Country profile

About Estonia

Estonia is situated in northern Europe on the Baltic Sea and is the smallest and the most northerly of the Baltics with Latvia in the north, Lithuania in the south and Russia and Belarus to the east.

Estonia may not be the first country that comes to mind when you think of a trip abroad, but perhaps it should be. A country the size of the Netherlands, with just one tenth of the population, Estonia has mile after mile of wide open spaces and wilderness, fringed with stunning, ancient cities and glorious coastal resorts.

Although it is the smallest of the three Baltic states, as far as natural beauty goes Estonia is a top contender, boasting, among other things, a cluster of islands in the Baltic Sea, a plethora of lakes - a thousand if you're counting, with Lake Peipsi one of the largest freshwater lakes in Europe, as well as the highest point in the Baltics - Suur Munamägi is 318 metres above sea level.  Add to that the longest stretch of coastline in the Baltics, miles of white sandy beaches to stroll along and plenty of quaint, historical towns and picturesque fishing villages to explore.

Over half of Estonia is forest, giving it a uniquely diverse flora and fauna, including bears, lynx, deer, elk and wolves – just like most of Europe used to be. In fact, Estonia often donates species to help other countries to repopulate their own ancient forests. With so few people and so many trees, Estonia has some of the cleanest air in Europe, which can make your break there feel particularly invigorating.

Perhaps that’s why Estonia has such a strong health based culture, with over 40 different spas and five heath resort towns to choose from. The national tourist website promotes the idea of healthy holidays, and there’s nowhere better to take a feel-good break.

Despite long years of occupation by the Soviets, Estonian culture is much more Nordic influenced, with Finland just a short ferry ride away across the Baltic Sea. Scandinavia with a twist, Estonia embraces the lifestyle and laid back approach of its near neighbours, including the strange sport of wife carrying!

More than a third of the 1.3m population lives in the capital city of Tallinn, a medieval city which has a stunning old town juxtaposed with the soaring skyscrapers of its business district. European Capital of Culture in 2011, Tallinn has something for everyone, from narrow streets and traditional shops to modern malls and a vibrant nightlife.

The city, considered one of the most romantic cities in Europe, boasts the Medieval Old Town, (part of the UNESCO World Heritage list) where 11th to 15th century buildings abound. History enthusiasts will enjoy seeing some of the Soviet legacy, like the old KGB Headquarters where intense interrogation once took place, the Soviet Soldier monument - a symbol of the country's former occupation, or a stroll around the Museum of Occupation and of Fight for Freedom.

Another popular city is Parnu in the South West, which comes alive in the summer months with an array of beach parties and music festivals that create a real celebration of summer. It seems like all of Estonia heads to Parnu at some point in the summer, creating a lively party vibe for all to enjoy.

Of course, if you prefer things a little quieter, you can always head inland to those endless forests, where you can hike and bike to your heart’s content without seeing another soul all day.

The national tourist office describes the country as ‘positively surprising’ and it’s hard to argue with that claim. Estonia is nothing like you would expect a former Soviet republic to be at all.

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Quick facts

Population: 1.3 Million
Currency: Euro
Capital: Tallinn
Languages: Estonian
Religions: No religion 75%, Evangelical Luthanerism 15%