Top 10 facts about Estonia
Estonia is one of the sister countries of the Baltic “trio”, which is interesting both for tourists and for those who are planning to move to Europe. It is believed that it is easier for a native of Russia or Ukraine to adapt here than in any other country in Europe: this applies to the mentality, material issues, and the general way of life.
Geography and population
Estonia is the smallest, northernmost, and most maritime of the Baltic Republics (this is the name given to the group of former Soviet republics bordering the Baltic Sea, formed by Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania). Its shores stretch for 625 km, mostly low and sandy. The region of the country is predominantly flat, interrupted only in the eastern and southern parts by moderate moraine relief (maximum height 318 m), rich in rivers, and artificial and natural lakes. A significant part of the country's territory is made up of numerous islands (there are more than 1500 of them) located in front of the western coast, the largest of which are Saaremaa, Hiiumaa, Muhu, and Vormsi.
The rivers are predominantly of mountainous origin and flow into the sea after short passages. The largest of them is the Narva, flowing from Lake Chudi, and Pärnu, flowing near the cities of the same name in the Gulf of Finland and the Gulf of Riga, respectively.
The climate is formed by the Atlantic influence along the coast and continental in the center of the country. The proximity of the Baltic Sea, which freezes for many months of the year, only partially mitigates this effect. Precipitation falls mainly in the summer months. The average annual temperature ranges from 6°C on the islands to approx. 4°C in the hinterland, dropping from -3 to -7°C during the winter months.
Estonia with a population density of only 30 people. per km² is the least densely populated of the Baltic republics, and since the 1990s, the annual growth has registered negative values. Since the 1960s, the country has experienced a massive immigration of Russians (mainly for political reasons), which has led to fundamental changes in the national composition of the country: Russian actually make up about 25.6% of the population against 68.7% of Estonian.
They are followed by Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Finn, as well as other minorities. Since 1992, Parliament has tried to propose laws restricting the granting of Estonian citizenship by birthright, but protests from the Russian community and OECD intervention have always prevented these measures from coming into force. However, national minorities experience severe discrimination within the country (for example, they make up the majority of the unemployed population). Most of the population is concentrated in cities. In particular, about a third of the inhabitants live in Tallinn. Among other cities, Tartu, a key region for the manufacturing industry (and the second-largest city in terms of population), Pärnu, the largest seaside tourist center, stands out.
The official language of Estonia is Estonian. The Russian language lost its official status after the country left the Soviet Union, but it is still a popular language of minorities: it is spoken not only by visitors but also by some representatives of the local population. Some Estonian websites have been translated into Russian, it is also found in public places.
German and Swedish are not widely used.
Since Estonia is a member state of the European Union, the only official currency on its territory is the EUR. You can buy it in banks and exchange offices.
Internet in Estonia is quite developed, and most of the local population has access to it. Some sources call this area one of the most developed not only in Europe but throughout the world.
Cable Internet service providers offer tariffs that cost around 20EUR per month on average. Wireless connection costs a little more: from 15 to 40EUR per month.
There are only three mobile operators in Estonia, and the most popular among them is Tele2. They offer so-called calling cards for tourists, but for long-term use, it is more rational to purchase a full-fledged SIM and a local tariff.
The cost of the tariff with the Internet starts from 10EUR: the more features, the higher the price, up to 20EUR per month.
Estonia, which even before initiated independence reforms aimed at establishing a free market, is the Baltic republic that boasts the most successful in the economic field. In fact, after gaining independence, the country immediately embarked on the path of economic change and was the first of the former republics to issue its own currency.
From the very beginning, preference was given to the development of private companies and, thanks to the provision of tax incentives, international investment. Intensive trade relations were also restored with neighboring Finland. This economic dynamism made it possible to cope to some extent with the difficulties caused by the energy crisis after secession from the USSR (partly mitigated by the fact of owning shale resources on its territory) and the need to find another way out. markets for their own products.
A symptom of the country's determined intentions is the speed with which the free trade agreements with Latvia and Lithuania, the association agreement with the European Union (June 1995), and its official candidacy for full membership (December 1995) were signed. The prospect of integration into the European Union in May 2004 has greatly improved the Estonian economy, which has shown rapid growth in recent years, mainly due to the development of the trade and services sectors.
This growth was also largely driven by the increasingly strong presence of Western investors, especially in forestry, the light industry, and the service sector. Estonia's GDP in 2020 was over $30 billion compared to $23 billion registered in 2008.
However, today the country continues to show signs of economic instability, such as a trade deficit and an unemployment rate of about 7% (according to official sources) - mostly among ethnic minorities.
As regards individual branches of the economy, national agriculture is highly mechanized and yields good harvests. The main crops are grown consisted of cereals (barley, wheat, and oats), vegetables, sugar beets, fruit trees, and flax. Raising livestock, especially cattle, but also pigs and poultry, is also an important economic sector. Forest wealth is intensively exploited, due to which paper production is developing. Fishing is practiced along the coast, with Tallinn being the most important fishing port.
Among natural resources, Estonia has oil shale deposits in the northeast, from which it obtains natural gas, oil, resins, and chemical products. Gas was produced from the shale itself and then sent through a 208 km gas pipeline to St. Petersburg and Tallinn, but later the country stopped supplying gas to Russia, but, on the contrary, began to buy imported energy carriers. The electricity produced in the country is mainly of thermal origin.
In addition to the processing of oil shale, the chemical and mechanical industries are of some importance. The segment of components for telephony and telematics is growing. Other activities (textile, shipbuilding, paper, woodworking, and food industries) are located in the capital and in the cities of Tartu, Kohtla-Järve, Narva, and Pärnu. After separation from the USSR, there was a significant reduction in industrial production, which caused an increase in unemployment, but the situation is gradually stabilizing.
Job in Estonia
In Estonia, wages are quite high compared to other Baltic countries. The employer offers the highest salaries in the capital of the country - Tallinn: the average salary is about 1,400EUR before taxes.
Estonia is characterized by an annual increase in wages. In 2020, the minimum wage was about 3.5EURper hour, 7.5% more than in 2018. At the same time, earnings for the population still lag behind other more developed European countries, labor migration is developed. Taxation, unlike salaries, corresponds to European standards. Income tax is 20%.
Representatives of the IT sector in Estonia are in demand and can earn up to 2,000EUR gross per month. Good salaries are offered to teachers (up to 1,500EUR gross). Representatives of low-skilled labor sectors (salespeople, cashiers, ancillary workers, and field workers) receive up to 1,000EUR gross, that is, about 600EUR after all taxes are deducted.
In accordance with the economic situation and the level of wages, the prices of consumer goods in Estonia are close to those in the CIS countries. The cost of a standard food basket in 2022:
1. Liter of milk - 0.7EUR
2. A kilogram of sausage - 10-12EUR
3. White bread loaf - 0.7EUR
4. A dozen eggs - 1.2EUR
5. A kilogram of chicken fillet - 5-6EUR
6. A kilogram of bananas - 1.2EUR
7. Kilogram of potatoes - 0.5EUR
Meals in an inexpensive restaurant will cost about 10-15EUR per person, in a middle-class restaurant - about 20EUR for a two- or three-course dinner.
Housing prices fluctuate by region, with prices rising as you get closer to the capital. One-room apartments in Tallinn cost an average of 300-400EUR per month, excluding utilities.
Medical care and education
Health care in Estonia is provided by public institutions - they are in the greatest demand among the population, although there are also private clinics in the country. Estonians use the services of specialists in accordance with insurance.
As in many European countries, every Estonian is assigned a so-called family general practitioner, who sees the patient and can refer him to narrow-profile doctors.
Emergency admission of patients can be carried out on a first-come, first-served basis, especially in the departments of gynecology and dentistry.
Working days and holidays
New Year, January 1st
Independence Day, February 24
Day of Spring, May 1st
Victory Day in World War II, June 23
Restoration of Independence Day, August 20
Catholic Christmas, December 24-26
There are also a number of observances that have national significance but are not public holidays. These include Mother's Day, Children's Day, Flag Day, All Souls' Day and others.
The mentality of Estonians is characterized by respect for their own country and nation, which has only strengthened since the late 90s. In terms of behavior, the local population is closer to visitors from the CIS countries than Italians or Chinese, but there are also a number of differences: the average Estonian may seem somewhat closed and unfriendly to foreigners.
For lack of friendliness, calmness, and solidity, restraint in emotions is usually taken.
Cryptocurrencies are not prohibited in Estonia. An entrepreneur can register an appropriate business in the country, having obtained a license from the authorized bodies, and provide services to the local population as an operator for the exchange of digital assets or services for their storage. You can also freely buy and sell currencies.
Estonia left the Soviet Union in 1991 and became a member of the European Union in 2003. Since then, the country has been on the path of slow but steady development, striving to improve its economy and living conditions.