Wikijunior Europe: Estonia
Estonia is a small country in northern and eastern Europe. It shares borders with Russia and Latvia. The capital city is Tallinn. The only other big city is Tartu. Estonia joined the European Union in 2004 and uses the Euro as its currency.
In 1918, Estonia had a brief period of independence that lasted until the Soviet Union took over the country. In 1991, Estonia gained its independence from the Soviet Union. In 2004, Estonia gained full membership into the European Union and started using the Euro as its currency in 2011.
Estonia is one of the smallest countries in Europe covering an area of 45,227 km2 (17,462 sq mi). Estonia has more than 1,150 lakes and reservoirs, which coversg about 5 percent of the land. Nearly half the country's land is forested. Estonia generally has cool summers and cold winters.
The Baltic Sea forms Estonia's western and northern edges. Although the country is small it has almost 4,000 km of coastline because the coast is so indented. The country's highest mountain, Suur Munamägi (Big Egg Mountain), is only 318 metres above sea level.
The population of Estonia is 1,315,912. Estonians makes up about 65 percent of the population. Russians are the largest minority group. They make up around 30 percent of the population. About 46 percent of the population are practicing Christians. 36 percent of the population claim to have no religion. Muslims and Jewish faiths are also present throughout the country. Estonia, along with Czech Republic, is often considered to be the most irreligious (non-religious) country in the world.
The official language of Estonia is Estonian. A large minority speak Russian. Almost all Estonians are literate. Education is required for 9 years beginning at the age of 7. The country is very technically advanced with very high Internet usage and has seen many Internet start-ups including Skype. Estonia has had internet voting in national elections for many years.
Estonia has 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, these are the Historical Centre of Tallinn and the Struve Geodetic Arc which is an imaginary line which runs through many countries including Estonia, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Moldova and during the 19th century was used to calculate the exact size and shape of the Earth.
Tallinn is extremely popular for cultural and night-life holidays for people from all over Europe. The city is a popular destination for British stag nights (the party before a man gets married). Its location so close to big cities like Helsinki (Finland) and St. Petersburg (Russian) also make it a popular base for tourists.