Nation at a Glance - Estonia

History

After centuries of Danish, Swedish, German, and Russian rule, Estonia attained independence in 1918. Forcibly incorporated into the USSR in 1940 - an action never recognized by the US - 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 the West. It joined both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004, formally joined the OECD in late 2010, and adopted the euro as its official currency on 1 January 2011.

Location: Eastern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Finland, between Latvia and Russia

Border Countries: Latvia 333 km, Russia 324 km

Total Area: 45,228 sq km Land: 42,388 sq km Water: 2,840 sq km

Climate: Maritime; wet, moderate winters, cool summers

Terrain: Marshy, lowlands; flat in the north, hilly in the south

Natural resources: Oil shale, peat, rare earth elements, phosphorite, clay, limestone, sand, dolomite, arable land, sea mud

Land use: Agricultural land: 22.2% arable land 14.9%; permanent crops 0.1%; permanent pasture 7.2% Forest: 52.1% Other: 25.7% (2011 est.)

Ethnic groups: Estonian 68.7%, Russian 24.8%, Ukrainian 1.7%, Belarusian 1%, Finn 0.6%, Other 1.6%, Unspecified 1.6% (2011 est.)

Languages: Estonian (official) 68.5%, Russian 29.6%, Ukrainian 0.6%, Other 1.2%, Unspecified 0.1% (2011 est.)

Religions: Lutheran 9.9%, Orthodox 16.2%, other Christian (including Methodist, Seventh-Day Adventist, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal) 2.2%, Other 0.9%, None 54.1%, Unspecified 16.7% (2011 est.)

Population: 1,258,545 (July 2016 est.)

Literacy: 99.8%; Male: 99.8%; Female: 99.8% (2015 est.)

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)

Economy: Estonia, a member of the EU since 2004 and the euro zone since 2011, has a modern market-based economy and one of the higher per capita income levels in Central Europe and the Baltic region, but its economy is highly dependent on trade, leaving it vulnerable to external shocks. Estonia's successive governments have pursued a free market, pro-business economic agenda, and sound fiscal policies that have resulted in balanced budgets and the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio in the EU. The economy benefits from strong electronics and telecommunications sectors and strong trade ties with Finland, Sweden, Germany, and Russia. The economy’s 4.9% GDP growth in 2017 was the fastest in the past six years, leaving the Estonian economy in its best position since the financial crisis 10 years ago. For the first time in many years, labor productivity increased faster than labor costs in 2017. Inflation also rose in 2017 to 3.5% alongside increased global prices for food and energy, which make up a large share of Estonia’s consumption basket. Estonia is challenged by a shortage of labor, both skilled and unskilled, although the government has amended its immigration law to allow easier hiring of highly qualified foreign workers, and wage growth that outpaces productivity gains. The government is also pursuing efforts to boost productivity growth with a focus on innovations that emphasize technology start-ups and e-commerce.

Agriculture - products: Grain, potatoes, vegetables; livestock and dairy products; fish

Industries: Food, engineering, electronics, wood and wood products, textiles; information technology, telecommunications

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