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Country Information: Estonia


at a glance

destination Estonia

civilization and culture





45 227 square kilometres


1.3 million(July 2009)

Capital city:

Tallinn(403 505 inhabitants 2006)

Official language:

Estonian (other language: Russian 29,7 %)

Gross national productper capita:

US$21 200 (2008) (PPP)

Population growth:

-0.63% (2009)

Life expectancy:

72.8 years (men: 67,4 years, women: 78,5 years)(2009)

Infant mortality:

7.3per 1000 live births (2009)

Rate of illiteracy:

0.2% (2003)






Estonia is the smallest of the three Baltic states and only slightly larger than Denmark: almost a third of the country is covered in forests. Estonia has 1400 lakes, and its borders pass through Lake Peipus, the fourth largest body of inland water in Europe with a surface area of 3550 square kilometres. The Estonian coast is 3780 kilometres long, but in contrast to the coasts of Latvia and Lithuania it is very rugged, with many islands, promontories, and bays, but also with seemingly endless beaches. The varied landscape is reminiscent in many ways of Finland. The capital city Tallinn has one of the best-preserved medieval ensembles in Europe, and is a popular summer destination.

According to UNWTO in the year 2005 approximately 1,9 million guests came into the country and paid 764 million Euro.


Commercial sexual exploitation of children in tourism

A quarter of the prostitutes in Estonia are minors. The majority of the children living on the streets have already become victims of sexual exploitation as a result of their desperate situation.  A disproportionate number of the street children are Russian in origin in particular in Tallinn. Half the perpetrators are foreigners, mainly from Russia, Sweden and in particular Finland.  

There is also trafficking of children and women to other countries, mostly in northern Europe, for purposes of sexual exploitation. Police, non-governmental organisations and municipal authorities are increasing cooperation to tackle this problem.



In Estonia, the sexual abuse of children is punished with up to ten years in prison. Estonia ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in November 1991, and ratified the optional protocol on child trafficking, child prostitution, and child pornography in September 2003.



According to estimates from UNAIDS and the World Health Organization, at the end of 2007 approximately 9.900 people in Estonia were infected with HIV, including 2.400 women. How many children were infected and how many people died following infection, could not be estimated. For sure 0,8 per cent of the population (1,3 per cent of people age 15 to 49 years) is infected with HIV. Thats one of highest rates in Europe and the highest in the European Union.


Local Contacts

Tartu Child Support Center

Kaunase pst. 11-2

50704 Tartu, Estonia

Phone: +372 7 484 666

Fax: +372 7 484 767






Denmark took control of the Estonian coastal area at the start of the 13th century, and in 1346 sold the sovereignty to the Teutonic Order, which was also in possession of Livonia (southern Estonia and Latvia).

In the mid-16th century the country was again divided after Russian incursions; northern Estonia sought the protection of Sweden, which later brought all the country under its control.

Peter the Great conquered  Estonia in 1710, and it only obtained independence again after the First World War and the October Revolution.

The Red Army occupied the country in 1940, and after hostilities began between Germany and the Soviet Union it was occupied by Germany from 1941-1944. When the Soviet regime was restored, Estonia's economy was collectivised and it became part of the Soviet Union. During the Second World War the country had lost 25% of its population.

Following the annexation by the Soviet Union, Russification of Estonia meant that the Estonians were in the minority in parts of their country.

In 1991, Estonia proclaimed it independence.

After an uncertain start, Estonia soon established political stability and its thriving economy earned it the name of the "Baltic Tiger". In 2004, Estonia joined the  EU and NATO.


State and society

The constitution of 1992 specifies a single-chamber parliament, with a State President who is elected every five years, and a prime minister elected every four years.


As a consequence of the "Russification" under Soviet rule, almost 30 per cent of the population is Russian. Other minorities are Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Finnish. In the course of independence non-Estonians received residence permits, but only gained full political rights if they applied for citizenship.

There is a Lutheran tradition in Estonia, but more than half the population are now non-religious, with only 15% Lutherans and a similar percentage of Orthodox Christians.


Because it borders on Russia, Estonia is often regarded as part of Eastern Europe, but in fact it has nothing in common culturally with the Slav region. The Estonians see themselves as belonging to the Nordic region, and they have a particular affinity to the Finns. This is not only because of the geographic proximity and historical ties, but also due to the fact that Estonian has more in common with Finnish than the other Baltic languages.



Estonia has successfully established a liberal market economy. An important factor has been the introduction of modern communications technologies and modern state structures. 

Exports include raw materials, food products, and manufactured goods. Further important economic factors are transit trade (oil from Russia) and the services sector. Agriculture is no longer significant. The Estonian crown (EEK) is currently tied to the euro, which may be adopted as the currency at some time in the future.