Estonia

Article

August 13, 2022

The Republic of Estonia (Estonian: Eesti Vabariik) is a country in Northern Europe. It is the smallest and northernmost country of the three republics that make up the Baltics. It borders the Baltic Sea to the north and west, Latvia to the south and Russia to the east. Estonia consists of a flat peninsula, and in the Baltic Sea you can find the two large islands of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa. The border with Russia is dominated by Lake Peipus. The population was approximately 1.3 million in 2019. Estonia was part of the Russian Empire from 1721 until the Russian Revolution in 1918 and was subject to the Soviet Union from World War II until 1991. Along with Latvia and Lithuania, Estonia was the only European country to become independent after World War I and to lose independence again. Estonia had the highest standard of living of the Soviet republics, significantly higher than Russia. Historically, Estonia has connections to Sweden and Denmark; Linguistically and culturally, the country has close ties to Finland. Estonia was subject to Denmark between 1219 and 1346, and the Estonian island of Øsel (Saaremaa) between 1559 and 1645, and was thus part of Denmark's colonial empire. Estonia was subject to Sweden between 1561 and 1721. Estonia's capital and largest city is Tallinn with 448,764 inhabitants (1 January 2018). Before World War II, 90% of the population were Estonians, but due to deportations and the immigration of Russians, their share has dropped to 68.8%. The remaining composition is 25.6% Russians, 2.1% Ukrainians, 1.2% Belarusians, 0.8% Finns and 1.5% who are of other nationalities. Life expectancy for men is 73.1 years and for women it is 81 years. Estonia became a member of the UN in 1991, of NATO in 2004 and of the EU in 2004. On 1 January 2011, the country switched to the euro as currency. Estonia became a member of the OECD in 2010.

Natural Geography

Estonia is located on the east coast of the Baltic Sea with the Gulf of Finland to the north, Russia to the east and Latvia to the south. The country is flat and the average height is no higher than 50 meters, and the highest point in the country, Suur Munamägi, is in the southeast at 318 meters. The bedrock is covered by a layer of limestone, sandstone and claystone. The coast in the north is characterized by limestone cliffs, "cliffs", which are at most 56 meters high. The bedrock lies deep below the sedimentary rocks. In the northern parts, the bedrock is covered by a 200-metre layer of limestone, in the south a layer of sandstone and claystone about 600 meters thick, which forms a partly hilly landscape. In the west and north-west the coast is low and covered with sand. Lake Peipus is also surrounded by sandy beaches. Oil shale (or kukersite, especially east of Tallinn along the Gulf of Finland) and limestone, along with the forested areas that cover 47% of the country, play an important economic role in Estonia, which otherwise has few natural resources. Extraction and burning of shale oil has left kilometer-long piles of slag and ash at Kohtla-Järve where a thermal power plant produced so much electricity (around 1980) that the plant contributed to Leningrad's electricity supply. Around 1980, 30 million tonnes of oil shale were extracted annually and the reserves were then estimated to last for 200 years at the then rate of extraction. Estonia has over 1,400 lakes. Most are very small, but the largest, Peipus (Peipsi in Estonian), is, with 3,555 km², one of the largest lakes in Europe. It forms most of the border between Estonia and Russia. Most of the lakes are shallow (like in Finland), Peipus is only 15 meters deep. Many rivers also flow through the country, the longest of Estonia's rivers being Võhandu (162 km), Pärnu (144 km) and Põltsamaa (135 km). Estonia also has many marshlands, wetlands and marshlands, especially in the western part of the mainland towards the Baltic Sea around Haapsalu. The coastline is 3,794 km long with many bays, straits and coves. The number of islands and islets is estimated at 1,500, and the two largest are Saaremaa and Hiiumaa, both of which are their own counties. The islands make up around 10% of the country's area. Around 32% of the country's area is cultivated land, 21% is marsh and 40