Embassy of Estonia 16 Hyde Park Gate
London SW7 5DG, UK
Tel: 0171 589 3428,
Fax: 0171 589 3430


Physical geography

Estonia is the northernmost of the three new countries on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea. It is a land of great natural beauty, a long and complicated history and a distinct cultural tradition, a land at the meeting point of East and West.

Of the three Baltic states Estonia is the smallest (45,227 sq km). To the east the country borders on Russia and lake Peipsei (the second largest fresh-water body in Europe) and to the south Latvia. The rolling landscape of south Estonia is dotted with attractive lakes, of which there are more than 1,400. A steep limestone bank stretches along the northern shore causing rivers to fall in the Gulf of Finland as waterfalls. There are more than 1,500 offshore islands and abundant woodlands, which create suitable habitats for game.


The climate in Estonia is temperature, characterised by warm summers and moderately mild winters. The weather is often breezy and humid due to the proximity of the Baltic Sea. Average temperatures range from 20.9°C in summer to 8°C in winter. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Demography</H3> Estonia's population is 1.5 million, of which 62 per cent are Estonian, the indigenous Fino-Ugric people of the land who are linguistically related to Finns, Hungarians and about a dozen ethnic groups. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>A brief history</H3> The ancestors of the Estonians settled on the Baltic shores around the year 2,500 BC. By the turn of the second millennium AD emerged as a distinct ethnic group. <P>At the beginning of the 13th century the country was conquered by the Teutonic Knights, and a class of landowners, mostly of German descent, was established in the country who reduced the locals to a nation of serfs. The country was governed by a succession of foreign powers including Denmark, Poland and Sweden. In 1710 Peter I won Estonia from Sweden and made it part of Imperial Russia. <P>Abolition of serfdom in the early 1800s opened the way to a greater self-awareness in the people and in the second half of the 19th century it grew into a powerful national movement which led to the establishment of the Estonian nation. <P>It declared itself a democratic republic in 1918. However, independent statehood only lasted until 1940 when the country was assigned to the Soviet sphere of influence by a secret Nazi-Soviet deal (1939). Soon afterwards, Estonia and the other Baltic states were occupied by the Soviets and annexed. Estonia broke loose from the disintegrating Soviet Union in the late 1980s and proclaimed independence again in 1991. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Religion</H3> The dominating religion is Protestantism. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Languages spoken by the nationals</H3> Estonian. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Time</H3> GMT plus two in winter and plus three in summer. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Currency</H3> The currency is the kroon made up of 100 sents, which is currently pegged to the Deutschmark at 8EEK. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Official holidays (all offices and shops closed) </H3> 1 January, New Year's Day - 24 February, Independence Day - 30-31 March, Easter Holiday - 1 May, Labour Day - 23 June, Victory Day - 24 June, Midsummer - 25 December, Christmas Day. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What one should not fail to see</H3> Tallinn the capital is one of the oldest cities on the Baltic Sea, with a Hanseatic Old Town and Toompea Castle, now the seat of the government. The mediaeval lower town includes a 14/15th-century Gothic Town Hall, St Olai's church and Holy Ghost Church, numerous merchants houses. <P>Tartu is the second largest town in Estonia and here one can view the romantic park of Toome Hill with its bridges of the angel and the devil and the ruins of a Gothic Cathedral. The town's square dates from the 19th century, as does Estonia's oldest theatre - Venmuine. <P>Parnu is a popular seaside resort founded in 1251 and Narva is a historical border city with bastions, Hermann Castle restored to its mediaeval glory, and Puhitsa Russian Orthodox Convent at Kurema. <P>The Saaremaa area includes the Island of Muhu with the Kosuva Open-air museum and a must-see is the 2,500-year-old meteorite crater at Kaali. Kiressaare is the region's main town with a mediaeval episcopal castle and baroque and classical old town. Also visit Lahemaa National Park. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Most favourable times for sojourns and touring</H3> The best time to visit Estonia is late spring or early summer. At the end of June there is a period of light nights when the sun hardly sets at all and this is the time of some of the major art festivals. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Frontier formalities</H3> <H3>Passports and visas</H3> Valid passport required. Visas are necessary except for: Andorra, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Great Britain, Hungary, Lithuania, Monaco, New Zealand, Poland, San Marino, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, USA, Vatican City. <H3>Customs</H3> A maximum of DEM10,000 in cash may be taken into or out of the country. There are no limits on the import of bonds or personal items. Duty free items that can be brought in include: foodstuffs not exceeding 10kg, one litre of strong alcohol and one of mild (max 21 per cent), ten litres of beer or two of mild alcoholic drinks (persons over 21). Persons 18-20 - two litres of mild alcohol and ten litres of beer. Persons aged 16 or over: 200 cigarettes or 20 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco. <P> <IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"> <I>We have been able to publish the present tourist information on ESTONIA thanks to the co-operation and the participation of the Embassy of Estonia in the UK <!-- End of article --> <P> <CENTER><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="4"></CENTER> <P> <CENTER><A HREF=#TOP><IMG SRC="Countrypics/WhiteTopbut.gif" BORDER="0" hspace="5"></A> <A HREF="../../../watanetwork/NTOs/Countrieslist/"><IMG SRC="Countrypics/WhiteNTObut.gif" BORDER="0" hspace="5"></A></CENTER> </TD> </TR> </TABLE> </BODY> </HTML>