Tallinn, or Tallin, Estonia, the nation's capital and largest city. Until 1917 Tallinn was known as Reval, or Revel. Tallinn is a port on the Gulf of Finland, about 50 miles (80 km) south of Helsinki, Finland. It is Estonia's industrial and cultural center and a railroad and highway junction. Shipping, shipbuilding, and the production of electrical equipment, wood products, textiles, paper, and foods are major industries.
Tallinn was founded by the Danes as a fortress in 1219 and became a member of the Hanseatic League in 1285. Until the 18th century it was held mainly by the Teutonic Knights and Sweden. Russia captured the city in 1710; thereafter, Peter the Great made it a major naval base. Tallinn was made the capital of an independent Estonia in 1919 and the capital of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1940. It was occupied by the Germans from 1941 to 1944 and suffered extensive war damage but has since been rebuilt. In 1991 Tallinn once again became the capital of an independent Estonia.