art on permanent display. It was founded on November 17, 1919, but it was not until 1921 that it got its first permanent building – the Kadriorg Palace, built in the 18th century. Today the palace is used to display foreign art while a new purpose-built museum houses the main branch of the museum, called Kumu.

Theatre Edit

The Theatre of Estonia dates back to 1784, when August von Kotzebue founded an amateur theater company in Tallinn. Most of the plays at the time were comedies for the amusement of the local Baltic German nobility. In 1809, a professional theater company was established with its own building in Tallinn. The repertoire was mostly in German, but plays in Estonian and Russian were also performed. [3]

After centuries of the serfdom that the native Estonian population had fallen into since the Livonian Crusade, serfdom was finally abolished in Estonia in 1816. The first native Estonian musical society, Vanemuine was established in 1865. Lydia Koidula's The Cousin from Saaremaa in 1870, staged by the Vanemuine society, marks the birth of native Estonian theater.

The Vanemuine society was headed by August Wiera from 1878 to 1903. In 1906, a new building was erected for the society, and Karl Menning became director of the theater company. Plays by Western writers such as Henrik Ibsen, Gerhart Hauptmann, Russian Maksim Gorky, and Estonians August Kitzberg, Oskar Luts and Eduard Vilde were staged.

The Estonia Theatre is an opera house and concert hall in Tallinn, Estonia. It was built as a national effort led by Estonian society in 1913, and was opened to the public on August 24. At the time, it was the largest building in Tallinn.

In 2004. there was 20 theaters in Estonia. [4] 46% of the urban population and 40% of rural population visited theaters in 2009. [5]

Cinema and broadcasting Edit

The film industry in Estonia started in 1896, when the first "moving pictures" were screened in Tallinn. [6] The first movie theater was opened in 1908. [7] The first local documentary was made in 1908 with the production of a newsreel about Swedish King Gustav V’s visit to Tallinn. [8] The first Estonian documentary was created by Johannes Pääsuke in 1912, followed by the short film Karujaht Pärnumaal (Bear Hunt in Pärnumaa) in 1914.

The first full-length feature film was made in 1924, Shadow of the Past directed by Konstantin Märska. Theodor Luts, Noored kotkad (Young Eagles) (1927) is generally regarded as the cornerstone of Estonian cinema. [9]

In the 1960s, the story of Prince Gabriel, by Estonian writer Eduard Bornhöhe, was turned into a movie script by Arvo Valton. Grigori Kromanov was named as the director of Viimne reliikvia (The Last Relic), released in 1969 by Tallinnfilm.

In 1997, the Estonian Film Foundation was founded by the Estonian Ministry of Culture. In 2007, about 10 feature films were made in Estonia, notably Sügisball (2007) by Veiko Õunpuu, receiving, among other awards, Best Director at the Thessaloniki Film Festival and International Film Festival Bratislava, and the Venice Horizons Award at the 64th Venice International Film Festival. Georg (2007), by Peeter Simm, is a movie about the life of legendary Estonian singer Georg Ots.

The most successful Estonian animation director has been Priit Pärn, [10] winner of Grand Prize at the Ottawa International Animation Festival in 1998, for Porgandite öö (Night of the Carrots).

Estonian Television (Eesti Televisioon or ETV) is the national public television station of Estonia. Its first broadcast was on July 19, 1955, and it celebrated its 50th anniversary on July 19, 2005.

Architecture Edit

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.

The history of formal education in Estonia dates back to the 13th to 14th centuries, when the first monastic and cathedral schools were founded. The first primer in the Estonian language was published in 1575. The oldest university is the University of Tartu, a member of the Coimbra Group, which was established by the Swedish king Gustav II Adolf in 1632. In 1919, university courses were first taught in the Estonian language.

Today, education in Estonia is divided into general, vocational and hobby education. The education system has four levels, which include the pre-school, basic, secondary and higher education. [11] A wide network of schools and supporting educational institutions has been established. The Estonian educational system consists of state and municipal, public and private educational institutions. There are currently 589 schools in Estonia. [12]

Bengt Gottfried Forselius (ca 1660–1688) was the founder of public education in Estonia, author of the first Estonian language ABC-book, and creator of a spelling system that made the teaching and learning of Estonian easier.

Historical aspects Edit

The area of modern Estonia has historically been inhabited by the same people as today, mostly speakers of Estonian, but some minorities, such as Russians, have immigrated more recently. Before the Great Northern War, Estonia was considered as on the periphery of the Swedish empire, then it was incorporated into the Russian Empire (and later the Soviet Union). Although it was ruled at times by both Sweden and Russia, and while the Baltic Germans who governed Estonia enjoyed considerable autonomy with the administrative language being German, the indigenous population retained their native language and culture.

The formation of a more defined Estonian cultural identity in the modern sense was accelerated in the 19th century, during the period of overall national Romanticism and Nationalism in Europe. Support from the German-speaking Estophiles in upper strata of Estonian society for a separate Estonian identity led to the Estonian Age of Awakening.

People Edit

Today, Estonian society encourages equality and liberalism, with popular commitment to the ideals of the welfare state, discouraging disparity of wealth and division into social classes. The Protestant work ethic remains a significant cultural staple, regardless of its decline during the Soviet Union era, and free education is a highly prized institution.

The traditional occupation of Estonians, like most Europeans, has been agriculture. Until the first half of the 20th century, Estonia was an agrarian society, but in modern times, Estonians have increasingly embraced an urban lifestyle. In 2013 the main export of the second largest town of Estonia, Tartu, is software. Nonetheless, many Estonians maintain a fondness for a rural lifestyle close to nature, and it is a common custom to visit a summer cottage in the countryside during vacations.

Family structure Edit

Estonian family life is nowadays centered around the nuclear family. Members of an extended family typically live apart, and youths seek independence and typically move from their parents' residence around the age of twenty.

The divorce rate is close to 60%. Estonia has one of the greatest percentages of single parents in Europe. The average percentage of single parents in Europe is 13% (2009), [13] while in Estonia in 2000, 19% of the families with children under 18 had only one parent. In 2006, the percentage fell to 16%. The decline may be affected by the overall decline in birth rate. [14]

Same gender relationships are legal, but the legislation does not support same-gender marriages. In the Soviet Union, same-gender relationships were illegal, resulting in a gay-intolerant attitude in the majority of people who were born in the Soviet Union. In 2019 younger people tend to be more tolerant of same-gender relationships than their parents.

Festivities, holidays, and traditions Edit

Estonian holidays are mostly based on the Western Christian calendar and Protestant traditions.

Notable among these is Jaanipäev, the Estonian Midsummer, which involves seeking one's way to non-urban environments, burning large bonfires ("jaanituli"), and participating in the drunken revelry of jaaniõhtu.

Part of the "jaaniõhtu" tradition is that almost near the morning, when the bonfire ("jaanilõke") has burned off and only ashes are glowing, a component of Estonian traditional food, potatoes, are dug into the ground, right under the ashes, into the remains of the bonfire. After a few hours, when the potatoes have been cooked under the glowing ashes, the potatoes are dug up, peeled and eaten, while they are still hot.

The midsummer traditions also include different versions of pairing magic, such as collecting a number of different kinds of flowers and putting them under one's pillow, after which one is meant to see one's future spouse in one's dreams. Another "jaaniõhtu" related tradition is the seeking of bugs called "jaaniuss".

The Estonian Christmas, Jõulud, is generally in line with the Northern and Central European traditions of Christmas trees, Advent calendars, and traditional meals, involving a number of dishes that are typically only eaten on Christmas. Christmas is the most extensive, appreciated, and commercialized holiday in Estonia. The Holidays start from December 23, and continue through Christmas Eve (24th) and Christmas Day (25th). In schools and in many workplaces, vacation continues until New Year's Day.

Estonian Independence Day is the 24th of February and a national holiday.

Food and drink Edit

Historically, the cuisine of Estonia has been simple peasant food, which today is influenced by many countries, thus including many typical international foods. The most typical foods in Estonia are black bread, herring & sour cream, pork, potatoes and milk-related products. Estonians themselves have considered blood sausage (verivorst) and sauerkraut (hapukapsas) as the "typical Estonian foods", but these are mostly eaten during Christmas.

Estonia as a Nordic country Edit

Many Estonians consider themselves to be Nordic rather than Baltic. [15] The term Balts does not apply to Estonians.

The Estonian language is closely related to the Finnish language, not to the Baltic languages and Estonians, as an ethnic group, are a Finnic people. The northern part of Estonia was part of medieval Denmark during the 13th–14th centuries, being sold to the Teutonic Order after St. George's Night Uprising in 1346. The name of the Estonian capital, Tallinn, is thought to be derived from the Estonian taani linn, meaning 'Danish town' (see Flag of Denmark for details). Parts of Estonia were under Danish rule again in the 16th–17th centuries, before being transferred to Sweden in 1645. Estonia was part of the Swedish Empire from 1561 until 1721. The Swedish era became colloquially known in Estonia as the "good old Swedish times". Swedish ambassador, Mr. Dag Hartelius's speech on the Estonian Independence day, 24 February 2009, where he considered Estonia "A Nordic Country" gathered a lot of attention in the country and was widely considered as a great compliment. Additionally, the foreign trade minister of Finland, Alexander Stubb, has been quoted saying that Estonia is a "Distinct Nordic country". [16]

Beginning from the 14th century, parts of Estonia's northwestern coast and islands were colonized by ethnic Swedes, who later became known as the Estonian Swedes. The majority of Estonia's Swedish population fled to Sweden in 1944, escaping the advancing Soviet Army.

There are many words in Finnish and Estonian that are spelled exactly the same and pronounced almost the same way, but have totally different meanings. Many jokes, including derogatory ones, are based on the differences of the meanings of the words. Both, Finns and Estonians, tend to have, create and understand those jokes. However, Finnish and Estonian are sufficiently different languages that it is not possible for a native speaker of one of the languages to speak nor sufficiently comprehend the other language without explicitly learning the other language. Finns tend to have difficulties pronouncing the Estonian letter "õ" and Estonians tend to get "revealed" to Finns by their Estonian accent. For some reason, probably due to the greater amount of loan-words and expressions from other languages, native Estonians, who have not learned Finnish, tend to comprehend and acquire Finnish more easily than native Finns comprehend Estonian.

Geography and history education in Estonia: processes, policies and practices in an ethnically divided society from the late 1980s to the early 2000s

This article studies processes, policies and practices for geography and history education in Estonia. The analysis covers the societal transformation period in an ethnically divided society from the 1980s to the early 2000s characterized by Estonia’s disintegration from the Soviet Union towards the integration to the European Union and NATO. Geography and history education curricula, textbooks and related policies and practices promoted a particular national time-space by supporting the belongingness of Estonia into Europe, rejecting connections towards Russia and suggesting a division between ethnic Estonians and ethnically non-Estonian residents of Estonia. In geography and history textbooks, the Russian-speaking population, comprising then almost a third of the entire population of Estonia, was divided into non-loyal, semi-loyal and loyal groups of whom only the latter could be integrated in the Estonian time-space. The formal education policies for geography and history supported Estonia’s disintegration from the Soviet past and pawed way to integration to the western political and economic structures. However, challenging market and sensitive cultural contexts created peculiar, alternative and sometimes opposing local practices in geography and history education.


The term Baltic stems from the name of the Baltic Sea – a hydronym dating back to the 3rd century B.C. (Erastothenes mentioned Baltia in Ancient Greek) and earlier. [3] Although there are several theories about its origin, most ultimately trace it to the Indo-European root *bhel [4] meaning 'white, fair'. This meaning is retained in modern Baltic languages, where baltas in Lithuanian and balts in Latvian mean 'white'. [5] However, the modern names of the region and the sea that originate from this root, were not used in either of the two languages prior to the 19th century. [6] [ needs update ]

Since the Middle Ages, the Baltic Sea has appeared on maps in Germanic languages as the equivalent of 'East Sea': German: Ostsee, Danish: Østersøen, Dutch: Oostzee, Swedish: Östersjön, etc. Indeed, the Baltic Sea lies mostly to the east of Germany, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. The term was also used historically to refer to Baltic Dominions of the Swedish Empire (Swedish: Östersjöprovinserna) and, subsequently, the Baltic governorates of the Russian Empire (Russian: Остзейские губернии , romanized: Ostzejskie gubernii). [6] Terms related to modern name Baltic appear in ancient texts, but had fallen into disuse until reappearing as the adjective Baltisch in German, from which it was adopted in other languages. [7] During the 19th century, Baltic started to supersede Ostsee as the name for the region. Officially, its Russian equivalent Прибалтийский (Pribaltiyskiy) was first used in 1859. [6] This change was a result of the Baltic German elite adopting terms derived from Baltisch to refer to themselves. [7] [8]

The term Baltic states was, until the early 20th century, used in the context of countries neighbouring the Baltic Sea: Sweden and Denmark, sometimes also Germany and the Russian Empire. With the advent of Foreningen Norden (the Nordic Associations), the term was no longer used for Sweden and Denmark. [9] [10] After World War I, the new sovereign states that emerged on the east coast of the Baltic Sea – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Finland – became known as the Baltic states. [7]

Summary Edit

After the First World War the term "Baltic states" came to refer to countries by the Baltic Sea that had gained independence from the Russian Empire. The term includes Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and originally also included Finland, which later became grouped among the Nordic countries. [11]

The areas of the Baltic states have seen different regional and imperial affiliations during their existence. They were first included under the same political entity when the Russian Empire expanded in the 18th century. The territories of Estonia and Latvia were joined into the Russian Empire at the end of the Great Northern War in 1721, while the territory of Lithuania came under the Russian rule after the Third Partition of Poland in 1795. The territories of the Baltic states were ruled by the Russian Empire until the end of the World War I when Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania gained their sovereignty. They remained independent until the occupation and annexation by the Soviet Union and briefly, Nazi Germany during World War II before the Soviets regained control of the Baltic states. Soviet rule ended when the three countries declared the occupation illegal and culminated with the restoration of independence to their pre-war status in 1990–1991 when the communist rule collapsed in Eastern Europe.

Wars of Independence Edit

As World War I came to a close, Lithuania declared independence and Latvia formed a provisional government. Estonia had already obtained autonomy from tsarist Russia in 1917, but was subsequently occupied by the German Empire they fought an independence war against Soviet Russia and Baltic nobility before gaining true independence from 1920 to 1939. Latvia and Lithuanians followed a similar process, until the Latvian War of Independence and Lithuanian Wars of Independence were extinguished in 1920.

The first period of independence, 1918–1939 Edit

During the interwar period these countries were sometimes referred to as limitrophe states between the two World Wars, from the French, indicating their collectively forming a rim along Bolshevik Russia's, later the Soviet Union's, western border. They were also part of what Clemenceau considered a strategic cordon sanitaire, the entire territory from Finland in the north to Romania in the south, standing between Western Europe and potential Bolshevik territorial ambitions. [12] [13]

Prior to World War II Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania each experienced an authoritarian head of state who had come to power after a bloodless coup: Antanas Smetona in Lithuania (December 1926), Konstantin Päts in Estonia (March 1934), and Kārlis Ulmanis in Latvia (May 1934). Some note that the events in Lithuania differed from its two more northerly neighbors, with Smetona having different motivations as well as securing power 8 years before any such events in Latvia or Estonia took place. Despite considerable political turmoil in Finland no such events took place there. Finland did however get embroiled in a bloody civil war, something that did not happen in the Baltics. [14] Some controversy surrounds the Baltic authoritarian régimes – due to the general stability and rapid economic growth of the period (even if brief), some commenters avoid the label "authoritarian" others, however, condemn such an "apologetic" attitude, for example in later assessments of Kārlis Ulmanis.

Soviet and German occupations Edit

In accordance with a secret protocol within the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of 1939 that divided Europe into German and Soviet spheres of influence, the Soviet Army entered eastern Poland in September 1939, and then coerced Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania into mutual assistance treaties which granted them the right to establish military bases in these countries. In June 1940, the Red Army occupied all of the territory of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and installed new, pro-Soviet governments in all three countries. Following elections (in which only pro-communist candidates were allowed to run), the newly elected parliaments of the three countries formally applied to join the Soviet Union in August 1940 and were incorporated into it as the Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republics.

Repressions, executions and mass deportations followed after that in the Baltics. [15] [16] The Soviet Union attempted to Sovietize its occupied territories, by means such as deportations and instituting the Russian language as the only working language. Between 1940 and 1953, the Soviet government deported more than 200,000 people from the Baltic to remote locations in the Soviet Union. In addition, at least 75,000 were sent to Gulags. About 10% of the adult Baltic population were deported or sent to labor camps. [17] (See June deportation, Soviet deportations from Estonia, Sovietization of the Baltic states)

The Soviet control of the Baltic states was interrupted by Nazi German invasion of this region in 1941. Initially, many Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians considered the Germans as liberators. The Baltic countries hoped for the restoration of independence, but instead the Germans established a civil administration, known as the Reichskommissariat Ostland. [ citation needed ] During the occupation the Germans carried out ghettoisations and mass killings of the countries' Jewish populations. [18] Over 190,000 Lithuanian Jews, nearly 95% of Lithuania's pre-war Jewish community, and 66,000 Latvian Jews were murdered. The German occupation lasted until late 1944 (in Courland, until early 1945), when the countries were reoccupied by the Red Army and Soviet rule was re-established, with the passive agreement of the United States and Britain (see Yalta Conference and Potsdam Agreement).

The forced collectivisation of agriculture began in 1947, and was completed after the mass deportation in March 1949 (see Operation Priboi). Private farms were confiscated, and farmers were made to join the collective farms. In all three countries, Baltic partisans, known colloquially as the Forest Brothers, Latvian national partisans, and Lithuanian partisans, waged unsuccessful guerrilla warfare against the Soviet occupation for the next eight years in a bid to regain their nations' independence. The armed resistance of the anti-Soviet partisans lasted up to 1953. Although the armed resistance was defeated, the population remained anti-Soviet.

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were considered to be under Soviet occupation by the United States, the United Kingdom, [19] Canada, NATO, and many other countries and international organizations. [20] During the Cold War, Lithuania and Latvia maintained legations in Washington DC, while Estonia had a mission in New York. Each was staffed initially by diplomats from the last governments before USSR occupation. [21]

Restoration of independence Edit

In the late 1980s, a massive campaign of civil resistance against Soviet rule, known as the Singing revolution, began. On 23 August 1989, the Baltic Way, a two-million-strong human chain, stretched for 600 km from Tallinn to Vilnius. In the wake of this campaign, Gorbachev's government had privately concluded that the departure of the Baltic republics had become "inevitable". [22] This process contributed to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, setting a precedent for the other Soviet republics to secede from the USSR. Soviet Union recognized the independence of three Baltic states on 6 September 1991. Troops were withdrawn from the region (starting from Lithuania) from August 1993. The last Russian troops were withdrawn from there in August 1994. [23] Skrunda-1, the last Russian military radar in the Baltics, officially suspended operations in August 1998. [24]

21st century Edit

All three are today parliamentary democracies, with unicameral parliaments elected by popular vote for four-year terms: Riigikogu in Estonia, Saeima in Latvia and Seimas in Lithuania. In Latvia and Estonia, the president is elected by parliament, while Lithuania has a semi-presidential system whereby the president is elected by popular vote. All are part of the European Union (EU) and members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Each of the three countries has declared itself to be the restoration of the sovereign nation that had existed from 1918 to 1940, emphasizing their contention that Soviet domination over the Baltic states during the Cold War period had been an illegal occupation and annexation.

The same legal interpretation is shared by the United States, the United Kingdom, and most other Western democracies, [ citation needed ] who held the forcible incorporation of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania into the Soviet Union to be illegal. At least formally, most Western democracies never considered the three Baltic states to be constituent parts of the Soviet Union. Australia was a brief exception to this support of Baltic independence: in 1974, the Labor government of Australia did recognize Soviet dominion, but this decision was reversed by the next Australian Parliament. [25] Other exceptions included Sweden, which was the first Western country, and one of the very few to ever do so, to recognize the incorporation of the Baltic states into the Soviet Union as lawful. [26]

After the Baltic states had restored their independence, integration with Western Europe became a major strategic goal. In 2002, the Baltic governments applied to join the European Union and become members of NATO. All three became NATO members on 29 March 2004, and joined the EU on 1 May 2004. The Baltic states are currently the only former Soviet states to have joined either the Union or the military alliance.

During the Baltic struggle for independence 1989–1992, a personal friendship developed between the (at that time unrecognized) Baltic ministers of foreign affairs and the Nordic ministers of foreign affairs. This friendship led to the creation of the Council of the Baltic Sea States in 1992, and the EuroFaculty in 1993. [27]

Between 1994 and 2004, the BAFTA free trade agreement was established to help prepare the countries for their accession to the EU, rather than out of the Baltic states' desire to trade among themselves. The Baltic countries were more interested in gaining access to the rest of the European market.

Currently, the governments of the Baltic states cooperate in multiple ways, including cooperation among presidents, parliament speakers, heads of government, and foreign ministers. On 8 November 1991, the Baltic Assembly, which includes 15 to 20 MPs from each parliament, was established to facilitate inter-parliamentary cooperation. The Baltic Council of Ministers was established on 13 June 1994 to facilitate intergovernmental cooperation. Since 2003, there is coordination between the two organizations. [28]

Compared with other regional groupings in Europe, such as Nordic council or Visegrad Four, Baltic cooperation is rather limited. Possible explanations include the short history of restored sovereignty and fear of losing it again, along with an orientation toward Nordic countries and Baltic-Nordic cooperation in The Nordic-Baltic Eight. Estonia especially has attempted to construct a Nordic identity for itself and denounced Baltic identity, despite still seeking to preserve close relationship with other countries in the region. [29] [30]

All three countries are members of the New Hanseatic League, an informal group of northern EU states formed to advocate a common fiscal position.


Before the Second World War, Estonia's economy was based on agriculture, but there was a significant knowledge sector, with the university city of Tartu known for scientific contributions, and a growing industrial sector, similar to that of neighbouring Finland. Products, such as butter, milk, and cheese were widely known in the west European markets. The main markets were Germany and the United Kingdom, and only 3% of all commerce was with the neighbouring USSR. Estonia and Finland had a relatively similar standard of living. [22]

The USSR's annexation of Estonia in 1940 and the ensuing Nazi and Soviet destruction during World War II crippled the Estonian economy. The subsequent Soviet occupation and post-war Sovietization of life continued with the integration of Estonia's economy and industry into the USSR's centrally planned structure. Estonia's GDP per capita was just $100 in 1991. [23]

After Estonia moved away from communism in the late 1980s, restored its independence in 1991 and became a market economy, it emerged as a pioneer in the global economy. In 1992, the country adopted the Estonian kroon as its own currency, and this greatly stabilised the economy. In 1994, it became one of the first countries in the world to adopt a flat tax, with a uniform rate of 26% regardless of personal income. Estonia received more foreign investment per capita in the second half of the 1990s than any other country in Central and Eastern Europe. Between 2005 and 2008, the personal income tax rate was reduced from 26% to 21% in several steps. [24]

The country has been quickly catching up with the EU-15 its GDP per capita having grown from 34.8% of the EU-15 average in 1996 to 65% in 2007, similar to that of Central European countries. [24] It is already rated a high-income country by the World Bank. The GDP (PPP) per capita of the country, a good indicator of wealth, was $35,974 in 2018 according to the World Bank, between that of Lithuania and Cyprus, but below that of most long-time EU members such as Spain or Italy. [25] Because of its economic performance after the Soviet breakup, Estonia has been termed one of the Baltic Tigers.

In 2008, Estonia was ranked 12th of 162 countries in the Index of Economic Freedom 2008, the best of any former Soviet republic. The same year, the country was at the bottom of the list of European states by labour market freedom, but the government is drafting improvements. [26]

For Estonia, the financial crisis of 2007–2008 was comparatively easier to weather, because Estonia's budget has consistently been kept balanced, and this meant that Estonia's public debt relative to the country's GDP has remained the lowest in Europe. The economy recovered in 2010. [27]

On 1 January 2011, Estonia joined the euro, [28] and became the first ex-Soviet republic to join the eurozone. [29]

In 2013, the World Bank Group rated Estonia as 21st on the Ease of Doing Business Index.

Early history Edit

Until the early 13th century, the territory that is now known as Estonia was independent. The economy was largely an agricultural one, but Estonia being a country with a long coastline, there were also many maritime activities. Autonomous development was brought to an end by the Northern Crusades undertaken by the King of Denmark, the German Livonian and the Teutonic military orders. The Estonian world was transformed by military conquest. The war against the invaders lasted from 1208 to 1227. The last Estonian county to fall was the island of Saaremaa in 1261. [30]

Thereafter, through many centuries until WWI, Estonian agriculture consisted of native peasants working large feudal-type estates held by ethnic German landlords. In the decades prior to independence, centralised Czarist rule had created a rather large industrial sector dominated by the Kreenholm Manufacturing Company, then the world's largest cotton mill.

Independence Edit

After declaring independence in 1918, the Estonian War of Independence and the subsequent signing of the Treaty of Tartu in 1920, the new Estonian state inherited a ruined post-war economy and an inflated ruble currency. Despite considerable hardship, dislocation, and unemployment, Estonia spent the first decade of independence entirely transforming its economy. In 1918, The Czarist ruble was replaced by the Estonian mark, which was in circulation until 1927. By 1929, a stable currency, the kroon, had been established. It was issued by the Bank of Estonia, the country's central bank. Compensating the German landowners for their holdings, the government confiscated the estates and divided them into small farms, which subsequently formed the basis of Estonian prosperity. Trade focused on the local market and the West, particularly Germany and the United Kingdom. Only 3% of all commerce was with the USSR.

Soviet occupation Edit

The USSR's forcible annexation of Estonia in 1940 and the ensuing Nazi and Soviet destruction during World War II crippled the Estonian economy. Post-war Soviet occupation and Sovietisation of life continued with the integration of Estonia's economy and industry into the USSR's centrally planned structure. More than 56% of Estonian farms were collectivised in the month of April 1949 alone after mass deportations to Siberia the previous month. Moscow expanded on those Estonian industries which had locally available raw materials, such as oil shale mining and phosphorites.

Restoration of independence, modernisation and liberalisation Edit

Since reestablishing independence, Estonia has styled itself as the gateway between East and West and pursued economic reform and integration with the West. [ citation needed ] Estonia's market reforms put it among the economic leaders in the former COMECON area. [ citation needed ] A balanced budget, almost non-existent public debt, flat-rate income tax, free trade regime, fully convertible currency backed by currency board and a strong peg to the euro, competitive commercial banking sector, hospitable environment for foreign investment, innovative e-Services and mobile-based services are all hallmarks of Estonia's free-market-based economy. [ citation needed ]

In June 1992, Estonia replaced the ruble with its own freely convertible currency, the kroon (EEK). A currency board was created and the new currency was pegged to the German Mark at the rate of 8 Estonian kroons for 1 Deutsche Mark. When Germany introduced the euro the peg was changed to 15.6466 kroons for 1 euro.

Estonia was set to adopt the euro in 2008, but due to the inflation rate being above the required 3%, the adoption date was delayed to 2011. On 1 January 2011, Estonia adopted the euro and became the 17th eurozone member state. [28]

The privatisation of state-owned firms is virtually complete, with only the port and the main power plants remaining in government hands. [ citation needed ]

The constitution requires a balanced budget, and the protection afforded by Estonia's intellectual property laws is on a par of that of Europe's. [ citation needed ]

In early 1992, both liquidity problems and structural weakness stemming from the communist era precipitated a banking crisis. As a result, effective bankruptcy legislation was enacted and privately owned well-managed banks emerged as market leaders. [ citation needed ] Today, near-ideal conditions for the banking sector exist. Foreigners are not restricted from buying bank shares or acquiring majority holdings. [ citation needed ]

The fully electronic Tallinn Stock Exchange opened in early 1996, and was purchased by Finland's Helsinki Stock Exchange in 2001.

Estonia joined the World Trade Organization in 1999.

From the early 2000s to the latter part of that decade, the Estonian economy experienced considerable growth. In the year 2000, Estonian GDP grew by 6.4%.

Upon accession to the European Union in 2004, double-digit growth was soon after observed.

GDP grew by 7.9% in 2007 alone. Increases in labor costs, the imposition of tax on tobacco, alcohol, electricity, fuel, gas, and other external pressures (growing prices of oil and food on the global market) were expected to inflate price levels by 10% in the first months of 2009. [ citation needed ]

The 2008 financial crisis, response and recovery Edit

The financial crisis of 2007–2008 has had a deep effect on the Estonian economy, primarily as a result of an investment and consumption slump that followed the burst of the real estate market bubble that had been building up during the preceding years.

After a long period of very high growth of GDP, the GDP of Estonia decreased. In the first quarter 2008, GDP grew only 0.1%, and then decreased: negative growth was −1.4% in the 2nd quarter, a little over −3% (on a year-to-year basis) in the 3rd quarter, and −9.4% in the 4th quarter of that year. [31]

The government made a supplementary negative budget, which was passed by the Riigikogu. The revenue of the budget was decreased for 2008 by EEK 6.1 billion and the expenditure by EEK 3.2 billion. [32] A current account-deficit was extant, but began to shrink in the last months of 2008, and had been expected to continue to do so in the near future.

In 2009, the Estonian economy further contracted by 15.1% in the first quarter. [31] Low domestic and foreign demand had depressed the economy's overall output. [33] The Estonian economy's 33.7% industrial production drop was the sharpest decrease in industrial production in the entire European Union. [34] That year, Estonia was one of the five worst-performing economies in the world in terms of annual GDP growth rate, [35] and had one of the greatest rates of unemployment in the EU, which rose from 3.9% in May 2008 to 15.6% in May 2009. [36]

In December 2008, Estonia became one of the donor countries to the IMF lead rescue package for Latvia. In response to the crisis, the Ansip government opted for fiscal consolidation and retrenchment by maintaining fiscal discipline and a balanced budget in combination with austerity packages: The government increased taxes, and reduced public spending by slashing expenditures and public salaries across the board. [27]

In July 2009, the value-added tax was increased from 18% to 20%. [37] The recorded budget deficit for 2009 was just 1.7% of GDP. [27]

The result was, that Estonia was one of only five EU countries in 2009 that had met the Maastricht criteria for debt and deficit, and had the third-lowest deficit after Luxembourg and Sweden. Neither did Estonia need to ask help from the IMF. Despite the third-largest drop in GDP, the country had the lowest budget deficit and the lowest public debt among Central and Eastern European countries.

In 2009, the Estonian economy began to rebound, and economic growth resumed in the second half of 2010. The country's unemployment rate has since dropped significantly to pre-recession levels. [38] To top it off, Estonia was granted permission in 2010 to join the eurozone in 2011. [27]

Joining the euro Edit

Before joining the eurozone, the Estonian kroon had been pegged to the euro at a rate of 15.64664 EEK to one euro before then, the kroon was pegged to the German mark at approximately 8 EEK to 1 DEM.

Plans to join the euro were in place well before 2011. The design of Estonian euro coins was finalized in late 2004. [39]

Estonia's journey towards the euro took longer than originally projected, owing to the inflation rate continually being above the required 3% before 2010, [40] which prevented the country from fulfilling the entry criteria. The country originally planned to adopt the euro on 1 January 2007 however, it did not formally apply that year, and officially changed its target date twice: first to 1 January 2008, and later to 1 January 2011. [29]

On 12 May 2010, the European Commission announced that Estonia had met all criteria to join the eurozone. [41] On 8 June 2010, EU finance ministers agreed that Estonia would be able to join the euro on 1 January 2011. [42] On 13 July 2010, Estonia received the final approval from ECOFIN to adopt the euro onwards from 1 January 2011.

The switchover to the euro took place on 1 January 2011. [28]

With that, Estonia became the first ex-Soviet republic to join the eurozone. [29]

On 9 August 2011, just days after Standard & Poor's raised Estonia's credit rating from A to AA-. Among the factors, S&P cited as contributing to its decision was confidence in Estonia's ability to "sustain strong economic growth." [43] Estonia's GDP growth rate in 2011 was above 8%, despite having negative population growth. [44] [45]

In the second quarter of 2013, the average monthly gross wage in Estonia was €976 (15,271 kroons, US$1,328). [46] This figure has grown consistently to €1310 (20,497 kroons, US$1473) [47] as of 2018.

Estonia is nearly energy-independent, supplying over 90% of its electricity needs with locally mined oil shale. Alternative energy sources such as wood, peat, and biomass make up approximately 9% of primary energy production. Estonia imports needed petroleum products from western Europe and Russia. Oil shale energy, telecommunications, textiles, chemical products, banking, services, food and fishing, timber, shipbuilding, electronics, and transportation are key sectors of the economy. The ice-free port of Muuga, near Tallinn, is a modern facility featuring good transshipment capability, a high-capacity grain elevator, chill/frozen storage, and brand-new oil tanker off-loading capabilities. The railroad serves as a conduit between the West, Russia, and other points to the East.

Estonia today is mainly influenced by developments in Finland, Russia, Sweden and Germany – the four main trade partners. The government has significantly increased its spending on innovation since 2016, with €304 million aimed to stimulate research and development in 2017. [48]

Future projections Edit

Long-term prospects for the Estonian economy remain among the most promising in Europe. In 2011, the real GDP growth in Estonia was 8.0%, and according to projections made by CEPII, the GDP per capita could rise to the level of Nordic economies of Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Norway by 2025. [49] According to the same projections, by 2050, Estonia could become the most productive country in the EU, after Luxembourg, and thus join the top five most productive nations in the world. [50]

Estonia has around 600,000 employees, yet the country has a shortage of skilled labor, and since skill shortages are experienced everywhere in Europe, the government has increased working visa quota for non-EEA citizens, although it has nevertheless been criticized for being inadequate for addressing the shortages.

The late-2000s recession in the world, the near-concurrent local property bust with changes in Estonian legislation to increase labour market flexibility (making it easier for companies to lay off workers) saw Estonia's unemployment rate shoot up to 18.8% throughout the duration of the crisis, then stabilise to 13.8% by summer 2011, as the economy recovered on the basis of strong exports. Internal consumption, and therefore imports, plummeted and cuts were made in public finances. [51] Some of the reduction in unemployment has been attributed to some Estonians' emigrating for employment to Finland, the UK, Australia, and elsewhere. [52]

After the recession, the unemployment rate went lower, and throughout 2015 and 2016, the rate stayed near the levels that preceded the economic downturn, staying at just above 6%. [53]

Tallinn has emerged as the country's financial center. According to Invest in Estonia, advantages of Estonian financial sector are unbureaucratic cooperation between companies and authorities, and relative abundance of educated people although young educated Estonians tend to emigrate to western Europe for greater income. The largest banks are Swedbank, SEB Pank, and Nordea. Several IPOs have been made recently on the Tallinn Stock Exchange, a member OMX system.

The Estonian service sector employs over 60% of workforce. Estonia has a strong information technology (IT) sector, partly due to the Tiigrihüpe project undertaken in mid-1990s, and has been mentioned as the most "wired" and advanced country in Europe in the terms of e-government. [54] [55]

Farming, which had been forcibly collectivized for decades until the transition era of 1990–1992, has become privatized and more efficient, and the total farming area has increased in the period following Estonia's restoration of independence. [56] The share of agriculture in the gross domestic product decreased from 15% to 3.3% during 1991–2000, while employment in agriculture decreased from 15% to 5.2%. [57]

The mining industry makes up 1% of the GDP. Mined commodities include oil shale, peat, and industrial minerals, such as clays, limestone, sand and gravel. [58] Soviets created badly polluting industry in the early 1950s, concentrated in the north-east of the country. Socialist economy and military areas left the country highly polluted, and mainly because of oil shale industry in Ida-Virumaa, sulfur dioxide emissions per person are almost as high as in the Czech Republic. The coastal seawater is polluted in certain locations, mainly the east. The government is looking for ways to reduce pollution further. [59] In 2000, the emissions were 80% smaller than in 1980, and the amount of unpurified wastewater discharged to water bodies was 95% smaller than in 1980. [60]

Estonian productivity is experiencing rapid growth, and consequently wages are also rising quickly, with a rise in private consumption of about 8% in 2005. According to Estonian Institute of Economic Research, the largest contributors to GDP growth in 2005 were processing industry, financial intermediation, retailing and wholesale trade, transport and communications. [61]

Agriculture Edit

  • 450 thousand tons of wheat
  • 347 thousand tons of barley
  • 113 thousand tons of rapeseed
  • 88 thousand tons of potato
  • 78 thousand tons of oat
  • 53 thousand tons of pea
  • 29 thousand tons of rye

In addition to smaller productions of other agricultural products. [62]

Largest companies by revenue Edit

Largest companies by profit Edit

Railway transport dominates the cargo sector, comprising 70% of all carried goods, domestic and international. Road transport is the one that prevails in the passenger sector, accounting for over 90% of all transported passengers. 5 major cargo ports offer easy navigational access, deep waters, and good ice conditions. There are 12 airports and 1 heliport in Estonia. Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport is the largest airport in Estonia, with 1,73 million passengers and 22,764 tons of cargo (annual cargo growth 119.7%) in 2007. International flight companies such as SAS, Finnair, Lufthansa, EasyJet, and Nordic Aviation Group provide direct flights to 27 destinations. [64]

Approximately 7.5% of the country's workforce is employed in transportation and the sector contributes over 10% of GDP. Estonia is getting much business from traffic between European Union and Russia, especially oil cargo through Estonian ports. Transit trade's share of GDP is disputed, but many agree that Russia's increased hostility is decreasing the share. [65] [66]

Instead of coal, electricity is generated by burning oil shale, with largest stations in Narva. Oil shale supplies around 70% of the country's primary energy. Other energy sources are natural gas imported from Russia, wood, motor fuels, and fuel oils. [67]

Wind power in Estonia amounts to 58.1 megawatts, whilst roughly 399 megawatts worth of projects are currently being developed. Estonian energy liberalization is lagging far behind the Nordic energy market. During the accession negotiations with the EU, Estonia agreed that at least 35% of the market are opened before 2009 and all of non-household market, which totals around 77% of consumption, before 2013. Estonia is concerned that Russia could use energy markets to bully it. [68] In 2009, the government considered granting permits to nuclear power companies, and there were plans for a shared nuclear facility with Latvia and Lithuania. [69] Those plans were shelved after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in March 2011.

Estonia has high Internet penetration, and connections are available throughout most of the country.

Estonia exports machinery and equipment (33% of all exports annually), wood and paper (15% of all exports annually), textiles (14% of all exports annually), food products (8% of all exports annually), furniture (7% of all exports annually), and metals and chemical products. Estonia also exports 1.562 million megawatt hours of electricity annually. Estonia imports machinery and equipment (33.5% of all imports annually), chemical products (11.6% of all imports annually), textiles (10.3'% of all imports annually), food products (9.4% of all imports annually), and transportation equipment (8.9% of all imports annually). Estonia imports 200 thousand megawatt hours of electricity annually. [70]

Resource Location Reserves
Oil shale north-east 1,137,700,000 mln t
Sea mud (medical) south 1,356,400,000 mln t
Construction sand across the country 166,700,000 mln m³
Construction gravel north 32,800,000 mln m³
Lake mud (medical) across the country 1,133,300 mln t
Lake mud (fertilizer) east 170,900 t
Ceramic clay across the country 10,600,000 mln m³
Ceramsid clay (for gravel) across the country 2,600,000 mln m³
Technological dolomite west 16,600,000 mln m³
Technological limestone north 13,800,000 mln m³
Decoration dolomite west 2,900,000 mln m³
Construction dolomite west 32,900,000 mln m³
Blue clay across the country 2,044,000 mln t
Granite across the country 1,245,100,000 mln m³
Peat across the country 230,300,000 mln t
Construction limestone north 110,300,000 mln m³
Limestone cement north 9,400,000 mln m³
Clay cement north 15,6000,000 mln m³
Graptolitic argillite [71] north 64,000,000,000 mln t
Wood across the country 15,6000,000 mln m³
Technological sand north 3,300,000 mln m³
Lake lime north and south 808,000 t
Phosphorite north over 350,000,000 mln t (estimated)
Subsoil across the country 21,1 km³

The following table shows the main economic indicators in 1993–2018. [72]

Selected article - show another

The Estonia national football team (Estonian: Eesti jalgpallikoondis) represents Estonia in international football matches and is controlled by the Estonian Football Association, the governing body for football in Estonia. Estonia's home ground is A. Le Coq Arena in Tallinn.

Estonia's first match was held against Finland in 1920, being a 6–0 defeat. The team participated in the 1924 Olympic Games tournament, their only participation. In 1940, Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union and did not regain independence (and the possibility of a national football team) until 1991. Estonia's first FIFA recognised match as an independent nation after the break-up of the Soviet Union, was against Slovenia on 3 June 1992, a 1–1 draw in the Estonian capital city of Tallinn. (Full article. )


Historical names Edit

In 1154, a town called قلون (Qlwn [15] or Qalaven, possibly derivations of Kalevan or Kolyvan) [16] [17] was put on the world map of the Almoravid by the Arab cartographer Muhammad al-Idrisi, who described it as "a small town like a large castle" among the towns of 'Astlanda'. It was suggested that Quwri may have denoted a predecessor of the modern city. [18] [19] Another possibly one of the earliest name of Tallinn is Kolyvan (Russian: Колывань ), which has been discovered from East Slavic chronicles and may somehow be connected to the Estonian mythical hero Kalev. [20] [21] However, a number of modern historians have considered connecting al-Idrisi placename(s) with Tallinn unfounded and erroneous. [22] [7] [23] [24]

Henry of Livonia in his chronicle called the town with the name that is also known to have been used up to the 13th century by Scandinavians: Lindanisa (or Lyndanisse in Danish, [25] [26] [27] Lindanäs in Swedish and Ledenets in Old East Slavic). It has been suggested that the archaic Estonian word linda is similar to the Votic word lidna 'castle, town'. According to this suggestion, nisa would have the same meaning as niemi 'peninsula', producing Kesoniemi, the old Finnish name for the city. [28]

Another ancient historical name for Tallinn is Rääveli in Finnish. The Icelandic Njal's saga mentions Tallinn and calls it Rafala, which is probably based on the primitive form of Revala. This name originated from Latin Revelia (Revala or Rävala in Estonian), the adjacent ancient name of the surrounding area. After the Danish conquest in 1219, the town became known in the German, Swedish and Danish languages as Reval (Latin: Revalia). Reval was in official use in Estonia until 1918.

Modern name Edit

The name Tallinn(a) is Estonian. It is usually thought to be derived from Taani-linn(a), (meaning 'Danish-town) (Latin: Castrum Danorum), after the Danes built the castle in place of the Estonian stronghold at Lindanisse. However, it could also have come from tali-linna ('winter-castle or town'), or talu-linna ('house/farmstead-castle or town'). The element -linna, like Germanic -burg and Slavic -grad / -gorod, originally meant 'fortress', but is used as a suffix in the formation of town names.

The previously-used official names in German Reval ( help · info ) and Russian Revel ( Ревель ) were replaced after Estonia became independent in 1918.

At first, both forms Tallinna and Tallinn were used. [29] The United States Board on Geographic Names adopted the form Tallinn between June 1923 and June 1927. [30] Tallinna in Estonian denotes the genitive case of the name, as in Tallinna Sadam ('the Port of Tallinn').

In Russian, the spelling of the name was changed from Таллинн to Таллин [31] (Tallin) by the Soviet authorities in the 1950s, and this spelling is still officially sanctioned by the Russian government, while Estonian authorities have been using the spelling Таллинн in Russian-language publications since the restoration of independence. The form Таллин is also used in several other languages in some of the countries that emerged from the former Soviet Union. Due to the Russian spelling, the form Tallin is sometimes found in international publications it is also the official form in Spanish. [32]

Other variations of modern spellings include Tallinna in Finnish, Tallina in Latvian and Talinas in Lithuanian.

Historic Centre (Old Town) of Tallinn
UNESCO World Heritage Site
CriteriaCultural: ii, iv
Inscription1997 (21st session)
Buffer zone2,253 ha

The first traces of hunter-fisherman community migrations [8] in the present day Tallinn's city centre, found by the archeologists are about 5,000 years old. The comb ceramic pottery found on the site dates to about 3000 BCE and corded ware pottery c. 2500 BCE. [33]

Around 1050, the first fortress was built on Tallinn Toompea. [16]

As an important port for trade between Russia and Scandinavia, it became a target for the expansion of the Teutonic Knights and the Kingdom of Denmark during the period of Northern Crusades in the beginning of the 13th century when Christianity was forcibly imposed on the local population. Danish rule of Tallinn and Northern Estonia started in 1219.

In 1285, Tallinn, then known more widely as Reval, became the northernmost member of the Hanseatic League – a mercantile and military alliance of German-dominated cities in Northern Europe. The king of Denmark sold Reval along with other land possessions in northern Estonia to the Teutonic Knights in 1346. Medieval Reval enjoyed a strategic position at the crossroads of trade between Western and Northern Europe and Russia. The city, with a population of about 8,000, was very well fortified with city walls and 66 defence towers.

A weather vane, the figure of an old warrior called Old Thomas, was put on top of the spire of the Tallinn Town Hall in 1530. Old Thomas has later become a popular symbol of the city.

Already in the early years of the Protestant Reformation the city converted to Lutheranism. In 1561, Reval became a dominion of Sweden.

During the Great Northern War, plague stricken Tallinn along with Swedish Estonia and Livonia capitulated to Imperial Russia in 1710, but the local self-government institutions (Magistracy of Reval and Chivalry of Estonia) retained their cultural and economical autonomy within Imperial Russia as the Governorate of Estonia. The Magistracy of Reval was abolished in 1889. The 19th century brought industrialisation of the city and the port kept its importance. During the last decades of the century Russification measures became stronger. Off the coast of Reval, in June 1908, Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra of Russia, along with their children, met their mutual uncle and aunt, Britain's King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, an act which was seen as a royal confirmation of the Anglo-Russian Entente of the previous year, and which was the first time a reigning British monarch had visited Russia. [ citation needed ]

On 24 February 1918, the Independence Manifesto was proclaimed in Reval (Tallinn), followed by Imperial German occupation and a war of independence with Soviet Russia, after which Tallinn became the capital of independent Estonia. During World War II, Estonia was first occupied by the Red Army and annexed into the USSR in 1940, then occupied by Nazi Germany from 1941 to 1944. When German forces invaded there were about 1,000 remaining Jews in the city of Tallinn, nearly all of whom would die in the Holocaust at the hands of the Nazis before the war's end. [34] After the German retreat in 1944, the city was occupied again by the Soviets. After the annexation of Estonia into the USSR, Tallinn became formally "the capital city" of the Estonian SSR within the Soviet Union.

During the 1980 Summer Olympics, the sailing (then known as yachting) events were held at Pirita, north-east of central Tallinn. Many buildings, such as the Tallinn TV Tower, "Olümpia" hotel, the new Main Post Office building, and the Regatta Centre, were built for the Olympics.

In 1991, an independent democratic Estonian nation was reestablished and a period of quick development as a modern European capital ensued. Tallinn became the capital of a de facto independent country once again on 20 August 1991.

Tallinn has historically consisted of three parts:

  • The Toompea (Domberg) or "Cathedral Hill", which was the seat of the central authority: first the Danish captains, then the komturs of the Teutonic Order, and Swedish and Russian governors. It was until 1877 a separate town (Dom zu Reval), the residence of the aristocracy it is today the seat of the Estonian parliament, government and some embassies and residencies.
  • The Old Town, which is the old Hanseatic town, the "city of the citizens", was not administratively united with Cathedral Hill until the late 19th century. It was the centre of the medieval trade on which it grew prosperous.
  • The Estonian town forms a crescent to the south of the Old Town, where the Estonians came to settle. It was not until the mid-19th century that ethnic Estonians replaced the local Baltic Germans as the majority among the residents of Tallinn.

The city of Tallinn has never been razed [ citation needed ] that was the fate of Tartu, the university town 199.98 km (124 mi) south, which was pillaged in 1397 by the Teutonic Order. Around 1524 Catholic churches in many towns in Estonia, including Tallinn, were pillaged as part of the Reformational fervor: this occurred throughout Europe. Although extensively bombed by Soviet air forces during the later stages of World War II, much of the medieval Old Town still retains its charm. The Tallinn Old Town (including Toompea) became a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1997.

At the end of the 15th century a new 159 m (521.65 ft) [ verification needed ] high Gothic spire was built for St. Olaf's Church. Between 1549 and 1625 it may have been the tallest building in the world. [ dubious – discuss ] After several fires and subsequent periods of rebuilding, its overall height is now 123 m (403.54 ft).

Tallinn is situated on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland, in north-western Estonia.

The largest lake in Tallinn is Lake Ülemiste (9.44 km 2 (3.6 sq mi)). It is the main source of the city's drinking water. Lake Harku is the second largest lake within the borders of Tallinn and its area is 1.6 square kilometres (0.6 sq mi). Tallinn does not lie on a major river. The only significant river in Tallinn is Pirita River in Pirita, a city district counted as a suburb. Historically, the small Härjapea River flowed from Lake Ülemiste through the town into the sea, but the river was diverted for sewage in the 1930s and has since completely disappeared from the cityscape. References to it still remain in the street names Jõe (from Jõgi, river) and Kivisilla (from Kivisild, stone bridge).

A limestone cliff runs through the city. It can be seen at Toompea, Lasnamäe and Astangu. However, Toompea is not a part of the cliff, but a separate hill.

The highest point in Tallinn, at 64 meters above sea level, is situated in Hiiu, Nõmme District, in the south-west of the city.

The length of the coast is 46 kilometres (29 miles). It comprises three bigger peninsulas: Kopli peninsula, Paljassaare peninsula and Kakumäe peninsula. The city has a number of public beaches, including those at Pirita, Stroomi, Kakumäe, Harku and Pikakari. [35]

The geology under the city of Tallinn is made up of rocks and sediments of different composition and age. Youngest are the Quaternary deposits. The material of these deposits are till, varved clay, sand, gravel and pebbles that are of glacial, marine and lacustrine origin. Some of the Quaternary deposits are valuable as they constitute aquifers or, as in the case of gravels and sands, are used as construction materials. The Quaternary deposits are the fill of valleys that are now buried. The buried valleys of Tallinn are carved into older rock likely by ancient rivers to be later modified by glaciers. While the valley fill is made up of Quaternary sediments the valleys themselves originated from erosion that took place before the Quaternary. [36] The substrate into which the buried valleys were carved is made up of hard sedimentary rock of Ediacaran, Cambrian and Ordovician age. Only the upper layer of Ordovician rocks protrudes from the cover of younger deposits cropping out in the Baltic Klint at the coast and at a few places inland. The Ordovician rocks are made up from top to bottom of a thick layer of limestone and marlstone, then a first layer of argillite followed by first layer of sandstone and siltstone and then another layer of argillite also followed by sandstone and siltstone. In other places of the city hard sedimentary rock is only to be found beneath Quaternary sediments at depths reaching as much as 120 meters below sea level. Underlying the sedimentary rock are the rocks of the Fennoscandian Craton including gneisses and other metamorphic rocks with volcanic rock protoliths and rapakivi granites. The mentioned rocks are much older than the rest (Paleoproterozoic age) and do not crop out anywhere in Estonia. [36]

Tallinn has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb) with mild, rainy summers and cold, snowy winters. [37] Winters are cold but mild for its latitude, owing to its coastal location. The average temperature in February, the coldest month, is −3.6 °C (25.5 °F). During the winter months, temperatures tend to hover close to the freezing mark but mild spells of weather can push temperatures above 0 °C (32 °F), occasionally reaching above 5 °C (41 °F) while cold air masses can push temperatures below −18 °C (0 °F) an average of 6 days a year. Snowfall is common during the winter months. Winters are cloudy [38] and are characterised by low amounts of sunshine, ranging from only 20.7 hours of sunshine per month in December to 58.8 hours in February. [39]

Spring starts out cool, with freezing temperatures common in March and April but gradually becomes warmer in May when daytime temperatures average 15.4 °C (59.7 °F) although nighttime temperatures still remain cool, averaging −3.7 to 5.2 °C (25.3 to 41.4 °F) from March to May. [40] Snowfall is common in March and can occur in April. [38]

Summers are mild with daytime temperatures hovering around 19.2 to 22.2 °C (66.6 to 72.0 °F) and nighttime temperatures averaging between 9.8 to 13.1 °C (49.6 to 55.6 °F) from June to August. [40] The warmest month is usually July, with an average of 17.6 °C (63.7 °F). [40] During summer, partly cloudy or clear days are common [38] and it is the sunniest season, ranging from 255.6 hours of sunshine in August to 312.1 hours in July although precipitation is higher during these months. [41] [39] As a consequence of its high latitude, at the summer solstice, daylight lasts for more than 18 hours and 30 minutes. [42]

Fall starts out mild, with a September average of 12.0 °C (53.6 °F) and increasingly becomes cooler and cloudier towards the end of November. [38] In the early parts of fall, temperatures commonly reach 16.1 °C (61.0 °F) and at least one day above 21 °C (70 °F) in September. In the latter months of fall, freezing temperatures become more common and snowfall can occur.

Tallinn receives 700 millimeters (28 in) of precipitation annually which is evenly distributed throughout the year although March, April and May are the driest months, averaging about 35 to 37 millimeters (1.4 to 1.5 in) while July and August are the wettest months with 82 to 85 millimeters (3.2 to 3.3 in) of precipitation. [41] The average humidity is 81%, ranging from a high of 89% to a low of 69% in May. [43] Tallinn has an average windspeed of 3.3 metres per second (11 ft/s) with winters being the windiest (around 3.7 metres per second (12 ft/s) in January) and summers being the least windy at around 2.7 m/s (8.9 ft/s) in August. [38] Extremes range from −31.4 °C (−24.5 °F) in January 1987 to 34.3 °C (93.7 °F) in July 1994. [38]

Climate data for Tallinn, Estonia (normals 1991–2020 and extremes 1805–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 9.2
Average high °C (°F) −0.7
Daily mean °C (°F) −2.9
Average low °C (°F) −5.5
Record low °C (°F) −31.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 56
Average rainy days 10 8 9 12 11 13 13 14 17 18 16 12 153
Average snowy days 19 18 13 5 0.4 0 0 0 0 2 11 18 87
Average relative humidity (%) 89 86 80 72 69 74 76 79 82 85 89 89 81
Mean monthly sunshine hours 29.7 58.8 148.4 217.3 306.0 294.3 312.1 255.6 162.3 88.3 29.1 20.7 1,922.7
Average ultraviolet index 0 1 1 3 4 5 5 4 3 1 0 0 2
Source 1: Estonian Weather Service [40] [41] [43] [39] [44]
Source 2: (rainy and snowy days) [38] and Weather Atlas [45]
District Population
(November 2017) [46]
Area [47] Density
1. Haabersti 45,339 22.26 km 2 (8.6 sq mi) 2,036.8/km 2 (5,275.3/sq mi)
2. Kesklinn (centre) 63,406 30.56 km 2 (11.8 sq mi) 2,074.8/km 2 (5,373.7/sq mi)
3. Kristiine 33,202 7.84 km 2 (3.0 sq mi) 4,234.9/km 2 (10,968.5/sq mi)
4. Lasnamäe 119,542 27.47 km 2 (10.6 sq mi) 4,351.7/km 2 (11,270.9/sq mi)
5. Mustamäe 68,211 8.09 km 2 (3.1 sq mi) 8,431.5/km 2 (21,837.5/sq mi)
6. Nõmme 39,540 29.17 km 2 (11.3 sq mi) 1,355.5/km 2 (3,510.7/sq mi)
7. Pirita 18,606 18.73 km 2 (7.2 sq mi) 993.4/km 2 (2,572.8/sq mi)
8. Põhja-Tallinn 60,203 15.9 km 2 (6.1 sq mi) 3,786.4/km 2 (9,806.6/sq mi)

For local government purposes, Tallinn is subdivided into 8 administrative districts (Estonian: linnaosad, singular linnaosa). The district governments are city institutions that fulfill, in the territory of their district, the functions assigned to them by Tallinn legislation and statutes.

Each district government is managed by an elder (Estonian: linnaosavanem). They are appointed by the city government on the nomination of the mayor and after having heard the opinion of the administrative councils. The function of the administrative councils is to recommend to the city government and commissions of the city council how the districts should be administered.

The administrative districts are further divided into subdistricts or neighbourhoods (Estonian: asum). Their names and borders are officially defined. There are 84 subdistricts in Tallinn. [48]

Largest ethnic groups [49]
Ethnic group Population (2020) %
Estonians 228,845 52.29
Russians 158,588 36,24
Ukrainians 12,717 3,10
Belarusians 6,021 1,37
Finns 2,998 0.68
Jews 1,419 0.32
Latvians 1,255 0.29
Lithuanians 1,052 0.24
Germans 1,034 0.24
Tatars 1,034 0.24
Armenians 997 0.23
Poles 851 0.19
Azerbaijanis 825 0.19
Other 10,052 2,30
Unknown 9,089 2,08

The population of Tallinn on 1 January 2020 was 437,619. [1]

According to Eurostat, in 2004 Tallinn had one of the largest number of non-EU nationals of all EU member states' capital cities with Russians forming a significant minority (

34% belong to the Russian ethnic group, but a majority now hold Estonian citizenship). [50] Ethnic Estonians make up about 50% of the population (as of 2019 [update] ).

Northern Estonia, including Tallinn, was populated during Soviet time and by that Russified by Soviet authorities more than other regions of Estonia. Some towns and villages like Narva, Jõhvi, Kohtla-Järve, Sillamäe, Maardu and Paldiski experienced almost total repopulation by Russians. New city districts that were meant to accommodate immigrants were built in Tallinn (Mustamäe, Lasnamäe, Väike-Õismäe, Pelguranna), most of which are the biggest city districts to this day.

Estonians made up about 80% of Tallinn's population before World War II, but make up only 49% in 2019. In 2009, ethnic Estonians made up about 55,2% of Tallinn's population. The all time smallest share occurred in 1988 when only 47% of Tallinners were ethnic Estonians, not far from 2019. Tallinners made up about 29,7% of Estonia's population in 2009. In 2009, Tallinn's ethnic Estonian residents made up 23,9% (219,900) of all ethnic Estonians residing in Estonia. In 2009, Tallinn's non-Estonian residents, mainly Russians, made up 42,7% (178,694) of all non-Estonians residing in Estonia. The positive birth rate of ethnic Estonians and non-positive birth rate of non-Estonians should have increased the share of ethnic Estonians in Tallinn and whole Northern Estonia, but increased immigration, mainly from former soviet countries and neighboring Finland, has rapidly increased the share of non-Estonians.

The official language of Tallinn is Estonian. In 2011, 206,490 (50.1%) spoke Estonian as their native language and 192,199 (46.7%) spoke Russian as their native language. Other spoken languages include Ukrainian, Belarusian and Finnish. [51]

Year 1372 1772 1816 1834 1851 1881 1897 1925 1959 1989 2000 2005 2010 2017 2018 2019 2020
Population 3,250 6,954 12,000 15,300 24,000 45,900 58,800 119,800 283,071 478,974 400,378 401,694 406,703 426,538 430,805 434,562 437,619

Tallinn is the financial and business capital of Estonia. The city has a highly diversified economy with particular strengths in information technology, tourism and logistics. Over half of the Estonian GDP is created in Tallinn. [52] In 2008, the GDP per capita of Tallinn stood at 172% of the Estonian average. [53]

Information technology Edit

In addition to longtime functions as seaport and capital city, Tallinn has seen development of an information technology sector in its 13 December 2005, edition, The New York Times characterised Estonia as "a sort of Silicon Valley on the Baltic Sea". [54] One of Tallinn's sister cities is the Silicon Valley town of Los Gatos, California. Skype is one of the best-known of several Estonian start-ups originating from Tallinn. Many start-ups originated from the Soviet-era Institute of Cybernetics. In recent years, [ when? ] Tallinn has gradually been becoming one of the main IT centres of Europe, with the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCD COE) of NATO, the EU Agency for large-scale IT systems and the IT development centres of large corporations, such as TeliaSonera and Kuehne + Nagel being based in the city. Smaller start-up incubators like Garage48 and Game Founders have helped to provide support to teams from Estonia and around the world looking for support, development and networking opportunities. [55]

Tourism Edit

Tallinn receives 4.3 million visitors annually, [56] a figure that has grown steadily over the past decade.

Tallinn's Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a major tourist attraction others include the Seaplane Harbour of Estonian Maritime Museum, the Tallinn Zoo, Kadriorg Park, and the Estonian Open Air Museum. Most of the visitors come from Europe, though Tallinn has also become increasingly visited by tourists from Russia and the Asia-Pacific region. [57]

Tallinn Passenger Port is one of the busiest cruise destinations on the Baltic Sea, serving more than 520,000 cruise passengers in 2013. [58] From year 2011 regular cruise turnarounds in cooperation with Tallinn Airport are organised.

The Tallinn Card is a time-limited ticket to visitors. It allows the holder free use of public transport, free entry to many museums and other places of interest, and discounts or free gifts from shops or restaurants.

Energy Edit

Eesti Energia, a large oil shale to energy company, [59] has its headquarters in Tallinn. The city also hosts the headquarters of Elering, a national electric power transmission system operator and member of ENTSO-E, the Estonian natural gas company Eesti Gaas and energy holding company Alexela Energia, part of Alexela Group. Nord Pool Spot, the largest market for electrical energy in the world, established its local office in Tallinn.

Finance Edit

Tallinn is the financial centre of Estonia and also a strong economic centre in the Scandinavian-Baltic region. Many major banks, such as SEB, Swedbank, Nordea, DNB, have their local offices in Tallinn. LHV Pank, an Estonian investment bank, has its corporate headquarters in Tallinn. Two crypto-currencies exchanges officially recognized by the Estonian government, CoinMetro [60] and DX.Exchange [61] have their headquarters in Tallinn. Tallinn Stock Exchange, part of NASDAQ OMX Group, is the only regulated exchange in Estonia.

Logistics Edit

Port of Tallinn is one of the biggest ports in the Baltic sea region. [62] Old City Harbour has been known as a convenient harbour since the 10th century [ dubious – discuss ] [ verification needed ] , but nowadays the cargo operations are shifted to Muuga Cargo Port and Paldiski Southern Port. There is a small fleet of oceangoing trawlers that operate out of Tallinn. [63]

Manufacturing sector Edit

Tallinn industries include shipbuilding, machine building, metal processing, electronics, textile manufacturing. BLRT Grupp has its headquarters and some subsidiaries in Tallinn. Air Maintenance Estonia and AS Panaviatic Maintenance, both based in Tallinn Airport, provide MRO services for aircraft, largely expanding their operations in recent years.

Food processing Edit

Liviko, the maker of Vana Tallinn liqueur, strongly associated with the city, is based in Tallinn. The headquarters of Kalev, a confectionery company and part of the industrial conglomerate Orkla Group, is located in Lehmja, southeast of Tallinn.

Retail Edit

The city draws large numbers of shopping tourists from countries within the region. When new planned retail developments are completed, Tallinn will have almost 2 square metres of shopping floor space per inhabitant. As Estonia is already ranked third in Europe in terms of shopping centre space per inhabitant, ahead of Sweden and being surpassed only by Norway and Luxembourg, it will further improve the positions of the city as the major centre of shopping. [64]

Notable headquarters Edit

  • European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice [65][66][13] is based in Tallinn. has its software development centre located in Tallinn. [67] has its IT development centre located in Tallinn. [68] has its IT centre located in Tallinn. [69] Financial Solutions has its global IT development and innovation centre located in Tallinn. [70] has one of its biggest production facilities in Europe located in Tallinn, focusing on the production of 4G communication devices. [71] has announced moving the group's financial centre to Tallinn. [72]

Institutions of higher education and science include:

Museums Edit

Tallinn is home to more than 60 museums and galleries. [73] Most of them are located in Kesklinn, the central district of the city, and cover Tallinn's rich history.

One of the most visited historical museums in Tallinn is the Estonian History Museum, located in Great Guild Hall at Vanalinn, the old part of the city. [74] It covers Estonia's history from prehistoric times up until the end of the 20th century. [75] It features film and hands-on displays that show how Estonian dwellers lived and survived. [75]

The Estonian Maritime Museum provides a detailed overview of nation's seafaring past. This museum in also located in city's Old Town, where it occupies one of Tallinn's former defensive structures – Fat Margaret's Tower. [76] Another historical museum that can be found at city's Old Town, just behind the Town Hall, is Tallinn City Museum. It covers Tallinn's history from pre-history until 1991, when Estonia regained its independence. [77] Tallinn City Museum owns nine more departments and museums around the city, [77] one of which is Tallinn's Museum of Photography, also located just behind the Town Hall. It features permanent exhibition that covers 100 years of photography in Estonia. [78]

Estonia's Museum of Occupation is yet another historical museum located in Tallinn's central district. It covers the 52 years when Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. [79] Not far away is another museum related to the Soviet occupation of Estonia, the KGB Museum, which occupies the 23rd floor of Sokos Hotel Viru. It features equipment, uniforms, and documents of Russian Secret Service agents. [80]

Tallinn is also home to two major natural science museums – Estonian Museum of Natural History and Estonian Health Care Museum, both located in Old Town. The Estonian Museum of Natural Science features several seasonal and temporary themed exhibitions that provide an overview of wildlife in Estonia and around the world. [81] The Estonian Health Care Museum features permanent exhibitions on anatomy and health care its collections and displays cover the history of medicine in Estonia. [82]

Estonia's capital is also home to many art and design museums. The Estonian Art Museum, the country's biggest art museum, now consists of four branches – Kumu Art Museum, Kadriorg Art Museum, Mikkel Museum, and Niguliste Museum. Kumu Art Museum features the country's largest collection of contemporary and modern art. It also displays Estonian art starting from the early 18th century. [83] Those who are interested in Western European and Russian art may enjoy Kadriorg Art Museum collections, located in Kadriorg Palace, a beautiful Baroque building erected by Peter the Great. It stores and displays about 9,000 works of art from the 16th to 20th centuries. [84] The Mikkel Museum, in Kadriorg Park, displays a collection of mainly Western art – ceramics and Chinese porcelain donated by Johannes Mikkel in 1994. The Niguliste Museum occupies former St. Nicholas' Church it displays collections of historical ecclesiastical art spanning nearly seven centuries from the Middle Ages to post-Reformation art.

Those that are interested in design and applied art may enjoy the Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design collection of Estonian contemporary designs. It displays up to 15.000 pieces of work made of textile art, ceramics, porcelain, leather, glass, jewellery, metalwork, furniture, and product design. [85] To experience more relaxed, culture-oriented exhibits, one may turn to Museum of Estonian Drinking Culture. This museum showcases the historic Luscher & Matiesen Distillery as well as the history of Estonian alcohol production. [86]

Once every year, Estonian museums and other heritage sites open their doors to visitors for free of charge. The event is affiliated with the Night of Museums programme across Europe. Each year, the Night of Museums is dedicated to a specific theme.

Lauluväljak Edit

The Estonian Song Festival (in Estonian: Laulupidu) is one of the largest choral events in the world [ dubious – discuss ] [ verification needed ] , listed by the UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. It is held every five years in July on the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds (Lauluväljak) simultaneously with the Estonian Dance Festival. [87] The joint choir has comprised more than 30,000 singers performing to an audience of 80,000. [87] [88]

Often referred to as The Singing Nation, the Estonians have one of the biggest collections of folk songs in the world [ dubious – discuss ] [ verification needed ] , with written records of about 133,000 folk songs. [89] From 1987, a cycle of mass demonstrations featuring spontaneous singing of national songs and hymns that were strictly forbidden during the years of the Soviet occupation to peacefully resist the illegal oppression. In September 1988, a record 300,000 people, more than a quarter of all Estonians, gathered in Tallinn for a song festival. [90]

Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival Edit

Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (Estonian: Pimedate Ööde Filmifestival, or PÖFF), is an annual film festival held since 1997 in Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia. PÖFF is the only festival in the Nordic and Baltic region with a FIAPF (International Federation of Film Producers Association) accreditation for holding an international competition programme in the Nordic and Baltic region with 14 other non-specialised festivals, such as Cannes, Berlin, Venice. With over 250 feature films screened each year and over 77500 attendances (2014), PÖFF is one of the largest film events of Northern Europe and cultural events in Estonia in the winter season. During its 19th edition in 2015 the festival screened more than 600 films (including 250+ feature-length films from 80 different countries), bringing over 900 screenings to an audience of over 80, 000 people as well as over 700 accredited guests and journalists from 50 different countries. In 2010 the festival held the European Film Awards ceremony in Tallinn.

Cuisine Edit

The traditional cuisine of Tallinn reflects culinary traditions of the Northern Estonia, the role of the city as a fishing port, and the Baltic German influence. Numerous cafés (Estonian: Kohvik) have played a major role in a social life of the city since the 19th century, as have bars, especially in the Kesklinn district.

The marzipan industry in Tallinn has a very long history. The production of marzipan started in the Middle Ages, almost simultaneously in Tallinn and Lübeck, both members of the Hanseatic League. In 1695, marzipan was mentioned as a medicine, under the designation of Panis Martius, in the price lists of the Tallinn Town Hall Pharmacy. [92] The modern era of marzipan in Tallinn began in 1806, when the Swiss confectioner Lorenz Caviezel set up his confectionery on Pikk Street. In 1864 it was bought and expanded by Georg Stude and now is known as the Maiasmokk café. In the late 19th century marzipan figurines made by Reval confectioners were supplied to the Russian Imperial Family. [93] Today, along with mass production, unique projects are made, such as a 12 kg scale model of the Estonia Theatre. [94]

The most symbolic seafood dish of Tallinn is "Vürtsikilu" – spicy sprats, pickled with a distinctive set of spices including black pepper, allspice and cloves. Making vürtsikilu presumably originated from the city outskirts, beginning in the late 18th or the early 19th century. In 1826 Tallinn merchants exported nearly 40,000 cans of vürtsikilu to Saint Petersburg, then the capital of the Russian Empire. [95] A closely associated dish is a "Kiluvõileib" – a traditional rye bread open sandwich with a thin layer of butter and a layer of vürtsikilu as a topping. Boiled egg slices, mayonnaise and culinary herbs are optional extra toppings.

Alcoholic beverages produced in the city include beers, vodkas, and liqueurs, the latter (such as Vana Tallinn) being the most characteristic. Also, the number of craft beer breweries has expanded sharply in Tallinn over the last decade, entering local and regional markets.


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Tallinn, Russian Tallin, German Reval, formerly (until 1918) Revel, city, capital of Estonia, on Tallinn Bay of the Gulf of Finland. A fortified settlement existed there from the late 1st millennium bc until the 10th–11th century ad , and there was a town on the site in the 12th century. In 1219 it was captured by the Danes, who built a new fortress on Toompea hill. Trade flourished, especially after Tallinn joined the Hanseatic League in 1285. In 1346 it was sold to the Teutonic Knights, and on the dissolution of the order in 1561 it passed to Sweden. Peter I (the Great) captured Tallinn in 1710, and it remained a Russian city until it became the capital of independent Estonia from 1918 to 1940. (Estonia was annexed to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics from 1940 to 1991.) The city was occupied by German forces from 1941 to 1944 and was severely damaged. After the Supreme Soviet of Estonia declared independence in 1991, Tallinn became the capital of the newly independent state.

Both in 1940 and again in 1944–49, many Estonian citizens of Tallinn were deported and imprisoned by Soviet forces for alleged conspiracy, collaboration with the Germans, and opposition to collectivization. Of those exiled, a large proportion settled in Sweden or North America. Russians immigrated to the Estonian capital and now comprise two-fifths of the population. Ethnic Estonians make up roughly half of the city’s population.

Many relics of Tallinn’s long history survive or have been restored, especially on Toompea hill and in the old, walled Lower Town. They include the 13th-century Toom Church, the Gothic Oleviste and Niguliste churches, the Great Guildhall of 1410, the 14th-century Rathus, and much of the old castle. The city’s historic centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997. Today Tallinn is a major commercial and fishing port and industrial centre. Shipbuilding and machine building head a range of engineering industries, and many consumer goods are produced. The cultural centre of Estonia, Tallinn has an academy of sciences polytechnic, fine-arts, and teacher-training institutes a music conservatory and several theatres and museums. Tallinn Airport, servicing both domestic and international flights, is the biggest airport in the Baltics. Pop. (2007 est.) 396,852.

Geography and history education in Estonia: processes, policies and practices in an ethnically divided society from the late 1980s to the early 2000s

This article studies processes, policies and practices for geography and history education in Estonia. The analysis covers the societal transformation period in an ethnically divided society from the 1980s to the early 2000s characterized by Estonia’s disintegration from the Soviet Union towards the integration to the European Union and NATO. Geography and history education curricula, textbooks and related policies and practices promoted a particular national time-space by supporting the belongingness of Estonia into Europe, rejecting connections towards Russia and suggesting a division between ethnic Estonians and ethnically non-Estonian residents of Estonia. In geography and history textbooks, the Russian-speaking population, comprising then almost a third of the entire population of Estonia, was divided into non-loyal, semi-loyal and loyal groups of whom only the latter could be integrated in the Estonian time-space. The formal education policies for geography and history supported Estonia’s disintegration from the Soviet past and pawed way to integration to the western political and economic structures. However, challenging market and sensitive cultural contexts created peculiar, alternative and sometimes opposing local practices in geography and history education.

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