Estonia is a small country in northern Europe, located on the Baltic Sea. It is also the northernmost and smallest of the Baltic countries, commonly known as the "Baltic States", the other two being Latvia and Lithuania. The capital city is Tallinn.
The Estonians are a Finno-Ugric people, and the Estonian language exhibits many similarities to Finnish. Estonia was first mentioned by Roman historian Tacitus, who in his book Germania (ca. 98 CE) described a people called the Aestii.
As an odd coincidence, Estonia and Finland even share the same tune for their national anthems.
Estonians have been living on the Eastern shore of the Baltic Sea since approximately 2,500 BCE, which makes them the longest settled of the European peoples. Over the centuries, the Estonians were subjected to Danish, Teutonic, Swedish and Russian rule. Foreign rule in Estonia began in 1227. In 1918 the Estonian Declaration of Independence was issued, to be followed by the Estonian War of Independence (1918–1920), which resulted in the Tartu Peace Treaty recognizing Estonian independence in perpetuity. During World War II, Estonia was occupied and annexed first by the Soviet Union and subsequently by the Third Reich, only to be re-occupied by the Soviet Union in 1944. Estonia regained its independence on 20 August 1991. It has since embarked on a rapid programme of social and economic reform. Today, the country has gained recognition for its economic freedom, and its adoption of new technologies. Estonia was one of the world's fastest growing economies for several years. Estonia has the highest literacy rate in the world, and as of 2012, Estonia is ranked third in the world in freedom of the press, first in Internet freedom, third in the world in IT legal acts, and second in the world in Internet access in schools.
According to the constitution there is freedom of religion, no state church, and every person has the right to privacy of belief and religion. Estonia is believed to be the most atheistic country in the world, with over 76% of the population stating no specific religious affiliation. According to Eurobarometer Poll 2005, 26% of the population said that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, god, or life force".
What people know about Estonia
- Index of Economic Freedom
- BBC NEWS Europe Tiny Estonia leads internet revolution
- The Estonian Economic Miracle
- The least religious nation in the world is Estonia
- Archive copy at the Wayback Machine Statistical database: Population Census 2000 – Religious affiliation]
- "Eurobarometer on Social Values, Science and technology 2005"