The one minute summary on Estonia

This is it: one minute to the best info on Estonia. This info alone will put you ahead of 99% of foreigners visiting Estonia, garner the admiration of the locals who will instantly want to be your friends, and the envy of your fellow travelers. Read on. You’ll make friends faster that way, become a traveler instead of simply being a tourist, and also enjoy your travels a lot more.

After centuries of Danish, Swedish, German, and Russian rule, Estonia attained independence in 1918. Forcibly incorporated into the USSR in 1940 – an action never recognized by the US – 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 the West. It joined both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004, formally joined the OECD in late 2010, and adopted the euro as its official currency on 1 January 2011.

That was it. I promised one minute.

For other condensed info check also my other posts on local culture (don’t make the mistakes I made), local food or local drinks. And when you call your friends to tell them you were by far the most knowledgeable at the party, do that with confidence that you’ll not get hit with a 6.99 per minute bill. You’ll also pick the local food from the tray, and order a local drink with confidence.

  1. Cultural Mistakes To Avoid in  Estonia
  2. Does my current phone work in  Estonia ? Tips to cell phone usage in  Estonia
  3. Local food you should try in  Estonia and No miss drinks in  Estonia

Now, cheers to the most Estonia aware person at the cocktail party.

What are the key history moments for Estonia?

Estonia Smart photo

Photo by sludgegulper

After 7 centuries of German, Danish, Swedish, Polish and Russian rule, Estonia attained independence in 1918. Annexed into the USSR in 1940, it re-gained independence in 1991 through its Singing Revolution , a non-violent revolution that overthrew an initially violent occupation. Since the last Russian troops left in 1994, Estonia moved to promote economic and political ties with Western Europe. It is now one of the more-prosperous former Communist states, enjoying a high-tech environment, an open and liberal economy and a transparent government system. On the other hand, it is faced with a fairly low (but growing) GDP per capita (in a European Union context), as well as a very low birth rate, which is creating a population decline.

Between 1991-2007, the country saw rapid economic expansion, leading it to be among one of the wealthiest and the most developed of the former Soviet Republics. However, its economy was badly damaged during the ongoing global recession, although more recently, it has been recovering quickly. In 2011, the Euro was adopted as the official currency. Since accession to the EU, Estonia is becoming one of the most popular destinations in North-Eastern Europe with (EU highest) 30% growth in the number of visitors in 2004, according to Eurostat.

The one minute summary for Estonia geography

Climate maritime, wet, moderate winters, cool summers Terrain marshy, lowlands; flat in the north, hilly in the south Elevation extremes lowest point: Baltic Sea 0 m highest point: Suur Munamägi 318 m (in the south east of Estonia, 20km north of the main highway that runs from Riga to Russia close to the borders of Estonia with both countries). Geography – note the mainland terrain is flat, boggy, and partly wooded; offshore lie more than 1,500 islands and islets Nature World War II and the subsequent occupation were devastating on humans, but the destruction and the closure of large areas for military use actually increased Estonia’s forest coverage from about 25% before the war to more than 50% by 1991. Wolves, bears, lynx, elks, deers as well as some rare bird and plant species are abundant in Estonia. The wild animals from Estonia are exported to some EU countries for forest repopulation programmes. Most animals can be hunted – according to yearly quotas.

Best places to see in Estonia

Medieval History & Manors The main reason most people first come to Estonia is to see the best protected and intact medieval city in Europe – Tallinn. The unique value of Tallinn’s Old Town lies first and foremost in the well-preserved (intact) nature of its medieval milieu and structure, which has been lost in most of the capitals of northern Europe. Since 1997, the Old Town of Tallinn has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. Living under the rule of Scandinavian kings, Russian empire and Teutonic Knights has left Estonia with unique and rich blend of historic landmarks. Over one thousand manors were built across Estonia from the 13th century onwards. Some of the manors have perished or fallen into ruins but a lot have been reconstructed and now are favourite attractions with tourists.

Estonia Smart photo

Photo by cj.sveningsson

Nowadays there are about 200 manor houses under state protection as architectural monuments and 100 in active use. Islands & Coastline Bogs are clean in Estonia and provide a unique swimming experience Jägala falls to -20°C in winter Estonia has over 1,500 islands. The nature is essentially untouched and offers quite a different beach experience with their remoter rustic feel. Most of the public beaches are sandy and the average water temperature is 18°C in summer. Inland waters and some shallow bays’ waters are even warmer. The largest island is Saaremaa with an intact and well-restored medieval castle in its only city, Kuressaare. Stone fences, thatched roofs, working windmills and home made beer are all distinctive to Saaremaa.

Hiiumaa, on the other hand, is well known for its lighthouses, unspoilt nature, the Hill of Crosses and the sense of humour of its inhabitants. Both islands have an airport so they can be quickly reached from Tallinn. Other important islands include Kihnu, Ruhnu (with its “singing sand” beach), Muhu and Vormsi, each with its own unique characteristics. Most of the other tiny Estonian islands don’t carry much cultural significance, but can be appealing for bird watching, canoeing, sailing or fishing etc. In July and August, Pärnu, Estonia’s summer capital, is the main attraction. The coastline itself has loads of untouched beaches and a tour from Narva-Jõesuu (in the East) towards Tallinn is great for exploring the coastline. Some of the well known places include Toila, Võsu, Käsmu and Kaberneeme.