ESTONIAN Facts & Figures

Size: 17,413 square miles

Population: 1,340,194

Capital:  Tallinn

Currency: Euro

Weather / Climate:

Estonia lies in the northern part of the temperate climate zone and in the transition zone between maritime and continental climate. Because Estonia (and all of Northern Europe) is continuously warmed by maritime air influenced by the heat content of the northern Atlantic Ocean, it has a milder climate despite its northern latitude. The Baltic Sea causes differences between the climate of coastal and inland areas. Estonia has four seasons of near-equal length. Average temperatures range from 16.3 °C (61.3 °F) on the Baltic islands to 18.1 °C (64.6 °F) inland in July, the warmest month, and from −3.5 °C (25.7 °F) on the Baltic islands to −7.6 °C (18.3 °F) inland in February, the coldest month.

The average annual temperature in Estonia is 5.2 °C (41.4 °F) . The average temperature in February, the coldest month of the year, is −5.7 °C (21.7 °F) [1]. The average temperature in July, which is considered the warmest month of the year, is 16.4 °C (61.5 °F)[1]. The climate is also influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, the North-Atlantic Stream and the Icelandic Minimum, which is an area known for the formation of cyclones and where the average air pressure is lower than in neighbouring areas. Estonia is located in a humid zone in which the amount of precipitation is greater than total evaporation. The average precipitation in 1961–1990 ranged from 535 to 727 millimeters (21.1 to 28.6 in) per year and was heaviest in late summer. There were between 102 and 127 rainy days a year, and average precipitation was most plentiful on the western slopes of the Sakala and Haanja Uplands. Snow cover, which is deepest in the south-eastern part of Estonia, usually lasts from mid-December to late March.

Taken from wikipedia

ESTONIAN languages

The official language of Estonia is Estonian, a Uralic language closely related to Finnish but unrelated to nearby Russian or Latvian. Standard Estonian is mainly based on the North Estonian language, while South Estonian includes several unrecognised dialects, specifically Võro, Mulgi and Tartu. Võro, being furthest away from Standard Estonian, is the only one to have been given an ISO 639-3 language code by SIL ("vro").[2] Võru is widely accepted to have a subdialect Setu, although some consider it a separate language.

Minority languages

Russian

There are towns in Estonia with large concentration of Russian-language community and there are towns where Estonian-language speakers are in minority (especially in North-East of Estonia, e.g. Narva). The Estonian government is working hard to integrate Russians in Estonian society.

German

The Baltic Germans (German: Deutsch-Balten, or Baltendeutsche) were mostly ethnically German inhabitants of the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, which today form the countries of Estonia and Latvia. The Baltic German population never made up more than 10% of the total.[3] They formed the social, commercial, political and cultural élite in that region for several centuries. Some of them also took high positions in the military and civilian life of the Russian Empire, particularly in Saint Petersburg. Their history and presence in the Baltics came to an abrupt end in late 1939 following the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the subsequent Nazi-Soviet population transfers when almost all the Baltic Germans were resettled by the German Government into the Wartheland and Danzig-West Prussia.

Swedish

The Estonian Swedes, are a Swedish-speaking linguistic minority traditionally residing in the coastal areas and islands of what is now western and northern Estonia. The beginning of the continuous settlement of Estonian Swedes in these areas (known as Aiboland) dates back to the 13th and 14th centuries, when their Swedish-speaking ancestors arrived in Estonia from what is now Sweden and Finland. Almost all of Estonia's Swedish-speaking minority fled to Sweden during World War II, and only the descendants of a few individuals who opted to stay are permanently resident in Estonia today.

Sign languages

The Estonian Sign Language (ESL, Estonian: Eesti viipekeel) is the national sign language of Estonia. In 1998 there were about 4,500 signers out of a deaf population of 2000 and a hearing-impaired population ten times that number. It is widespread in the cities of Tallinn and Pärnu among deaf ethnic Estonians; deaf Russian Estonians in Tallinn use Russian Sign Language, Russians outside Tallinn tend to use a Russian–Estonian Sign Language pidgin, or may be bilingual. In its formative stages, Estonian Sign Language was influenced by Russian and Finnish Sign Language; for example, the ESL sign for 'butterfly' developed from the Finnish sign for 'bird'. There are several dialects, the most archaic of which is the Pärnu variety.

Taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Estonia

ESTONIAN people

The demographics of Estonia in the twenty-first century are the result of historical trends over more than a thousand years, just as for most European countries, but have been disproportionately affected by events in the last half of the twentieth century. Impact from the rise and fall of the Soviet Union, including the annexation and eventual independence of Estonia, has had a major effect on Estonia's ethnic makeup and educational achievement.

Languages spoken in Estonia are largely reflective of the ethnic groups composing the country, and thus have changed with historical trends affecting the ethnic makeup of the country. Religion plays a small part in the lives of most Estonians, largely as a result of the Soviet occupation from 1944–1991.

Overall, the quality of life indices for Estonia are reflective of a modern industrial state, with one major exception: The population of Estonia is shrinking. While there are other European countries like Estonia with a birthrate that is at less than replacement levels, Estonia lacks the immigration found, for example, in Germany. As such, the population is on a slow downward trend. However, in the most recent years the decline has slowed down considerably and according to preliminary figures the population stabilized in 2010.[1] If the current trends continue, some population growth can be foreseen for the coming years.

Today, Estonia is an ethnically fairly diverse country, ranking 97th out of 239 countries and territories in 2001 study by Kok Kheng Yeoh.[7] In 2008, thirteen of Estonia's fifteen counties were over 80% ethnic Estonian. The counties with the highest percentage Estonians are Hiiu County (98.4%) and Saare County (98.3%). However, in Harju County (which includes the national capital, Tallinn) and Ida-Viru County, ethnic Estonians make up only 59.6% (55.0% in Tallinn) and 19.7% of the population, respectively. In those two counties, Russians account for 32.4% (36.4% in Tallinn) and 71.2% of the population, respectively. In the nation as a whole, Russians make up 25.6% of the total population.[8]

After gaining independence following World War I a population census was held in 1922 and 1934. At that time Estonians were still the predominant ethnic group, while all others constituted 12% of the population of Estonia.

Major Jewish communities were present in Estonia between 1918 and 1940 in Tallinn, Pärnu, Kilingi-Nõmme, Narva, Tartu, Valga, and Võru

Taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Estonia

ESTONIAN food

Traditional Estonian cuisine has substantially been based on meat and potatoes, and on fish in coastal and lakeside areas, but is influenced by many other cuisines by now. In the present day it includes a variety of international foods and dishes, with a number of contributions from the traditions of nearby countries. German, Scandinavian, Russian and other influences have played their part. The most typical foods in Estonia have been rye bread, pork, potatoes and dairy products.[1] Estonian eating habits have historically been closely linked to the seasons. In terms of staples, Estonia belongs firmly to the beer, vodka, rye bread and pork "belt" of Europe.

Cold table

The first course in traditional Estonian cuisine is based on cold dishes - a selection of meats and sausages served with potato salad or Rosolje, an Estonian signature dish based on beetroot, meat and herring.[2] Small pastries called pirukad ("pirukas" in the singular) - a relative of the pirozhki - filled with meat, cabbage, carrots, rice and other fillings or mixtures are also popular, and are often served with bouillon.

Herring is common among other fish as a part of the Estonian Cold Table. Smoked or marinated eel, crayfish dishes and imported crabs and shrimps are considered delicacies. One of Estonia's national dishes is räim (Baltic dwarf herring), along with sprats. Flounder, perch and pike-perch are also popular.

Soups

Soups are traditionally eaten before the main course and most often are made of meat or chicken stock mixed with a variety of vegetables. Soups are also blended with sour cream, milk and yogurt.[2]

Main course

Pork and potatoes accompanied by a rich gravy and often served with sauerkraut or other vegetables has been the traditional Estonian main course. Pork has been the most important meat and is eaten roasted, cured as bacon, in the form of ham, or in pies and sausages.[2] There are many other main dishes too.

Black rye bread accompanies almost every savory food in Estonia. Instead of wishing "bon appetit", Estonians are prone to say jätku leiba ("may your bread last"). Estonians continue to value their varieties of black rye-based bread. Estonia has not been a land of plenty. If a piece of bread was dropped on the floor, it was good form to pick it up, kiss it to show respect, and eat it.[3] When Estonians live abroad, they often say that they miss black bread the most.

Desserts

Specific desserts include kissel, curd snack and kama. Rhubarb pies are a favorite.

Drinks

A traditionally popular drink called kali - similar to Russian kvass - is becoming more popular again. Mead or mõdu, the drink that was most popular in ancient times, has almost completely disappeared. Nowadays, locally brewed beer is the number one choice to accompany food, different juices or simply water being the main non-alcoholic choice. Wine is widely drunk, and although it is still not as popular as beer, it is becoming all the more common. There are also Estonian fruit wines made of apples or different berries. Milk is also widely drunk by children as well as adults. Estonians are also proud of their vodka and other spirits, such as the herbal liquer Vana Tallinn. Two of Estonia's oldest breweries are A. Le Coq, founded in 1807, and Saku Brewery, founded in 1820.

Other dairy products besides milk (Estonian: piim) include keefir and also hapupiim and pett, which are variations on the theme of buttermilk.

Modern Estonian cuisine

The previous segments have dealt largely with the most basic underpinnings of traditional Estonian food, as handed down by an agrarian society and adapted to modern times in the most traditional of senses. It would be wrong to conclude that there isn't much more to the national cuisine. Many influences have nudged modern Estonian eating into more diverse and open directions. Early influences that diversified the eating experience came through the Hanseatic League. Small Estonia has been conquered and ruled by many foreign powers, ranging from the Danes, Germans, Poles, and Swedes to the Russians. German nobles who colonized the Estonian countryside with hundreds of manors were modernizers over the centuries, and also acted as a transmission belt of Continental influences on Estonian cooking, although for a great many years, precious few of these influences trickled down to the impoverished Estonian peasants.

Things began to change with the gradual emancipation of the Estonian people in the 19th century and as a result of urbanization. By the time that Estonia enjoyed national independence between the two World Wars, Tallinn, Tartu and Parnu as well as other Estonian urban centers sported a diverse variety of restaurants and cafes that featured dishes from many European cuisines as well as the local menu. There was also a flowering of good cooking in Estonian homes throughout the country. A variety of newer Estonian dishes were developed, and cooks and housewives experimented with foods from other cultures.

All of this came to a crashing halt in 1940, when the Baltic States were annexed by the USSR, restaurants were nationalized and closed down, and the few that were left suffered from a chronic shortage of ingredients. Although those who still had access to garden plots were able to supplement the limited variety of foods that were offered in Soviet-era food stores and markets, the period from 1940 to the early nineties brought with it a tragic decline, compared to the golden days of the twenties and thirties. On the other hand, migrants from various parts near and far of the USSR brought new recipes and styles. Even now, the foods of the Georgians, Azerbaijanis and others make the culinary experience in Estonia less one-sided.

Since the reestablishment of independence in 1991, Estonian cuisine has rebounded, slowly at first. Some good dishes enjoyed before WW II have not returned, while many others have. A number of restaurants in Tallinn and other Estonian cities have introduced culinary experiences previously not known, such as Indian and Mexican food. At the same time, a number of modern-day restaurateurs such as Imre Kose, Imre Sooäär, Dimitri Demjanov, and Kadri Kroon have not only introduced international dishes, but have also tweaked classical Estonian dishes in directions they had never gone before. They have created totally new and sometimes amazing combinations that may draw on local ingredients, but use the entire palette of innovations that a contemporary cook can allow him- or herself. Some of the fusion and other ideas conjured up by Kose, for example, is groundbreaking. Although home cooks tend to be more conservative, they too try new things at a more tempered pace. Therefore modern Estonian cooking is in flux. Traditional dishes are still common and even cherished, but Estonian cuisine is not static either. All in all, Estonian rural fare is good and hearty, while the better kitchens of establishments in the larger Estonian cities and towns can justifiably be proud of themselves.

Taken from wikipedia

Places to go in ESTONIA

 

 

Doing business in ESTONIA

As a member of the European Union, Estonia's economy is rated as high income by the World Bank. Because of its rapid growth, the Estonian economy has often been described as the Baltic Tiger. Beginning 1 January 2011, Estonia adopted the euro and became the 17th eurozone member state.[102]

According to Eurostat newsrelease published at 21 October 2011, Estonia has the lowest ratio of government debt to GDP among EU countries as 6.7 percent at the end of 2010. The world media has lately started to describe Estonia as a Nordic country, emphasizing the economic, political and cultural differences between Estonia and its less successful Baltic neighbors.[103]

A balanced budget, almost non-existent public debt, flat-rate income tax, free trade regime, competitive commercial banking sector, innovative e-Services and even mobile-based services are all hallmarks of Estonia's market economy.

Estoniais producing ca 75% of its consumed electricity.[104] Over 85% of it generated with locally mined oil shale.. Alternative energy sources such as wood, peat, and biomass make up approximately 9% of primary energy production. Renewable wind energy part was ca 6% of total consumption in 2009.[105] Estonia imports needed petroleum products from western Europe and Russia. Oil shale energy, telecommunications, textiles, chemical products, banking, services, food and fishing, timber, shipbuilding, electronics, and transportation are key sectors of the economy. The ice-free port of Muuga, near Tallinn, is a modern facility featuring good transshipment capability, a high-capacity grain elevator, chill/frozen storage, and brand-new oil tanker off-loading capabilities. The railroad serves as a conduit between the West, Russia, and other points to the East.

Estoniatoday is mainly influenced by developments in Finland, Sweden and Germany – the three main trade partners. The government recently increased greatly its spending on innovation. The prime minister of Estonian Reform Party has stated its goal of bringing Estonian GDP per capita into the TOP 5 of EU by 2022. Ireland is sometimes seen as a model for Estonian economic future.

Because of the Global Economic Recession, the GDP of Estonia decreased by 1.4% in the 2nd quarter of 2008, over 3% in the 3rd quarter of 2008, and over 9% in the 4th quarter of 2008. The Estonian government made a supplementary negative budget, which was passed by Riigikogu. The revenue of the budget was decreased for 2008 by EEK 6.1 billion and the expenditure by EEK 3.2 billion.[106] In 2010, the economic situation stabilized and started a growth based on strong exports. In the fourth quarter of 2010, Estonian industrial output increased by 23% compared to the year before.[107]

According to Eurostat data, Estonian PPS GDP per capita stood at 67% of the EU average in 2008.[108] In March 2011, the average monthly gross salary in Estonia was 843€ [107][109]

However, there are big differences in GDP between different areas in Estonia. Currently, over half of the Estonian GDP is created in the capital Tallinn.[110] In 2008, the GDP per capita of Tallinn stood at 172% of the Estonian average.[111] This makes the GDP per capita of Tallinn number in at 115% of the European Union average, exceeding the average levels of other counties.

The registered unemployment rate was in April 2011 10.1%.[112]

In 2011, the real GDP growth in Estonia was 8,0% [113].

Historic development

By 1929, a stable currency, the kroon, was established. It is issued by the Bank of Estonia, the country's central bank. Trade focused on the local market and the West, particularly Germany and the United Kingdom. Only 3% of all commerce was with the USSR.

Before the Second World War Estonia was mainly an agricultural country whose products such as butter, milk and cheese were widely known on the western European markets. The USSR's forcible annexation of Estonia in 1940 and the ensuing Nazi and Soviet occupation during World War II crippled the Estonian economy. Post-war Sovietization of life continued with the integration of Estonia's economy and industry into the USSR's centrally planned structure.

Since re-establishing independence, Estonia has styled itself as the gateway between East and West and aggressively pursued economic reform and integration with the West. Estonia's market reforms put it among the economic leaders in the former COMECON area. In 1994, based on the economic theories of Milton Friedman, Estonia became one of the first countries to adopt a flat tax, with a uniform rate of 26% regardless of personal income. In January 2005, the personal income tax rate was reduced to 24%. Another reduction to 23% followed in January 2006. The income tax rate was decreased to 21% by January 2008.[114] The Government of Estonia finalised the design of Estonian euro coins in late 2004, and adopted the euro as the country's currency on 1 January 2011, later than planned due to continued high inflation.[102][115]

In 1999, Estonia experienced its worst year economically since it regained independence in 1991, largely because of the impact of the 1998 Russian financial crisis. Estonia joined the WTO in November 1999. With assistance from the European Union, the World Bank and the Nordic Investment Bank, Estonia completed most of its preparations for European Union membership by the end of 2002 and now has one of the strongest economies of the new member states of the European Union. Estonia joined the OECD in 2010.

Resources

Although Estonia is in general resource-poor, the land still offers a large variety of smaller resources. The country has large oil shale and limestone deposits, along with forests which cover 50.6% of the land.[116] In addition to oil shale and limestone, Estonia also has large reserves of phosphorite, pitchblende and granite which are not mined or mined extensively at the moment.[117]

Significant quantities of rare earth oxides are found in tailings accumulated from 50 years of uranium ore, shale and loparite mining at Sillamäe.[118] Because of the rising prices of rare earths, extraction of these oxides has become economically viable. The country currently exports around 3000 tonnes per annum, representing around 2 percent of world production.[119]

In recent years[when?] a public debate has been raised in the terms of whether Estonia should build a nuclear power plant in order to secure the energy production after the closure of old units in the Narva Power Plants if they are not reconstructed by the year 2016.[120]

Industry and environment

Food, construction, and electronic industries are currently among the most important branches of Estonia's industry. In 2007, the construction industry employed more than 80,000 people which make around 12% of the entire country's workforce.[121] Another important industrial sector is the machinery and chemical industry which is mainly located in Ida-Viru County and around Tallinn.

The oil shale based mining industry, which is also concentrated in East-Estonia, produces around 90% of the entire country's electricity. The extensive oil shale usage however has also caused severe damage to the environment. Although the amount of pollutants emitted to the air have been falling since the 1980s,[122] the air is still polluted with sulfur dioxide from the mining industry which was rapidly developed by the Soviet Union in early 1950s. In some areas the coastal seawater is polluted, mainly around the Sillamäe industrial complex.[123]

Estoniais a dependent country in the terms of energy and energy production. In recent years many local and foreign companies have been investing in renewable energy sources. The importance of wind power has been increasing steadily in Estonia and currently the total amount of energy production from wind is nearly 60 MW while at the same time roughly 399 MW worth of projects are currently being developed and more than 2800 MW worth of projects are being proposed in the Lake Peipus area and the coastal areas of Hiiumaa.[124][125][126]

Currently, there are plans to renovate some older units of the Narva Power Plants, establish new power stations, and provide higher efficiency in oil shale based energy production.[127] Estonia liberalised 35% of its electricity market in April 2010; the electricity market as whole will be liberalised by 2013. [128]

Together with Lithuania, Poland, and Latvia, the country is considering to participate in the Visaginas nuclear power plant in Lithuania to replace the Ignalina.[129][130] However, due to the slow pace of the project, Estonia does not rule out building its own nuclear reactor. Another consideration is doing a joint project with Finland because the two electricity grids are connected.[131] The country is considering to apply nuclear power for its oil shale production.[132]

Estonia has a strong information technologysector, partly owing to the Tiigrihüpe project undertaken in mid-1990s, and has been mentioned as the most "wired" and advanced country in Europe in the terms of e-Government of Estonia.[133]

Skype was written by Estonia-based developers Ahti Heinla, Priit Kasesalu, and Jaan Tallinn, who had also originally developed Kazaa.[134]

Trade

Estoniahas had a market economy since the end of 1990s and one of the highest per capita income levels in Eastern Europe. Proximity to the Scandinavian markets, location between the East and West, competitive cost structure and high-skill labour force have been the major Estonian comparative advantages in the beginning of the 2000s (decade). Tallinn as the largest city has emerged as a financial centre and the Tallinn Stock Exchange joined recently with the OMX system. The current government has pursued relatively sound fiscal policies, resulting in balanced budgets and low public debt.

In 2007, however, a large current account deficit and rising inflation put pressure on Estonia's currency, which was pegged to the euro, highlighting the need for growth in export-generating industries. Estonia exports mainly machinery and equipment, wood and paper, textiles, food products, furniture, and metals and chemical products.[135] Estonia also exports 1.562 billion kilowatt hours of electricity annually.[135] At the same time Estonia imports machinery and equipment, chemical products, textiles, food products and transportation equipment.[135] Estonia imports 200 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually.[135]

Between 2007 and 2013, Estonia receives 53.3 billion kroons (3.4 billion euros) from various European Union Structural Funds as direct supports by creating the largest foreign investments into Estonia ever.[136] Majority of the European Union financial aid will be invested into to the following fields: energy economies, entrepreneurship, administrative capability, education, information society, environment protection, regional and local development, research and development activities, healthcare and welfare, transportation and labour market.[137]

Transport

Estoniahas been an important transit centre since the medieval period. The country's favorable geographical location, along with its developing infrastructure, offers good opportunities for all transport and logistics related activities. Rail transport dominates the cargo sector, carrying 70% of all goods, both domestic and international. Since 2007, the importance of the transport sector to the economy as a whole has been reduced, mainly due to the confrontation between Estonia and Russia.[138]

The road transport sector dominates passenger transport; almost 90% of all passengers travel by road. The reconstruction of the Tallinn–Tartu motorway has gained national attention as it connects two of the largest cities in the country. The motorway reconstruction (2+2 route) is part of the current Government Coalition programme.[139] Also the proposed permanent connection to Saaremaa Island is in the national infrastructure building programme. The costs of the projects have been estimated in billions of Euros, which have also gained a lot of media attention and caused public debates over the feasibility.[140]

There are currently five major cargo ports which offer easy navigational access, deep waters, and good ice conditions. There are 12 airports and one heliport in Estonia of which the Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport is the largest airport, providing services to a number of international carriers flying to 23 destinations.

Taken from wikipedia

ESTONIA: useful links

www.visitestonia.com

www.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/country_profiles/1106425.stm

estonia.eu

www.estonia.gov.uk

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