Estonia Travel Information

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Estonian Nature Conservation in 2007 Diversity of nature in Estonia (An 83 page book in PDF).
Estonian Ecotourism Association Connects individuals, organizations and authorities for tourism development that contributes to the local communities and conserves the natural and culture heritage of Estonia.

Facts About Estonia

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.
Government type: parliamentary democracy
Capital: Tallinn
Currency: 1 Estonian kroon (EEK) = 100 sents

Geography of Estonia

Location: Eastern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Finland, between Latvia and Russia
Geographic coordinates: 59 00 N, 26 00 E
Area:
total: 45,226 sq km
land: 43,211 sq km
water: 2,015 sq km
note: includes 1,520 islands in the Baltic Sea
Land boundaries:
total: 633 km
border countries: Latvia 339 km, Russia 294 km
Coastline: 3,794 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: limits fixed in coordination with neighboring states
territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate: maritime, wet, moderate winters, cool summers
Terrain: marshy, lowlands
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Baltic Sea 0 m
highest point: Suur Munamagi 318 m
Natural resources: shale oil (kukersite), peat, phosphorite, amber, cambrian blue clay, limestone, dolomite, arable land
Land use:
arable land: 25%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 11%
forests and woodland: 44%
other: 20% (1996 est.)
Irrigated land: 110 sq km (1996 est.)
Natural hazards: flooding occurs frequently in the spring
Environment - current issues: air heavily polluted with sulfur dioxide from oil-shale burning power plants in northeast; contamination of soil and groundwater with petroleum products, chemicals at former Soviet military bases; Estonia has more than 1,400 natural and manmade lakes, the smaller of which in agricultural areas are heavily affected by organic waste; coastal sea water is polluted in many locations.
Environment - international agreements:
party to:  Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 85, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ship Pollution, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Geography - note: the mainland terrain is flat, boggy, and partly wooded; offshore lie more than 1,500 islands.

People of Estonia

The name "Eesti," or Estonia, is derived from the word "Aisti," the name given by the ancient Germans to the peoples living northeast of the Vistula River. The Roman historian Tacitus in the first century A.D. was the first to mention the Aisti, and early Scandinavians called the land south of the Gulf of Finland "Eistland," and the people "aistr." Estonians belong to the Baltic-Finnic group of the Finno-Ugric peoples, as do the Finns and Hungarians. Archaeological research supports the existence of human activity in the region as early as 8,000 BC but by 3,500 BC the principal ancestors of the Estonians had arrived from the east.

Estonians look like and consider themselves Nordics, evidenced through the strong cultural and religious influences gained over centuries during Germanic and Scandinavian colonization and settlement. This highly literate society places strong emphasis upon education, which is free and compulsory until age 16. The first book in Estonian was printed in 1525. Most Estonians belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church, but a sizable minority are Russian Orthodox.

From 1945-1989 the percentage of ethnic Estonians in Estonia dropped from 94% to 61%, caused primarily by the Soviet program promoting mass immigration of urban industrial workers from Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, as well as by wartime emigration and Stalin's mass deportations and executions. Estonia's citizenship law and constitution meet international and OSCE standards, guaranteeing universal human and civil rights.

Written with the Latin alphabet, Estonian is the language of the Estonian people and the official language of the country. One-third of the standard vocabulary is derived from adding suffixes to root words. The oldest known examples of written Estonian originate in 13th century chronicles. The Soviet era had imposed the official use of Russian, so most Estonians speak Russian as a second language while the resident Slavic populace speaks Russian as a first language.

Population: 1,332,893 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  17.08% 
15-64 years:  68.14%
65 years and over:  14.78%
Population growth rate: -0.55% 
Birth rate: 8.7 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 13.48 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: -0.76 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 12.62 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  69.73 years
male:  63.72 years
female:  76.05 years 
Total fertility rate: 1.21 children born/woman 
Nationality:
noun: Estonian(s)
adjective: Estonian
Ethnic groups: Estonian 65.1%, Russian 28.1%, Ukrainian 2.5%, Byelorussian 1.5%, Finn 1%, other 1.8% (1998)
Religions: Evangelical Lutheran, Russian Orthodox, Estonian Orthodox, Baptist, Methodist, Seventh-Day Adventist, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Word of Life, Jewish
Languages: Estonian (official), Russian, Ukrainian, English, Finnish, other
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 100%  (1998 est.)

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Estonia > Map Economy History