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Estonia
Estonia
 


Estonia

A small and heavily forested country, Estonia is the most northerly of the three former Soviet Baltic republics.

Not much more than a decade after it regained its independence following the collapse of the USSR, the republic was welcomed as a Nato member in late March 2004.

OVERVIEW

The move came just weeks before a second historic shift for Estonia in establishing its place in the Western family of nations, as it joined the EU in May 2004. These developments would have been extremely hard to imagine in not-so-distant Soviet times.

Estonia was part of the Russian empire until 1918 when it proclaimed its independence. Russia recognised it as an independent state under the 1920 Treaty of Tartu.

During the two decades that followed it tried to assert its identity as a nation squeezed between the rise of Nazism in Germany and the dominion of Stalin in the USSR.

After a pact between Hitler and Stalin, Soviet troops arrived in 1940 and Estonia was absorbed into the Soviet Union. Nazi forces pushed the Soviets out in 1941 but the Red Army returned in 1944 and remained for half a century.

The legacy of the Soviet years has left a mark which the country carries with it into its EU era: a large number of the Russian-speaking industrial workers brought in decades ago have ended up without Estonian citizenship for which they are required to pass an Estonian-language test. About a fifth of the population has no citizenship of any kind.

The Estonian language is closely related to Finnish but not to the languages of either of the other Baltic republics, Latvia and Lithuania, or to Russian. The country has unique traditions in folk song and verse, traditions which have had to be strong to survive the many centuries of domination by foreign countries.

FACTS
  • Population: 1.3 million (UN, 2003)
  • Capital: Tallinn
  • Major languages: Estonian, Russian
  • Major religion: Christianity
  • Life expectancy: 66 years (men), 77 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 kroon = 100 sents
  • Main exports: Machinery, textiles, wood products
  • GNI per capita: US $4,190 (World Bank, 2002)
  • Internet domain: .ee
  • International dialling code: + 372

  • MEDIA

    The post-independence years of the early 1990s saw a proliferation of newspapers. This subsequently turned into a fight for survival for a smaller number of surviving titles.

    Broadcasting witnessed spectacular growth after 1991. The industry has attracted a number of foreign players; the two main commercial TV stations are owned by Swedish and Norwegian concerns.

    Public radio and TV services are run by Eesti Televisioon (ETV) and Eesti Raadio (ER).

    Take-up of cable TV is extensive. The service offers channels in Finnish, Swedish, Russian and Latvian.

    The press

  • Postimees - privately-owned daily
  • Eesti Paevaleht - privately-owned daily
  • SL Ohtuleht - evening tabloid
  • Maaleht - privately-owned weekly
  • Estoniya - Russian language
  • Aripaev - privately-owned business daily

    Television

  • Eesti Televisioon - public
  • TV3 - privately-owned
  • Kanal 2 - privately-owned

    Radio

  • Eesti Raadio - public, operates four networks including flagship station Vikerraadio
  • Kuku Radio - Estonia's first privately-owned station

    News agency

  • Baltic News Service (BNS) - privately-owned



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