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Estonia

From Academic Kids

The Republic of Estonia is a country in Northern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea to the west and the Gulf of Finland to the north. Estonia has land borders with its fellow Baltic state, Latvia, to the south, with Russia to the east, and maritime border with Finland to the north.

Eesti Vabariik
Flag of Estonia Missing image
Estonia_coat-of-arms.jpg
Estonia: Coat of Arms

(In Detail) (In Detail)
National motto: None
Location of Estonia
Official language Estonian
Capital Tallinn
President [[Arnold R?]
Prime Minister Andrus Ansip
Area
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 129th
45,226 km?
4.56%
Population
 - Total (2003)
 - Density
Ranked 150th
1,408,556
31/km²
Independence
 - Declared
 - Recognised
 - Lost
Independence
 - Declared
 - Recognised
From Imperial Russia
24 February 1918
2 February 1920
June 1940
From Soviet Union
(16 November 1988)
20 August 1991
Currency Estonian kroon
Time zone
 - in summer
EET (UTC+2)
EEST (UTC+3)
National anthem [[Mu isamaa, mu ?ja r?]
Internet TLD .ee
Calling Code 372
National Bird Barn Swallow
National Flower Blue Cornflower
Contents

History

Main article: History of Estonia

Estonia has been populated by the native Finno Ugric Estonians since prehistory. It was first christianised when the German "Livonian Sword Brethren" and Denmark conquered the land by 1227. Subsequent foreign powers that controlled Estonia at various times included Denmark, Sweden, Poland and finally (1710 de facto, 1721 de jure, see Treaty of Nystad) Russia. However, the upper classes and the higher middle class remained primarily Baltic German until roughly 1918; the Germans who had stayed then were either forced by Hitler or later Stalin to leave during or after the end of World War II.

Following the collapse of Imperial Russia after the October Revolution, Estonia declared its independence as a republic on February 24, 1918. It maintained this independence for twenty-two years, and the very same parliamentary government was reinstated in 1992, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It included a parliament called Riigikogu, elected by all Estonians age 20 or above. In 1934, the parliamentary government was replaced with a more centralized, authoritarian system by President Konstantin P䴳.

The country was included in the Soviet Union in June 1940, as a consequence of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Many of its political and intellectual leaders were repressed or killed, including Estonia's first president Konstantin P䴳, who was deported to Siberia. The country was occupied by the Third Reich from 1941 to 1944, when Soviet forces reconquered it. Estonia regained its independence on August 20, 1991, with the Singing Revolution and the collapse of the Soviet Union. August 20 is now a national holiday in Estonia.

The last Russian troops left on August 31, 1994, and Estonia joined NATO on March 29, 2004 and the European Union on May 1, 2004.

Estonia signed a border agreement with Russia on May 18, 2005, slightly redefining the border they had been using since 1991, which the Riigikogu, the Estonian parliament, ratified on June 20, 2005. The treaty awaits ratification by the Russian Duma, the country's parliament.

Politics

Main article: Politics of Estonia

Estonia is a constitutional democracy, with a president elected by its unicameral parliament (elections every five years). The government or the executive branch is formed by the prime minister, nominated by the president, and a total of 14 ministers. The government is appointed by the president after approval by the parliament.

Legislative power lies with the unicameral parliament, the Riigikogu or State Assembly, which consists of 101 seats. Members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms. The supreme judiciary court is the National Court or Riigikohus, with 17 justices whose chairman is appointed by the parliament for life on nomination by the president.

Counties

Main article: Counties of Estonia

Estonia numbers 15 main administrative subdivisions. Due to the geographical and demographic size of these subdivisions, they are to be considered counties rather than states (Estonian: pl. maakonnad; sg. - maakond). Here is a list of them:

Missing image
Estonia_counties.gif
Counties of Estonia

Geography

Main article: Geography of Estonia

Map of Estonia

Between 57.3? and 59.5? latitude and 21.5? and 28.1? longitude, Estonia lies on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea on the level northwestern part of the rising east European platform. Average elevation reaches only 50 m, and the country's highest point is the Suur Munam䧩 in the southeast (318 m).

Oil shale (or kukersite) and limestone deposits, along with forests which cover 47% of the land, play key economic roles in this generally resource-poor country. Estonia boasts over 1,400 lakes (most very small, with the largest, Lake Peipsi, being 3,555 km?), numerous bogs, and 3,794 kilometers of coastline marked by numerous bays, straits, and inlets. The number of islands and islets is estimated at some 1,500, with two of them large enough to constitute their own counties, Saaremaa and Hiiumaa.

Climate

See Weather (http://weather.ee/) (English), Ilm (http://ilm.ee/) (Estonian) or Pogoda (http://pogoda.ee/) (Russian).

Economy

Main article: Economy of Estonia

As a member of the European Union, Estonia is part of the world's largest economic zone. In 1999, Estonia experienced its worst year economically since it regained independence in 1991, largely because of the impact of the August 1998 Russian financial crisis. Estonia joined the WTO in November 1999 — the second Baltic state to join — and continued its EU accession talks. Privatization of energy, telecommunications, railways, and other state-owned companies is a continuing process. With assistance from the European Union, the World Bank and the Nordic Bank, Estonia completed most of its preparations for EU membership by the end of 2002 and now has one of the strongest economies of the new members states of the European Union, which Estonia joined on 1 May 2004. The Estonian economy is growing fast, partly due to a number of Scandinavian companies relocating their routine operations and Russian oil transit using Estonian ports. Estonia has a strong information technology (IT) sector. GDP PPP per capita is at $16,461, the highest among the Baltic states.

In 1994, Estonia became among the first in the world to adopt a flat tax, with a uniform rate of 26% regardless of the income a person makes. In January 2005 the personal income tax rate was reduced to 24%.

Since January 1, 2000, companies have not had to pay income tax on re-invested income.

Demographics

Main article: Demographics of Estonia

About seventy percent of the population consist of ethnic Estonians, with the rest from other former Soviet republics, mainly Russia, who predominantly live in the industrial north eastern county of Ida-Virumaa and in the capital Tallinn. There is also a small group of Finnish descent.

The country's official language is Estonian, which is closely related to Finnish. Russian is also widely spoken by the older generation (during the Soviet era learning Russian in a large volume was compulsory). Younger people usually speak English, having learned it as their first foreign language.

Ethnicity

According to a regional census undertaken in 2003, the Estonian population is comprised of the following ethnic groups:

Religion

The predominant religion of Estonians is the Christian belief in the form the Evangelical Lutheran confession.

Less than a third of the population define themselves as believers; of these the majority are Lutheran, whereas the Russian minority is Eastern Orthodox. Some ancient equinoctial heathen traditions are still held in high regard, and the summer equinox is a time of great celebration and festivities. Some neopagans revere the local ancient God Taara.

Today, about 32% of the population are members of a church or religious group; they are made up of:

There are also a number of smaller Protestant and Jewish groups.

Language

The Estonian language, together with Finnish and Hungarian, belong to a language group called the Finno-Ugric languages. They are linguistically unrelated to what linguists call the Indo-European language family, which includes all other European languages except Basque, Turkish and Maltese. Speakers of English or another Indo-European language (such as Spanish, Russian, or German) who learn Estonian, or speakers of Estonian who learn an Indo-European language, face a harder task than speakers of one Indo-European language learning another.

Estonia has the highest practical rate of literacy in the world.

Culture

Main article: Culture of Estonia

Miscellaneous topics

External links


 
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