Estonia is one of most northern countries in Europe, South of only the Baltic Sea and Finland. It is bordered by only two other countries, Latvia and Russia. The most extraordinary thing about Estonia is its grasp of technology. When it comes to Internet access, Estonia is one of the most connected countries in the world, and its education is also top-notch. The country boasts of scenic coastlines, medieval cities, and a massively interesting history to keep people on the hook. From an insta-worthy capital city, to superfast internet – read on to learn more about Estonia. Here are some interesting facts about Estonia.
1. The Estonian system for public use is so easy that you could easily file your income tax return in less than 10 minutes or register your company through the internet in less than 5 minutes.
2. The country has distinctly more women than men. For every 100 females in Estonia, there are 84 men. However, before you single men book a flight to Estonia consider that the main reason for this disparity is that the men die off quickly—their average life expectancy is only 65 years.
3. The country is flat as a pancake – its highest peak is 318 metres (1,043 ft) above sea level – and it’s also the highest in the Baltic states.
4. It is a law in Estonia to have safety reflectors attached whether you are walking or biking during the night time or when the visibility is inadequate. The reflector can be pinned to your handbag, coat or any other suitable place where it is easily spottable. Otherwise, you could be fined up to 400 EUR.
5. Out of the nearly 200 countries in the world, Estonia ranks number two in adult literacy with its rate of 99.8 percent.
6. During the Soviet period, many holidays, including Christmas were banned. Estonians celebrated näärid instead. Although church was also banned, many Estonians still attended in secret on Christmas Eve and celebrated Christmas unofficially in their homes with close friends and relatives, usually behind closed curtains.
7. Did you know that Estonia is one of the least religious countries in the world? Only 16% of its population was found to be an adherent of some form of belief during a 2005 poll.
8. Estonians are very beautiful. Estonia has the highest number of supermodels per capita.
9. A common tradition on New Year’s Eve is õnne valamine or the ‘pouring of luck’. Lead is melted over a stove in a metal ladle and then poured quickly, or slowly into ice cold water. What appears are interesting lead figures, which can then tell you your fortune for the upcoming year.
10. Public Transportation in the capital city of Tallinn is free for anyone who is a registered resident of his city. This sort of arrangement also benefits the environment as there are fewer cars on the roads of the capital now than before. And more registered residents mean more tax revenue for the capital as well. What a good idea!
11. Did you know that Estonia is the birthplace of Skype? Yes, there is no doubt that Estonia is a technologically advanced nation and internet focused.
12. Estonians are world champions in wife carrying, an international sport with a category in the Guinness Book of Records. The male contestants have to carry their female counterparts and run through the obstacle course in the least possible time.
13. At Christmas, Estonians eat something called “blood sausage”, a mixture of pork, barley, animal blood and spices.
14. During your visit to Estonia, do not be amazed to find internet access even in the woods. Remember, we told you that Estonia is an internet-focused country.
15. It is also the first country in the world to have used the internet for political voting. The Estonian parliamentary elections were conducted online in 2007 for the first time in the world.
16. Not only that, bank branches are gradually closing, because there simply is no need for them: 99 per cent of bank transfers are made electronically either on a computer or a mobile phone.
17. You can also have a good chance to travel on ice roads if you visit the country during winters. Ice roads are formed between the mainland and the islands when the Baltic Sea freezes during winters.
18. Estonians love to sing – they have one of the largest collections of folk songs in the world. In fact, Estonians were so determined to keep their culture alive during the Soviet occupation, that they banded together to sing. They even used the power of song to demand their independence by gathering in a mass of 300,000 to sing patriotic songs. It was known as the Singing Revolution, and was active for five years, until they gained their independence (again) in 1991.
19. The first meal consumed in space was prepared in Estonia. A factory in Põltsamaa became the caterer to the Soviet space programme in 1962 and started packaging ready-made food into tin tubes, the only available means at the time.
20. Did you know that the man who discovered Antarctica was Estonian? Fabian Gottlieb Thaddeus von Bellingshausen, born in Saaremaa, discovered the continent in 1820.
How to reach?
If you are travelling from Brussels, Amsterdam, Oslo and Stockholm you can fly by the Estonian Air. There are also direct flights from countries like Czech Republic, Poland and Turkey.
There are trains along the Baltic coast to Estonia from Latvia and Lithuania, and from Russia via Poland, through Belarus or Lithuania.
There are bus services as well between Tallinn and Western Europe and Scandinavia.
Captain Nero’s recommendations in Estonia:
Tallinn Old Town: Tallinn’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site. No visit to Estonia is complete without some quality time spent admiring Tallinn’s Hanseatic heritage, which dates back to the 13th century. Its history clings to every inch of the city’s medieval façades.
Pärnu: Just a two-hour drive from Tallinn, Pärnu beckons tourists with its gorgeous beach and small-town feel. This is the place to go in Estonia when you’re ready to kick back, relax, and enjoy the sunshine. Parnu is also famous as the summer capital because most of the Estonians choose to spend their summer vacations here.
Matsalu National Park: Special for it is foremost known as one of Europe’s best national park for bird watching. Matsalu is widely loved by hikers as it offers hiking trails for experienced and beginner hikers. Tourists can get a panoramic view of this beautiful landscape from several bird-watching towers in Haeska, Keemu, Kloostri, and other areas in the park.
Nova & Noarootsi: Located near the coastal town of Haapsalu in western Estonia, the tiny picturesque village Nõva and the beautiful Noarootsi Peninsula are popular holiday destinations for people who like kayaking, sailing, and wind surfing. In the winter, there is touring on the ice roads for those who like an adrenaline rush.
Saaremaa: The largest Estonian island is called Saaremaa, and it is located in the Baltic Sea. Visitors who come here spend their time in the capital city of the island, Kuressaare, where you can explore the intact medieval castles.
Hiiumaa Island: Hiiumaa is well-known for historical lighthouses, unspoiled nature, and beautiful rural areas. Sääretirp, or Point of Sääre, located in Huiima is a narrow two-kilometre-long peninsula jutting into the Baltic Sea. On sunny days you can walk to the very end of the outcrop and enjoy a gorgeous view over the sea.4