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Estonia Historical and Political Profile

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Estonia Index

  • Estonia-Physical Environment
  • Estonia-Recent Economic Developments
  • Estonia-Preface
  • Estonia-Population
  • Estonia-Acknowledgments
  • Estonia-Religion
  • Estonia -National Security
  • Estonia-The Pursuit of Independence, 1985-91
  • Estonia-Economic Sectors
  • Estonia-Society Environmental Issues
  • Estonia-Table A - Chronology of Important Events
  • Estonia-Society Geography
  • Estonia-Chapter 1 - Estonia
  • Estonia-Foreword
  • Estonia-Foreign Relations
  • Estonia-Welfare
  • Estonia-National Security Relations with Russia
  • Estonia-Armed Forces
  • Estonia-Economy
  • Estonia-Interwar Independence, 1918-40
  • Estonia-Constitutional Foundations
  • Estonia-Economy
  • Estonia-Introduction
  • Estonia-Estonia
  • Estonia-Outlook
  • Estonia-Government and Politics Transportation and Telecommunications
  • Estonia-Historical Setting
  • Estonia-Country Country Profile
  • BackgroundAfter centuries of Danish, Swedish, German, and Russian rule, Estonia attained independence in 1918. Forcibly incorporated into the USSR in 1940 - an action never recognized by the US - it regained its freedom in 1991, with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since the last Russian troops left in 1994, Estonia has been free to promote economic and political ties with Western Europe. It joined both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004.
    LocationEastern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Finland, between Latvia and Russia
    Area(sq km)total: 45,228 sq km
    land: 42,388 sq km
    water: 2,840 sq km
    note: includes 1,520 islands in the Baltic Sea
    Geographic coordinates59 00 N, 26 00 E
    Land boundaries(km)total: 633 km
    border countries: Latvia 343 km, Russia 290 km

    Coastline(km)3,794 km

    Climatemaritime; wet, moderate winters, cool summers

    Elevation extremes(m)lowest point: Baltic Sea 0 m
    highest point: Suur Munamagi 318 m
    Natural resourcesoil shale, peat, phosphorite, clay, limestone, sand, dolomite, arable land, sea mud
    Land use(%)arable land: 12.05%
    permanent crops: 0.35%
    other: 87.6% (2005)

    Irrigated land(sq km)40 sq km (2003)
    Total renewable water resources(cu km)21.1 cu km (2005)
    Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)total: 1.41 cu km/yr (56%/39%/5%)
    per capita: 1,060 cu m/yr (2002)
    Natural hazardssometimes flooding occurs in the spring
    Environment - current issuesair polluted with sulfur dioxide from oil-shale burning power plants in northeast; however, the amount of pollutants emitted to the air have fallen steadily, the emissions of 2000 were 80% less than in 1980; the amount of unpurified wastewater discharged to water bodies in 2000 was one-20th the level of 1980; in connection with the start-up of new water purification plants, the pollution load of wastewater decreased; Estonia has more than 1,400 natural and manmade lakes, the smaller of which in agricultural areas need to be monitored; coastal seawater is polluted in certain locations
    Environment - international agreementsparty to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
    signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
    Geography - notethe mainland terrain is flat, boggy, and partly wooded; offshore lie more than 1,500 islands
    Population1,299,371 (July 2009 est.)
    Age structure(%)0-14 years: 14.9% (male 99,748/female 94,051)
    15-64 years: 67.5% (male 417,816/female 459,246)
    65 years and over: 17.6% (male 75,486/female 153,024) (2009 est.)
    Median age(years)total: 39.9 years
    male: 36.5 years
    female: 43.5 years (2009 est.)
    Population growth rate(%)-0.632% (2009 est.)
    Birth rate(births/1,000 population)10.37 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
    Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)13.42 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

    Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)-3.26 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
    Urbanization(%)urban population: 69% of total population (2008)
    rate of urbanization: -0.3% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
    Sex ratio(male(s)/female)at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
    under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
    15-64 years: 0.91 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.49 male(s)/female
    total population: 0.84 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
    Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 7.32 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 8.48 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 6.08 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

    Life expectancy at birth(years)total population: 72.82 years
    male: 67.45 years
    female: 78.53 years (2009 est.)

    Total fertility rate(children born/woman)1.42 children born/woman (2009 est.)
    Nationalitynoun: Estonian(s)
    adjective: Estonian
    Ethnic groups(%)Estonian 67.9%, Russian 25.6%, Ukrainian 2.1%, Belarusian 1.3%, Finn 0.9%, other 2.2% (2000 census)

    Religions(%)Evangelical Lutheran 13.6%, Orthodox 12.8%, other Christian (including Methodist, Seventh-Day Adventist, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal) 1.4%, unaffiliated 34.1%, other and unspecified 32%, none 6.1% (2000 census)
    Languages(%)Estonian (official) 67.3%, Russian 29.7%, other 2.3%, unknown 0.7% (2000 census)

    Country nameconventional long form: Republic of Estonia
    conventional short form: Estonia
    local long form: Eesti Vabariik
    local short form: Eesti
    former: Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic
    Government typeparliamentary republic
    Capitalname: Tallinn
    geographic coordinates: 59 26 N, 24 43 E
    time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
    daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
    Administrative divisions15 counties (maakonnad, singular - maakond); Harjumaa (Tallinn), Hiiumaa (Kardla), Ida-Virumaa (Johvi), Jarvamaa (Paide), Jogevamaa (Jogeva), Laanemaa (Haapsalu), Laane-Virumaa (Rakvere), Parnumaa (Parnu), Polvamaa (Polva), Raplamaa (Rapla), Saaremaa (Kuressaare), Tartumaa (Tartu), Valgamaa (Valga), Viljandimaa (Viljandi), Vorumaa (Voru)
    note: counties have the administrative center name following in parentheses
    Constitutionadopted 28 June 1992

    Legal systembased on civil law system; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations

    Suffrage18 years of age; universal for all Estonian citizens
    Executive branchchief of state: President Toomas Hendrik ILVES (since 9 October 2006)
    head of government: Prime Minister Andrus ANSIP (since 12 April 2005)
    cabinet: Ministers appointed by the prime minister, approved by Parliament
    elections: president elected by Parliament for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); if a candidate does not secure two-thirds of the votes after three rounds of balloting in the Parliament, then an electoral assembly (made up of Parliament plus members of local councils) elects the president, choosing between the two candidates with the largest number of votes; election last held 23 September 2006 (next to be held in the fall of 2011); prime minister nominated by the president and approved by Parliament
    election results: Toomas Hendrik ILVES elected president on 23 September 2006 by a 345-member electoral assembly; ILVES received 174 votes to incumbent Arnold RUUTEL's 162; remaining 9 ballots left blank or invalid

    Legislative branchunicameral Parliament or Riigikogu (101 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
    elections: last held 4 March 2007 (next to be held in March 2011)
    election results: percent of vote by party - Estonian Reform Party 27.8%, Center Party of Estonia 26.1%, Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica 17.9%, Social Democratic Party 10.6%, Estonian Greens 7.1%, Estonian People's Union 7.1%, other 5%; seats by party - Estonian Reform Party 31, Center Party 28, Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica 19, Social Democratic Party 10, Estonian Greens 6, Estonian People's Union 6, independent 1

    Judicial branchSupreme Court (chairman appointed for life by Parliament)

    Political pressure groups and leadersNochnoy Dozor/Night Watch anti-fascist movement (leader Alexander KOROBOV)
    International organization participationAustralia Group, BA, BIS, CBSS, CE, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, ESA (cooperating state), EU, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NATO, NIB, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD (accession state), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, Schengen Convention, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNITAR, UNTSO, UPU, WCO, WEU (associate partner), WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
    Flag descriptionpre-1940 flag restored by Supreme Soviet in May 1990 - three equal horizontal bands of blue (top), black, and white

    Economy - overviewEstonia, a 2004 European Union entrant, has a modern market-based economy and one of the highest per capita income levels in Central Europe. Estonia's successive governments have pursued a free market, pro-business economic agenda and have wavered little in their commitment to pro-market reforms. Tallinn's priority has been to sustain high growth rates - on average 8% per year from 2003 to 2007. The economy benefits from strong electronics and telecommunications sectors and strong trade ties with Finland, Sweden, and Germany. The current government has pursued relatively sound fiscal policies, resulting in balanced budgets and low public debt. Rapid growth, however, has made it difficult to keep inflation and large current-account deficits from soaring, putting downward pressure on the country's currency. The government has not given up on adopting the euro, but has repeatedly postponed its target date. Estonia's economy slowed down markedly and fell sharply into recession in mid-2008, primarily as a result of an investment and consumption slump following the bursting of the real estate market bubble.
    GDP (purchasing power parity)$28.03 billion (2008 est.)
    $29.08 billion (2007 est.)
    $27.13 billion (2006 est.)
    note: data are in 2008 US dollars
    GDP (official exchange rate)$23.55 billion (2008 est.)
    GDP - real growth rate(%)-3.6% (2008 est.)
    7.2% (2007 est.)
    10% (2006 est.)
    GDP - per capita (PPP)$21,400 (2008 est.)
    $22,100 (2007 est.)
    $20,500 (2006 est.)
    note: data are in 2008 US dollars
    GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 2.6%
    industry: 29%
    services: 68.4% (2008 est.)
    Labor force693,000 (2008 est.)

    Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture: 4.7%
    industry: 33.7%
    services: 61.6% (2007)
    Unemployment rate(%)5.7% (2008 est.)
    4.7% (2007 est.)
    Population below poverty line(%)5% (2003)
    Household income or consumption by percentage share(%)lowest 10%: 2.7%
    highest 10%: 27.7% (2004)
    Distribution of family income - Gini index34 (2008)
    37 (1999)
    Investment (gross fixed)(% of GDP)28.4% of GDP (2008 est.)
    Budgetrevenues: $8.798 billion
    expenditures: $9.488 billion (2008 est.)
    Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)10.4% (2008 est.)
    6.6% (2007 est.)

    Stock of money$6.106 billion (31 December 2008)
    $7.158 billion (31 December 2007)
    Stock of quasi money$5.478 billion (31 December 2008)
    $4.253 billion (31 December 2007)
    Stock of domestic credit$22.02 billion (31 December 2008)
    $21.35 billion (31 December 2007)
    Market value of publicly traded shares$1.951 billion (31 December 2008)
    $6.037 billion (31 December 2007)
    $5.963 billion (31 December 2006)
    Economic aid - recipient$135.5 million (2004)

    Public debt(% of GDP)4.8% of GDP (2008 est.)
    5.4% of GDP (2004 est.)
    Agriculture - productspotatoes, vegetables; livestock and dairy products; fish
    Industriesengineering, electronics, wood and wood products, textiles; information technology, telecommunications

    Industrial production growth rate(%)-4.8% (2008 est.)

    Current account balance-$2.192 billion (2008 est.)
    -$3.771 billion (2007 est.)
    Exports$12.63 billion (2008 est.)
    $11.08 billion (2007 est.)

    Exports - commodities(%)machinery and equipment 29%, wood and paper 13%, metals 10%, food products 8%, textiles 5%, chemical products (2007)
    Exports - partners(%)Finland 18.3%, Sweden 13.8%, Russia 10.3%, Latvia 10%, Lithuania 5.7%, Germany 5.1%, US 4.8% (2008)
    Imports$15.35 billion (2008 est.)
    $14.75 billion (2007 est.)

    Imports - commodities(%)machinery and equipment 35%, textiles 19%, mineral fuels 19%, chemical products 9%, foodstuffs 6% (2001)
    Imports - partners(%)Finland 14.2%, Germany 13.3%, Sweden 10%, Lithuania 8.9%, Latvia 8.9%, Russia 7.4%, Poland 4.6% (2008)

    Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$3.972 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
    $3.27 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
    Debt - external$26.84 billion (31 December 2008)
    $25.25 billion (31 December 2007)

    Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$18.62 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
    $16.59 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
    Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$6.686 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
    $5.873 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
    Exchange rateskrooni (EEK) per US dollar - 10.7 (2008), 11.535 (2007), 12.473 (2006), 12.584 (2005), 12.596 (2004)
    note: the krooni is pegged to the euro

    Currency (code)Estonian kroon (EEK)

    Telephones - main lines in use498,100 (2008)
    Telephones - mobile cellular2.525 million (2008)
    Telephone systemgeneral assessment: foreign investment in the form of joint business ventures greatly improved telephone service; substantial fiber-optic cable systems carry telephone, TV, and radio traffic in the digital mode; Internet services are widely available; schools and libraries are connected to the Internet, a large percentage of the population files income-tax returns online, and online voting was used for the first time in the 2005 local elections
    domestic: a wide range of high quality voice, data, and Internet services is available throughout the country
    international: country code - 372; fiber-optic cables to Finland, Sweden, Latvia, and Russia provide worldwide packet-switched service; 2 international switches are located in Tallinn (2008)
    Internet country code.ee
    Internet users888,100 (2008)
    Airports19 (2009)
    Pipelines(km)gas 859 km (2008)
    Roadways(km)total: 57,016 km
    paved: 12,926 km (includes 99 km of expressways)
    unpaved: 44,090 km (2005)

    Ports and terminalsKuivastu, Kunda, Muuga, Tallinn, Virtsu
    Military branchesEstonian Defense Forces: Land Force, Navy, Air Force (Eesti Ohuvagi), Volunteer Defense League (Kaitseliit, KL) (2009)
    Military service age and obligation(years of age)obligation for compulsory service ages 16-60, with conscription "likely" ages 18-27; service requirement 8-11 months (2009)
    Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 306,273
    females age 16-49: 317,852 (2008 est.)
    Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 216,483
    females age 16-49: 260,408 (2009 est.)
    Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 7,583
    female: 7,111 (2009 est.)
    Military expenditures(% of GDP)2% of GDP (2005 est.)
    Disputes - internationalRussia recalled its signature to the 1996 technical border agreement with Estonia in 2005, rather than concede to Estonia's appending prepared a unilateral declaration referencing Soviet occupation and territorial losses; Russia demands better accommodation of Russian-speaking population in Estonia; Estonian citizen groups continue to press for realignment of the boundary based on the 1920 Tartu Peace Treaty that would bring the now divided ethnic Setu people and parts of the Narva region within Estonia; as a member state that forms part of the EU's external border, Estonia must implement the strict Schengen border rules with Russia

    Electricity - production(kWh)11.46 billion kWh (2007 est.)
    Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 99.8%
    hydro: 0.1%
    nuclear: 0%
    other: 0.2% (2001)
    Electricity - consumption(kWh)7.686 billion kWh (2007 est.)
    Electricity - exports(kWh)2.31 billion kWh (2008 est.)
    Electricity - imports(kWh)1.369 billion kWh (2008 est.)
    Oil - production(bbl/day)7,600 bbl/day (2008 est.)
    Oil - consumption(bbl/day)29,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
    Oil - exports(bbl/day)7,280 bbl/day (2007 est.)
    Oil - imports(bbl/day)30,590 bbl/day (2007 est.)
    Oil - proved reserves(bbl)0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
    Natural gas - production(cu m)0 cu m (2008 est.)
    Natural gas - consumption(cu m)1.51 billion cu m (2008 est.)
    Natural gas - exports(cu m)0 cu m (2008)
    Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)1.3% (2007 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS9,900 (2007 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - deathsfewer than 500 (2007 est.)
    Major infectious diseasesdegree of risk: intermediate
    food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea
    vectorborne disease: tickborne encephalitis (2009)
    Literacy(%)definition: age 15 and over can read and write
    total population: 99.8%
    male: 99.8%
    female: 99.8% (2000 census)

    School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)(years)total: 16 years
    male: 15 years
    female: 17 years (2006)
    Education expenditures(% of GDP)5.1% of GDP (2004)

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