Travel Guides: Estonia
Estonia is a Baltic country in Northern Europe with the capital at Tallinn.
The country’s western border is with the Baltic Sea. In the south it borders with another Baltic state, Latvia, east by Russia and Finland to the north through the Gulf of Finland. Estonia is a maritime country: the coastline measures 3794 km and the country includes more than 1,500 islands and islets, mostly uninhabited. Estonia joined the European Union on 1 May 2004 and adopted the euro on 1 January 2011. The objectives included on the UNESCO World Heritage list are: the historical Old Town of Tallinn and the geodesy Struve Arc. Estonia is a country with a rich history, reflecting its traces today in the monuments and historical buildings and medieval castles. Tallinn is located in the north of the country, in the Harju County. Known formerly as Reval, it is the largest city in the country. Although in the past it was eclipsed by other areas of interest such as Riga or Helsinki, lately it has become a highly sought and easily accessible to tourists.
In the past it represented the largest salt production center and an important Baltic Sea port. The main attractions of the city are: KUMU, the largest art museum in Estonia, the submarine Lembit, Maarjamae Palace Museum, outdoor concerts Hall, St Bridget monastery ruins, Science and Technology Centre in Tallinn, Sarev A. House, Church Dome, and many more. Raekoja Plats, center square hosts the medieval Hall of the city. This is the heart of the medieval town and has many tourist attractions, and the actors and crew are everywhere. Toomkirik is the oldest church in Estonia; it was built in 1219. Being an important cultural center of the region, it hosts the annual festival “Days of the Old City” and it became the capital of European film, Black Nights Film. Tallinn city is famous for the bustling nightlife and because, lately appeared many restaurants and international cuisine, clubs, cafes and discos.
San Nicolas Church is located in Niguliste, a few meters from Raekoja. The building dates from the fifteenth century and its north door is built in Gothic style. Currently it hosts a museum with collections of objects from medieval churches and are organized Estonian chamber music concerts. St. Olav’s Church located within the Dominican Church was the largest building in the world until 1800 and was named after the Norwegian king Olav II Haraldsson, considered the protector of merchants on the sea. Kadriorg Park is the largest park in Tallinn. It belongs to the Baroque style and was built symmetrically by Peter the Great, who built his residence here and that is Kadriorg Palace. Toompea are found most of the historic buildings including the Cathedral Alexander Nevsky, Orthodox Cathedral, Parliament House and the Museum of Art.
Otepaaa is a very popular ski resort, being called the winter capital of Estonia. Every year here is the Ski Cross World Cup, so many of skiers from Estonia live here. Traditional food is based on traditional ingredients as influenced by German cuisine. National specialties are sulfur, jelly calf, taidetud vasikarind, stuffed roast veal and rosolje, herring and beets with vinegar and traditional drinks are Saare beer, mulled wine and Vana Tallinn. The restaurants have a very varied offer; there are Chinese restaurants, Thai, Hungarian, Indian and Greek. Estonia is a country where no destination is too far away – you can travel from one end to another in the country in less than five hours. However, the inner riches of Estonia are much higher – the variety of landscapes, flora and fauna is truly unusual for a small country. At the same time you find a large area, because in a territory the sizes of Denmark or Holland live four and twelve times less people.
All you see is related to history in Estonia. Residents have their origins in ancient peoples that already lived in Europe and the Baltic Sea coast in the days when they built the pyramids in Egypt. Since the thirteenth century the territory of Estonia was invaded by Germans, Danes, Swedes, Poles and Russians, but each of them left something good behind. The country declared independence in 1918, but followed the Soviet occupation, which has interrupted the natural development in several ways. Most travelers arrive first in the capital Tallinn, the medieval hanseatic city, business and cultural center of Estonia. In the north of the country you will find a blend of colorful history of this dynamic, a contrast that reflects the lifestyle and nature composed of Marshes and romantic villages, primary forests and limestone cliffs that offer panoramic views over the sea. South of the country is unique and mysterious – rich nature, lakes and hills have forged the character of the inhabitants, the city nostalgic atmosphere and ambiance of bohemian university town of Tartu. The west is characterized by large expanses of land, sea breezes and tranquility.
Main attractions: Explore the historical and architectural monuments of the capital Tallinn, the old hanseatic city. Of particular interest it shows the historical center dominated by church Oleviste. Climb up to Toompea castle. Step through Parnu beach 3 km from a small town situated on the banks of the River Parnu, the place where it flows into the Gulf of Riga. Founded in the thirteenth century, the city is known as a sea port and spa treatments. Admire the ancient architecture in Tartu, the second largest city of Estonia, on the river Emajogi. Visit the old university, cathedral Vyshgorod, the eighteenth-century town hall and the university’s botanical garden. Head for Narva, one of the oldest cities in Estonia, located on the west bank of the River Narva. Visit Herman Castle, the oldest monument and architectural museum city. Admire the old wind mills, stone churches, fishing villages and restored Episcopal castle dating from the thirteenth century, in Saaremaa, Estonia’s largest island. Jump up in Hiiumaa, the second largest island of the country.
Find your peace in Mustvee, located on the shores of the beautiful Lake Peipsi and Kuremae, the place where is the functional monastery in Estonia. Relax in Haapsalu, a small town on the west coast, which is a famous resort from the nineteenth century. The romantic wooden houses and alleys of trees, the city is an ideal getaway for an escapade. Explore lands with forests and marshes, picturesque villages and historic mansions in one of the three national parks – Lahemaa, Vilsandi and Soomaa. Capture wild animals and birds such as lynx, bears, wolves and deer, eagles and storks, the Kaine Bay Bird Reserve and Nature Reserve Matsalu. Traditional Estonian food has its roots in family food in the country, based on pork, potatoes and vegetables from the garden. The main culinary influences come from Germany, which led Estonia for centuries. National specialties are Sult (jelly calf), Taidetud vasikarind (roast veal stuffed), Rosolje (herring with vinegar and beets), goose stuffed with apples and plums and broth sponges.
Estonia’s history, like that of other Balkan states, was a succession of battles to preserve the independence and integrity of the nation against invasion of the neighboring nations. The Russians, who were determined to obtain a “gateway” to the Baltic region, Estonia from Sweden got after the treaty of 1721 in Nystadt. After Germany invaded the Soviet Union during the Second World War, Estonia became the 15th Soviet socialist republic. It has been four decades until Mikhail Gorbachev as general secretary of the Communist Party, offered a chance for change for the Baltic States. In 1990 the Estonian Communist Party voted for total independence from the Soviet Union, but left a six-month transition period until the final breakup. International recognition of the Estonian state was followed by entry into the United Nations and European Union accession in 2004.
Estonians are generally reserved and quiet. Shaking hands is the most common form of greeting. Estonians are very proud of their nation and they managed to gain independence and to survive a full history of wars. Estonians are very hard working, often telling bout them that they are the Japanese of Europe. If you are invited into the home of a local, you must take off your shoes at the entrance. Do not expect too many compliments on their part, Estonians are honest and do not appreciate that what they really like. If you go into a magazine ask what you want. The seller will not ask their own initiative and that’s not for lack of courtesy, but to leave freedom of choice. Estonia is a country reborn in 1991, at the huge collapse of the Soviet empire (Soviet Union), with a strategic geographic position in relationships with neighbors in the north, the Finns, who influenced many traders because of their long capitalism.
Estonians feel bound by Finland both geographically and ethnically, borrowing much of their culture and practices. Their opening to the West has helped a lot: typical Western malls, cars, restaurants and a vibrant night life with clubs and entertainment venues that have long colored dusty image of this country. Geographically the country is a vast plain, with some formations that do not exceed 300 m in hills, and plenty of rest, lots of water: 25% of the territory consists of lakes and swampy land and boundaries are established in 80% of all water: Gulf of Riga in the southeast United Baltic north-west and north-eastern Gulf of Finland. Estonia is a country proud of its history, with memories of medieval Germany and then Soviet reflected memories of buildings, monuments, castles, which they proudly describe to any tourist.
It covers an area of 45,227 km² and its capital is Tallinn. It is organized into a parliamentary republic and has a population of 1.4 million inhabitants. Estonia is divided in 15 regions and six urban districts. Estonian language is based on Russian. The coin used is the Estonian Crown that is divided into 100 Senti. The country landscape is imbued with a multitude of rivers and lakes. Several major rivers would be Vöhandu, Pärnu Peipus and Pöltsamma. The largest lake is occupying an area of 3500 sq km. On the Baltic Sea coast there are over 1,500 islands. 64% of the population is Estonian, 29% Ukrainians and Russians. Estonia has two universities in Tallinn and one in a Tartu. In Talinn there is only one international airport connection via ferry to Helsinki and Stockholm.
Area: Total: 45,226 sq km, Land: 43,211 sq km, Water: 2015 sq km. Land Borders
total: 633 km, 343 km neighboring Latvia, Russia 290 km. Climate: maritime, wet, moderate winters and cool summers. Elevation extremes: lowest point: Baltic Sea 0 m, Highest point: Suur Munamagi 318 m. Natural Resources: oil shale, peat, phosphorus, clay, limestone, sand, dolomite, arable land, sea mud. Population
in July 2008 estimate: 1,307,605. Ethnic Groups: Estonian 67.9%, Russian 25.6%, Ukrainian 2.1%, Belarus 1.3%, Finn 0.9%, other 2.2% (2000 census). Religion: Evangelical Lutheran 13.6%, 12.8% Orthodox, other Christian (including Methodist, Seventh-Day Adventist, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal) 1.4%, unaffiliated 34.1%, other and unspecified 32%. Languages: Estonian (official) 67.3%, Russian 29.7%, other 2.3%, 0.7% unknown.
Subdivisions: 15 counties (maakonnad, singular – maakond): Harjumaa (Tallinn), Hiiumaa (Kärdla), Ida-Virumaa (Jõhvi) Järvamaa (with pay), Jogevamaa (Jogeva), Laanemaa (Haapsalu), Laane-Virumaa (Rakvere), Pärnumaa (Pärnu), Polvamaa (Põlva), Raplamaa (Rapla), Saaremaa (Kuressaare), Tartumaa (Tartu), Valgamaa (Valga), Viljandimaa (Viljandi), Võrumaa (Võru). Independence: August 20, 1991 (from USSR). National Day: Independence Day, 24 February (1918); 24 February 1918 was the date when Estonia declared its independence from Soviet Russia, August 20, 1991 was the date it declared its independence from the Soviet Union.
The vegetation is mostly composed of mixed deciduous and coniferous forests. The country is relatively developed from an economic perspective, in 1991 moving to a market economy. As the climate is colder Baltic, tourism activities can be carried out here even in the warmest months. In July, average temperatures are between 15 am and 17 degrees Celsius during the day between 20 and 28 degrees, and exceptionally may reach 35 degrees. The most advantageous time to visit Estonia is August and September, June and July because the weather is generally wet in the Baltic Sea region. If you plan to sleep in the tent, you can travel to Estonia in April, May or October. On the Baltic Sea coast there are many places where you can bathe in the sea, but lower temperatures may be a problem.
In Lithuania and Latvia, the temperature standing water (including sea) is around 17-22 degrees, but is slightly lower in Estonia. Therefore, tourists visiting the Baltic countries are opting mostly for hiking in nature and cities, stay on the seafront being only as a supplement. Near the sea is like the weather in Estonia to be rainy, windy even in summer, it is usually hot. Do not forget to get the appropriate clothing to protect you from rain and wind. Winters are cold here, sometimes with extremely low temperatures. Estonia is a country with a rich history, reflecting its traces today in the monuments and historical buildings and medieval castles.
On the present territory of Estonia from prehistory lived proto-Europeans, who have been assimilated by the Finno-Ugric. The country has gone through an extensive process of Christianization, initiated by the Germans and Danes in several battles in 1208, increasing this to be conquered in 1227. From the Middle Ages until the modern era, Estonia was controlled by various northern European powers, like Denmark, Sweden, Poland and finally Russia. Estonia declared its independence after the German invasion, which followed the withdrawal of the Bolsheviks in the country. Estonia became independent after the German occupation, the War of Liberty (February 24, 1918). But it was occupied by Soviet Union in June 1940 and forcibly incorporated in August 1940. Finally, it only became independent after the disintegration of the union (late 1990), on 20 August 1991. Therefore, 20 August is a state holiday in Estonia.
In the 1990s, Estonia was close to Western Europe, are culturally and historically linked to it. It became a member of NATO on 29 March 2004, the European Union on 1 May 2004 and the euro zone on 1 January 2011. On the present territory of Estonia from prehistory lived proto-Europeans who settled in the area at the end of last ice age about 10,500 years ago. These have been assimilated by the Finno-Ugric. Estonia was among the last remaining non-Christian countries in Europe. The country has gone through an extensive process of Christianization, initiated by the Germans and Danes in several battles in 1208, increasing this to be conquered in 1227. From the Middle Ages until the modern era, Estonia was controlled by various northern European powers, like Denmark, Sweden, Poland and finally Russia. Most of the current territories of Estonia have been reorganized in Terra Mariana, a principality under the control of the Catholic Church.
In 1219, northern Estonia was occupied by Danish crusaders led by King Waldemar II, but in 1346 these territories were sold to Danish Livonian Order for 10,000 marks. Between 1418 and 1562, Estonia was part of the Confederation Livs. After the Livonian War, northern Estonia (north side of the Confederacy Livs, who had been part of the Danish kingdom between 1219 and 1346) is part of Sweden, are used in southern Poland, and the island Saaramaa returns to the Danes. In 1629, following the Treaty of Altmark, all Livonia (which included the present territory of Estonia) enters in Sweden. In 1632, following a decision by King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden, is founded the University of Tartu.
In 1710, in the Great Northern War, the current territory of Estonia is part of the Russian Empire. Between 1710 and 1712, a plague kills most of the population of Livonia. In 1721 the Treaty of Nystad is signed, all confirming annexation of Estonia by the Russian Empire. In 1715 the New Testament is translated into Estonian (southern dialect), and the first Bible printed in 1739 is in Estonian (northern dialect). In 1711 it is closed the Tartu University and was then reopened in 1802, all courses are taught in German until 1889, when Russian language becomes the language of study. In 1816 it abolished serfdom in Estland (current northern Estonia) and in 1819 is abolished in Livonia and Saaremaa. On 12 April 1917, the Estonian government granted autonomy within the Russian language and on 5 June 1917 is chosen the Estonian diet Maapäev.
On November 5, 1917, Bolshevik leader Jaan Anvelt conducted a coup. In February 1918, talks between German and Soviet Russia failed, and Germany occupies Estonia. Estonia declared its independence after the German invasion, which followed the withdrawal of the Bolsheviks in the country. In November 1918 the Germans withdraw completely from the country, but a few days later, the Soviet invasion triggers the Estonian War of Independence, which will last until 1920. In 1921 Estonia is recognized as independent. Estonia was occupied by Soviet Union in June 1940 following the Molotov pact and declared Ribentrop-Soviet republic in August 1940. Finally, it only became independent after the disintegration of the USSR on 20 August 1991. Therefore, 20 August is a state holiday in Estonia.
In the 1990s, Estonia was close to Western Europe, and was culturally and historically linked to it. It became a member of NATO on March 29, 2004 and the European Union on May 1, 2004. Estonia is a constitutional democracy with a unicameral parliament and is elected a president every four years. Government or the executive power is formed by the prime minister, appointed by the President and a cabinet of 14 ministers. The Government is appointed by the President after approval from parliament. Legislative power belongs to the unicameral parliament, called the Riigikogu, which has 101 seats. Members are elected by universal suffrage for terms of four years. The Supreme Court justice, the National Court or Riigikohus, with 19 judges, whose chief is appointed for life by the parliament the nomination of the president. Internet voting has been used in the local elections in Estonia, and legislators also authorized the use of Internet voting in parliamentary elections.
The country is relatively poor in natural resources, although it has deposits of limestone and peat. 47% of the country is covered with forests and Estonia has more than 1,400 lakes, but most are very small. It contains approximately 1,500 islands, the largest being Saaremaa and Hiiumaa. The highest point is Suur Munamägi in the southeast and the largest lake is Lake Peipsi, with an area of 3555 km². With a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of U.S. $ 17,672 per capita, Estonia is the richest country in the Baltic and among the healthiest economies in the new Member States of the European Union which it joined in 2004. However, GDP is about 60% of the EU. Estonian economy is growing much faster than countries in Europe and Central Europe. Estonia has a well developed technology with a strong IT sector. The standard of living and wages continue to rise.
Telecommunications in Estonia are made by the company Eesti Telekom.
Estonia has a population of 1.4 million inhabitants. Approximately two thirds of the population is ethnically Estonian, as other citizens from other former Soviet republics, especially Russia. They generally live in the capital Tallinn. There is a small minority of Finland, especially on the northern coast of Estonia. The country’s official language is Estonian, which is close to Finnish. Because the country’s Soviet history and Russian-speaking minority and the Russian language, English is known as a foreign language, a large proportion of the population. The majority of Estonians are Lutherans, while the minority is Russian Orthodox.
Estonia became the first state of the former USSR who entered the euro, ending at least temporarily, the enlargement of monetary union, affected by sovereign debt crisis. The Estonian State is the 17th member of Euro area and it is with a GDP of 14 billion euros, is the second smallest of the size of the economy, ahead of Malta. Given that Europe is in financial crisis, it is likely that no other EU country not to adopt the euro in the next few years. Lithuania and Latvia aim to transition to the euro in 2014, but other larger Eastern European countries have avoided establishing precise deadlines. Estonia had to choose to enter the club of countries who make decisions, or remain outside it. With a debt ratio of only 8% of GDP in 2010, Estonia will be the state with the strongest economy in the monetary union.
There were put into circulation 85 million euro coins that engraved the map of Estonia, and 12 million banknotes, according to central bank and national currency, the koruna will be withdrawn in a short time. Estonia has taken part in 2004, the first group of eastern European countries that joined the European Union and NATO entered the same year. With the entry of Estonia, over 330 million Europeans will use the euro. Estonia has been badly affected by global financial crisis and economic contraction of 5.1% recorded in 2008 and 13.9% in 2009. Between 1995 and 2007, the country’s GDP grew on average by 7.2%. In 2010, the economy has advanced by 2.4%, and this year is expected an increase of 4.4%.
Since 1994, when Russian soldiers were gone, Estonia has cultivated economic and political ties with Western European countries. It joined NATO and the EU in 2004. Of the former Soviet republics, is now the country with the highest standard of living and regarded as the richest country in the Baltic, resembling more than its neighbors Sweden, Russia or Poland. If Estonia can be walking from one end to another in less than five hours, diverse landscape, flora and fauna, but it is a really unusual for a small country. Estonians feel bound by Finland both geographically and ethnically, borrowing much of their culture and practices. Their opening to the West has helped a lot: typical Western malls, cars, restaurants and a vibrant night life with clubs and entertainment venues have long dusty colored image of this country.
The recent years of independence made their mark through the difficulties that the country has faced, but now Estonia is beginning to regain confidence. Despite the many and rapid changes that have put the country at trial, since 1991, Estonia lost its traditions, the language that abounds in “oo” and “uu” or the party sites and any of the folk in increasingly in vogue. For Estonians is gone the coupons time, the ration of bread, fuel crisis and hyper-inflation. Currently living standards start to approach the Western European and the costs are very affordable for tourists. Given the severity of Estonian winters (December to March) and wet autumns, the best time to visit Estonia remains late spring (April and May) and summer (June to early September). Months of July and August are hot, with temperatures reaching up to 30 ° C (86 ° F). If you are passionate about skiing, skating or fishing in winter is the season appropriate for these sports. Besides the cold, an impediment remains the winter tours to the limited number of hours of daylight.11