Population: 1.34 million (July 2004).
Population growth rate: -0.66 % (2004).
Life expectancy at birth: 71.4 years.
Religions: Evangelical Lutheran, Russian Orthodox, Estonian Orthodox, Baptist, Methodist, Seventh-Day Adventist, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Word of Life, Jewish.
Ethnic groups: Estonian 65.3%, Russian 28.1%, Ukrainian 2.5%, Belarusian 1.5%, Finn 1%, other 1.6% (1998).
Language: Estonian (official), Russian, Ukrainian, Finnish, other.
Country name: Republic of Estonia (local: Eesti Vabariik).
Government type: parliamentary republic.
Independence: regained on 20 August 1991 (from Soviet Union).
Administrative divisions: 15 counties (maakonnad, singular - maakond): Harjumaa (Tallinn), Hiiumaa (Kardla), Ida-Virumaa (Johvi), Jarvamaa (Paide), Jogevamaa (Jogeva), Laanemaa (Haapsalu), Laane-Virumaa (Rakvere), Parnumaa (Parnu), Polvamaa (Polva), Raplamaa (Rapla), Saaremaa (Kuressaare), Tartumaa (Tartu), Valgamaa (Valga), Viljandimaa (Viljandi), Vorumaa (Voru). Note: counties have the administrative center name following in parentheses.
Terrain: marshy, lowlands; flat in the north, hilly in the south.
Total area: 45,226 km².
Coastline: 3,794 km (offshore lie more than 1,500 islands).
Highest point: Suur Munamagi 318 m.
Climate: maritime, wet, moderate winters, cool summers.
Ports and harbors: Haapsalu, Kunda, Muuga, Paldiski, Parnu, Tallinn.
After centuries of Danish, Swedish, German, and Russian rule, Estonia attained independence in 1918. Forcibly incorporated into the USSR in 1940, it regained its freedom in 1991, with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Since the last Russian troops left in 1994, Estonia has been free to promote economic and political ties with Western Europe. It joined both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004.
Estonia, as a new member of the World Trade Organization, is steadily moving toward a modern market economy with increasing ties to the West, including the pegging of its currency to the euro. The economy benefits from strong electronics and telecommunications sectors. Estonia has been invited to join the European Union and will do so in May 2004. The economy is greatly influenced by developments in Finland, Sweden, Russia, and Germany, four major trading partners. The high current account deficit remains a concern. However, the state budget enjoyed a surplus of $130 million in 2003.
Currency: Estonian kroon (EEK).
GDP (purchasing power parity): US$ 17.35 billion (2003).
GDP per capita (purchasing power parity): US$ 12,300 (2003).
GDP growth rate: 4.7 % (2003).
Unemployment rate: 10.1 % (2003).
Industries: engineering, electronics, wood and wood products, textile; information technology, telecommunications.
Haapsalu Episcopal Castle, West-Estonia (photo Estonian Tourist Board).
Jägala waterfall, North-Estonia (photo Estonian Tourist Board).
Tallinn, capital of Estonia. View of Old Town from Dome Hill (photo Estonian Tourist Board).