About Estonia - General Information
Language of Estonia
The official language, Estonian, belongs to the Finnic branch of the Uralic languages. Estonian is closely related to Finnish, spoken on the other side of the Gulf of Finland, and is one of the few languages of Europe that is not of an Indo-European origin. Despite some overlaps in the vocabulary due to borrowings, in terms of its origin, Estonian and Finnish are not related to their nearest geographical neighbours, Swedish, Latvian, and Russian, which are all Indo-European languages.
Although the Estonian and Germanic languages are of very different origins, one can identify many similar words in Estonian and German, for example. This is primarily because the Estonian language has borrowed nearly one third of its vocabulary from Germanic languages, mainly from Low Saxon (Middle Low German) during the period of German rule, and High German (including standard German). The percentage of Low Saxon and High German loanwords can be estimated at 22–25 percent, with Low Saxon making up about 15 percent.
Russian is still spoken as a secondary language by forty- to seventy-year-old ethnic Estonians, because Russian was the unofficial language of the Estonian SSR from 1944 to 1991 and taught as a compulsory second language during the Soviet era. In 1998, most first- and second-generation industrial immigrants from the former Soviet Union (mainly the Russian SFSR) did not speak Estonian. However, by 2010, 64.1% of non-ethnic Estonians spoke Estonian.
The latter, mostly Russian-speaking ethnic minorities reside predominantly in the capital city of Tallinn and the industrial urban areas in Ida-Virumaa. In the small Noarootsi Parish in Läänemaa (known as Nuckö kommun in Swedish and Noarootsi vald in Estonian) there are 22 villages with bilingual Swedish and Estonian names.
The most common foreign languages learned by Estonian students are English, Russian, German and French. Other popular languages include Finnish, Spanish and Swedish.
Climate Of Estonia
Estonia lies in the northern part of the temperate climate zone and in the transition zone between maritime and continental climate. Because Estonia (and all of Northern Europe) is continuously warmed by maritime air influenced by the heat content of the northern Atlantic Ocean, it has a milder climate despite its northern latitude. The Baltic Sea causes differences between the climate of coastal and inland areas. Estonia has four seasons of near-equal length. Average temperatures range from 16.3 °C (61.3 °F) on the Baltic islands to 18.1 °C (64.6 °F) inland in July, the warmest month, and from −3.5 °C (25.7 °F) on the Baltic islands to −7.6 °C (18.3 °F) inland in February, the coldest month.
Population Of Estonia
Estonia is a democratic parliamentary republic divided into fifteen counties, with its capital and largest city being Tallinn. With a population of 1.3 million, it is one of the least-populous member states of the European Union, Eurozone and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The Estonians are a Finnic people, and the official language, Estonian, is a Finno-Ugric language closely related to Finnish, and distantly to Hungarian and to the Sami languages. Estonia is also a part of the Schengen Area.
According to the most recent Eurobarometer Poll 2010, 18% of Estonian citizens responded that "they believe there is a God", whereas 50% answered that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 29% that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, god, or life force". This, according to the survey, would have made Estonians the most non-religious people in the then 25-member European Union. A survey conducted in 2006–2008 by Gallup showed that 14% of Estonians answered positively to the question: "Is religion an important part of your daily life?", which was the lowest among 143 countries polled.
Less than a third of the population define themselves as believers; of those, the majority are Lutheran, whereas the Russian minority is Eastern Orthodox. Ancient equinoctial traditions (like St John's Day) are held in high regard. In 2000, according to the census, 29.2% of the population considered themselves to be related to any religion, thereof:
13.6% Lutheran Christians
12.8% Orthodox Christians
5,745 Roman Catholics
4,254 Jehovah's Witnesses
2,515 Old Believers
5,008 followers of other religions
There are also a number of smaller Protestant, Jewish, and Buddhist groups. The organisation Maavalla Koda (Taaraism) unites adherents of animist traditional religions. The Russian neopagan organisation "Vene Rahvausu Kogudus Eestis" is registered in Tartu.
Estonia's land border with Latvia runs 267 kilometers; the Russian border runs 290 kilometers. From 1920 to 1945, Estonia's border with Russia, set by the 1920 Tartu Peace Treaty, extended beyond the Narva River in the northeast and beyond the town of Pechory (Petseri) in the southeast. This territory, amounting to some 2,300 square kilometres (888 sq mi), was incorporated into Russia by Stalin at the end of World War II. For this reason the borders between Estonia and Russia are still not defined.
Estonia lies on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea immediately across the Gulf of Finland from Finland on the level northwestern part of the rising East European platform between 57.3° and 59.5° N and 21.5° and 28.1° E. Average elevation reaches only 50 metres (164 ft) and the country's highest point is the Suur Munamägi in the southeast at 318 metres (1,043 ft). There is 3,794 kilometres (2,357 mi) of coastline marked by numerous bays, straits, and inlets. The number of islands and islets is estimated at some 1,500. Two of them are large enough to constitute separate counties: Saaremaa and Hiiumaa. A small, recent cluster of meteorite craters, the largest of which is called Kaali is found on Saaremaa, Estonia.
Estonia is situated in the northern part of the temperate climate zone and in the transition zone between maritime and continental climate. Estonia has four seasons of near-equal length. Average temperatures range from 16.3 °C (61.3 °F) on the Baltic islands to 18.1 °C (64.6 °F) inland in July, the warmest month, and from −3.5 °C (25.7 °F) on the Baltic islands to −7.6 °C (18.3 °F) inland in February, the coldest month. The average annual temperature in Estonia is 5.2 °C (41.4 °F). The average precipitation in 1961–1990 ranged from 535 to 727 mm (21.1 to 28.6 in) per year.
Snow cover, which is deepest in the south-eastern part of Estonia, usually lasts from mid-December to late March. Estonia has over 1,400 lakes. Most are very small, with the largest, Lake Peipus, (Peipsi in Estonian) being 3,555 km2 (1,373 sq mi). There are many rivers in the country. The longest of them are Võhandu (162 km or 101 mi), Pärnu (144 km or 89 mi), and Põltsamaa (135 km or 84 mi). Estonia has numerous fens and bogs. Forests cover 61% of Estonia. The most common tree species are pine, spruce and birch.
Phytogeographically, Estonia is shared between the Central European and Eastern European provinces of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. According to the WWF, the territory of Estonia belongs to the ecoregion of Sarmatic mixed forests.
From 2011, Estonia official currency is Euro. On the 1st of January 2011, Estonia joined the euro-zone and switched the Estonian Kroons to euros. During the adoption phase, shops (and other establishments) displayed the prices both in kroons as well as euros and it still may be the case in some shops. Seeing two currencies on a price tag may feel just a tiny bit confusing, but the only official currency in Estonia is euro and hopefully, all of the price tags will be updated soon.
Credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard/ Eurocard, Diner's Club, American Express etc. are accepted in most of the major hotels, restaurants and shops. Most banks will give cash advances on credit cards supported by a valid passport. Check with the credit card company for further details before travelling.
Politics in Estonia takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister of Estonia is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Legislative power is vested in the Estonian parliament. Executive power is exercised by the Government which is led by the Prime Minister. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. Estonia is a member of United Nations, European Union and NATO, among others.
Estonia is a member of the European Union and of the eurozone and, according to the IMF, an advanced economy. 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 on the western European markets. The main markets were Germany and the United Kingdom, and only 3% of all commerce was with the neighbouring USSR.