Europe

Estonia country profile

  • 29 January 2016
  • From the section Europe
Map of Estonia

Estonia is the most northerly of the three Baltic states, and has linguistic ties with Finland.

Since regaining its independence with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Estonia has become one of the most economically successful of the European Union's newer eastern European members.

Ruled at various times during the middle ages by Denmark, the German knights of the Livonian Order, and Sweden, Estonia ended up part of the Russian Empire in the 18th century.

It experienced its first period of independence in 1918, following the end of the First World War and the collapse of the Russian Empire.

FACTS

Republic of Estonia

Capital: Tallinn

  • Population 1.3 million

  • Area 45,227 sq km (17,462 sq miles)

  • Major languages Estonian, Russian

  • Major religion Christianity

  • Life expectancy 70 years (men), 80 years (women)

  • Currency euro

Getty Images

LEADERS

President: Toomas Hendrik Ilves

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As head of state, the president is supreme commander of the armed forces and represents Estonia abroad. However, the role is mainly ceremonial.

The president is elected for a five-year term by MPs or, if they fail to agree, by an electoral college of MPs and local councillors, for a maximum of two five-year consecutive terms. Mr Ilves was first sworn in as president in 2006 and re-elected for a second term in August 2011.

Prime minister: Taavi Roivas

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Prime Minister Taavi Roivas became the European Union's youngest head of government in March 2014.

He was designated prime minister by President Toomas Hendrik Ilves when his predecessor Andrus Ansip stepped down after a record nine years in office.

Mr Ansip resigned in an attempt to bring in fresh blood ahead of the liberal Reform Party's run for re-election in 2015.

Mr Roivas, aged 34 at the time of taking office, took over a coalition government of Reform and the centre-left Social Democratic Party which between them had a wafer-thin majority.

MEDIA

Television is Estonia's most popular medium, while print media are losing ground to online outlets.

The broadcasting industry has attracted foreign media groups; the main privately-owned TVs are run by Swedish and Norwegian concerns.

Eesti Televisioon (ETV) and Eesti Raadio (ER) are public broadcasters. Take-up of cable and digital terrestrial TV is extensive; the offering includes stations in Finnish, Swedish, Russian and Latvian.

TIMELINE

Some key dates in Estonia's history:

1918 - Independence proclaimed.

1920- Peace treaty with Russia signed.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The city gates in Talinn

1939 - The Soviet Union compels Estonia to accept Soviet military bases.

1940 Soviet troops march in. Estonia incorporated into Soviet Union.

1941 - German troops invade.

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Image caption Held every five years, Estonia's Nationwide Song and Dance Festival attracts thousands of performers and spectators

1944 - Estonia reannexed by the Soviet Union. Tens of thousands of Estonians deported to Siberia and Central Asia.

1988 - Popular Front campaigns for democracy. "Singing revolution" brings a third of the population together in a bid for national unity and self-determination.

1991 - Communist rule collapses. Soviet government recognizes the independence of the Baltic republics.

2004 - Estonia admitted to Nato and is one of 10 new states to join the EU.

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