Estonia Facts: The Flag
The Estonian flag is a simple one, with three horizontal bands of equal lengths in blue, black, and white (from top to bottom). In the Estonian language, blue is sinine, black is must, and white is valge; colloquially, Estonians call their flag sinimustvalge, literally “blue-black-white.” There are numerous interpretations of what the colors might represent, but the most creative seems to be in this photo of a blue sky over a dark forest and snow.
Source: Flag of Estonia
Estonia Facts: The People
Estonian inhabitants only number just over 1.3 million, making it one of the smaller countries in the world. It is also one of the least crowded countries, with a population density of around 28.5 people per square kilometer.
Estonia Facts: Quality of Life
Estonians enjoy high standards of living across a variety of areas. For new mothers, maternity leave up to 3 years is allowed, with up to a year and a half of their full salary! Universal healthcare is another benefit for Estonians, and they don’t skimp – they spend over 5.5% of their GDP on it. Free education and public transportation in cities such as Tallinn are several more of the perks of living in Estonia.
Estonia Facts: Male vs. Female
Like many of the former countries of the USSR, Estonia has much more women than men – 88 men for every 100 Estonian women. This means that Estonia comes in at #10 on this list. The same survey shows also a wide gender imbalance in terms of estimated lifespan – Estonian women live about 9.5 years more than their male counterparts.
Estonia Facts: The Language
The Estonian language (eesti keel) is one of the few languages in Europe that is not within the Indo-European language family; rather, Estonian is part of the Finno-Ugric language family, related to Finnish and, more distantly, the Hungarian and Sami languages.
Source: Estonian Language
Estonia Facts: Technology
Estonians are proud of their grasp of tech. Estonia became the first nation to hold legally binding general elections over the Internet in 2005, and claim another first in 2007 by holding their parliamentary election also online. The startup scene is also booming in Estonia, with some even dubbing Tallinn as the “Silicon Valley of the Baltic.” Skype and TransferWise are two of its greatest success stories.
Estonia Facts: The Geography
It might be quite flat, with the Suur Munamägi in the southeast being Estonia’s highest point at only 318 m (1043 ft). However, it is also one of the greenest countries, with forests covering somewhere between 50% and 60% of the entire land (depending on the source). Estonia is also home to 3794 km (2357 mi) of coastline, more than 1400 lakes, and over 2200 islands.
Estonia Facts: Chess
Like many former Soviet states, Estonians are proud of their skills at chess; Paul Keres was a grandmaster, considered by many to be one of the greatest of all time. At his funeral, 100,000 mourners attended – about 10% of Estonia’s population at the time.
Source: Paul Keres on Wikipedia
Estonia Facts: Literacy
Estonians, according to a recent UNESCO survey, enjoy the honor of having the third highest literacy rate in the world – 99.8% literate for both men and women. The only countries which scored higher were Latvia, its southern neighbor, and North Korea, which reported a somewhat improbable 100%.
Estonia Facts: Interesting Sports & Hobbies
As with its Nordic neighbors, Estonians seem to be great at many physical activities. They are one of the most successful countries per capita in the Olympic Games – with 34 medals as of 2016, they rank at #10. Estonians also have some popular sports that have not yet made it into the Olympics: wife-carrying (a race where husbands carry their wives on their shoulders) and kiiking (a giant swing which goes the full 360 degrees) are some of them.
Source: Medals per Capita
Estonia Facts: Religion
Europeans are less religious than the peoples of other areas, on average, and it has a strong correlation with a country’s standard of living and education levels. However, still somewhat surprising is the fact that Estonia tops the list as the least religious country in the world; only 14% of Estonians answered “yes” to the question “Is religion an important part of your daily life?”
Source: Gallup Poll from 2009
Estonia Facts: Tourism
Estonia is one of the rare countries where tourists (per year) outnumber the residents. With almost 3 million visitors and only just over 1.3 million inhabitants, these tourists outnumber the Estonians at around 2.2:1. More than half a million of these visitors arrive by cruise ship.
Source: UN World Tourism Organization, 2015 statistics
What do you think of these Estonia facts? Got any more to add to this list? If you do, leave a comment below, and if it checks out, we’ll gladly add it to the list!
Also, if you’re interested in further learning about Estonia, check out our Estonia travel guide for stories, photos, information, and more facts.