Estonia Facts
Estonia Facts

30 Interesting Estonia Facts

James Israelsen
By James Israelsen, Associate Writer
Published October 1, 2019
  • Estonia is a small nation in Northern Europe, the northernmost of the Baltic states, which also include Latvia and Lithuania.[1]
  • The population of Estonia is approximately 1.24 million people.[3]
  • The official language of Estonia is Estonian, with Southeasterners and Westerners speaking different dialects than the rest of the country.[1]
  • Estonia was a part of the Soviet Union until 1991, when it declared its independence.[1]
  • Since declaring independence from the Soviet Union, Estonia has managed to achieve a balanced national budget while still privatizing most of its businesses under market capitalistic policies—recognized by the rest of Europe as an impressive feat.[1]
  • Estonia, a country rich in oil shale, which can be used to generate thermal power, manages to not only provide its own power for its people, but also supplies power to most of neighboring Latvia and some of northwestern Russia.[1]
  • Estonia Geography
    Estonia is only about 1/4 the size of Colorado
  • In addition to the mainland, there are around 1,500 islands and inlets that form the entire area of Estonia.[1]
  • At the beginning of the 21st century, Estonians were more likely than most of their European neighbors to own cell phones, although they were less likely to own a personal computer.[1]
  • In Estonia, military service is mandatory for men between the ages of 19–28. It is not compulsory for women, but they can volunteer.[1]
  • Only 2/3 of the entire population of Estonia are ethnic Estonians; the rest is made up of immigrants from Estonia’s neighbors, such as Russia and the Ukraine.[1]
  • Due to her goal of destroying the Soviet Union, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher became incredibly popular in Estonia during the 1980s; university students created the tradition of singing a song with a chorus that said “I love Thatcher” during their parties.[2]
  • Although many nations sent Christian missionaries to the Estonian tribes in the Middle Ages, it wasn’t until after 200-plus years of attempts to convert the Estonians that they finally became Christian—and then only under force and duress.[2]
  • During the Cold War, Estonians created the Estonian Heritage Society to remind Estonian citizens of their national heritage and to oppose the USSR. Their slogan was “A New Era of Awakening.”[2]
  • Estonian People
    The Estonian people finally won their independence after centuries of outside control

  • More than 2/3 of Estonian households reside in apartments rather than individual homes.[1]
  • Traditionally, many Estonians lived in barn dwellings: multipurpose farmhouses that served as both the family home and the farm worksite, where the family threshed grains and sometimes kept animal pens.[1]
  • For a 700-year period, Estonia was ruled by Danish, Swedish, German, and Russian invaders; they finally gained their independence in 1918—only to lose it again in 1940, when the USSR forcibly incorporated it into their Union.[3]
  • Linguists have identified words in the modern Estonian language that were also used by ancient inhabitants of Estonia over 5,000 years ago.[2]
  • Estonia Shale Oil
    Estonia has found more environmentally-conscious ways to power their cities
  • Estonian air used to be heavily polluted with sulfur dioxide from power plants that burned shale oil; however, between 1980 and 2000, Estonia managed to decrease pollution emissions by 80%.[3]
  • Estonians began to protest and oppose the Soviet government decades before achieving their independence, when they began to realize that, due to forced immigration and imprisonment within the Soviet Union, the Estonian people and culture were in danger of becoming extinct.[2]
  • Estonia has the second smallest female-to-male ratio in the world: for every 100 women, there are only 84 men.[5]
  • Every year more tourists visit Estonia than there are residents in Estonia.[5]
  • An Estonian named Ado Kosk invented a sport called “kiiking,” which involves riding a giant steel swing with the ability to rotate 360 degrees.[5]
  • The protests that resulted in Estonian independence in 1991 are referred to as the “Singing Revolution” because the demonstrations against the USSR government generally involved the singing of banned Estonian national songs and hymns.[5]
  • Estonia rates second in world literacy rates, with 99.8% of its citizens able to read and write.[5]
  • In 2005, Estonia became the first country in the world to permit online voting.[5]
  • With only 16% of its citizens rating religion as an important part of their lives, Estonia is the world’s least religious country.[5]
  • Estonia Kalevipoeg
    The giant Kalevipoeg used stones and planks as weapons against his enemies
  • Estonia’s most famous old epic story, “Kalevipoeg,” recounts tales about a giant who throws stones and talks to hedgehogs.[5]
  • Although the “sport” of wife-carrying was invented in Estonia’s neighbor Finland, Estonians won the international Wife-Carrying Championship for 11 straight years in a row.[5]
  • There is evidence of human habitation in the region now called Estonia that dates back to 7000 years BC.[2]
  • The Estonian island of Kaali is home to a number of craters caused by meteorite impacts approximately 7,500 years ago. The largest, Kaali Crater, may have been a religiously important site to ancient Estonians.[4]

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