Estonia is the fastest growing economy of the small Baltic republics. It has completely broken from its Soviet past and today is a very modern, progressive and attractive for investment European country. Today the quality of life in Estonia is rapidly increasing. Because of its economy and many other factors it is usually compared with the fast growing economies in Southeast Asia, and sometimes is even defined as „The Eastern European dragon”.
Geographic location, boundaries, size and topography of Estonia. Estonia is the northernmost of the Baltic republics. Occupies an area of 45,226 sq.km. It has smaller territory in comparison with its neighbours Latvia and Lithuania.
On the east it borders with Russia, to the south with Latvia, to the north has an outlet to the Gulf of Finland and to the west are The Baltic Sea and The Gulf of Riga. Estonia has a low altitude.
Most of the country is with flat or hilly terrain. The highest point of Estonia is called Suur Munamagi and rises only 318 meters above sea level. It is located in the southeast part of the country.
Despite its small altitude, this place is the highest point of the Baltic States as a whole. Estonia has a strongly indented coastline.
The country has more than 1500 islands among the shallow waters of the Baltic Sea. The biggest are Saaremaa, Hiumaa and Muhu. They are located west of Estonia.
Climate of Estonia. Estonia is the northernmost and respectively the coldest from the Baltic republics. Since it is located between 57 and 59° north latitude, the cold days in the year are much more than the warm days.
In winter, temperatures usually range between (-20) and (10) °C, but often fall and below (-20) °C! From November to April, night temperatures are consistently negative.
In the long and cold winter The Baltic Sea often freeze. During the winter season is almost permanently covered by thick snow. Do not forget that Estonia is located about 100 kilometers from St. Petersburg, which is known for its low temperatures.
Spring and autumn are pretty cool. For example, in May and September, which are the warmest spring and the warmest autumn month, temperatures rarely exceed 15°C. Summer lasts from June to August.
The warmest month of the year is July. Even then, however, temperatures are mostly between 20 and 23°C. Overall, rainfall that falls in Estonia is not very large – up to 70 – 80 mm rain in August and September which are the rainiest months.
However, due to lower temperatures, the moisture evaporates difficult, so it creates the illusion for a more humid climate.
During the winter precipitation decreases and most insignificant are in February – less than 20 mm. During the winter months the precipitations are almost entirely of snow. Because of low temperatures water bodies may remain frozen from November to March-April.
Population of Estonia. Estonia has a population of about 1,380,000 people. Approximately 30% of them live in the capital Tallinn, which is home to about 420 000 people.
Other important cities are Tartu, Narva, Pärnu, Kohtla Jarve and so on. With the exception of Tartu, which has a population of about 105,000 inhabitants, all the other towns in Estonia have population of less than 100 000 inhabitants.
Also, all the cities with the exception of Tartu are located on the coast. Official language of the local population is Estonian. This language belongs to the Balto-Ugric language family and is spoken by most of the local population.
Second in importance is the Russian language. It is quite common and is essential for almost 30% of local residents who are of Russian origin.
Education in Estonia. Investment in higher education has always been paramount. In recent years higher education in Eastern Europe has become very popular. Estonia is not an exception.
Here standards and requirements are not different from those in Western Europe, but prices are much lower. For example, the University of Tartu is the most prestigious in Estonia and is listed with the most elite universities in the world.
This of course is just one of many universities in Estonia. Although most renowned university is in Tartu, however, the leadership in higher education belongs to the capital Tallinn.
Economy of Estonia. Estonia is a developed country and a member of the European Union. Like other countries in Eastern Europe, it still lags behind in economic terms compared with the western half of the continent.
However, in the last few years Estonia has achieved impressive results and now it surpasses its neighbours – Latvia and Lithuania. From 1 January 2011 the official currency in Estonia is the euro.
Main source of income for the country is the export of clothing, fossil fuels, wood and machinery. Because of its ancient architecture, the country has great potential for development of urban cultural tourism.
Estonia has a well developed food industry. The livestock breeding excels the agriculture. In the local farms are grown mainly cattles and pigs. Estonia produces high quality dairy products. In Estonia are grown mainly some cold resistant fruits and vegetables such as potatoes.
Tourism in Estonia
Estonia has a huge potential for cultural tourism. The fact is that the country is a real monument under the open sky. Most beautiful is the capital Tallinn. The old town is into the list of the World Heritage by UNESCO since 1997.
And it would be surprising if it was not because it is a city that dates from the 10th century and has also managed to preserve intact its beauty for generations. Modern Tallinn combines its old architecture with modern office buildings.
This is very typical for many of the European cities. In Tallinn, however, this is particularly visible. On the silhouette of the city together with the modern office buildings stands and the sharp tip of St. Olaf church which rises to about 123 meters above the city.
A stroll through the city streets can turn into an unforgettable experience, especially if you’re interested in medieval Europe. If you are interested in the past, then Tallinn is a place for you.
It’s really exciting to walk along streets that almost have no changed over the last few hundred years. Here you will find numerous churches, museums and galleries that will make you feel the atmosphere of Estonian culture.
Adjacent to the old part of town you will find some excellent green areas and parks which are perfect for walk. Tuumpark and Harvepark are very beautiful and offer excellent conditions for relaxation just a short distance away from the urban landmarks.
Estonia, however, offers much more than the old architecture of Tallinn. The nature of this small Baltic country is beautiful and worth to see each piece of its territory. Travelling around the country soon you will notice that it is very rich in water.
About ¼ of the whole territory of Estonia is covered with marshes and lakes. The largest is The Chudsko Lake. It is located on the Russian border. Vicinity of the lake are very beautiful.
In this part of the country you can see forests, small towns, marshes, farmland and even some beaches with golden sand. In winter the lake is covered with a thick ice. It is advisable to visit the island Saaremaa.
In the western part of the island is located Vilsandi National Park. The park covers part of the island and some adjacent small islands. Located on the north of Saaremaa the island of Hiumaa is an excellent place for practising of rural tourism.
Here you can yet enjoy to the simple and natural way of life of the local residents. Perhaps the most attractive tourist center here except for the capital of Tallinn is Pyarnu, which is often described as the tourist capital of Estonia.
This is felt in the picturesque location of the town right at the mouth of the eponymous river of Pyarnu.
In Estonia you will find great medieval castles that will make you feel like a hero of the novel. One of the most beautiful castles in Estonia is Kuressaare.
It is situated on the Gulf of Riga, in the southern part of the island of Saaremaa. It is assumed that the construction began around 1338. Like a fairy tale castle, The Kuressaare is surrounded by a moat filled with water.
The area is also extremely beautiful lush and thick vegetation. And if, in Estonia there is something that is commensurate with the beauty of Kuressaare, this is the castle of Haapsalu.
It is located in the northern part of the romantic town of Haapsalu. Situated in the city among the dense vegetation it attracts crowds of tourists during the warm summer months. It is surrounded by high walls.
This architectural masterpiece dating from the 13th century. Speaking of castles, we should note that there is one which, although smaller is quite old and really worth seeing.
It is assumed that it dates from 1265. Distinguishing feature is its castle tower. It is called Payde and is located in the homonymous town, in the central parts of Estonia. The castle is located in the northwestern part of the town.
Should not miss also The Kuremäe monastery, situated in the northeastern parts of the country near the Russian border. It was founded in 1891 and really carries the spirit of the 19th century.
Although it is a monastery, the building is painted in an unusually bright colours. Walls and are painted in reddish and orange shades and the roof is green.
Wild animals of Estonia. Wildlife in Estonia is quite interesting. Here you can see some big animals. The most respectable is the brown bear. There are also wolves and foxes, wild boar, deer and a huge variety of birds.
On the territory of Estonia lives also a kind of poisonous snake – the adder, whose Latin name is Vipera berus. Estonia is home to many birds. The numerous lakes and marshes are home to a huge variety of waterfowl.
Often the nature of Estonia and in particular the diversity of species is said to be the greatest treasure of this Baltic country.
Natural resources of this northern part is stored within the five national parks – Soomaa National Park, Lahemaa National Park, Vilsandi National Park and The National Parks Matsalu and Karuna.
When to visit Estonia? The best time for tourism in Estonia is the summer, especially during June and July, when temperatures are highest and the days are warm and sunny.
In this part of the year the climate conditions for tourism are perfect in the entire Baltic region. Selecting this part of the year is good to put in your suitcase mainly summer clothes and a light coat or anorak just for in case.
Otherwise in this country there are several festivals, which also could be subject of interest for you. If so you will need to comply not with weather, but with the dates of the event.
Some of the significant events of this kind are the festival „Birgitta”, The Estonian Song and Dance Festival, Estonian Music Days and the International Film Festival Pyarnu.
If you do not travel to Estonia during the summer months you have to wear enough warm clothes because the climate here can be very harsh in most of the year.