|Republic of Estonia|
|State and form of government||parliamentary republic|
|Head of state||
|Head of government||
|population||1.3 million ( 151st ) (2019)|
|Population density||30 inhabitants per km²|
|Population development||+ 0.3% (estimate for 2019)|
gross domestic product
|Human Development Index||0.892 ( 29. ) (2019)|
|independence||February 24, 1918 (declaration)
August 20, 1991 (recovery)
Mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm
("My fatherland, my happiness and [my] joy")
|National holiday||February 24th (Independence Day)|
UTC + 2 EET
UTC + 3 EESZ (March to October)
|ISO 3166||EE , EST, 233|
Cities in Estonia
Estonia [ ˈeːstlant; ˈƐstlant ] ( Estonian Eesti [ ˈeːsʲti ], officially the Republic of Estonia , Estonian Eesti Vabariik ) is a state in the Baltic States . As the northernmost of the three Baltic states , it borders Latvia in the south, Russia in the east and the Baltic Sea in the north and west . There are close ties to Finland across the Gulf of Finland , and historically there are many cultural ties to Germany through the Baltic Germans .
The state, which was independent for the first time from 1918 to 1940 and again since 1991, is a member of the United Nations , and since 2004 of the EU . Estonia has also been a member of the Council of Europe , NATO and the OSCE , the OWCE since 2010 and the euro zone since 2011 .
Estonia is located in the north of the Baltic States . The allocation of the entire region is in turn controversial and is influenced not only by geographical factors but also by historical, cultural and political aspects. The Baltic states are assigned to Northern Europe as well as Central Europe , Eastern Europe and Northeastern Europe .
Estonia is located on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea . In terms of area, it is somewhat smaller than Lower Saxony and somewhat larger than Switzerland . The forest and hill country, rich in lakes, with many moors (partly extraction of peat ) has an average height of only . In the south-eastern moraine area it rises to the Livonian hill country to the highest point, the Suur Munamägi (318 meters). The largest lake is Peipsi järv ( Lake Peipus ), the largest islands are Saaremaa and Hiiumaa .
The entire coastline has a length of 3,794 kilometers. It is characterized by several gulfs (such as the Riga Bay ), straits and inlets.
Estonia's climate is generally cool-temperate to harsh with cold, frosty winters and moderately warm summers on a par with Northern Europe. The annual mean temperature in the capital Tallinn is 4.5 ° C, with 650 millimeters of precipitation falling with a maximum in late summer. An average of 16.5 ° C is reached in July and −6.0 ° C in January. Despite the cold winter, the coasts mostly remain ice-free.
Flora and fauna
More than 50% of the Estonian land area is forested . The most common deciduous tree in Estonian forests is the birch . It is a much-sung motif in songs and folk poetry and a national symbol of the country. The Scots pine is particularly common on sandy soils near the sea . It takes up about 35% of the Estonian forest area. Its importance is greatest on the offshore islands of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa and in the Harjumaa district . Also, spruce , fir and larch are among the local Estonian conifer species.
Large mammal species in Estonia include elk (approx. 12,000), red deer (approx. 2,800), roe deer (approx. 50,000) and brown bears (approx. 600), lynx (approx. 800), wolves (approx. 150) and wild boar (approx. 20,000) native and huntable. There are also red foxes , beavers (around 20,000), martens (including the European mink with around 25 specimens on Hiiumaa ) and the more rare mountain hares (around 12,000).
The largest nature reserve in the country is Otepää looduspark ( Otepää Nature Park ) with approx. 222 km².
Estonia has inter alia international importance as a breeding area for the double-tailed snipe and as a migration area for numerous migratory birds. Furthermore, eight of the nine European woodpecker species breed in the country.
Today Estonia consists of the former, 1710-1918 belonging to the Russian Empire Baltic province Governorate of Estonia and the northern part of Livonia , which also includes the island of Saaremaa (Ösel) belonged.
The vassals who came into the country with the Teutonic Order came together for the first time in 1252 to form an autonomous state administration, which was confirmed by the Danish north of Estonia until 1346. After the reign of the order came to an end in 1561, the Hanseatic cities and the knighthoods in the countryside performed their self-governmental tasks under public law. These state privileges, a kind of statute of autonomy, were confirmed by the Swedish authorities and remained unaffected even after the Russian conquest of Estonia in the Great Northern War (1710).
The upper class of townspeople and landowners spoke German, until 1885 German was the language of instruction and the language of authorities. Due to a Russification campaign by the Russian Tsarist government, Russian replaced German in this role.
Played a central role in the development of their own cultural and political identity, the University of Tartu (Tartu), on the 1870 since the years the student Estonians aware not about membership in the corporations wanted to assimilate, but especially in the Estonian Students' Society , a promoted their own identity. During the fall of the Russian Empire during the October Revolution , Estonia gained independence on February 24, 1918. In the electoral law of the constituent assembly of November 24, 1918, women and men were granted universal active and passive suffrage, so that women's suffrage was introduced at the same time as men's suffrage. The Constitution of 1920 confirmed this right.
In the years 1939 to 1940, the Baltic Germans were brought from Estonia and Latvia by the National Socialists under the motto Heim ins Reich as part of a resettlement in the German Reich . The reason was the agreement concluded in the secret agreement on the Hitler-Stalin Pact to add the Baltic States to the Soviet sphere of interest.
Under massive pressure and threats of violence, Estonia, along with Latvia and Lithuania, was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940 in accordance with the provisions laid down in the German-Soviet non-aggression pact to delimit and define the German and Soviet spheres of interest. According to the Soviet interpretation, the Baltic states acceded to the USSR, but for the entire period of Estonia's membership of the USSR, there was an Estonian government in exile, whose continuity is also recognized in today's official interpretation of Estonia. Even internationally, the annexation was largely not recognized until independence was regained. The Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic was proclaimed with the support of Soviet emissaries after Estonia had previously had to tolerate Soviet troops on its territory. The women's suffrage remained.
1940/41 made mass deportations of Estonians, especially from the ownership and educated middle class , in the interior of the Soviet Union. Many of them perished in the Gulag penal camps . After the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, the country was occupied by German troops until 1944 and was administratively assigned to the Reichskommissariat Ostland . During this time, the Nazi rulers' genocide policy against the Jews was also pursued in Estonia with the participation of locals. Around 1,000 local Jews and around 10,000 Jews from Eastern and Central Europe were killed in the Holocaust .
Due to the experience with the Soviet occupation forces, many Estonians joined the German troops, and Estonians also fought on the Soviet side. Tens of thousands of Estonians fled west to Germany in 1944 (from there later to America and Australia), not a few to Sweden or Finland. After the renewed occupation by the Red Army in autumn 1944, the country was incorporated into the Soviet Union with the restoration of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic from 1940/41. This was followed by further deportations of supposedly or actually hostile Estonian residents and reprisals against so-called enemies of the people.
During the Second World War, the Swedish-speaking population, who had mainly lived on the islands of Hiiumaa (Dagö), Vormsi (Worms) and Ruhnu (Runö), also left the country. Until then, they had kept their Estonian Swedish , which, along with Finland Swedish, is one of the eastern Swedish dialects.
In the period from 1945 to 1990, the targeted settlement of non-Estonian Soviet citizens, especially Russians, changed the composition of the population by nationality significantly to the detriment of the native Estonian population.
Renewed independence in 1990
On March 30, 1990, Estonia declared itself a republic again.
On December 18, 1990, Estonia renounced any further participation in the Supreme Soviet of the USSR . In a referendum on March 3, 1991 on the future status of the republic, 78% of those eligible to vote voted for independence. The chairman of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Estonia, Arnold Rüütel , stated that a referendum has no legally binding effect. After the August coup in Moscow on August 20, 1991, the Supreme Council declared full independence from the Soviet Union. On August 23, 1991 the Soviet secret service KGB was banned and on August 25 all organs of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). The Soviet Union recognized Estonia's independence on September 6, 1991.
After several years of detachment from the Soviet Union - in the course of glasnost and perestroika , especially since 1988 - Estonia restored its sovereignty . This development was largely peaceful; it became known as the " Singing Revolution ". Women's suffrage was reaffirmed. Estonia became a member of NATO on March 29, 2004 . On September 14, 2003, the Estonian people voted in favor of joining the European Union in a referendum . On May 1, 2004, Estonia was admitted to the EU.
It joined the OECD on December 9, 2010 .
A major problem for Estonia is the emigration of young and qualified residents (mostly ethnic Estonians) to Scandinavia and Western Europe, with a consistently low birth rate.
Estonia is a parliamentary republic. The legislative power belongs to the Riigikogu (State Assembly / Parliament), which according to the Estonian constitution has 101 members. The Riigikogu is elected by all Estonian citizens over the age of 18; Estonian citizens have the right to vote at the age of 21.
The head of state is the President of the Republic of Estonia , who must be a national of Estonia by descent and be at least 40 years old. The office of president is mainly of a ceremonial nature. He or she represents Estonia under international law, appoints the Estonian ambassadors, certifies foreign envoys in Estonia and awards medals as well as military and diplomatic titles.
The government of the republic consists of the ministers and the prime minister (head of government). The Prime Minister is tasked with forming a government by the President and Parliament. The ministers then nominated by the prime minister-designate take their oath of office in parliament and are then appointed by the president together with the head of government.
The separation between head of state and head of government has only been practiced consistently in Estonia since the restoration of state independence in the 1990s.
In the parliamentary elections in Estonia on March 3, 2019 , the turnout was 63.7%.
|Name of the index||Index value||Worldwide rank||Interpretation aid||year|
|Fragile States Index||38.5 out of 120||148 of 178||Stability of the country: very stable
0 = very sustainable / 120 = very alarming
|Democracy index||7.84 out of 10||27 of 167||Incomplete democracy
0 = authoritarian regime / 10 = complete democracy
|Freedom in the World||94 of 100||---||Freedom status: free
0 = not free / 100 = free
|Freedom of the press ranking||15.25 out of 100||15 of 180||Satisfactory situation for freedom of the press
0 = good situation / 100 = very serious situation
|Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI)||75 out of 100||17 of 180||0 = very corrupt / 100 = very clean||2020|
Elections via the Internet
In Estonia, voting takes place in voting booths or over the Internet. In the Internet elections, voters can change their minds until the pre-election deadline. On election day, the internet vote can be corrected for the last time, if desired.
Coalitions from 1992
Since the Laar I cabinet took over in 1992, all Estonian governments have been supported by coalitions.
|years||cabinet||Social Democratic Party||Center Party||People's Union||Coalition party||Reform party||Res Publica||Patriotic Union||Estonian People's Conservative Party|
|left of center (social democratic)||left of center (social liberal)||left of center (agricultural)||Center (centrist)||right of center (classical liberalism)||right of center (conservative)||right of center (national conservative)||right of center (national conservative)|
|1992 election||12th||15th||0 + 0||17th||10 + 29|
|since 2021||K. Kallas|
On September 14, 2003, the Estonians voted to join the European Union. The turnout was 64%. With a majority of 66.9% yes to 33.1% no, the citizens voted for membership in the EU; this is the lowest approval rate of all Central and Eastern European EU new members.
On July 1, 2017, Estonia took over the EU Council Presidency for the first time since joining . After Great Britain had waived this due to the Brexit vote , Estonia had offered to start its presidency, which would otherwise start on January 1, 2018, six months earlier.
|Political party||%||Seats||European party||Group in the EP|
|Social Democratic Party||23.3||2||SPE||S&D|
|Conservative People's Party||12.7||1||ID||ID|
Border treaty with Russia
On May 18, 2005, the border treaty with Russia, which had been negotiated since 1999, was signed in Moscow. The delay was related to Russian President Vladimir Putin's refusal to accept the Estonian view of annexation in 1940 and the Treaty of Dorpat in 1920.
On June 27, 2005, however, Russia withdrew the signature because it did not agree with the draft preamble of the Estonian side, which they wanted to put in front of the treaty and in which the "decades of occupation" and the past "aggressions of the Soviet Union against Estonia ”. In 2011 a new border treaty was ratified by both sides.
In the course of the introduction of the Estonian euro coins , there was diplomatic resentment with Russia due to the representation of the Estonian borders on the reverse of the coins.
Estonia has its own armed forces with a total of around 25,000 people; Around 4,000 people are in active service. The armed forces are divided into the Army , Navy , Air Force and Estonian Defense Federation . There is a legal conscription for men. Estonia is a member of NATO .
Estonia spent almost 2.1% of its economic output or 536 million US dollars on its armed forces in 2017 .
The three tier judicial system in Estonia consists of
- 4 regional courts ( maakohus ) and 2 administrative courts ( halduskohus ) as the first instance
- 2 district courts ( ringkonnakohus ) as an appeal instance
- the State Court of Justice ( Riigikohus ) as an instance of cassation and constitutional court.
In its 2010 annual report, Amnesty International points out that there is recurring discrimination against minorities in Estonia. On October 15, 2010, Parliament passed a series of laws that criminalize non-violent actions and symbolic actions with flags of countries other than Estonian .
A conflict between Russian-speaking non-citizens and Estonians sparked in 2007 over the so-called bronze soldier of Tallinn . This Soviet-era war memorial was relocated from its original location in the city center of the Estonian capital to a military cemetery on the outskirts in April 2007 at the instigation of the Estonian authorities. This led to protests and bloody unrest, especially from the Russian-speaking population. Protests against the relocation of the monument were put down by Estonian security forces; one protester died, many were injured and around 1,100 people were arrested. These were the worst riots in Estonia since independence in 1991. Also in Russia there were massive protests against the implementation of the monument with demonstrations in several Russian cities, a siege of the Estonian embassy in Moscow, calls for boycotts against Estonian goods and cyberattacks against the Estonian government.
The Council of Europe has repeatedly urged Estonia to take measures to counter minority discrimination.
The state budget in 2016 comprised expenditure of the equivalent of US $ 9,559 million , which was offset by income of the equivalent of US $ 9,489 million. This results in a marginal budget deficit of around 0.1% of economic output. In 2016, national debt was 9.5% of economic output, making Estonia the least indebted country in the entire European Union.
The share of government expenditure was (as a percentage of gross domestic product ) in the following areas:
Health: 13.4% (2014)
Education: 6.4% (2012)
Military: 2.0% (2014)
Contrary to popular belief that a budget deficit is forbidden in the country's constitution, the government's handling of the state budget is not legally stipulated, but always follows clear guidelines. A balanced budget is the principle, the municipalities of the state are not allowed to exceed their budgeted deficit by 60% of the expected annual income (75% by 2004), and the repayment of national debts is not allowed to 20% of the expected income for the respective final year exceed. Between 1993 and 2007 a budget surplus was recorded almost every year.
As a consequence, these requirements must also be observed when taking out new loans. Banknotes and coins in circulation as well as the balances of the commercial banks with the Estonian Bank must always be fully covered by gold and foreign currency balances . In effect, a balanced budget is thus enforced.
After independence in 1991, people in Estonia were gradually taxed at 16%, 24% and 33%. The tax system was reformed in 1994, and the first European country, Estonia adopted the same year a flat tax one, the rate at the time was 26%. In January 2005 this rate was reduced to 24% and a further decrease in annual 1% point increments was decided. Since January 1, 2008, the income tax rate of this flat tax has been 21%; since January 1, 2015 at 20%. Corporations do not pay taxes on undrawn profits. Only the profits taken are taxed with the flat tax of 20% (calculation 20/80%) and are already considered to be final taxed by the shareholders and do not have to be subjected to taxation again.
Thanks to a strong IT sector ( see telecommunications ), Estonia is one of the most advanced countries in the field of e-government . Since the end of January 2015, Estonia has been offering citizens of many countries a so-called e-residency . However, the e-residents do not become citizens or residents of Estonia and thus do not receive a residence permit, EU visa or the right to vote, but only a digital identity .
You can apply online for an e-residency. After a processing time of a few weeks, an examination by the Estonian border guard and payment of a processing fee (100 euros in March 2019), a card with a chip and reader can be picked up in Estonia or in many Estonian embassies.
This enables the following:
- Creation of digital signatures
- Encrypt documents
- Use of the official portal eesti.ee
- Establishing companies in Estonia
- Filing an Estonian tax return online
- Creation of bank accounts
All of this has been possible online for citizens and permanent residents of Estonia for a long time. The project is led by Taavi Kotka , Deputy Chancellor of Communication and Information Systems at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and one of the founders of Skype , also an originally Estonian product.
Well-known e-residents include: Edward Lucas (journalist with The Economist ) and Shinzō Abe (former Prime Minister of Japan ) and Pope Francis . According to Taavi Kotka's original proposal for the Estonian Development Foundation's competition , there should be ten million e-residents by 2025. Above all, entrepreneurs should be able to set up internet companies and thus be able to pay taxes in Estonia, although there could be complicated cases of double taxation , as Estonia's ex-finance minister, Jürgen Ligi , pointed out. At the beginning of 2015, there were mainly applications from Finland , Russia , Latvia , the USA and the United Kingdom .
In addition to the Estonian majority (68.95%) there is a large Russian minority (25.48%) as well as smaller groups of Ukrainians (2.05%), Belarusians (1.14%) and Finns (0.78%). In Tallinn, 45% of the population are not ethnic Estonians.
|Population pyramid Estonia 2016|
|Distribution of the Russian-speaking minority in Estonia according to the 2010 census. The Russian-speaking resident population is mainly concentrated near the border with Russia in the industrial cities of Kohtla-Järve and Narva and in the Tallinn area. In contrast, only a few Russians live on the offshore islands of Saaremaa (Ösel), Hiiumaa (Dagö) and Vormsi (Worms), as these were a restricted military area during the Soviet era.|
|Estonia's Population by Ethnicity, 1922-2017|
|Other and unknown||11,467||1.0||4,266||0.4||6.116||0.5||6,883||0.5||9,042||0.6||13,798||0.9||9,480||0.7||9,068||0.7||8,973||0.7||15,385||1.2|
Information according to miksike.ee and lcweb2.loc.gov . Information according to pub.stat.ee information for January 1st of each year
Despite numerous state programs, it has not yet been possible to fully integrate the residents of non-Estonian nationality who immigrated or specifically settled during the time of the Soviet Union. Around half of Estonia's Russian-speaking residents do not yet have an Estonian passport. But there are also Russian speakers who have changed their family names in the hope of having better chances in the job market. On the other hand, many also take advantage of their non-citizen ID card, which enables them to enter the EU as well as Russia without a visa.
On average, the Estonians have a higher income than the Russian-speaking minority. Estonians are disproportionately represented in management positions, while Russian speakers tend to be employed in the service and production sectors.
In the meantime, numerous non-esters can be naturalized. The naturalization procedure, however, is linked to a language test, which many, especially older Russian speakers, find an insurmountable hurdle because they have never learned the Estonian language to a sufficient extent. At the time of membership of the Soviet Union, knowledge of Estonian was not required by the state. Many younger Russian speakers, on the other hand, have a command of Estonian and the naturalization process is easier for them to find. Recently, Russian speakers have been taking their children to Estonian-speaking kindergartens and schools to enable them to better integrate.
On the other hand, the Estonians speak less Russian , which makes communication with business partners from Russia difficult and thus opens up employment opportunities for the Russian-speaking residents of Estonia.
Of a total of around 100,000 foreigners, almost 40,000 live in Russia, 35,000 in Canada and 15,000 in Sweden. There are other larger groups in Finland, South Africa and Australia. In 2010 there were around 4040 Estonians living in Germany.
The majority of Estonians do not belong to any denomination. Religious institutions only play a role for a minority of the population. The traditional religion of the Estonians is the Christian faith in the form of Lutheranism , as it is widespread in Scandinavia. The Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELK) is a quasi-official church (for example, it is common to hold services at the opening of parliament), and its archbishop is the central figure in Estonian public religion. The EELK also dominates the relatively extensive theological training in Estonia (in Tartu at the university and in Tallinn at the church college). Less than 30% of the population profess to be members of Christian churches or denominations. Thereof:
The ten major Christian churches and communities have come together in the Council of Christian Churches of Estonia .
A special feature are the approximately 5000 old Orthodox who have fled to the outskirts of the Russian Empire from persecution in the Russian heartland since the 18th century. On the Estonian shores of Lake Peipus there are numerous villages inhabited by Old Orthodox. There are also smaller parishes in Tallinn and Tartu.
In addition, around 4,000 people are members of Jehovah's Witnesses .
For Judaism is only about 0.1% of the Estonian population profess.
After independence, Russian was replaced by English as the first foreign language. In some cases, English lessons begin in kindergarten. Non- dubbed English-language television shows are a huge help in learning English.
There are twelve recognized universities in Estonia, seven of which are state and five private universities, as well as 26 other universities.
There are electronic class books in many Tallinn schools . This enables teachers as well as parents to view the entries about the students from home. The state provides the necessary computer program to parents free of charge.
Every school already had Internet access by the end of the 1990s.
In the 2015 PISA ranking , Estonia's students ranked 9th out of 72 countries in mathematics, 3rd in science and 6th in reading comprehension. Estonian students were among the best of all participating countries and, together with Finland, achieved the top score among European nations.
According to the WHO , Estonia has the highest HIV infection rate in the WHO Europe region with an estimated 10,000 people : 0.58% of the population (1.3% of the population between 15 and 49 years of age). Prisoners and members of the Russian-speaking minority in Kohtla-Järve , Narva and Tallinn are most affected . However, comparatively many more HIV tests are carried out in Estonia than in other European countries, and all pregnant women without exception are tested for HIV by law.
Life expectancy in Estonia between 2010 and 2015 was 76.8 years (men: 71.9 years, women: 81.2 years). The difference between female and male life expectancy is one of the highest in the world.
The territory of the Republic of Estonia is divided into 15 districts, 34 cities, 11 minor cities and numerous settlements and villages. The Estonian administrative division is subject to the following hierarchical division:
- Republic of Estonia (Eesti Vabariik)
- County (maakond)
- Municipality (omavalitsus) : urban municipality (linn) or rural municipality (vald)
- County (maakond)
Municipalities are further subdivided into cities, minor towns (alev) , settlements (alevik) and villages (küla) (settlement structure).
Estonia is divided into 15 administrative districts (Estonian pl. Maakonnad, singing. Maakond ):
|circle||Administrative headquarters||Resident January 1, 2017||Code 1|
1 code according to ISO 3166-2
For the comparability of data within the EU, Estonia was divided into five regions (statistical units) at NUTS 3 level .
|West Estonia||Hiiu, Lääne, Pärnu, Saare||EE004|
|Central Estonia||Järve, Lääne-Viru, Rapla||EE006|
|South Estonia||Jõgeva, Põlva, Tartu, Valga, Viljandi, Võru||EE008|
|March 31, 2000||January 1, 2017|
|Tallinn (German: Reval )||Harju||400,378||426,538|
|Tartu (German: Dorpat )||Tartu||101.169||93,124|
|Narva (Eng .: Narwa )||Ida-Viru||68,680||57,130|
|Pärnu (German: Pernau )||Parnu||45,500||39,620|
|Kohtla-Järve (German: Kochtel-Türpsal )||Ida-Viru||47,679||35,187|
|Viljandi (German: Fellin )||Viljandi||20,756||17,711|
|Rakvere (German: Wesenberg )||Lääne-Viru||17.097||15,526|
|Maardu (German: Maart )||Harju||16,738||15,077|
|Kuressaare (German: Arensburg )||Saare||14,925||13,382|
|Sillamäe (German: Sillamäggi )||Ida-Viru||17.199||13,288|
|Valga (German: Walk )||Valga||14,323||12,452|
|Võru (German: Werro )||Võru||14,879||12,167|
|Jõhvi (German: Jewe )||Ida-Viru||12.112||10.051|
|Haapsalu (German: Hapsal )||Lääne||12,054||9,946|
After regaining independence, Estonia completely reorganized its community based on the Scandinavian model: few hierarchies, a lot of transparency in state organs, modern communication technology. However, compared to its Scandinavian neighbors, who tend to rely on the principles of the social market economy, the country's economic model shows market-liberal features.
In the Global Competitiveness Index , which measures a country's competitiveness, Estonia ranks 29th out of 137 countries (as of 2017-2018). In 2017, Estonia ranked 6th out of 180 countries in the Economic Freedom Index .
gross domestic product
After overcoming the Russian crisis (from 2000), the economies of all three Baltic states showed high growth, albeit starting from a low starting position after the crisis. In 2006, Estonia was the front runner in the European Union with an economic output growth of 10.8%.
The global financial crisis made itself felt in Estonia at the beginning of 2008, and from the second quarter onwards the inflation-adjusted GDP values were below those of the previous year. A decline of 2% was expected for the year as a whole. The main reason was above all the sharp decline in domestic demand (construction sector, retail trade).
The gross domestic product (GDP) for 2008 amounted to a good 250 billion Estonian kroons (EEK), a good 16 billion euros. That was 12,000 euros per head of the population (for comparison: Germany 27,200 euros). If one compares the GDP according to purchasing power standards (i.e. according to the purchasing power of one euro) with the EU average (EU-27: 100), Estonia already reached a value of almost 68 in 2008 (Germany: 116). Compared to the year 2000, this value increased by almost half after adjusting for inflation (+45%; then: 44.6). In 2018, Estonia achieved an index value of 81 (EU-28: 100, Germany: 123).
The gross domestic product of Estonia in 2015 was now 20.5 billion euros. The per capita GDP was 15,598 euros in the same year. Economic growth was 1.1% in 2015 and 1.6% in 2016.
The high growth of the Baltic countries in the past has earned them the name Baltic Tigers .
- All GDP values are given in US dollars ( purchasing power parity ).
|11.09 billion||11.62 billion||16.97 billion||26.86 billion||30.53 billion||33.77 billion||32.56 billion||27.98 billion||28.96 billion||31.80 billion||33.79 billion|
GDP per capita
(as a percentage of GDP)
|36.24 billion||37.62 billion||38.84 billion||40.42 billion||43.28 billion|
GDP per capita
(as a percentage of GDP)
The unemployment rate was 4.9% in May 2018, which is well below the EU average. In 2017, youth unemployment was 13.9%. In the same year, 2.7% of the total workforce worked in agriculture, 20.5% in industry and 76.8% in the service sector. The total number of employees is estimated at 670,000 for 2017; 48.5% of them are women. Due to emigration and the aging of the population, there is an increasing shortage of labor.
The focus of economic activities is concentrated in the region around the capital Tallinn ( Harju County ), which is home to almost 40% of Estonia's population. A good 60% of the gross domestic product is generated here (2006), in the 'trade' sector over 70%. The center of agriculture are the regions of Central and Southeast Estonia, which, with a share of 35% of the total Estonian population, generate 63% of agricultural production (including forestry). In Northeast Estonia ( Ida-Virumaa ), on the other hand, the energy industry dominates due to the processing of the local oil shale deposits (30% of the national product in this sector with a population of 13%).
On June 27, 2004, Estonia and two of the ten new EU countries joined Exchange Rate Mechanism II under EMS II, the first step towards introducing the euro . Estonia, Lithuania and Slovenia set the central rates of their currencies against the euro and, with immediate effect, undertook to keep fluctuations below ± 15%. Until the country joined the euro on January 1, 2011, the central rate for the Estonian kroon was 15.6466 per euro, which meant a maximum fluctuation range of (rounded) 13.30 to 17.99 kroner. The rate resulted from the coupling of the krone to the German mark, established since 1993, at a ratio of 1 DEM = 8 EEK. Estonia (like Lithuania) committed itself to a sustainable budget policy.
The design of the Estonian euro coins was determined in a 2004 public vote. However, the introduction of the euro had to be postponed several times and took place on January 1, 2011. On May 12, 2010, the European Commission and the European Central Bank confirmed that Estonia had met all EU convergence criteria . In June 2010, EU finance ministers and EU heads of state and government approved Estonia's admission to the euro zone. A month later, the finance ministers set the official exchange rate of 15.6466 Estonian kroner for one euro.
Prices and wages
Up until 2003 there was a significant slowdown in inflation, but since joining the EU in 2004 the rate of inflation has risen again (1.3%). The comparatively high price increases in previous years (an average of 5%) had led to significantly higher cost of living in Estonia than in the neighboring countries of Latvia and Lithuania, assuming the currency was stable. Accordingly, the comparatively high average wages of 812.70 euros (2nd quarter 2009) (for comparison: Latvia 667.33 euros (May 2009)) cannot automatically be equated with a higher standard of living.
The predominant branches of industry (2002) are the wood, paper and furniture industries (25%) and the food industry (28%). There was great growth in the electrical industry / machine and vehicle parts construction (18%), where Estonia is home to Norma, one of the world's largest manufacturers of seat belts.
Significant manufacturing companies in Estonia:
- Wood and furniture industry: Horizon in Kehra
- Vehicle parts: Norma in Tallinn (seat belts)
- Electronics: Elcoteq in Tallinn
- Building materials: Nordic Tsement in Kunda
- Construction industry: Merko Ehitus in Tallinn
- Textile industry: Kreenholm (kitchen textiles) in Narva, Baltex 2000 (fabrics and yarns) in Tallinn
- Food: Rakvere Lihakombinaat in Rakvere (meat), A. Le Coq in Tartu (beer & drinks), Saku in Saku / Harjumaa (beer & drinks), Kalev in Rae near Tallinn (sweets)
- Energy: Eesti Põlevkivi in Jõhvi (oil shale mining)
Estonia was visited by 3.1 million foreign tourists in 2016, bringing the country $ 1.5 billion in revenue. Most tourists in 2017 came from Finland (40.1%), Russia (11.3%) and Germany (6.3%). There are two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country .
As of December 31, 2004, Estonia has attracted almost 7 billion euros in foreign capital for direct investment, that is 5170 euros per capita and almost 80% of annual GDP (compared to Lithuania: almost 1350 euros per capita). Most important country of origin of foreign direct investment ( FDI ) in Estonia is by far Sweden. The investments of almost 3.2 billion euros were made primarily in the banking and telecommunications sectors. It is followed by Finland (1.7 billion euros) and, by a large margin, the USA (300 million euros). So far, only 157 million euros have come from Germany, slightly more than from Austria (104 million euros).
Foreign investors are for example:
- Tolaram (SGP) 100% in Baltex 2000
- Bora's Wäfveri (S) at Krenholm
- Building materials: Atlas Nordic Cement (FIN) to Kunda Nordic Tsement
- Wood processing:
- Tolaram (SGP): 100% in Horizon
- Atlantic Veneer Group (USA) to Balti Spoon (wood panels, furniture)
The main trading partners of Estonia are the neighboring countries Sweden, Finland, Latvia and Lithuania. But Germany is also an important partner: 8% of exports go to Germany and as much as 13% of imports come from Germany (3rd place in each case).
The main export products are machines and machine parts (27% of export goods), followed by wood and wood products / furniture (13%). Only then do textiles (9%), metals and metal products (8%) and food (7%) follow. Despite the somewhat higher quality export products compared to the neighboring Baltic countries, the trade balance is still clearly negative (with even an upward trend): exports worth 4.7 billion euros stand against imports worth 6.7 billion euros (2004). As a result, the balance of payments (including financial transfers / direct investment, services) also remains negative, with the deficit reaching 13% of GDP in 2004.
Roads and shipping on the Baltic Sea play the most important role in transport, and the railways as well in freight transport.
In Estonia, the state has guaranteed its citizens access to the Internet by law since 2000. All over the country there are WLAN access points to the Internet that cover the inhabited areas. Around 99% of the country is covered by this free hot-spot network. Those who do not have their own computer can access the internet for free at one of 700 public terminals in post offices, libraries or village shops. All schools are online. Estonia has the largest number of Internet connections per capita in the world.
Estonia claims to have the most technologically advanced administrative system in the world. Every citizen has an ID number . Since 2007, Estonians have been able to take part in elections, settle their taxes and receive prescriptions from the doctor via the Internet. Because of the associated vulnerability to cyber attacks , backup servers were set up in Luxembourg . They contain Estonia's digital administration software and citizens' records. On April 26, 2007 , a massive digital attack began on hijacked computer networks, which caused the servers of government agencies, media and banks to collapse. It was the reason for the establishment of cyber war research centers , in which NATO is also involved.
The longest expressway is National Road 1 to Narva. The national road 2 to Tartu is gradually being expanded. The Estonian part of the Via Baltica ( national road 4 / E 67 ) to Pärnu, on the other hand, is only developed like a motorway for the first 20 kilometers and then continues as a country road to Pärnu and the Latvian border at Ikla . The Tallinn bypass ( National Road 11 ) has also been upgraded to a dual carriageway (as of 2015).
In 2008, mostly only roads of supraregional importance were paved. Many small towns are accessed from just one direction by an asphalt spur road. The other roads are unpaved. Maps available in the country on a scale of 1: 200,000 show very precisely which roads are paved and which are not; Progress has been made from year to year.
There are almost no separate cycle paths; If a regional road, such as the Via Baltica, is developed as a dual carriageway with two two lanes, it is nonetheless shared by cyclists. Due to the concentration of traffic on the paved roads, the traffic there is no less dense in some areas than on roads of similar development in densely populated Central Europe.
Estonia is the first country in the EU and the world to have a nationwide, publicly owned charging system for charging the batteries of electric cars . Estonia has an electric car rate of one per 1000 inhabitants.
Railway projects for Estonia - at that time part of the Russian Empire - had existed since the middle of the 19th century. They aimed to connect Estonian port cities with Saint Petersburg , but initially all failed because the investment capital could not be raised. So it lasted until October 24th July. / 5th November 1870 greg. Before the Baltic railway , the railway line Paldiski-Tosno about Reval , Narva to Tosno was able to open, the first railway in Estonia. The Russian parameters were used as a basis, especially built in Russian broad gauge . Gatchina was a station on the Petersburg-Warsaw Railway , Tosno is on the Saint Petersburg-Moscow railway . Although Tallinn developed into one of the most important ports of the Russian Empire thanks to the railway, Estonia hardly benefited from the further expansion of the Russian network determined by military strategic interests, and further expansion was slow. Branch lines so often emerged as narrow-gauge railways . With independence in 1918, its own state railway was founded. In addition, a private company operated the Tallinn – Pärnu railway line . The first electrically operated trains ran in 1924 on the 11 km long section Tallinn - Paeskula .
After the occupation of Estonia by the Soviet Union in 1940, the Estonian Railway was transferred to the State Railways of the Soviet Union . At that time it consisted of 772 km of broad-gauge lines and 675 km of narrow-gauge lines. During the German occupation in World War II , the broad- gauge lines were nailed to standard gauge , which was then reversed. 1957-1959 steam locomotives were replaced by diesel locomotives . From 1966 the narrow-gauge lines were mostly closed, some converted to broad-gauge. The network then had a length of 956 km. 1963 to 1991 the railways of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were operated as "Baltic Railways", the Estonian lines as "Estonian Department".
The independence of Estonia in 1991 brought back its own state railway and massive restructuring. Segments that did not belong to the core business, such as social facilities, were given up and in 1997 the railway was converted into a stock corporation ( Eesti Raudtee JSC ). In the following, other companies were outsourced for sub-tasks. In 1999 the state decided to sell 66% of the shares. Instead of the hoped-for private investments, this led to a drastic decline in the performance of the railway. In 2007 the state bought back the shares and formed two companies, one for infrastructure and a second for freight transport. Since 2011, Deutsche Bahn has been involved in the Rail-Baltica project, which is to connect Tallinn via Pärnu with the neighboring capitals of Riga , Vilnius and Warsaw with a standard-gauge railway. The project is financially supported by the EU and is expected to be completed in 2025.
In the inner-Estonian passenger traffic, the railroad played almost no role after the failed privatization. The supra-local public transport is still largely handled by intercity buses, but thanks to lower prices, the railway is making up ground , especially on the Tallinn – Tapa – Narva , (Tallinn–) Tapa – Tartu and Tallinn – Pärnu routes . From mid-2013 to the beginning of 2014, the entire outdated inner-Estonian train fleet was replaced with modern electric and diesel-electric trains of the Stadler Flirt type . Wireless internet is now also available on the trains, albeit only in 1st class .
International passenger traffic today is limited to connections to Moscow and Saint Petersburg , repeatedly interrupted by operational problems, which are mainly due to the ongoing tensions with Russia. Both Estonians and Estonian Russians also need a visa to enter Russia, which must be obtained in advance, is comparatively expensive and is not always issued on time.
Estonia maintains numerous ferry connections to its neighboring countries (especially in Scandinavia).
On September 28, 1994, the Estonian ferry Estonia sank off the coast of Finland while crossing to Stockholm. 852 people died in the accident.
The main airport in Estonia is Tallinn International Airport ; it is the home airport of the Estonian airlines Nordica (serving international destinations in Europe from Tallinn) and SmartLynx Airlines Estonia ( charter airline ). There is also another international airport in Tartu and smaller airports in Pärnu , Kuressaare and Kärdla as well as on Kihnu and Ruhnu .
Due to its political development and settlement history, Estonia has always been an intercultural country. The supremacy was first Denmark, 1252–1561 the Teutonic Order , then Sweden and in the 18th to 19th centuries Russia. Estonian culture and architecture were strongly influenced by the local Baltic German upper class over a period of around 800 years . The big cities, especially Tallinn (under the old name Reval ) were strongly influenced by the culture of the Hanseatic League . From the Middle Ages until well into the 19th century, German merchants were the dominant element in Tallinn. From 1850 onward Russification began to increase under the tsars. Baltic student associations and, from the 1870s, above all the University of Tartu (Dorpat) formed a counterbalance to this .
In science, the western influence - as in tsarist Russia - remained strong, if only because of the German-speaking university until 1870. In 1811, through the initiative of German scientists, it was given the Dorpat observatory , and the 7 directors that followed until 1900 came from Germany. The most famous, Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve , however, moved to the newly built Pulkowo observatory near Saint Petersburg in 1839 .
Estonia's culture experienced a cultural upheaval through the loss of German and Swedish population shares as a result of the Second World War and the influx of Russians and other ethnic groups during the Soviet period.
Since the end of the Soviet era, Estonian culture has been strongly oriented towards its northern neighbor, Finland, because of the relationship between Estonian and Finnish. It is largely oriented towards the west and maintains numerous collaborations with German societies, Protestant churches (North Elbian Church) and universities (Göttingen, Greifswald, Kiel, Konstanz, Munich and Münster).
The Estonian literature reflects these varied influences resist - in Estonia Latin, Greek and French was only in German and Estonian into Latvian, Ostschwedisch and Finnish, Russian, written. The literary research project EEVA of the University of Tartu and the Estonian Museum of Literature endeavors to digitally document this multilingual cultural area of the Baltic from the 13th century.
In addition to the four Estonian-language television channels ETV Eesti Televisioon , ETV2 ( public service ), Kanal 2 (from the Norwegian company Schibsted ) and TV3 Eesti (from the Swedish Modern Times Group ), Estonia also receives numerous foreign-language channels via terrestrial , satellite and cable (with four cable network operators). So it is common to still receive Finnish, Swedish, Russian, English and German channels. The public broadcaster Eesti Rahvusringhääling has its own Russian-language channel called ETV + as a third program . Russian state television has launched an offshoot for Estonia called Perwyj Baltijskij Kanal Estonia ( The First Baltic Canal Estonia ).
Estonian television via satellite is available in the pay-TV package of the Scandinavian provider "Viasat" on the satellite position 5 ° East ( Astra 4A ), which can also be received in Central Europe. Those who subscribe to the Viasat package receive TV3 and TV3 + as well as Russian, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and English-language channels. The Baltic MTV offshoots MTV Eesti , MTV Latvija and MTV Lietuva are available by subscription on the same satellite .
Special interest programs are not represented in Estonia due to the small market. As in Scandinavia, due to the high translation costs, it is largely common in the Baltic States for broadcasters to broadcast foreign television productions in the original with Estonian subtitles, i.e. without synchronized translation as in Germany.
There are five public radio programs. Vikerraadio is the information- oriented main program. Raadio 2 caters to the younger audience. Raadio 4 broadcasts in Russian. Klassikaraadio brings classical, folklore, jazz and world music. Raadio Tallinn broadcasts music continuously from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and takes over programs from the BBC , DW and RFI for the rest of the time .
Around 97% of the Estonian population own a television set.
With a total circulation of 523 daily newspapers per 1000 inhabitants, Estonia has one of the highest newspaper reading rates in the world.
In 2019, 90 percent of Estonia's residents used the internet .
Arvo Pärt is known worldwide as a contemporary composer of modern classical music. Rudolf Tobias , the first Estonian composer at the end of the 19th century , is well known to connoisseurs of choral music outside of Estonia thanks to his motets . Eduard Tubin drew attention to Estonia in the 20th century with his romantic to atonal symphonies , which was honored in 2005 with a large festival. Neeme Järvi has been the conductor of world renown, as his son Paavo Järvi , who from 2001 to 2011 Chief Conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and by 2016 the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra was Frankfurt. In the popular area, the pianist Olav Ehala is of great importance, wrote numerous film scores and participated in theater productions. Like Veljo Tormis, Ester Mägi rewrites many compositions and folk songs for choir that threatened to be forgotten during the occupation of the Soviet Union and have become very popular since independence. Mention should be made of the song festival , which takes place every five years , where tens of thousands, united in a choir, sing national songs.
Estonia was able to achieve considerable success in the Eurovision Song Contest , which Dave Benton won for the country in 2001 together with Tanel Padar . The Eurovision Song Contest 2002 then took place in Tallinn.
The Estonian cities are still characterized by the wooden houses, even if the Soviet prefabricated buildings protrude in between. Nowadays a lot is built with slate. The tallest structure in Estonia is the television tower in Tallinn (314 meters), which was built between 1975 and 1980 on the occasion of the Olympic Games in Moscow.
In the days of the coup d'état in Moscow (August 1991) it was supposed to be occupied by Russian troops, which was prevented by the Estonian police and demonstrators. The tower is still not one of the special national symbols of the new Estonia. One possible reason is its location - the television tower is far from the city center by the forest near the city.
The fourth tallest structure in Estonia with a height of 254 meters is the mast of the Kothla transmitter .
Sport is very important in Estonia. The country took part in the Summer Olympics for the first time as early as 1920 and continued this independent participation until it was occupied by the USSR in 1940. After its end and Estonian independence, the national sports federations formed again. The country was able to win Olympic medals mainly in weightlifting, wrestling and skiing. The Soviet chess grandmaster Paul Keres comes from Estonia. Estonia is also a stronghold for aesthetic group gymnastics .
While football was still one of the most popular sports in Estonia before World War II, that changed with the Soviet occupation. From then on, football was abused as an instrument of power, and this was followed by the dissolution of the Estonian Football Association , the renaming of the clubs and the incorporation of the national team into the Soviet team . As a Russian sport frowned upon, football became increasingly unpopular and only regained increasing popularity after independence. In 2011, soccer was once again the most popular sport in Estonia with 20,000 players.
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