Historically, large parts of Estonia’s north-western coast and islands have been populated by an indigenous ethnically Swedish population, the Estonian Swedes. The majority of Estonia's Swedish population fled to Sweden in 1944, escaping the advancing Soviet Army. In 2005, Estonia joined the European Union's Nordic Battle Group. As Estonians are naturally of Finnic decent, the Estonian language is closely related to Finnish.
Total Area: 45,227 km2 (17,413 sq. miles)
Population: 1,340,194 (2010 estimate)
Officially the Republic of Estonia, Estonia is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe and has over 1500 islands under its territorial domain. To its west lies the Baltic Sea, bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the south by Latvia, and to the east by both Lake Peipus and the Russian Federation. Estonia is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate.
With Tallinn as its capital and largest city, Estonia is a democratic parliamentary republic divided into 15 counties. It is one of the least-populous members of the European Union, Eurozone, NATO and also a member of the OECD. Estonia has the highest GDP per person among former Soviet republics and in being so, it is listed as a "High-Income Economy" by the World Bank and as an "advanced economy" by the International Monetary Fund.
Many Estonians consider themselves to be Nordic rather than Baltic. The Estonian language is closely related to the Finnish language, not to the Baltic languages and Estonians, as an ethnic group, are a Finnic people. The term Baltic as a concept to group Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia has been criticized, as what the three nations have in common almost wholly derives from shared experiences of occupation, deportation, and oppression; what Estonia does not share with Latvia and Lithuania is a common identity or language group. The term Balts does not apply to Estonians.
The Government of Estonia or the executive branch is formed by the Prime Minister of Estonia, nominated by the president and approved by the parliament. The government exercises executive power pursuant to the Constitution of Estonia and the laws of the Republic of Estonia and consists of 12 ministers, including the prime minister. The prime minister also has the right to appoint other ministers, whom he or she will assign with a subject to deal with and who will not have a ministry to control, becoming a minister without portfolio who currently is the Minister of Regions.
The United Nations lists Estonia as a developed country with a Human Development Index of "Very High". The country is also ranked highly for press freedom, economic freedom, democracy and political freedom and education.
There are 12 airports and one heliport in Estonia, the Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport is the largest airport, providing services to a number of international carriers flying to over 20 destinations.
Sources: Wikipedia, Estonia.eu, visitestonia
Estonia is situated in the northern part of the temperate climate zone and in the transition zone between a continental and maritime climate, and as such locals in Estonia experience four seasons of near-equal length. Average temperatures range from 16.3 °C (61.3 °F) on the Baltic islands to 18.1 °C (64.6 °F) inland in July, the warmest month, and from -3.5 °C (25.7 °F) on the Baltic islands to −7.6 °C (18.3 °F) inland in February, the coldest month. The average annual temperature in Estonia is 5.2 °C (41.4 °F). A covering layer of snow, which is deepest in the south-eastern part of Estonia, usually lasts from mid-December to late March.
Two of Estonias Islands, are large enough that constitute separate counties on their own right; these are Saaremaa and Hiiumaa. Estonia has over 1,400 lakes and also many rivers. Most lakes are very small, with the largest, Lake Peipus, (Peipsi in Estonian) being 3,555 km² (1,373 sq mi).
Sources: Wikipedia, visitestonia
A balanced budget, almost non-existent public debt, flat-rate income tax, free trade regime, competitive commercial banking sector, innovative e-Services and even mobile-based services are all hallmarks of Estonia's market economy. Estonia imports needed petroleum products from western Europe and Russia. Oil shale energy, telecommunications, textiles, chemical products, banking, services, food and fishing, timber, shipbuilding, electronics, and transportation are key sectors of the economy.
Food, construction, and electronic industries are currently among the most important branches of Estonia's industry. Mainly located in Ida-Viru county and around the capital Tallinn, another important industrial sector of the country is the machinery and chemical industry.
According to Eurostat newsrelease published at 21 October 2011, Estonia has the lowest ratio of government debt to GDP among EU countries as 6.7 percent at the end of 2010. The world media has lately started to describe Estonia as a Nordic country, emphasizing the economic, political and cultural differences between Estonia and its less successful Baltic neighbors.
As a member of the European Union, Estonia's economy is rated as high income by the World Bank. As opposed to its neighbors Latvia and Lithouania and largely because of Estonia’s rapid growth, the Estonian economy has often been described as the Baltic Tiger. Beginning 1 January 2011, Estonia adopted the euro and became the 17th eurozone member state.
It must be also noted that Estonia has a strong information technology sector, partly owing to the Tiigrihüpe project (with a particular emphasis on education, it was a project undertaken by Republic of Estonia to heavily invest in development and expansion of computer and network infrastructure in Estonia) undertaken in mid-1990s, and has been mentioned as the most "wired" and advanced country in Europe in the terms of e-Government of Estonia.
Skype was written by Estonia-based developers Ahti Heinla, Priit Kasesalu, and Jaan Tallinn, who had also originally developed Kazaa.
The ice-free port of Muuga, near Tallinn, is a modern facility featuring good transshipment capability, a high-capacity grain elevator, chill/frozen storage, and brand-new oil tanker off-loading capabilities. The railroad serves as a conduit between the West, Russia, and other points to the East.
Estonia today is mainly influenced by developments in Finland, Sweden and Germany – the three main trade partners. The government recently increased greatly its spending on innovation. The prime minister of Estonian Reform Party has stated its goal of bringing Estonian GDP per capita into the TOP 5 of EU by 2022. Ireland is sometimes seen as a model for Estonian economic future.
Sources: Wikipedia, cia factbook, infoplease
In 2010, 1.56 million foreign tourists stayed overnight at the accommodation establishments of Estonia. Their number increased by 13% or by 183,412 compared with 2009. The number of nights
The number of nights spent was 3.2 million (+17% compared with 2009).
The majority of tourists in Estonia arrive from Finland. The 2nd biggest market sourcing tourists to Estonia is Russia (Estonia Tourism Statistics, 2010). Other countries are as follows: Sweden, Germany, Latvia, Norway and the UK.
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Speed limits in Estonia are as follows:
50 km/h (30 mph) - in built-up areas
90 km/h (56 mph) - on motorways
110 km/h (68 mph) - on highways
The Alcohol Limit is 0.0 in Estonia and drink and driving of all sorts is strictly prohibited and largely enforced throughout the country, so please take all necessary measures to either avoid or limit drinking to acceptable levels whilst there.