The Republic of Estonia
Estonia is a country with unique historical heritage, beautiful Baltic coast and picturesque nature. The unique atmosphere reigned in the country has been created under influence of German, Swedish and Russian cultures, thus being so attractive for those who are fond of architecture, art and distinctive culture.
It is a quite small country located on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland. It shares borders with Latvia and Russia and its sea neighbour is Finland. Estonia is a truly lovely place to stay. It abounds in beautiful islands with virgin nature that has long become its main feature. One may count over one and a half thousands of islands. Most of them are small and unpopulated, however, those ones where people live are known for their unmatched beauty, friendly atmosphere, and traditional culture, representing an ancient way of life of the Estonians. The largest island is Saaremaa, where Kuressaare Castle, the only surviving medieval Episcopal castle, is located. The basic attributes of the island are thatched houses, stone fences, windmills and delicious home-brewed beer. You are well advised to go to the island of Muhu, where St Catherine Church, one of the oldest churches in Estonia, is located. Take journey to this island in winter on the ice road. The island of Kihnu shouldn’t be missed by you – there you can meet local people in traditional costumes, as handicraft is their daily work. The island is home to about 600 people. Men go sea fishing, and women knit and weave stockings, gloves, skirts and blouses with bright colourful intricate patterns. You should go to the island of Kihnu during religious Christian celebrations or folk festivals of the islanders, in order to discover the world of ancient Estonian traditions.
The first settlements on the territory of present-day Estonia appeared about two and a half thousand years before Christ. Advantageous geographical position at the crossroads of trade routes prompted many rulers to mount campaigns and caused a lot of strife. The Danish, Russian, Swedes have left their mark in the history of Estonia. For a long period of time, the country was part of other states, but in 1991, it declared its independence.
Every city in Estonia abounds in surprises and secrets. The capital of Estonia is Tallinn. Here you can see the unusual combination of medieval castles and ancient buildings with modern buildings of glass and concrete. You can visit numerous galleries and museums, relax in cosy cafes and buy souvenirs at Hanseatic fairs. The medieval Old Town of Tallinn is world known for its authentic Hanseatic architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you can enjoy beauty of cobblestone streets and ancient buildings that were built in the 11th century.
Winters in Estonia are very snowy, especially in the southern part of it, so you can go ice skating on frozen rivers, lakes and even the sea, discover what winter safari is, go hiking in snowshoes and ride a dog sled. You won’t find better place than the town of Otepää, a true paradise for those to be fond of snow and active rest.
In the town of Rapla you can spend a quiet but exciting holiday while enjoying beautiful architecture and Church of Mary Magdalene with its unique acoustics. On the island of Saaremaa, the Kaali craters are located. This place has gained work fame due to one of the largest craters, on the bottom of which the small but very picturesque crystal clear lake is located. Be sure to visit the town of Tuhala with its Witch's Well, where each spring brings a mystery – water begins bubbling up and splashing, sometimes flooding the entire valley.
For the Estonians, national parks and reserves are their real pride and joy. Unique natural resources and rare landscapes are impressive. Nearly one-fifth of the country’s territory is covered by the national parks. Lahemaa Nation Park is the largest of them. Soomaa National Park is known through the whole Europe for its wildlife and vast swamps. In Vilsandi National Park, you can see gray seals, a large number of waterfowl and admire several dozens of orchid’s species.
Picturesque beaches and mild maritime climate have favoured conditions for health improvement in Estonia. Pärnu and Haapsalu, as well as many other Estonian resorts with facilities for hydropathic treatment, therapeutic mud baths and mineral springs are world known.
Far beyond the borders of their country, the Estonians are famous for their talented singing. Each year, thousands of voices merge into one at Tallinn Song Festival Grounds during a special festival. The Sea Days, a spectacular show with marine-themed competitions, are annually held in summer in Tallinn. Each summer, Muhu Jazz Festival welcomes musicians and jazz fans from all over the world.
The national Estonian cuisine is quite substantial and at the same time simple. In winter, on an Estonian table you can see sauerkraut, rich soups, pork and meat stew with vegetables, and in summer – lots of fresh greens and vegetables. The Estonians don’t like spice, but they combine products very unusual: herring with sour cream, peas and milk, cheese with anchovies. In general, traditional Estonian dishes look like soup, porridge and puree together.
The unpredictable and at the same time calm and mysterious country of Estonia is able to surprise everyone. Mix of cultures, past and present, the unique emotional restraint and hospitality of local people will gave you unforgettable impressions. There you can become part of the exciting past, learn the culture and traditions of the locals, as well as enjoy colour of cities and villages.
Administrative division — Estonia
- Harjumaa Population: 519135
- Hiiumaa Population: 10275
- Ida-Virumaa Population: 173514
- Järvamaa Population: 38142
- Jõgevamaa Population: 37546
- Lääne-Virumaa Population: 66409
- Põlva Population: 31730
- Raplamaa Population: 37100
- Saaremaa Population: 35275
- Valgamaa Population: 34789
- Viljandimaa Population: 56498
- Võrumaa Population: 38687