About Estonia

Living in Europe | Access to the culture of the host country/language courses | Estonia

Whoever bothers to examine the world map, discovers that Estonia lies on the same latitude with Northern Scotland and Alaska’s southern tip. And if an occasionally encountered Estonian adds by way of explanation that in summer months the Estonian beaches are full of sunbathers, you may well suspect that he is pulling wool over your eyes. In fact, far from it.

Thanks to its geographical position, Estonia has four clearly distinguished seasons: at least a month of cold and snow in winter, suitable weather for bathing in summer, returning migratory birds in spring and trees sporting colourful leaves in autumn.

The area of Estonia is a bit bigger than Belgium or Denmark, but the population is a modest 1.4 million. The number of towns is over 30. These are rather like dogs: the word dog can denote tiny creatures as well as Great Danes. The capital Tallinn accommodates about one third of the population, and the smallest town is probably no bigger than a largish village. What lies between the towns is mostly forest: almost 50% of Estonian territory is covered with forests. Thanks to this, Estonians can enjoy vast quantities of space and fresh air – a luxury in many parts of the world today.

For an Estonian, the rush-hour traffic jam starts with a five-minute halt, and if he cannot reach a forest after half an hour’s drive, this constitutes a violation of human rights. Estonians are fond of stressing that they are small in number, but resourceful.

It is true that when we compare the number of Olympic gold medallists or for example writers with the total population, the coefficient would probably be very impressive. Statistics allows other nice juxtapositions: compared with other European countries, we have more lynx, wolves and bears per person. And the largest number of Internet banking transactions.



Things to know

Only in Estonia!



In examining the themes and message of Estonian culture, some parallels can be drawn. In many fields „official” culture begins at the end of the 19th century, when Estonians became a nation in the modern sense. Initially, examples and ideas were taken from the romantic period of the German-speaking cultural area. The rich folkloric material was still alive in many regions at the beginning of the 20th century. The collecting of folklore and ethnographic items became one of the cornerstones and endless sources of inspiration of Estonian culture. Establishing itself as a nation in the 20th century, a period of great upheaval and collapse, culture still deals with the history and identity of the person and the nation (Films „Names on a Marble Plaque”, „Somnambuul”, books of Jaan Kross, Tõnu Õnnepalu), with the „us” and „them”, also investigates location and identity in a changing world.

Calendar of cultural events Culture.ee


Estonians are fond of talking about their Lutheran work habits. This is largely the only religion-related topic that reaches your ear. In predominantly Protestant (since the early 16th century) Estonia, the church is separated from the state, and religious topics only emerge at Christmas and Easter. Confessional belonging is strictly everybody’s own business. Representatives of the state, however, consider it necessary to appear in church from time to time, and the church diligently voices opinions on social matters. The most heated religious debates focus on whether or not religion should be a compulsory subject in the school curriculum.

The mass Christianisation of Estonians began in the 13th century, although the previous pagan beliefs persisted until the 17th century. Alongside Christian holidays there are also a number of “pagan” traditions alive today; such as bonfires in May and on Midsummer’s Eve.

The majority of religiously active people belong to the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church or the Orthodox Church. The Orthodox church in Estonia has two separate branches: the Russian-language church subordinated to Moscow and the Estonian-language church subordinated to Constantinople. Visitors to Tallinn will immediately notice the Orthodox presence here: the cathedral from the period of Russification (the end of the 19th century) dominates Toompea hill in the Old Town. By Lake Peipsi, the archaic community of Old Believers has sheltered since the Russian reformation.

The most common time for Sunday services is 10 o’clock, but in some congregations services begin at 11 or 12. You should contact a congregation directly if you wish to become a member.

Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church

Orthodox Church of Estonia

Estonian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate

Catholic Church in Estonia. Parishes

The United Methodist Church in Estonia

Union of Free Evangelical and Baptist Churches of Estonia

Jewish Community of Estonia

Russian Old Believers in Estonia

www.tourism.tallinn.ee Churches