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About Estonia » About Estonia

Estonia

Country name: Republic of Estonia.
Government type: Parliamentary democracy.
Location: Estonia is situated on the east coast of the Baltic Sea. The territory of Estonia is 45 227 km2, of which 2 833 km2 is covered by inland bodies of water. There are 1 521 islands belonging to Estonia, the largest of them is Saaremaa Island with the territory of 2 922 km2. Estonia has land borders with Russia (294 km) in the east and Latvia (339 km) in the south. Estonia holds about 1250 km long area of the Baltic Sea coast.
History: Estonians have been living in this tiny portion of the Baltic lands since approximately 2,500 B.C., making them the longest settled of the European peoples. Due to Estonia’s strategic location as a link between East and West, it has been highly coveted through the ages by rapacious kings and conquerors. At the beginning of the 13th century, Estonia was subjugated by the Teutonic knights. Their castles still dot the countryside, in varying states of eerie decay. By 1285, Tallinn was part of the Hanseatic League. Trading activities were dominated by the German merchant families which settled there, and successive generations of Germans built their manor houses across the country. But the Germans were only the first of successive waves of conquerors. Danes, Swedes, Poles and Russians all swept across Estonia, setting up successive regimes, fortifying their towns and castles, and shipping their goods through Estonian ports. In the late 19th century a powerful Estonian nationalist movement arose. Eventually, on 24 February 1918, Estonia declared its independence. Its period of independence was brief, however, and Estonia was forcibly annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940. But in 1991 Estonians again reasserted their independence, and peacefully broke away from the Soviet Union.
Population, religion, language: Total population is 1 330 000 inhabitants. The ethnic composition: Estonians – 65%, Russians – 28%, Ukrainians – 2,5%, Byelorussians – 1,5%, Finns – 1% and others – 2%. The ethnic composition is as follows: Estonians – 65%, Russians – 28%, Ukrainians – 2,5%, Belorussians – 1,5%, Finns – 1% and others – 2%. The main religion in Estonia is Protestant (Lutheran). The state language is Estonian. Estonian with Finnish, Hungarian and some others belongs to the Finno-Ugric group of languages.
Major cities, administrative division: The capital of Estonia is Tallinn (pop. 400 000). Other major cities are Tartu – 101 000, Parnu – 44 600, Narva – 67 400, Kohtla-Jarve – 46 300. Estonia is divided into 15.
Climate: Climate is temperate, characterized by warm summers and fairly severe winters. Average temperatures range from +17° C in summer (usually July is the hottest month) to -8° C in winter.
Resorts, protected areas: There are 10 Natural and Cultural Reservations, 6 National Parks in Estonia.
National holidays: Banks, offices and shops are closed on the national holidays.
They may also be closed or have earlier time on the eve of the holidays:
New Year - January 1;
Independence Day – February 24;
Good Friday – March/April;
The International Labor day –May 1;
Whitsun – May/June;
Victory Day – June 23 (commemorating the 1919 Battle of Vonnu - Cesis in Latvia );
St. John's Day – June 24 (Midsummer);
Day of Restoration of Independence – August 20;
Christmas – December 25;
Boxing day – December 26
Time zone: Estonia lies in the Central European Time zone (GMT + 2 hours (GTM+3hrs, from April to November) or same as, for instance, Helsinki, Vilnius, and Riga).
Places of interest: Tallinn Old Town, Kaali meteorite craters, Angla windmills, Panga cliff, Lahemaa National Park, Tartu. Driving: There is right side traffic in Estonia, as in the rest of continental Europe. You should have valid driving license and insurance policy with you. As Estonia is considered to be a Northern country, you should drive with the lights switched on 24 hours a day. The vehicle must be equipped with winter tires in winter period (15 November - 31 March). Speed limit is 30-50 km per hour within city or town limits and 90 km per hour on the open road. Driving experience of 2 years and age limit of 21 year is required in some rent-a-car.
Accommodation: There are big choice of hotels, motels, hostels and guesthouses in Estonia. Please, check accommodation for details.
Currency: The national currency of Estonia is called the Kroon. The Kroon is abbreviated as EEK. The smaller unit is called the Sent, 1 Kroon = 100 cents. The kroon is pegged to the EURO at 1 € = app. 15.65 EEK. Foreign currencies can be easily exchanged in banks and exchange offices. There are exchange offices in several hotels, in the port of Tallinn, at the airport, the railway station, supermarkets and many other places. Credit cards such as Visa, Marstercard/Eurocard, Diner‘s Club, American Express etc are accepted in most of the major hotels, restaurants and shops, but ask first. 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.
Visas: Citizens of Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and South Africa can enter Estonia if they hold Lithuanian or Latvian visa. In most cases, visas can be bought at the border for approximately 55$ (not for the citizens of former republics of Soviet Union - Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, etc), or in Estonian Representation abroad for approximately 10$.