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Saaremaa is the biggest island of the Republic of Estonia, situated close to the mainland coast of Estonia in the Baltic Sea.
Saaremaa is the second largest island in the Baltic Sea and has an area of 2,668 square kilometres. Saaremaa is also the biggest island of the Republic of Estonia, situated close to the mainland coast of Estonia.
More than ten thousand years ago, the first parts of Saaremaa rose from the Baltic Ice Dam Lake. The uplift of the earth’s crust continues today, at about 2mm per year. Because of its mild maritime climate, and a variety of soils, Saaremaa is a real botanical paradise, protected by both international conventions as well as those of the Republic of Estonia.
The Vilsandi National Park was founded in 1910, and includes Vilsandi island and some 100 islets. Today, it is a Reserve for 250 species of birds. The woods of Saaremaa are rich in game, mainly wild boar, elks, deer and roe-deer.
There are approximately 40,000 inhabitants in Saaremaa with some 41% of the population resident in the capital town of Kuressaare. Saaremaa County Government is the governing body, recognised by the State Government. Saaremaa has its own distinctive dialect of the Estonian language, with a slightly Swedish pronunciation.
Saaremaa has been inhabited under the rule of different countries and in the past 700 years the Germans, Danes, Swedes and Russians have all had turns at possessing this island. During this period, castles, old fortifications, churches and manors were constructed, and in Kuressaare houses, lighthouses, chapels, harbours and bridges were built.
Saaremaa is changing from a relatively closed economic structure based on local natural resources, to a more open economy affected by events in Estonia and the Baltic Sea.There is an increasing number of tourists visiting the island.
The most popular sports are athletics and volleyball, as well as basketball, cycling, swimming, cross-country skiing, and orienteering. There is an athletic stadium in Kuressaare which meets with international standards, and there are sports halls and swimming pools on the island.
last updated: 22/06/07