Estonia, Republic of, a country in eastern Europe. It is bordered on the east by Russia, on the south by Latvia, and on the west and north by arms of the Baltic Sea. Estonia's area, including Saaremaa, Hiiumaa, and other islands, is 17,413 square miles (45,100 km 2).
|Facts in brief about Estonia|
|Official language: Estonian.|
|Official name: Eesti Vabariik (Republic of Estonia).|
|Area: 17,413 mi2 (45,100 km2). Greatest distances—north-south, 150 mi (240 km); east-west, 230 mi (370 km). Coastline—481 mi (774 km).|
|Elevation: Highest—Munamagi, 1,043 ft (318 m). Lowest—sea level along the coast.|
|Population: Current estimate—1,334,000; density, 77 per mi2 (30 per km2); distribution, 69 percent urban, 31 percent rural. 2000 census—1,370,052.|
|Chief products: Agriculture—barley, beef cattle, butter, chickens, eggs, hogs, milk, rye. Manufacturing—machinery, petrochemicals, food products, textiles.|
|Flag and coat of arms: Estonia's flag has three horizontal stripes. The blue stripe at the top of the flag represents the sky. The middle stripe of black stands for the land. The white stripe at the bottom symbolizes hope in the future. The Estonian coat of arms features three blue lions on a golden shield.|
|Money: Basic unit—Estonian kroon. One hundred cents equal one kroon.|
Estonia occupies part of the Great European Plain---the vast lowland between the Ural Mountains and France---and consists mostly of level or gently rolling land. Behind the dunes and cliffs of the coast, Estonia is mostly a region of farmland and forest and much marshy land. The highest point in Estonia is only 1,043 feet (318 m) above sea level. Rivers are short and shallow. Lake Peipus forms part of the border with Russia and is drained by the Narva River.
Estonia's climate is cool to cold, and moderately rainy. In winter, temperatures average near 25° F. (-4° C.); in summer, about 60° F. (16° C.). Of the 22 inches (560 mm) of annual precipitation, more than half falls in autumn and winter.
Manufacturing and services together account for about 70 per cent of Estonia's gross domestic product. Machines and electronic items are the chief manufactured products. Also important are textile making, food processing, and the production of paper.
Agriculture accounts for about 12 per cent of the gross domestic product. Much of the cultivated land is devoted to such typical northern European crops as barley, wheat, rye, potatoes, and flax. Other land is planted with fodder for Estonia's thriving dairy industry.
Oil shale is Estonia's principal mineral resource. The shale, processed mainly into gas, furnishes fuel for electric power. Power from this source has been an important factor in Estonia's industrialization, which occurred rapidly after World War II.
Tallinn is the site of Estonia's chief commercial port and main airport. Tallinn and Pärnu are the chief fishing ports. Rail and road transportation in Estonia is well developed. The basic currency unit is the kroon.
In 1989 Estonia had a population of about 1,573,000. The population of Tallinn, the capital and largest city, was 503,000. About 60 per cent of the people are Estonian; most of the rest are Russian.
Estonian, the republic's official language, belongs to the Ural-Altaic language family and is closely related to Finnish. Many Estonians also speak Russian. Most Estonians are Lutheran. Other faiths include Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic.
School attendence is free and compulsory through the 11th year of school. The University of Tartu, founded in 1632, is the country's oldest university. Estonia also has commercial, technical, agricultural, and maritime colleges. Boating, skiing, and bicycling are popular pastimes.