Estonia

Estonia is the most northerly of the three Baltic states and has linguistic ties with Finland. Ruled at various times during the middle ages by Denmark, the German knights of the Livonian Order, and Sweden, Estonia ended up part of the Russian Empire in the 18th century. It experienced its first period of independence in 1918, following the end of the First World War and the collapse of the Russian Empire.

The country has become one of the most economically successful of the European Union’s newer eastern European members. It is also Europe’s one of the least crowded countries, with a population density of 28.4 people per square kilometre.

Capital: Tallin

Population 1.3 million

Area 45,227 sq km

Languages: Estonian, Russian

Religion: Christianity

Currency: Euro

It has 2,222 islands and islets in the Baltic and has two Unesco World Heritage sites. The historic old town of Tallinn is well known for its wonderfully preserved medieval architecture; more obscure is the Struve Geodetic Arc, which Estonia shares with Belarus, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Moldova, Russia, Sweden and Ukraine. It is a chain of survey triangulations stretching from Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Sea, which yielded the first accurate measurement of a meridian (now you know).

There is also a strong connection to the sea, as Estonian has a long and curvy coastline and 52% of the country is forest, making it one of Europe’s greenest countries – and that figure is rising.

Estonia’s birdlife is one of the richest in Europe, placing Estonia among most popular birdwatching destinations. Estonia is a flat and wet country, with about one-quarter of territory made up of different kinds of wetlands, marshes, coastal lagoons, fens and peat-bogs. The rivers are mostly unregulated and flow naturally meandering between meadows. Flooded meadows are widespread, providing habitat for corncrake, storks and other birds. Wooded meadows can be called Estonian national landscapes, and these park-like landscapes are especially rich in species.

The most clement weather is from May to September, and while it can get a little crazy in Tallinn and Pärnu (especially in July and August), it’s still the best time to visit. Almost all festivals are scheduled for summer, with the biggest celebrations saved for midsummer’s eve. Fans of cross-country skiing should make for Otepää, the unofficial winter capital from December to March.  Yuletide in Tallinn is unforgettable, with Christmas markets and a nearly 600-year-old tradition of raising a Christmas tree on the main square.

Visit Estonia, the Estonian Tourism Board, promotes cultural, nature, and ecotourism in Estonia, and is particularly proud of its many instances of ecotourism. As Visit Estonia writes, “ecotourism is not only a way of thinking or a lifestyle – it’s a chance to experience being an organic part of nature. It means responsible travelling, preserving nature and culture.

Tallinn typically takes centre stage on most tourists’ visits to Estonia with around 1.5 million people visits the capital each year, including more than half a million cruise passengers. But those seeking to be impressed, educated, and humbled, are implored to step outside the capital and be welcomed by the many ecotourism experiences Estonia has tucked away.

Tourism in Estonia is simply enchanting, whether it’s nature-based or cultural-based. Experiencing ecotourism in Estonia is also sustainable, due to the Baltic nation’s commitment to community-based development, opportunities for local interaction, and preservation of its cultural heritage and environment.

In general, Estonians are reserved but efficient. Don’t expect them to deliver too many social niceties or small talk, they only say what`s seasonable. Once the ice is broken, you will find them open and candid. Estonians respect the physical distance. The most common greeting is a handshake. Hugs are exchanged between family members and close friends.

Contemporary history and politics may become a sensitive subject because the country suffered greatly from the effects of WWII and its aftermath. However, Estonians are usually open to share the experience if asked.