Primary navigation:

QFINANCE Quick Links
QFINANCE Reference
Add the QFINANCE search widget to your website
Whitaker's Almanack: Estonia

Information on Estonia

See also QFINANCE article

Eesti Vabariik – Republic of Estonia

Whitaker's Almanack Definitions

  • Area – 45,228 sq. km
  • Capital – Tallinn; population, 399,027 (2009 est)
  • Major towns – Kohtla-Jarve, Narva, Parnu, Tartu
  • Currency – Euro (€) of 100 cents
  • Population – 1,274,709 falling at 0.65 per cent a year (2012 est); Estonian (68.7 per cent), Russian (25.6 per cent), Ukrainian (2.1 per cent), Belarusian (1.2 per cent), Finn (0.8 per cent) (2008)
  • Religion – Christian (Lutheran 14 per cent, Orthodox 13 per cent) (est)
  • Language – Estonian (official), Russian
  • Population density – 32 per sq. km (2010)
  • Urban population – 69.5 per cent (2010 est)
  • Median age (years) – 40.5 (2011 est)
  • National anthem – 'Mu Isamaa, Mu Onn Ja Room' ['My Native Land, My Joy and Delight']
  • National day – 24 February (Independence Day)
  • Death penalty – Abolished for all crimes (since 1998)
  • CPI score – 6.4 (2011)

Back to top

Climate and Terrain

The country is mostly a plain of lakes, marshes and forests, with a range of low hills in the south-east. Elevation extremes range from 318m (Suur Munamagi) to 0m (Baltic Sea). Part of the border with Russia runs through the large Lake Peipsi. The climate is maritime, with average temperatures ranging from −5°C in February to 16°C in July.

Back to top

History and Politics

The area came under Swedish control between 1561 and 1629, and was ceded to the Russian Empire in 1721. An Estonian nationalist movement developed in the late 19th century and fought against occupying German forces during the First World War. Estonia declared its independence in February 1918 and defended it against Soviet forces until 1920, when independence was recognised by the USSR. However, the USSR annexed Estonia in 1940, and the country was subsequently occupied by German forces when they invaded the USSR in 1941. In 1944 the USSR expelled the Germans and reannexed the country, beginning a process of 'Sovietisation'.

There was a resurgence of nationalist sentiment in the 1980s, and in 1989 the Estonian Supreme Soviet declared the republic to be sovereign and its 1940 annexation by the USSR to be illegal. In 1990, the Communist Party’s monopoly of power was abolished and, following multiparty elections in which pro-independence candidates won the majority of seats, a period of transition to independence was inaugurated, culminating in its declaration on 20 August 1991. The last Russian troops withdrew in 1994. Since independence, Estonia has pursued pro-Western policies. It joined NATO and the EU in 2004.

In 2011 Toomas Hendrik Ilves was re-elected president by an electoral assembly. In the 2011 legislative election, the Reform Party (ER), the main partner in the coalition government since 2005, remained the largest party and formed a coalition with the Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica (IRL).

Under the 1992 constitution, the president is elected for a five-year term by the legislature by a two-thirds majority or, if no candidate receives this majority after three rounds of voting, by an electoral assembly composed of the legislature members and 266 local government representatives. The unicameral legislature, the Riigikogu, has 101 members, directly elected for a four-year term. The prime minister is appointed by the president and nominates the government. Members of the government need not be members of the Riigikogu.


President, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, elected by electoral assembly 23 September 2006, sworn in 9 October 2006, re-elected 2011


Prime Minister, Andrus Ansip
Defence, Mart Laar
Finance, Jurgen Ligi
Foreign Affairs, Urmas Paet
Internal Affairs, Ken-Marti Vaher


16 Hyde Park Gate, London SW7 5DG
T 020-7589 3428 E W
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, HE Aino Lepik von Wiren, apptd 2010


Wismari 6, Tallinn 10136
T (+372) 667 4700 W
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, HE Christopher Holtby, apptd 2012

Back to top


All ages 16–49, 2010 estMalesFemales
Available for military service291,801302,696
Fit for military service210,854251,185

Military expenditure – US$336m (2011)
Conscription duration – 8–11 months

Back to top

Economy and Trade

Economic reforms and restructuring since 1992 have resulted in a market economy, the growth of which was boosted by the country's accession to the EU. Estonia entered recession in 2008 after an investment and consumption slump and a drop in demand for exports. Prudent financial management has enabled the economy to recover slowly, and it met the accession criteria for the eurozone, which Estonia joined in January 2011; it has since garnered one of the highest GDP growth rates in Europe.

Agriculture engages 4.2 per cent of the workforce and accounts for 2.6 per cent of GDP, the main products being cereals, vegetables, livestock, dairy products and fish. Industry accounts for 20.2 per cent of employment and 29.2 per cent of GDP, concentrating on engineering, electronics, wood and wood products, textiles, information technology and telecommunications; electronics and telecommunications are particularly strong. The services sector accounts for 75.6 per cent of employment and 68.2 per cent of GDP.

The main trading partners are other EU countries, particularly Finland, Sweden and Russia. Principal exports are machinery and electrical equipment, wood and wood products, metals, furniture, vehicles and parts, food products and textiles. The main imports are machinery and electrical equipment, fuels, foodstuffs, plastics and textiles. Estonia remains dependent on Russian natural gas supplies.

GNI – US$18,419m; US$14,460 per capita (2010)
Annual average growth of GDP – 6.5 per cent (2011 est)
Inflation rate – 5 per cent (2011 est)
Population below poverty line – 19.7 per cent (2008)
Unemployment – 16.9 per cent (2010 est)
Total external debt – US$25,400m (2011 est)
Imports – US$12,282m (2010)
Exports – US$11,607m (2010)


Trade – US$675m deficit (2010)
Current Account – US$875m surplus (2009)

Trade with UK20102011
Imports from UK£185,109,178£271,681,225
Exports to UK£162,221,871£189,734,167

Back to top

Education and Health

Primary and secondary level education is compulsory between the ages of seven and 15.

Gross enrolment ratio (percentage of relevant age group) – primary 99 per cent; secondary 104 per cent; tertiary 63 per cent (2009 est)
Health expenditure (per capita) – US$1,004 (2009)
Hospital beds (per 1,000 people) – 5.7 (2004–9)
Life expectancy (years) – 73.33 (2011 est)
Mortality rate – 13.55 (2011 est)
Birth rate – 10.45 (2011 est)
Infant mortality rate – 7.06 (2011 est)
HIV/AIDS adult prevalence – 1.2 per cent (2009 est)

Back to top


Airports – The are 19 airports and airfields; the principal international airport is based in Tallinn

Waterways – There are 320km of year-round navigable waterways; the main seaports are at Tallinn, Parnu and Haapsalu Jahtklubi

Roadways – There are 58,034km of roadways

Railways – There are 1,200km of railways

Telecommunications – 482,200 fixed lines and 1.65 million mobile subscriptions (2010); there were 971,700 internet users in 2009

Internet code and IDD – ee; 372 (from UK), 44 (to UK)

Major broadcasters – Public broadcasters Eesti Televisioon and Eesti Radio compete with private-sector, usually Swedish or Norwegian-owned broadcasters

Press – Major newspapers include Postimees, and Eesti Paevaleht

WPFI score – 2,00 (9)

Back to top

Back to top

Share this page

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Bookmark and Share