Estonia is the northernmost and smallest of the
three Baltic states. In a short time, the country has
been transformed from the Soviet Union's planned economy
to one of the EU's and NATO's most advanced IT
societies, with strong ties to Finnish and Swedish
business. What is perceived as a threat from Russia has
cast a shadow over the country in recent years.
Brief profiles of Estonia, including geography, history, politics, economics as well as common acronyms about this country.
Geography and climate
Estonia is the northernmost and smallest of
the three Baltic states. Its area corresponds to Denmark
or a tenth of Sweden's.
The coast runs towards the Gulf of Finland in the
north and towards the Baltic Sea in the west. Estonia
has more than 1,500 islands and islets, of which
Saaremaa (Ösel), Hiiumaa (Dagö), Muhu (Moon) and Vormsi
(Ormsö) are the largest.
Peipsi Wolverine (Lake Peipus) and the Narva River
form a border with Russia in the east. In the south,
Estonia borders Latvia.
The country is mostly flat but there are hilly areas,
mainly in the southeast. Almost half of the land area is
wooded and a large part consists of marshlands. Estonia
has over a thousand lakes and many small rivers and
The climate is determined by Estonia's location
between the Euro-Asian land mass and the Baltic Sea. It
is also affected by the proximity to the North Atlantic,
which introduces mild air masses across the country.
Like Sweden, Estonia has a mix of coastal and inland
climate with brighter winter weather the further away
from the coast one comes.
Summers are relatively hot with temperatures around
20 degrees and exceptionally above 30 degrees. The
proximity to the Baltic Sea provides moist air and
plenty of wind. The rainfall is somewhat less than in
Sweden, but there can often be occasional showers.
FACTS - GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
45 227 km2 (2018)
Swedish + 1 hour
Adjacent country (s)
Capital with number of inhabitants
Tallinn 394,000 (Estimated 2009)
Other major cities
Tartu 102 300, Narva 66 000, Kohtla-Järve 44 700,
Pärnu 43 400 (estimate 2009)
Suur Munamägi (318 m asl)
Pärnu, Ema and Narva
Peipsi Wolverine (Lake Peipus)
Average Precipitation / year
Tallinn 560 mm (most rain falls Aug-Nov)
Average / day
Tallinn 16 °C (July), -3 °C (Jan)
Russian-language TV channel should counter Russian propaganda
Estonia's state broadcaster is launching a Russian-language channel intended
as an alternative to the Russian channels that the Russian-speaking minority
population usually watches and which is considered to provide a one-sided
propagandistic picture of Russian politics.
The abducted officer is exchanged for spy
Intelligence officer Eston Kohver is released by Russia a few days before
Russian President Putin will speak at the UN in New York. He is exchanged
against an Estonian citizen who was sentenced in the Russian homeland for
Tallinn's mayor is charged with bribery
The state prosecutor's office is prosecuting Tallinn's mayor Edgar Savisaar
for extensive bribery. He is accused of receiving bribes for own and other
persons on the value of several hundred thousand euros during the years
2014–2015. Savisaar leads the Estonian Center Party, which is mainly supported
by the Russian-speaking minority. He was the first Estonia's first prime
minister in 1991-1992.
Nordic-Baltic urging to Russia
The foreign ministers of the Nordic and Baltic countries jointly urge Russia
to immediately release the imprisoned Estonian intelligence officer Eston Kohver
High-tech fencing is planned along the Russian border
The Estonian government announces plans to build a fence along the entire
border with Russia with a planned start of work in 2018. The intention is to
"secure the security of Estonia and the Schengen area" through high-tech border
15 years in prison for the abducted officer
A Russian court sentenced Estonian intelligence officer Eston Kohver (see
September 2014) to prison for 15 years for espionage, illegal
weapons possession and for crossing the Russian border without permission.
Estonian Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand describes the abduction of Kohver
from Estonian territory as a gross violation of international law. Similar
criticism comes from EU Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini. She urges Russia to
release Kohver immediately.
Russian investigation annoys the Balts
Estonia and its neighboring countries are responding with anger that the
Russian Prosecutor's Office has launched an investigation into whether the
independence of the Baltic States is legal. The inquiry is being carried out at
the request of two MPs for the United Russia Power Party, which describes the
Soviet Union's recognition of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania's independence as
treason. Baltic leaders say the measure is absurd but an example of the new
imperialist attitude that characterizes today's Russia.
The President wants NATO reinforcement
President Ilves appeals to NATO to send more soldiers to Estonia. The Defense
Alliance's only presence in Estonia is an American infantry company of 150
soldiers, and they are not permanently stationed in the country. The president's
appeal is based on increased Russian military activity at the Estonian border.
New coalition government is presented
Just over a month after the parliamentary elections, Prime Minister Rõivas
presents a new government with seven Ministers from the Reform Party, four
Social Democrats and four from the right-wing Alliance IRL, who thus return to
the government. Estonia gets a female Foreign Minister in Keit Pentus-Rosimannus
from the Reform Party, Defense Minister becomes Social Democrat Sven Mikser,
while Sven Sects from IRL becomes Finance Minister.
Troubled government formation after elections
The reform party retains its position as the largest party
after the parliamentary elections on March 1, but loses three seats. At the same
time, the Social Democrat coalition partner loses four seats,
causing the government so far to lose its majority. The Russian-friendly
Center Party gets a seat more than in the last election, but Prime
Minister Taavi Rõivas immediately excludes all opportunities to let the Center
Party join a new government. Government formation is made more difficult by the
fact that the new parliament gets only six parties against four. The newly
formed market liberal Free Party and the right-wing populist
Conservative Partygets into parliament. More than 64 percent
of those entitled to vote participate in the election. The electoral movement
has been characterized by the continuing economic problems for a large part of
the population and many people's feeling of increased threat from Russia.
Military parade in Narva sends signal across the border
Estonia celebrates its independence day on February 24 with a military parade
in Narva on the Russian border. Hundreds of soldiers from other NATO countries
are participating in the parade, where heavy military equipment from NATO is
also on display. The parade is interpreted as a signal to Russia that the
Western Alliance is ready to defend its eastern border against any Russian