Facts about Estonia

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After centuries of Danish, Swedish, German, and Russian rule, Estonia attained independence in 1918. Forcibly incorporated into the USSR in 1940, it regained its freedom in 1991, with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since the last Russian troops left in 1994, Estonia has been free to promote economic and political ties with Western Europe. It joined both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004.

Geography of Estonia

Eastern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Finland, between Latvia and Russia
59 00 N, 26 00 E
total: 45,226 sq km
note: includes 1,520 islands in the Baltic Sea
water: 2,015 sq km
land: 43,211 sq km
Area comparative:
slightly smaller than New Hampshire and Vermont combined
Land boundaries:
total: 633 km
border countries: Latvia 339 km, Russia 294 km
3,794 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: limits fixed in coordination with neighboring states
territorial sea: 12 NM
maritime, wet, moderate winters, cool summers
marshy, lowlands; flat in the north, hilly in the south
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Baltic Sea 0 m
highest point: Suur Munamagi 318 m
Natural resources:
oil shale, peat, phosphorite, clay, limestone, sand, dolomite, arable land, sea mud
Natural hazards:
sometimes flooding occurs in the spring
Environment current issues:
air polluted with sulfur dioxide from oil-shale burning power plants in northeast; however, the amount of pollutants emitted to the air have fallen steadily, the emissions of 2000 were 80% less than in 1980; the amount of unpurified wastewater discharged to water bodies in 2000 was one twentieth the level of 1980; in connection with the start-up of new water purification plants, the pollution load of wastewater decreased; Estonia has more than 1,400 natural and manmade lakes, the smaller of which in agricultural areas need to be monitored; coastal seawater is polluted in certain locations
Geography - note:
the mainland terrain is flat, boggy, and partly wooded; offshore lie more than 1,500 islands

Population of Estonia

1,307,605 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 15.2% (male 103,367/female 97,587)
15-64 years: 67.6% (male 427,043/female 468,671)
65 years and over: 17.2% (male 75,347/female 152,318)
Median age:
39.3 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
total: 7.73 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 8.91 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.47 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 72.04 years
male: 66.58 years
female: 77.83 years
Fertility rate:
1.4 children born/woman
noun: Estonian(s)
adjective: Estonian
Ethnic groups:
Estonian 67.9%, Russian 25.6%, Ukrainian 2.1%, Belarusian 1.3%, Finn 0.9%, other 2.2%
Evangelical Lutheran 13.6%, Orthodox 12.8%, other Christian (including Methodist, Seventh-Day Adventist, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal) 1.4%, unaffiliated 34.1%, other and unspecified 32%, none 6.1%
Estonian (official) 67.3%, Russian 29.7%, other 2.3%, unknown 0.7%
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.8%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.8% 


Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Estonia
local short form: Eesti
former: Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic
local long form: Eesti Vabariik
Government type:
parliamentary republic
Administrative divisions:
15 counties (maakonnad, singular - maakond): Harjumaa (Tallinn), Hiiumaa (Kardla), Ida-Virumaa (Johvi), Jarvamaa (Paide), Jogevamaa (Jogeva), Laanemaa (Haapsalu), Laane-Virumaa (Rakvere), Parnumaa (Parnu), Polvamaa (Polva), Raplamaa (Rapla), Saaremaa (Kuressaare), Tartumaa (Tartu), Valgamaa (Valga), Viljandimaa (Viljandi), Vorumaa (Voru)
note: counties have the administrative center name following in parentheses
regained on 20 August 1991 (from Soviet Union)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 24 February (1918); note - 24 February 1918 is the date Estonia declared its independence from Soviet Russia; 20 August 1991 is the date it declared its independence from the Soviet Union
adopted 28 June 1992
Legal system:
based on civil law system; no judicial review of legislative acts
18 years of age; universal for all Estonian citizens
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Toomas Hendrik ILVES (since 9 October 2006)
head of government: Prime Minister Andrus ANSIP (since 12 April 2005)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister, approved by Parliament
elections: president elected by Parliament for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); if a candidate does not secure two-thirds of the votes after three rounds of balloting in the Parliament, then an electoral assembly (made up of Parliament plus members of local governments) elects the president, choosing between the two candidates with the largest percentage of votes; election last held 23 September 2006 (next to be held in the fall of 2011); prime minister nominated by the president and approved by Parliament
Legislative branch:
unicameral Parliament or Riigikogu (101 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
Judicial branch:
National Court (chairman appointed by Parliament for life)


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. In 2007, however, a large current account deficit and rising inflation put pressure on Estonia's currency, which is pegged to the euro, highlighting the need for growth in export-generating industries.

$28.69 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 4%
industry: 29.4%
services: 66.6%
Inflation rate:
Labor force:
Labor force - by occupation:
industry 20%, agriculture 11%, services 69% 
revenues: $5.126 billion
expenditures: $5.017 billion
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 99.8%
hydro: 0.1%
other: 0.2%
nuclear: 0%
engineering, electronics, wood and wood products, textile; information technology, telecommunications
potatoes, vegetables; livestock and dairy products; fish
machinery and equipment 33%, wood and paper 15%, textiles 14%, food products 8%, furniture 7%, metals, chemical products (2001)
Export partners:
Finland 26.4%, Sweden 12.9%, Latvia 8.8%, Russia 6.5%, Germany 6.2%, Lithuania 4.8% 
machinery and equipment 33.5%, chemical products 11.6%, textiles 10.3%, foodstuffs 9.4%, transportation equipment 8.9% 
Import partners:
Finland 19.8%, Germany 13.8%, Russia 9.4%, Sweden 8.8%, Lithuania 6.1%, Latvia 4.7% 
Estonian kroon (EEK)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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