COUNTRY

Estonia has joined the Schengen agreement, which means that you can enter on a European Union Schengen visa and there are no longer any ID/passport controls on the EU borders. More than 30 other nationals (including the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Japan) can enter Estonia without a visa (detailed list at Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

A growing number of foreign visitors have been travelling to Estonia in recent years. According to Statistics Estonia the nation’s statistical agency, 1.3 million foreigners visited the country in 2000, and that number had climbed 38% to 1.8 million foreigners by 2005.

The 20 largest cities: Tallinn , Harjumaa , Tartu , Tartumaa , Narva , Ida-Virumaa , Kohtla-Ja"rve , Ida-Virumaa , Pa"rnu , Pa"rnumaa , Viljandi , Vilandimaa , Rakvere , La"a"ne-Virumaa , Sillama"e , Ida-Virumaa , Maardu , Harjumaa , Kuressaare , Saaremaa,

Most visitors head first to Tallinn’s old city, and rightly so. Tallin is the best-known tourist attraction of Estonia. Due to its history and well-preserved architecture Tallinn has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site (1997). It’s one of Europe’s largest and best-preserved old cities, and is considered one of the main jewels in the Estonian crown. Other interesting sights are towns of Tartu, Narva, Haapsale, Hiiumaa. In Estonia there is abundance of national parks, for example Lahemaa National Park where those keen on nature holidays will find various hiking trails, nature trails, guided manor tours and horseback riding excusions available.

Tallinn, City Walls, Fat Margaret Tower

Tallinn, City Walls, Fat Margaret Tower - source

There are also marked bicycle routes leading to sights of natural beauty and historical buildings. You will also find recreation areas with places for campfire, shelters and other necessary amenities, as well as archaic-romantic huts and old farm houses for overnight stays. A hike in a bog will definitely be an unforgettable experience: by walking along a safe boardwalk you can enjoy untouched primeval nature.

Estonia is country of extraordinary grandeur with expansive landscapes, crystal clear lakes, deep rivers, and lush green forests. Everywhere you look, you will be able to witness the blessed beauty of nature encompassing this unique country in the continent of Europe.

As far as the nightlife in Estonia is concerned, there are several entertaimemt spots in the main cities. In order to feel the warmth and heat of Estonian nightlife in Estonia, you should visit one or more of these clubs. They are: Moskva, Amigo, Decolte, Bon-Bon, Hollywood, Bonnie & Clyde, Terrarium, Havana Club, Venus Club, and several others. Apart from the nightclubs and bars, there are many casinos in Estonia, located in different cities. Some of the more famous ones include: Casino Admiral, Bally’s Casino, Olympic Casino, Casino London, and Casino Astoria-Palace.

www.virtualtourist.com

www.wikitravel.org

www.visitestonia.com

Travel catalogue download:
www.visitestonia.com(PDF)

Area: 45,227 km²

Coastline: 3,794 km

Land Borders: 343 km with Latvia and 338.6 km with the Russian Federation

Distance from Tallinn to Helsinki: 85 km; to Riga: 307 km; to St.Petersburg: 395 km; to Stockholm: 405 km

Type: Parliamentary Democracy

Head of State: President Toomas Hendrik Ilves

Head of Government: Prime Minister Andrus ANSI

Administrative regions: 15 counties

Estonia, officially the Republic of Estonia (Estonian: Eesti or Eesti Vabariik) is a country in Northern Europe. Estonia has land borders to the south with Latvia and to the east with Russia. It is separated from Finland in the north by the Gulf of Finland and from Sweden in the west by the Baltic Sea.

Estonia has been a member of the European Union since 1 May 2004 and of NATO since 29 March 2004.

With an area of 45,000 sq. km, Estonia is larger than, for example, Slovenia, Holland, Denmark or Switzerland. Estonia stretches 350 km from east to west and 240 km from north to south. Sea islands form one tenth and lakes about one twentieth of Estonia’s territory. Conversely, Estonia’s population ranks amongst the smallest in the world. As of January 2000, an estimated 1,361,242 people live in Estonia — a density of only 30.2 people per sq. km.

Tallinn is Estonia’s capital. Approximately a third of the nation’s population (398,434) live in Tallinn. The other larger cities in descending order are: the university town of Tartu (101,140 inhabitants), the industrial border town of Narva (68,117), and the summer capital of Pärnu (45,040), a popular vacation destination on the south western coast, where summer air and water temperatures can reach those of the Mediterranean region. The closest major city to Tallinn is the Finnish capital Helsinki, located at a distance of 85 km on the opposite shore of the Gulf of Finland. Riga is only one day’s drive away (307 km). It’s also a relatively short trip to St Petersburg (395 km) and Stockholm (405 km).

As in other northern countries, seasons vary widely in Estonia. The length of the longest day in summer is over 19 hours, while the shortest winter day lasts only six hours. However, due to the influence of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf Stream, the weather in Estonia is considerably milder than the continental climate characteristic of the same latitude. The temperature in the summer months (June–September) is typically 15 to 18º C; in winter, –4 to –5º C. Estonian weather offers many surprises. Temperatures may fluctuate by 20º C; in the early morning the thermometer might read –12º C and by afternoon it may already be 10º C. The sky over Estonia is cloudy for about half the year, and the hilly southeast region experiences up to 750 mm of precipitation due to Estonia’s maritime climate.

Seven thousand rivers and streams carry rainwater to the sea, while bogs and wooded swamplands cover over one fifth of the country — a world index topped only by the northern neighbour, Finland. Various kinds of forests comprise slightly under half of Estonia’s territory. Wetlands, together with primeval forests, represent preserved communities which have for the most part been destroyed in Europe. More than 1,000 lakes (5 % of the Estonian territory) dot the countryside, which is relatively flat. Almost two thirds of the territory lies less than 50 m above sea level with the highest point being Suur Munamägi which is 317 m above sea level, in the southeast of the country.

Estonia is the home of several mammals as well as plant species that are extinct or very rare in other parts of Europe. About 10% of the Estonian territory is subject to environment protection. The most important protection areas are resting and recreation areas for migratory birds, mainly seashore wetlands, and chaste woodland and wetland areas.

Work – Estonia may have had rocket-like growth in recent years, but only from a very low base as a former Soviet republic. An average local monthly salary (4th quarter 2007) is around 800 EUR.

Since restoration of independence, Estonia has been following a "small open economy" model, achieving in 2000 4th place worldwide on the openness of its economy (Heritage Foundation). No obstacles exist to citizens of EU countries to come to invest and work in Estonia. Citizens of developed non-EU countries are exempted from short-term tourist visas. Swedes and Finns have by far the largest working community of post-Soviet foreigners in Estonia. Work in Estonia

The most influential industrial areas are: the capital Tallinn, its surrounding areas, and Northeast Estonia. Major employers are the paper, timber and textile industries. One tenth of the population receives its income from agriculture, fishing or forestry. The changing world compels people to find other ways to earn a living besides traditional cattle breeding and grain growing. Cultivating oilseed rape, growing strawberries, or keeping a farmhouse for tourists are some of the alternative occupations.

Estonia exports various products: appliances of all kinds, electronic devices and components, and motor vehicle safety equipment. Small and medium-sized businesses predominate.

Estonia - Tech

source

Since June 1992 the official currency in Estonia is the kroon, and its rate was at first fixed to the German mark (1 mark = 8 kroons). After the introduction of the euro the kroon is tied to the euro (at a rate of approximately 15.642 kroons). The successful monetary reform also meant swift changes in banking and in the small local financial. Estonian banking (economy and civil service too as well) is characterised by a widespread use of the IT technologies – an impressive number of people own payment cards and internet banking has advanced rapidly. The latest development, m-payments (mobile payments), is all the rage.

Estonia, a 2004 European Union entrant, has a modern market-based economy and one of the highest per capita income levels in Central Europe. The economy benefits from strong electronics and telecommunications sectors and strong trade ties with Finland, Sweden, and Germany. The current government has pursued relatively sound fiscal policies, resulting in balanced budgets and low public debt.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$28.68 billion (2007 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$15.31 billion (2007 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$21,800 (2007 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 2.9%
industry: 28.9%
services: 68.2% (2007 est.)

Unemployment rate:
4.7% (2007 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
6% (2007 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):
33.3% of GDP (2007 est.)

Public debt:
3.8% of GDP (2007 est.)

Agriculture - products:
potatoes, vegetables; livestock and dairy products; fish

Industries:
engineering, electronics, wood and wood products, textile; information technology, telecommunications

Exports:
$11.31 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)

Exports - partners:
Finland 18.4%, Sweden 12.4%, Latvia 8.9%, Russia 8.1%, US 5.5%, Germany 5.1%, Lithuania 4.8%, Gibraltar 4.7% (2006)

Imports:
$14.71 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)

Imports - partners:
Finland 18.2%, Russia 13.1%, Germany 12.4%, Sweden 9%, Lithuania 6.4%, Latvia 5.7% (2006)

Currency:

Estonian kroon (EEK) - krooni per US dollar - 11.535 (2007), krooni per euro - approximately 15.645 kroons

Estonia was first settled in 2,000 B.C. The name of Estonia occurs first in a form of Aestii in the first century A.D. by Tacitus. Estonia was an independent nation until the 13th century A.D. The Vikings passed through the territory in the ninth century. Estonia remained one of the last parts of medieval Europe to be Christianized. In 1193 the Pope Celestine III called for a crusade against the Baltics and the country was overrun by Danish and German knights (Teutonic Order) by 1220. The territory in this time was divided between the Livonian branch of the German knights, the Bishopric of Dorpat and the Bishopric of Oesel-Wiek. The situation oscillated many times until the Swedish kingdom took control of the majority of the country in 1561, after the Livonian War of the 1550s. Their rule lasted until 1710, resp. 1721 when Estonia was given over to the Russian empire through the Treaty of Nystadt. Russian ruled until 1918 when Estonian independence was asserted.

www.iexplore.com - Estonia history

www.wikipedia.org - History of Estonia

www.geocities.com - History

The Russians wished to have Estonia to secure a "window into the Baltic" for economic as well as strategic reasons. Estonian freedom lasted until 1940 when the country was retaken under the pretence of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Nazi Germany and the Stalinist regime. During the course of the war, Estonia fell under the occupation of Germany for three years. In 1944 Stalin retook the country, and the Iron Curtain was shut for the next fifty years. Estonia would not see independence again until 1991, the year the Soviet Union collapsed and the Cold War ended. Since the reestablishment of independence the nation has been rapidly transforming and adapting to the modern world. Today Estonia boasts the most successful economy of the former Soviet region. In May 2004 Estonia became a Member State of the EU, shortly after becoming a member of NATO.

Molotov signs the German-Soviet non-aggression pact

Molotov signs the German-Soviet non-aggression pact - source

www.geocities.com

Estonia was one of the republics of the Soviet Union and was formally annexed as the Estonian SSR in August 1940. The country formally declared regained independence on 20 August 1991, during the Soviet military coup attempt in Moscow. The last Russian troops left on 31 August 1994.

Estonia is a parliamentary democracy and therefore the President (currently Toomas Hendrik Ilves), mainly a symbolic figure, holds no executive power. The contemporary Estonian government follows the principles of separation of power and its people elect a 101-member parliament every four years. Only Estonian citizens may participate in parliamentary elections. The Prime Minister is Andrus Ansip. The Parliament chooses a president, who can be in office for a five year period and a maximum of two terms. The President is the Supreme Commander of the National Defence of Estonia. A party must gather 5% of the votes in order to become part of the Parliament. As a rule, the President asks the party leader who has collected the most votes to form the new government.

Last national elections: 2007

Last national elections: 2007

http://www.parties-and-elections.de/estonia.html


Last European Parliament election June 2009

See:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/parliament/archive/elections2009/en/estonia_en.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Parliament_election,_2009_(Estonia)

Estonian parliament building in Tallinn

Estonian parliament building in Tallinn - source

Estonians (Estonian: eestlased, previously maarahvas) are a Finnic people closely related to the Finns and inhabiting, primarily, the country of Estonia. The Estonians speak a Finno-Ugric language, known as Estonian.

Estonians have strong ties to the Nordic countries stemming from important cultural and religious influences gained over centuries during Scandinavian and German rule and settlement. Indeed, Estonians consider themselves a Nordic people rather than Balts, in particular because of a close ethnic and linguistic affinity with the Finns.

From 1945-89 the share of ethnic Estonians in Estonia dropped from 94% to 61%, caused primarily by the deportations organized by the Soviet regime and the Soviet mass immigration program from Russia and other parts of the former USSR into industrial urban areas of Estonia, as well as by wartime emigration and Stalin’s mass deportations and executions. The ethnic Estonian population has now risen close to 69%. Other nationalities are: Russians (25.6%), Ukrainians (2.1%), Belarusians, Finns, Tatars, Latvians and Poles.

In Estonia and the Czech Republic less than one in five indicates that they believe in a God. At least one in two believes there is some sort of spirit or life force: Estonia (54%) and the Czech Republic (50%) (Eurobarometr Poll 2005). This would have made Estonians the most non-religious people in the then 27-member European Union. Historically, however, Estonia used to be a stronghold of Lutheranism due to its strong links to the Nordic countries.

Religion

The dominant religion in Estonia is Evangelical Lutheranism. Estonians were Christianized by the Teutonic Knights in the 13th century. During the Reformation, Lutheranism spread, and the Church was officially established in Estonia in 1686. Still, Estonians generally tend not to be very religious, because religion throughout the 19th century was associated with German feudal rule. In 1992 there were 153 Lutheran congregations in Estonia with an estimated 200,000 members, active members totalled about 70,000.

www.atheism.about.com

Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church - St. Paul’s Church in Viljand

Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church - St. Paul’s Church in Viljand - source

National stereotypes and values - www.vm.ee

Estonia is a gem of a country offering visitors the chance to see a country that is both ex-Soviet Union and now proudly European Union. The traces of the Soviet era are still there to see — a deserted Soviet army base that was once off-limits to Estonians themselves can now easily be visited. Tallinn’s old town is in magnificent condition, with the medieval city walls and towers almost complete, and surely rates amongst Europe’s best old towns. Glorious beaches are on offer, although the swimming season is short. After all, the Baltics are not renowned for warm weather. And therein lies something that any visitor to Estonia must be aware of — summer is short and winter is severe.

Things Estonia has Given the World - www.palun.blogspot.com

Composers - www.emic.kul.ee

National culture characteristic - www.culture.ee

  • Estonians are quite formal and may not come across as quite cold or even friendly to people from more informal cultures. This should not be interpreted so.
  • Men should initiate greetings with women and the younger person always greets the older person.
  • The most common greeting is "tere" ("hello").
  • Once the relationship warms up the communication style becomes a lot less stiff.
  • Shake hands with everyone at the meeting.
  • Remember it is rude to greet someone while seated.
  • Handshakes should be firm and confident.
  • Maintain steady eye contact while shaking hands.
  • Try and wait for a woman to extend her hand.
  • Address businesspeople by their professional title and their surname.
  • If someone does not have a professional title, use "Härra" to address a man and "Prova" to address a woman, "Preili" is Miss. All should be followed with the surname.
  • Wait until invited before moving to a first name basis.

Communication Style

  • Estonians mean what they say and do what they say they will do.
  • They expect foreign businesspeople to keep their word.
  • Failing to do so can cause irreparable harm to a business relationship.
  • They are generally polite and courteous speakers.
  • Estonians are somewhat pragmatic and reserved, especially in the early stages of developing a business relationship.
  • Estonians are not emotive speakers.
  • If you are from a culture where hand gestures are robust, you may wish to moderate them to conform to local practices.
  • Soft voices are the norm. If you have a booming voice, you may wish to moderate it when conducting business with Estonians.
  • Estonians do not always respond to what has been said, especially if they are uncomfortable with the subject or if they need more time to organize their thoughts.
  • Although they are direct communicators, Estonians temper their directness in order to protect the feelings of all concerned.
  • They are slow to pay compliments and may become suspicious of compliments offered too readily and without sufficient reason.
  • Passive silence is very much part of the communication style.
  • Estonians are not fond of conversational overlap and will not think highly of someone who interrupts them while they are speaking.
  • Estonians value their good reputations. Therefore, be careful not to criticize or embarrass anyone publicly.

www.kwintessential.co.uk