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Republic of estonia




The Republic of Estonia, a land comprised of islands and a mainland region, is located in Europe along the coast of the Baltic Sea. The only countries positioned further north are Iceland, Finland and Norway (as measured from the southernmost point of the country’s mainland). Estonia’s widest reach from west to east is 350 km; from north to south, it measures 240 km. The coastline of mainland Estonia is 1,317 km along the Baltic Sea, and with the shores of the country’s many islands, the coastline of Estonia totals 4,016 km. The state border is 1,450.6 km (681.6 km on land and 769 km in territorial waters). Estonia became a sovereign state on 24 February 1918, with independence resulting from the War of Independence (1918–20) and peace through the Treaty of Tartu signed with Soviet Russia. In 1939, the Soviet Union forced Estonia to sign a “mutual assistance” pact, which served as the pretext for building Soviet military bases on Estonian territory and occupying the Republic of Estonia. From 1941 to 1944, the Germans occupied Estonia, and from 1944 to 1991, Estonia was again under Soviet occupation.

Estonia saw the rise of an independence movement in the second half of the 1980s, and on 20 August 1991, Estonia declared its independence restored. Estonia officially joined the European Union in May 2004, and the Euro came into circulation as the national currency in January 2011. In March 2004, Estonia also became a full NATO member state. The country’s national security policy centres on its memberships in the European Union and NATO, as well as its close ties with allies and international partners. The majority of the country’s population is Estonian (68.8 per cent); the largest ethnic minority (25 per cent) is Russian. In terms of religious affiliation, most Estonians who consider themselves religious are affiliated with the Lutheran faith, while Russians usually follow the Russian Orthodox faith. The Estonian economy is based on a liberal market economy and is open to foreign investment. The gross domestic product (GDP) stems primarily from the service industry (70 per cent in 2015), with the remainder coming from industry (27 per cent) and agriculture, forestry and fisheries (3 per cent). Estonia’s closest trade partners are other European Union member states (including the Nordic countries) and Russia (particularly in transit trade). Estonia is located on the northwestern edge of the eastern European plateau; the topography is primarily plains with rolling hills. The highest peak in Estonia and, in fact, in the Baltic countries, is Suur Munamägi, at 318 m above sea level. The country’s moderate maritime climate is characteristic of the region; it is affected by its close proximity to the Baltic Sea as well as by the remnants of the warm Gulf Stream that reach the northwestern European coast to mix with the North Atlantic currents. In Estonia, forests, mostly mixed forest, cover 47 per cent of the country. The scenic limestone bluffs of northern Estonia and the meteor crater, Lake Kaali, on the island of Saaremaa, are two of Estonia’s well-known natural wonders.

Official name   Republic of Estonia (Eesti Vabariik) Government   Unitary parliamentary republic Anthem   Mu Isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm (My Fatherland, My Happiness and Joy). Lyrics by Johann Voldemar Jannsen, music by Friedrich (Fredrik) Pacius. Premiered on 19 June 1869 at the first Estonian National Song Festival. National epic   Kalevipoeg (Kalev’s Son) by Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald; published in 1862. Official language   Estonian Capital   Tallinn Area   45 339 km2 Population   1 315 635 (2017) Population density   29.1/km2 Time zone   UTC +2 Administrative division   15 counties (maakond), which are divided into 183 rural municipalities, or parishes (vald) and 30 urban municipalities, cities (linn). Settlement units   47 cities (linn) and cities without municipal status (vallasisene linn), 12 towns (alev), 188 townships (alevik) and 4452 villages (küla) Country codes   EE and EST National day   24 February (1918; Independence Day) National flower   Cornflower (1968) National bird   Barn swallow (1962) National fish   Baltic herring (2007) National stone   Limestone (1992) National butterfly   Old World Swallowtail (2017) Highest point   Suur Munamägi (317.4 m) Lowest point   Coast of the Baltic Sea Average temperature in July   17.4 ºC Average temperature in January   –3. 5ºC Currenc y   euro (EUR) GDP per capita   29 313 USD (PPP, 2016) Member of   UN (1991), OSCE 1991), WTO (1999), 7 NATO (2004), EU (2004)


The collar of the Order of the National Coat of Arms

I class 3. rank of the Liberty Cross


IV class of the Order of the National Coat of Arms

The Republic of Estonia has six state decorations: the Cross of Liberty; the Order of the National Coat of Arms; the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana; the Order of the White Star; the Order of the Cross of the Eagle; and the Order of the Estonian Red Cross. Anyone may nominate candidates for state decoration, but decisions on the recipients of such honours are made by the President of the Republic of Estonia. The President presents state decorations once a year, on Estonian Independence Day. The Cross of Liberty was instituted in 1919 as recognition for meritorious deeds carried out in the Estonian War of Independence. This decoration is a military distinction given for outstanding service in the fight for Estonian independence. The Cross of Liberty has not been awarded since 1925, though it can officially be reintroduced should warfare become necessary for the defence of Estonian independence. The last living recipient of the Cross of Liberty passed away in the year 2000. The Cross of Liberty has three classes. The First Class is awarded in recognition of outstanding deeds conducted in military service; the Second Class is awarded in recognition of personal bravery; and the Third Class is awarded in recognition of civil service in the fight for independence. Each class is also divided into subdivisions. The Cross of Liberty is depicted on the top of the War of Independence Victory Column, unveiled in Tallinn on 23 June 2009. The Order of the National Coat of Arms was instituted in 1936. Awarded exclusively to Estonian citizens, it is the highest recognition of service to the Republic of Estonia. This decoration has five classes or grades and one additional class of distinction: the livery collar, or chain of office. The livery collar of the Order of the Cross of the National Coat of Arms is bestowed on the President of Estonia in recognition of the position. The first Order of the National Coat of Arms was taken from Estonia in 1940 and, to this day, is still held in the Kremlin’s Armoury Chamber in Moscow. Demands for the return of this chain of office to Estonia have yet to be met; a replica of the Cross of the National Coat of Arms was made in its stead in 2008. The Cross of Terra Mariana was instituted in 1995 in honour of the restoration of Estonian independence. This decoration is awarded to citizens of other countries

IV and V class of the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana

Gold, Silver and Iron cross of the Order of the Cross of the Eagle

IV and V class an medal of the Order of the White Star

IV and V class of the Order of the Estonian Red Cross

in recognition of their distinguished service for the good of the Estonian state. This decoration has five classes and one additional class of distinction: the collar class. From 1995 to 2008, the Cross of Terra Mariana was worn in its collar form by the President of Estonia as a symbol of the office. The Order of the White Star was established in 1936. This decoration is awarded to honour outstanding achievement and service in the fields of economics, education, science, culture and sports, and in other areas of achievement or general service for the benefit of society. This decoration has seven classes: the collar class, five classes, and a medal. The Order of the Cross of the Eagle was established in 1928 by the Estonian Defence League in honour of the 10th anniversary of Estonian independence. The Order of the Cross of the Eagle is awarded in recognition of military service and deeds in service of national defence. The decoration is of a military designation when its design includes two crossed swords. The Order of the Cross of the Eagle comprises eight classes: five regular classes, as well as gold, silver and iron crosses. The Order of the Estonian Red Cross was established by the Estonian Red Cross in 1920, and is awarded for humanitarian endeavours (health and social services) and for the saving of a life. The Cross has six classes: five general classes and a medal.


THE HISTORY OF ESTONIA Ancient Estonia (pre-13th Century)


The area we now call Estonia was settled after the last Ice Age, with the first known settlers dating back to 9000 BCE. During the Stone Age and Bronze Age, the inhabitants of modern-day Estonia maintained close ties with Scandinavia. In the Iron Age, connections with more southerly regions strengthened, and the influence of the Roman Empire took hold from the first century CE onward. Due to this influence, the Iron Age period from around 50 to 450 CE is known as the Roman Iron Age. Following this period, ties with Scandinavia and Finland took on renewed importance; there are records in the Scandinavian sagas that mention of raids to Estonia.

During the late Iron Age, which partly coincided with the Viking Age (from around 800 to 1050 CE), the inhabitants of Estonia were active in East–West trade. The Kievan Rus’ state, established in the 9th century, began to set its sights on the Estonian territory and, between 1030 and 1061, the southeastern regions of Estonia, including Tartu, were temporarily under Rus’ rule. Trade relations took on even more importance from the end of the Iron Age (around the 11th to 13th centuries), and these developed yet further. Relations between ancient Estonians and their neighbours were at times peaceful as well as antagonistic, and records show that mutual raiding took place between the Estonians and the principalities of the Rus’, and also between Estonians and Scandinavians. In the 12th and 13th centuries, Swedish, Danish and German Crusaders took pains to conquer the Estonian and Latvian territory and convert the population. The most successful of these were missionaries and Crusaders from northern Germany, who had been active in Latvia since the 1180s. Their first crusade to Ugandi took place in 1208, and within the next 20 years, they conquered the entire territory of Estonia. The last stronghold to fall to the Crusaders was the island of Saaremaa in 1227.

Mediaeval Period 16th centuries)

Estonia in the beginning of the 13th Century CE Revala


virumaa d a se va d j a l harjumaajäRvamaa vaiga ois p e m n u mõhu al soopoolitse rm e k jogentagana Läänemaa un


sakala ed

Following their conquest in the 13 th, century, Latvia and most of the territory of Estonia were renamed Livonia. Initially, the area of northern Estonia (the Duchy of Estonia) was under Danish rule; the Livonian branch of the Teutonic Order governed most of central and southern Estonia, as well as Latvia; and the remainder of the region was divided between the Archbishopric of Riga and the Bishoprics of Tartu, Saare-Lääne and Courland, which correspond to modern-day Tartu, Saaremaa, Hiiumaa and Läänemaa Counties, and Courland in Latvia respectively. In 1346, Estonia became wholly German-controlled through the sale of northern Estonia to the Teutonic Order by the King of Denmark.

la s


Pottery from Jägala from the period of Comb Ceramic culture (5th to 3rd millenia BCE)




Tools from the time of the Kunda culture (about 9th to 5th millenia BCE)


Estonia in the 13th and 14th century Tallinn


Danish possessions Haapsalu

Bishopric of Saare-Lääne Lihula


Rakvere Paide

Põltsamaa Kursi

Vana-Pärnu Uus-Pärnu


Possessions of the Teutonic Order town castle

Ruins of the Rakvere Ordenburg



Bishopric of Tartu Otepää

During the Middle Ages, the upper classes were mostly German-speaking, while Estonians made up the majority of the peasantry. Over time, the manor lords placed increasingly harsher restrictions on peasant farmers that simultaneously benefited the landowners. By the 15th century, most farmers had been forced into serfdom, and feudalism had been fully implemented. Despite their subjugation, Estonians did manage to organise numerous rebellions in the 13th and 14th centuries, the largest of which was the St George’s Night Uprising (1343–1345). The uprising broke out in northern Estonia, but soon spread throughout western Estonia, including on the island of Saaremaa. While the Teutonic Order did manage to quash the revolts in mainland Estonia in 1343, the battles in Saaremaa raged on, and the island uprising was not subdued until after military campaigns in 1344 and 1345. The Reformation began to spread through the Estonian region in the 1520s, and Estonia became a mostly Lutheran country in the decades that followed.

Early Modern Times (16th


19th centuries)

ESTONIA 1583–1710 Tallinn



Virumaa harjumaa The Russian-Livonian war began in 1558, and Russian forces Swedish possessions quickly conquered Narva and Tartu; by early 1560, the järvamaa läänemaa Paide Haapsalu Bishopric of Saare-Lääne had fallen under Danish rule. In the Lihula Voivodeship 1580s, with Saaremaa still controlled by Denmark, northern saaremaa Voivodeship of Tartu of Pärnu Danish possessions Estonia came under Swedish rule and southern Estonia was Tartu (until 1645) Pärnu controlled by Poland. This was not to last, however, and as Viljandi Kuressaare Polish possessions a result of the Swedish-Polish Wars (1600–1629), southern (until 1625) Volmari Valga Estonia was also taken over by Sweden. Finally, in 1645, (Valmiera) Sweden also took Saaremaa into its possession. Thus began the Swedish Era. This period of Swedish dominance was only temporary, though. During the Great Northern War (1700–1721), Sweden fought against many adversaries, and was successful in the early stages of the war (such as in the Battle of Narva, fought against Russia in 1700). These early victories were soon reversed, though, and in 1704, Tartu and Narva fell into Russian hands, with the rest of Estonia succumbing in 1709–1710. Despite its hegemony, Russia allowed the practice of the Lutheran faith, continued use of the existing legal and judicial systems, and daily life and business to be conducted in the German language. This laid the groundwork for the special status in the Baltic provinces, or the Baltic Landesstaat order – a self-governed Baltic German district in the region of Estonia and Latvia, which lasted until the beginning of the 20th century. Similar to the situation during the Swedish Era, Estonia was again divided between the Estonian and Livonian Governorates. The 18th century is often considered the most oppressive period for the Estonian peasantry, largely due to the Rosen Declaration of 1739, which completely subordinated peasants to their manor lords, both legally and socially. It was not until the second half of the 18th century that peasants’ lives started to improve: peasant farmers were Participants of the 1858 afforded the right to own property, limits were put on taxes, and restrictions peasant revolt Mahtra War were placed on the sale of serfs. Serfdom was abolished in Estonia in 1816, and in Livonia in 1819. Upon emancipation, peasants were given surnames. Despite being set free, however, they were not given any land and thus had to rent land for farming from the manor lords. Peasants were finally given the right to purchase land for farming in the mid-19th century, and by the beginning of the 20th century, most farms were in fact owned by Estonian peasant farmers. Rural municipalities had already started taking shape in the mid-19th century, and were called civil parishes. Until the parish municipal reforms of 1866, the parish government had been completely run by the manor lord. The experience gained in self-governing was essential in achieving statehood. In 1863, a new passport law was also adopted, making it possible for peasant farmers to move around much more easily; many emigrated to Russia, where purchasing farmland was a simpler process.



Jakob Hurt

Carl Robert Jakobson

Jaan Tõnisson



20th centuries)

Romantic nationalism blossomed all across 19 th-century Europe, and it was also embraced by Estonians. The national awakening was further fostered by Estonia’s economic growth (especially purchase-for-ownership farmlands), the spread of education, and the establishment of student and cultural societies. Intellectuals and teachers played an especially important role in the promotion of nationalist ideas. The first Estonian-language newspaper, Perno Postimees, was published in 1857, and it was this publication that first referred to its readership as “the Estonian people.” In the 1860s, Tartu, St Petersburg and the county of Viljandimaa became important hubs for the Estonian national movement. The idea of establishing an Estonian-language public school of higher education (the Aleksander School of Estonia) caught on in the 1860s. Enthusiasts began collecting donations for its establishment, and Estonia’s most influential social figures came together to form the school’s main committee in 1870. However, although the school opened its doors to students in 1888, it unfortunately offered classes only in the Russian language. Following the example set by Baltic German associations, Estonian cultural societies also took shape and played an important role in promoting nationalist ideas. The most notable of these associations were the Vanemuise Society in Tartu and the Estonia Society in Tallinn. By the late 1860s, Jakob Hurt and Carl Robert Jakobson emerged as leading figures in the national awakening movement. Three patriotic speeches given by Jakobson at the Vanemuise Society (1868–1870) were key mileposts for the national awakening. The first Estonian Song Festival, held in Tartu in 1869, was the first large-scale national event and included nearly one thousand singers and musicians. The 1870s saw the birth of numerous societies, including agricultural associations and the influential Society of Estonian Literati, which was established in 1872 and brought together many scholars. Jakobson’s newspaper Sakala was first published in 1878, and the views presented in the paper posed sharp opposition to the Baltic German authorities, soon making it the most widely read Estonian publication in the country. However, differences did arise within the leadership of the national awakening; Jakobson’s radical approach did not sit well with the relatively conservative Jakob Hurt, and vice versa. The national movement lost momentum after Jakobson’s death in 1882, and the peripheral regions of the Russian Empire began to feel increasing pressure from the central government. The period of Russification had begun: the Russian language was declared the official language for use in schools and there was a significant weakening of the Baltic German autonomy that had existed in Estonia up until then. The latter worked to the benefit of the Estonian population, though, as they were able to work together with the Russian authorities to gain control of the city government in Tallinn. In 1906, the first Estonian was sworn in as Mayor of Tallinn. The main Estonian-language and national-leaning newspaper to survive during the period of Russification was the Postimees daily. Jaan Tõnisson, one of the key figures heading the national movement, was named editor-in-chief of the newspaper in 1896. The other newspaper to become influential was the Tallinn-

based Teataja, established in 1901 with Konstantin Päts at the helm. Social democratic views had also begun to spread in Estonia by the turn of the century, and the left-leaning newspaper Uudised was established in 1903. Nevertheless, most social democrats favoured the furthering of Estonian national interests. National aspirations also continued in temperance societies and fire fighters’ associations, which were difficult to criticise. Jakob Hurt’s call to the public in 1888 to collect and preserve Estonian poetry found widespread resonance. The new generation of the national awakening was led by pastor Villem Reiman, who laid the foundation for academic research in the fields of Estonian history and culture. The Estonian Students’ Society, established in 1870, became the place for Estonian scholars to become informed and to socialise. During the Russian Revolution of 1905, demands were also made in Estonia for democratic freedoms, the easing of limits on property ownership for peasants, and the abolishment of class privileges. Radicals called for armed revolt against the state. By the end of the year, several manor estates, mainly in Harjumaa, had been burned to the ground. The Russian rulers employed special punitive troops to suppress the public uprising and revolts. Following this revolution, which swept across the length of the Russian Empire, power was vested in the national assembly, the legislative State Duma. Between 1906 and 1917, twenty delegates (“deputies”) from Estonia, including 13 delegates of Estonian heritage, were elected to the Duma. The revolution also saw an increase in Estonian national and cultural movements. The first national bank in Estonia (the Estonian Savings and Loans Association) was established in 1902, and the first secondary school to use Estonian as its working language was opened in 1906. The Estonian Literary Society, which conducted research on the Estonian language, literature, and history, was founded in 1907, and the Estonian National Museum, responsible for the material and intellectual treasures of Estonia, was established in 1909. The Estonia and Vanemuise theatres featured professional performances. Increasingly more cultural influences were adopted from western Europe and the Nordic countries. During World War I (1914–1918), nearly 100,000 Estonians were forced into Russian military service, and an estimated eight to ten thousand were killed in action. In 1915, the battle lines reached just south of Riga, Latvia, putting Estonia directly behind the front, with 200,000 Latvian war refugees along with another 200,000 Russian soldiers.

Estonia in the 19th Century Paldiski









järvamaa läänemaa Paide


saaremaa Kuressaare

pärnumaa Pärnu


vil jandimaa



tartumaa of

Livonia Võru


võrumaa valgamaa

Estonian volunteers heading to the World War I


Soviet troops arriving to Estonia (1939)

Estonia during the Second World War (1939 to 1945) The Occupation of Estonia and the First Year under Soviet Rule

Signing of the MolotovRibbentrop Pact on 23 August 1939


On 23 August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union, as set out in the secret protocol to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, divided up Eastern Europe between themselves, with Estonia falling into the Soviet sphere of influence. World War II began one week later, and Germany and the USSR divided Poland. The Soviet Union decided to take over the Baltic countries, and Moscow began placing demands on Estonia to allow the construction of Soviet military bases. Large military units were deployed to Russia’s western border with Estonia and, on 28 September, Estonia was forced to sign an agreement permitting the construction of military bases in the country. Soviet troops moved into Estonia in October, and it was not long before the Soviet Air Force was using Estonian bases to conduct bombing raids on Finland during the Winter War (1939–1940). October 1939 also marked the beginning of the departure of the Baltic Germans from Estonia and the other Baltic countries.

In early June 1940, the Soviet Union began preparations for the complete occupation of Estonia and the other Baltic countries. On 16 June, the Soviet government presented Estonia with an ultimatum demanding unrestricted movement of additional Red Army military units and a change in the government. Estonia was coerced into complying with the Soviet demands, and the Red Army occupied Estonia on 17 June. At the instigation of the Red Army, labour demonstrations were staged in various Estonian cities to create the illusion of a mass revolution. That same night, President Päts was forced to swear into office a puppet government put into place by the Soviets. In July, the occupation powers held illegal parliamentary elections, and also did away with the upper house, the State Council. Opposition party members found it impossible to run for election, and all of the seats in the Chamber of Deputies went to the candidates who supported the occupation authorities. On 21 July, the Chamber of Deputies passed a decree establishing the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic, and the next day it requested the Republic be incorporated into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. On 6 August, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR announced the official incorporation of Estonia into the USSR. Rapid Sovietisation occurred upon Estonia’s annexation. Society was put in the hands of the Communist Party, Soviet-like state establishments were formed, and the laws of the USSR were enforced. At the same time, private businesses were nationalised and the entire country was put under state ownership. Numerous associations and media outlets were shut down, memorial sites and statues were destroyed, and an aggressive communist propaganda campaign was set in motion. Persecution of Estonians began with the political and business elite, but it soon widened to include all layers of society, culminating with mass deportations on 14 June 1941, when more than 10 thousand people were deported. A further 10 thousand Estonians were imprisoned by the Soviet occupational powers, and approximately 2,500 Estonians were murdered. The repressions created an ever-growing resistance movement.

Soviet units in Estonian Parliament (22 July 1940)

The German Occupation The German forces that attacked the Soviet Union on 22 June had conquered most of Estonia by the end of August. At the same time as the German-Russian war, Estonians were also engaged in the “Summer War,” in which Estonian nationalist partisans known as forest brothers (metsavennad) fought against the terror of the Soviet Union in the name of restoring Estonian independence. The Soviet occupation forces managed to conscript tens of thousands of Estonian residents and forcibly mobilised individuals who were later organised into the Red Army’s Eighth Estonian Infantry Corps. In 1944, this unit was instrumental in the Soviets’ re-occupation of Estonia. Early in the German occupation, control of Estonia belonged to the German military. However, from December 1941, Estonia was placed under the


Estonian Heritage Conservation The History of Heritage Conservation


The beginning of heritage conservation in Estonia dates back to 1666, when the thenruling King Charles XI of Sweden decreed that ancient graves, buildings and artefacts be taken under protection. Individual regulations were imposed during the during the Russian Empire as well, but like the Swedish regulations, their influence was almost non-existent. It was the intellectuals and enlightened societies of the 19th century that first promoted the concept of heritage conservation. The first heritage conservation authority, however, was a commission for the protection of architectural monuments, established by the Tallinn City Government in 1895. The first piece of heritage conservation legislation in the Republic of Estonia, which was drafted in 1918 based on the example from the Finnish government, came into force in 1925 and was subsequently revised in 1936. Heritage conservation work was coordinated by the Ministry of Education and organized by the Heritage Council, known since 1936 as the Heritage Conservation Advisory Panel. It was not until 1936 that the first heritage conservation inspector was hired. As was the case elsewhere in Europe, the main focus of heritage conservation was ancient and medieval heritage. Considerable attention was paid to manor architecture. The later half of the 1930s was a good time for heritage conservation, with the organisation of awareness campaigns and the commemoration of Heritage Conservation Day in schools from 1936. During the Second World War, heritage conservationists focused first and foremost on the relocation and preservation of artistic monuments and on protecting buildings under risk of attack. Nevertheless, a large number of valuable artefacts were lost in the war. The creation of a new system for heritage conservation was already well underway elsewhere behind the Iron Curtain, with protection for damaged monuments being swiftly organised. To this end, a regulation was adopted in 1947 on measures for the preservation and restoration of architectural heritage, with a list of architectural monuments included in its annex. However, despite the efforts of the conservationists, many of these monuments were demolished regardless. That same year, Estonia’s first two heritage conservation areas were established – the Toompea Hill conservation area in Tallinn’s Old Town, and the Narva Old Town conservation area. During the decade that followed, though, Narva’s baroque ruins were demolished, and in Tallinn the existence of a conservation area was suppressed altogether until its reinstitution in 1966. The heyday for heritage conservation in the Estonian SSR began in the 1960s, when various historically significant buildings were consecutively restored. The foundations for the Estonian Open Air Museum were laid in 1957 and it was opened in 1964. Since the 1960s, several heritage conservation areas have been established. After the restoration of the Republic of Estonia, there was a restructuring of agencies, and as a result, the various heritage conservation agencies were consolidated into one institution. The National Heritage Board was established in 1993, under the control of the Ministry of Culture. The transitional period following re-independence was complicated and difficult for heritage conservation. Ongoing changes in ownership relations and in the business community did not encourage preservation of past heritage,

leaving the National Heritage Board unable to control unauthorised demolition and reconstruction. Conservationists have, nevertheless, managed to influence attitudes in society and now, on the nation’s 100th anniversary, the preservation of our heritage is once again respected.

The historic centre of Tallinn has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997

The Heritage Conservation Movement Volunteers have played a crucial role in Estonian heritage conservation from the start. From 1936, volunteer trustees were recruited into heritage conservation, a system that remained in place until the end of the Soviet occupation. In the 1970s, various initiatives emerged that were aimed at getting the public involved. The most far-reaching of these was a youth movement called Kodulinn (Hometown), whose members launched the Noor-Tartu association, only to be shut down by authorities in the early 1980s. Public interest reached unprecedented levels in 1986, when heritage conservation clubs were established all over Estonia, soon forming a national network. On 12 December 1987, the Estonian Heritage Society (EHS) was founded, which was, with its 10 000-strong membership by the end of the 1980s, the first democratic mass organisation in the republic. The most important mission of the EHS was to restore Estonian historical memory. Under the leadership of the society, the public began commemorating past events that had either been silenced or distorted during the occupation. They also began clearing up cemeteries and restoring memorial columns from the War of Independence. The EHS began the widespread collection and publication of memories, which had an extraordinary role in the preparations for the restoration of Estonian independence. In 1988 at the Tartu Heritage Conservation Days, Estonia’s national blue, black and white flag was once again displayed publicly. In 2017, the EHS had about 1 000 active members and brought more than 50 volunteer societies, clubs and associations involved with the investigation and protection of historical and cultural heritage. More and more neighbourhood and village societies have, alongside the EHS, begun to actively appreciate their heritage.

Members of Estonian Heritage Society, and its chairman Trivimi Velliste (front on the right), on a demonstration in 1988


The Blue Springs of Saula are amongst the many springs in Estonia that have been thought to have healing powers The Härma Mäemine müür (Upper Härma wall) in the Piusa river valley is the highest Devonian sandstone outcrop in Estonia reaching up to 43 m in height The Tuhala Witch’s Well is a karst spring that occasionally “boils over”


The areas with the highest concentration of lakes are Otepää, Haanja, Vooremaa, and Alutaguse, with its Kurtna lake suite of 40 lakes in an area of 30 km2 . The deepest lake is Rõuge’s Suurjärv Lake (38 m), and the highest is the Tuuljärv Lake (257 m), located in the central part of the Haanja Highlands. The largest man-made water body is the 210-km2 Narva reservoir, created artificially in 1956, of which 35 km2 is located in Estonia. The largest quarry lakes are those formed by oil shale mining in Ida-Viru County and those formed by sand quarrying near Tallinn. The most important water body in terms of water supply is Ülemiste Lake, which is at an elevation of 36 m and is located in the northeastern part of Tallinn. This is where Tallinn receives most of the water it consumes from. The navigable inland waterways are Lake Peipus, Lake Võrtsjärv, Narva Reservoir, the Emajõgi, and the Narva River, in part, as well as some river estuaries. About 3,000 springs are known in Estonia, some of which are very small. Some of them are active only at periods of abundant water supply. According to the Environmental Register, there are 1 239 large springs. Most springs are found at the foot of the Pandivere Highlands. Many of Estonia’s rivers begin at those abundant karstic springs. There are a large number of springs in the area of the Southern Estonian Highlands as well as in the old valleys of the plateaus there. Many springs are related to folk traditions and legends, and many sources have been attributed healing properties. In the past, inland water bodies suffered significant industrial and domestic water pollution and, later, agricultural pollution. Nowadays, the pollution of water bodies has ended for the most part. Efforts are being made to deal with the elimination of residual pollution as well as to restore bogs and the natural flow of rivers.

BOGS The Estonian climate and topography have been favourable for the development of bogs. For a long time, the benefits of bogs were limited to the cranberries harvested from them and the sparse peat collected as bedding for farm animals. Bogs were used as farmland only after laborious and time-consuming drainage and dredging. The situation changed in the middle of the 20th century, with the use of more productive techniques for bog drainage and gathering of peat. Today, however, bogs are considered one of the most valuable ecosystems in the world. The formation of bogs began in Estonia about 10,000 years ago, after the recession of the ice sheet. Bogs constitute 22 per cent of Estonia’s territory, a percentage exceeded only by Finland, where bogs make up one third of the country. In Estonia, there are 9,836 bogs with an area of over 1 ha, making up a total area of 1,009,101 ha. There are 2.36 billion tons of peat in the bogs and the average thickness of the peat layer is 3 metres. According to the degree of peat formation, bogs are classified as fens (55 per cent of the total area of the bogs), raised bogs (35 per cent), and, for the intermediary stage between the two, transitional bogs (10 per cent). Bogs are clean water conservers and harmonisers and an important environment for biodiversity. For these reasons, the protection of bogs has become more and more important. Currently, 250,000 hectares of bogs are under protection (as nature reserves, protected areas, landscape protection areas, national parks, and so on), covering about 25 per cent of the country’s bogs. There are about 10,000 ha of abandoned peat production areas, or cutover peatland in Estonia. Recultivation has been attempted in several ways, through the construction of water bodies, afforestation, horticulture, and energy peat fields. With the financial support of the European Union, a bog recovery program (2014–2020) has been launched in Estonia, incorporating 2 000 hectares of cut-over peatland.

Marimetsa bog is a beloved hiking area for the locals, but it is also recognised as an IBA – Important Bird and Biodiversity Area.

The observation tower in Viru bog, Lahemaaa National Park 83



The economy of mid-19thcentury Estonia was primarily based on subsistence farming, while urban areas were hubs for trade and handicrafts. However, manufacturing made up a minimal portion of the economy. Larger industrial enterprises were limited to light manufacturing; there were also a few paper manufacturers and other smaller businesses in operation. Nevertheless, by the 1870s, Estonian agriculture was based on dairy farming. Modern dairies were established to provide butter and cheese for export to Russia and western Europe. Driven by the completion of the St. Petersburg – Tallinn – Paldiski railway in 1870, large industry and connections between capitalist endeavours quickly developed. The Tapa-Tartu railway line was completed in 1876, and was extended to Riga in 1894, aiding the development of Estonian industry in Estonia through improved logistics and proximity to markets in St. Petersburg and western Europe, and also benefiting from the urbanisation of the labour

force. Large-scale manufacturing plants were established and their products sold on the Russian market or exported abroad. Prior to World War I, the Kreenholm textile manufacturers employed over 10,000 workers; it was one of Europe’s largest and most modern light industrial enterprises. Pre-war preparations led to the establishment of three large shipbuilding yards – the Russian Baltic, Bekker and Noblessner shipyards – in Tallinn during 1912 and 1913. Early on, Baltic German manor lords led the growth of larger manufacturing enterprises. Later, it was former Baltic German craftsmen- and traders-turnedentrepreneurs and foreigners who played the primary role in the development of industry. Estonians did not yet have enough of their own capital to build large enterprises in the second half of the 19th century, and their investments were thus directed toward the construction of buildings for rental in cities and the building of coastal vessels. The first large industrial enterprise owned by an Estonian was entrepreneur Jaak Puhk’s match factory in Viljandi (1889–1905). In the early 20th century, Estonians built textile, flour and lumber mills, factories producing construction materials, and other industrial concerns. The facility that would later develop into the Tartu Telephone Factory was founded in 1907.

The Kreenholm Manufacturing Company buildings on the island Kreenholm in Narva

The Waldhof pulp and paper factory in Pärnu was the largest of its kind in the Russian empire at the beginning of the 20th century


National Costumes A family from Kadrina parish, second half of the 19th century Seto women, beginning of the 20th century A farmer from Harju-Jaani parish, mid-19th century

Estonian Peasant Dress The development of traditional Estonian clothing is closely linked to the history of the people. The conquests of the thirteenth century were followed by the stratification of Estonian society. The upper classes were primarily German, while Estonians made up the majority of the peasantry and urban commoners. Distinctly Estonian clothing indicated both social standing, as a peasant, and ethnic origins, as being of Estonian descent. The term “folk costumes� was introduced in Estonia during the Estonian Age of Awakening, when it was recommended that traditional peasant clothes be worn on formal occasions in order to emphasise national pride.

The History of Peasant Clothing


Information regarding early Estonian clothing is based on archaeological findings. Some remnants of clothing date back no further than the 11th to 13th centuries, due to cremation practices incorporated into burial rituals. More complete, preserved sets of clothing have been recovered from marshes, such as the medieval clothing collection of Parisselja and the 17th-century garments found in Rabivere marsh. The pre-mediaeval dress of Estonians was similar, for the most part, to that of neighbouring countries. Based on evidence from artefacts that have been discovered, it is believed that women wore linen cloth shirts with sleeves, under a sleeveless woollen surcoat or a wrap skirt, which was fabric wrapped around the hips and fastened with a woven belt or with braided

string. A woollen shawl or a large linen cloth shawl was worn over the shoulders. Married women wore a long veil or a tied kerchief on their heads, while unmarried women wore a headband or a chaplet. Outerwear would have included a long woollen coat with sleeves, or a fur coat in winter. Long narrow woollen garters were wrapped around their lower legs. Formal clothing, especially woollen shawls, aprons and headscarves, was decorated with patterns made of small bronze spirals and copper ringlets. There was also an abundance of jewellery, and women would wear horseshoe-shaped brooches, bracelets and rings. Around their necks, they wore large silver-plated pendants on a string or chain, neck bracelets, and necklaces adorned with beads, spirals, and cowrie shells. Little information is available on men’s clothing, probably due to the lack of bronze decoration that would otherwise have help preserve the fabric. Men presumably wore a linen cloth shirt, trousers, long woollen surcoats, and leg wraps. Mediaeval peasant dress resembled that from prior to the German conquest, but was simpler. The bronze spirals were used much less for decorating clothing, and the manner in which jewellery was worn changed. Women’s jewellery was more susceptible to foreign influences. The earliest sample of a knitted glove with a coloured pattern dates back to the late 13th or early 14th century, and by the 17th century, knitting had become common in Estonia. Major changes in peasant clothing took place during the 17th century, especially in northern Estonia. In women’s clothing, the most important innovation, which was seen at the beginning of the century, was the short linen blouse. The wrap skirt that had been worn earlier was increasingly replaced by a narrow sewn skirt, the bottom of which, for wealthier women, was decorated with small tin embellishments or beaded embroidery. Instead of the old veil, married women began wearing close-fitting coif caps. There is also more information about men’s clothing from the 17th century. Instead of the older full-length trousers, men began wearing knee breeches, first in the north, but later throughout Estonia. Men’s formal headwear was a tall felt top hat. Footwear included a simple soft cowhide leather shoe with ankle laces and no sole or heel. For work in the summer months, men wore shoes woven from tree bark. In the first half of the 18th century, owing to fashion, the woollen full skirt with folds at the waistline spread widely into use, first in the northern part of Estonia, then through the rest of the country. The overall image of women’s attire was significantly changed by cheery,

A drawing of the folk costumes of the women of Kadrina and Kuusalu parish A drawing of the folk costumes of Saaremaa: a young newlywed woman from Karja parish, a woman from Pöide parish and a man from Karja parish, mid-19th century


Republic of estonia 100  
Republic of estonia 100