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Estonia country profile

Estonia is the most northerly of the three Baltic states, and has linguistic ties with Finland.

Map of EstoniaSince regaining its independence with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Estonia has become one of the most economically successful of the European Union's newer eastern European members.

 

Ruled at various times during the middle ages by Denmark, the German knights of the Livonian Order, and Sweden, Estonia ended up part of the Russian Empire in the 18th century.

It experienced its first period of independence in 1918, following the end of the First World War and the collapse of the Russian Empire.

FACTS

 

Republic of Estonia

Capital: Tallinn

  • Population 1.3 million

  • Area 45,227 sq km (17,462 sq miles)

  • Major languagesEstonian, Russian

  • Major religion Christianity

  • Life expectancy 70 years (men), 80 years (women)

  • Currency euro

Getty Images

LEADERS

President: Kersti Kaljulaid

Estonian President Kersti KaljulaidImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Kersti Kaljulaid was elected by parliament as Estonia's first female president in October 2016.

A biologist by training, Kaljulaid started her political career in 1999 as an economic adviser to Prime Minister Mart Laar. She served as Estonia's representative in the European Court of Auditors between 2004 and 2016.

The office is largely symbolic although it gained weight after outgoing President Toomas Hendrik Ilves carved a role as an outspoken critic of Russia and a campaigner for government digitalisation and cybersecurity.

Prime minister: Juri Ratas

Estonian Prime Minister Juri RatasImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Juri Ratas, whose party is popular among Estonia's large Russian-speaking minority, heads a coalition government which was sworn in in November 2016.

He was asked by the president to form a government after his predecessor Taavi Roivas lost a parliamentary vote on confidence when one of his junior coalition partners deserted.

Mr Ratas's Centre Party, which had been in opposition for a decade, has as partners the leftist Social Democrat SDE and conservative IRL.

Before taking office he indicated that his government would lean towards the West.

MEDIA

Television is Estonia's most popular medium, while print media are losing ground to online outlets.

The broadcasting industry has attracted foreign media groups; the main privately-owned TVs are run by Swedish and Norwegian concerns.

Eesti Televisioon (ETV) and Eesti Raadio (ER) are public broadcasters. Take-up of cable and digital terrestrial TV is extensive; the offering includes stations in Finnish, Swedish, Russian and Latvian.

TIMELINE

Some key dates in Estonia's history:

1918 - Independence proclaimed.

1920- Peace treaty with Russia signed.

The city gates in TalinnImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe city gates in Talinn

1939 - The Soviet Union compels Estonia to accept Soviet military bases.

1940 Soviet troops march in. Estonia incorporated into Soviet Union.

1941 - German troops invade.

Estonian traditional dancersImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionHeld every five years, Estonia's Nationwide Song and Dance Festival attracts thousands of performers and spectators

1944 - Estonia reannexed by the Soviet Union. Tens of thousands of Estonians deported to Siberia and Central Asia.

1988 - Popular Front campaigns for democracy. "Singing revolution" brings a third of the population together in a bid for national unity and self-determination.

Independence

1991 - Communist rule collapses. Soviet government recognizes the independence of the Baltic republics.

1992 - Lennart Meri becomes president.

1994 - Russian troops leave. Estonia joins Partnership for Peace, allowing limited military cooperation with Nato.

1996 - President Meri re-elected.

1997 - Estonia invited to begin European Union membership negotiations.

1999 - New centre-right government under Prime Minister Mart Laar, who led a previous government in 1992.

2000 - Estonia and Russia expel diplomats in tit-for-tat moves over spying claims.

2001 October - Former member of the Central Committee of the Soviet-era Communist Party Arnold Ruutel sworn in as president.

2001 December - President Ruutel signs into law a bill scrapping the requirement for candidates for public office to be proficient in the Estonian language.

2002 January - Mart Laar resigns as prime minister after squabbling within ruling coalition.

Siim Kallas becomes prime minister in a new coalition government in which his Reform Party shares power with Centre Party.

2002 November - Nato summit in Prague includes Estonia on list of countries formally invited to join the alliance.

Nato, EU membership

2002 December - EU summit in Copenhagen formally invites Estonia to join.

2003 April - President Ruutel invites Res Publica leader Juhan Parts to be premier in coalition government with Reform Party and People's Union following elections the previous month.

2003 September - Estonians vote overwhelmingly to join the European Union in a referendum.

2004 March - Estonia admitted to Nato.

2004 May - Estonia is one of 10 new states to join the EU.

2004 November - Defence Minister Margus Hanson resigns after classified documents are stolen from his home.

2005 February - Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland is sacked after classified documents are found to be missing from ministry.

2005 March - President Ruutel declines invitation to attend Moscow celebrations in May marking the anniversary of the end of World War II.

Prime Minister Parts submits government's resignation after vote of no confidence in Justice Minister Ken-Marti Vaher over tough anticorruption programme.

2005 April - Reform Party's Andrus Ansip confirmed as prime minister.

Tensions with Russia

2005 May - Estonia and Russia sign treaty delineating border.

2005 June - Parliament ratifies border treaty with Russia but defies warnings from Moscow by introducing amendment referring to Soviet occupation. Russia reacts by withdrawing from treaty.

2006 May - Parliament ratifies EU constitution.

2006 September - Toomas Hendrik Ilves, a former foreign minister, is elected president.

2007 February - Parliament passes a law prohibiting the display of monuments glorifying Soviet rule, paving the way for the relocation of a controversial Red Army war memorial in Tallinn.

2007 March - Estonia becomes the first country to allow internet voting for national parliamentary elections. The prime minister's Reform Party wins by a narrow margin.

2007 April - Authorities relocate a controversial Red Army war memorial in Tallinn. One person is killed and more than 40 injured as protesters, mostly ethnic Russians, try to halt the removal. Russia warns of serious consequences.

2009 January - Estonian court acquits four ethnic Russians accused of leading riots sparked by government's response to relocate a Soviet-era war memorial in Tallinn.

2009 June - Parliament approves move to double size of Estonian contingent serving in Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), from 150 to around 290 soldiers.

Estonia joins eurozone

2011 January - Estonia adopts the euro.

2011 February - Parliamentary elections. The Reform Party and its coalition partner IRL retain their majority in parliament with 56 out of 101 seats.

2011 August - Toomas Hendrik Ilves is re-elected president for a second five-year term.

2012 October - Estonia and Russia re-start talks on a border treaty, seven years after Russia withdrew from an agreement signed in 2005, in response to a dispute over treatment of the Soviet past.

2014 February - Estonia and Russia sign a new treaty ending their border dispute.

2014 September - Amid tension with the European Union and Nato over Russian intervention in Ukraine, Estonia accuses Moscow of abducting border guard Eston Kohver. Russia says he was on the Russian side of the border and accuses him of spying.

2015 March - Prime Minister Taavi Roivas's Reform Party emerges as winner in parliamentary election, following campaign dominated by fears over defence due to Russia's role in the Ukrainian crisis.

NATO reinforces its presence in the Baltic states and its forces conduct major military drills in the region.

2015 September - Russia returns detained border guard Eston Kohver in return for Aleksei Dressen, who was imprisoned in Estonia in 2012 on charges of spying for Moscow.

2017 March - The first of about 800 British troops arrive in Estonia as part of a major Nato mission in the Baltic states to deter what the alliance regards as Russian aggression.

2017 May - A Russian citizen is sentenced to five years' imprisonment on charges of spying for Moscow.

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