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.


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.

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 -

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 -

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National culture characteristic -