Estoniantrips logo

About Estonia

Unlike our language, our culture is accessible to all.

In fact it will hit you as soon as you cross any of our borders. In Valga, about four hundred metres from Latvia, you can see the best of our waxworks. In NarvaCastle, right on the Russian border, see what our silversmiths, carpenters and weavers managed to produce despite centuries of fighting there between the Swedes and Russians.

We have taken the best from elsewhere and improved it locally. Given there are so few of us, we are very proud of the impact we have made outside Estonia. Estonian composer, Arvo Pärt, is in demand all over the world and there are few countries where painter Jüri Arrak has not exhibited. Few of us can equal their brilliance but what we can all do is sing. Come and hear us, not in our tens, and not in our hundreds but in our thousands as our voices roar across the Song Festival Grounds on the outskirts of Tallinn.

For a quieter and more professional performance, remember that we have four opera houses around the country and numerous music related events and festivals all year round.

Every town in Estonia has at least one museum or art gallery and many villages do as well.

Estonia may be a small country but its sculptors think big. One piece in Rakvereweighs seven tons and is seven metres long. Sculptors can now of course do what they like but take a peep into the basement of the Tallinn Occupation Museum to recall the times when this was not the case. This is where all the statues of Soviet bigwigs are kept and from where they will never be allowed to escape.

If you want dip deeper into Estonian culture then come and stay a while!


Estonian History

Estonia has come a long way since the Viking invasions and has survived occupations by Germans, Swedes and Russians and re-emerged as a proud independent, EU and NATO member country with a growing reputation for innovation.

9000 B.C. After the ice-age Estonian ancestors settle along the Baltic coast.

800-1200 A.D. Raids and counter-raids by Vikings around the Baltic Sea, including by Estonian Vikings. Most famous of those events is when Estonians kidnapped the Norwegian Queen Astrid and her son and future King, Olaf Trygvesson.

1030 Novgorod’s Prince occupies Tarbatu and founds town of Juryev (now Tartu). Juryev was recaptured and destroyed in 1061 by Estonians who invaded Pskov.

1187 Saarlased (inhabitants of Estonian largest island, Saaremaa) sack and destroy Sigtuna then-capital of Sweden.

1208 – 1227 Estonia is confronted by, and subsequently converted to, Christianity and is occupied by foreign powers: Teutonic Orders and Danes. The Germans become landed gentry and wield huge influence for 700 years.

1523 Reformation; Estonian first used in liturgy. First Estonian book appears in 1525.

1558–1582 Livonian war between the Czardom of Russia and various coalitions between Denmark-Norway, Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Kingdom of Poland (later the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth), and Sweden for control of medieval Livonia, the territory of present-day Estonia and Latvia.

1561 Control over Estonia goes to Sweden. This starts the so-called ‘Swedish Golden age in Estonia’.

1632 University of Tartu is founded by Gustav II Adolf, King of Sweden.

1700-1721 Great Northern War where the Northern Alliance was composed of Russia, Denmark-Norway, Poland-Lithuania and Saxony engaged Sweden to challenge them for the supremacy in the Baltic Sea. The war ended with a defeat for Sweden in 1721, leaving Russia as the new major power in the Baltic Sea. After the war, it was estimated only 100 000 Estonians survived.

1816 Serfdom is abolished in Estonia.

1860-1885 A great rise in national consciousness among Estonians, followed by a Czarist backlash in form of attempt to Russify all of Estonia.

1869 As part of the national movement towards independence, the first song festival is held in Tartu.

1905 Revolution in Russia.

1918 Feb Germany occupies Estonia.
1918 Nov – 1920 Jan War of Independence. Estonians had been pushing mainly for greater autonomy within what they hoped would be a democratically-oriented Russian Empire. But after Soviet Russia’s heavy-handedness, they declare independence. Estonian forces beat back German and Soviet armies - aided at critical points by Great Britain.

1920 Feb - The Treaty of Tartu. The treaty between the Russian SFSR and Estonia recognized the independence of Estonia. The treaties solved disputes and issues connected with cessation of hostilities, such as delineation of borders and the transfer of property.

1939 Hitler and Stalin divide Europe into spheres of influence, with the Baltics left to the Soviets .

1940 USSR annexes Estonia.
1941  June 14 First mass deportations of Estonians by the NKVD (secret police), targeting the elite.

1941 - 1944 German occupation.

1949 Second mass deportation of Estonians (by Soviets).

1987 First open protests against Soviet rule during the so-called ‘phosphorus wars’ – popular protests against Soviet plans for open-cast mining of phosphorus in Estonia.

1988 Estonian Soviet legislature declares sovereignty. New popular front for independence emerges, dubbed the Singing Revolution because rallies are peaceful and usually accompanied by singing.
1989 Aug Baltic Way (also Baltic Chain) where over 2 million people form a human chain connecting each Baltic State’s capitals.

1990 Transition to independence is declared by Soviet Estonian legislature.

1991 Jan Soviets crackdown on Baltic States.

1991 Aug A coup in the Kremlin unravels as quickly as it began. Two days before, it looked like the absolute worst was about to happen. But suddenly, with Moscow’s authority having collapsed, the impossible dream of restoring independence comes true, literally overnight.

1991 Estonia joined United Nations and the KGB ended its operations in Estonia.

1992 Currency change - Estonia replaces the Russian Ruble with the Estonian Crown (Kroon).

1992 In Barcelona, Erika Salumäe was the first Estonian athlete (after re-independence) to win an Olympic gold medal - in track cycling.

1993 Estonia started privatising state-owned businesses.

1994 Russian army left Estonia.

1994 Estonian biggest peacetime disaster, the sinking of MS Estonia. 852 people died.

1998 Estonia started negotiations to join the European Union.

2000 E-government system is launched, allowing Estonian government to have digital meetings.

2003 SKYPE is formed.

2004 March 29 Estonia is accepted into NATO. It's the first time in its history Estonia has joined a military alliance voluntarily.

2004 May 1 Estonia joins the European Union.

2005 E-election is launched.

2006 Toomas Hendrik Ilves becomes the current President of Estonia.

2006 Estonia wins 3 gold medals, all for skiing, in Torino Winter Olympics.

2007 April Relocating plans of the Bronze Soldier, Soviet War Memorial, caused night riots in central Tallinn between young Russian speaking minorities and Estonian authorities. The sculpture is now located in the Cemetery of Estonian Defence Forces and is a popular tourist attraction.

2008 Estonians win 1 gold medal (for men’s discus throw) and 1 silver medal (for rowing, men’s double sculls) in Beijing Olympic Games.

2009 23m high glass sculpture, Statue of Liberty, is opened in Tallinn centre.

2009 25th National Song and Dance Festival takes place with joint choirs of more than 25 000 singers and 7500 dancers participating.


useful links: