Background: After centuries of Swedish and Russian domination, Estonia gained independence in 1918. Forcibly annexed to the USSR in 1940, it regained its freedom in 1991 as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union. After the withdrawal of the last Russian troops in 1994, Estonia was free to establish economic and political ties with the countries of Western Europe.
Location: Eastern Europe, coast of the Baltic Sea (Gulf of Finland) between Latvia and Russia.
Geographic coordinates: 59° 00′ N. latitude, 26° 00′ E
Reference map: Europe.
Area: total: 45,226 km2; land surface area: 43,211 km2; water surface area: 2,015 km2; note: including 1,520 islands in the Baltic Sea.
Comparative area: somewhat smaller than the states of New Hampshire and Vermont combined.
Land borders: total: 633 km; with neighboring states: with Latvia 339 km, with Russia 294 km.
Coastline: 3,794 km.
Maritime claims: exclusive economic zone: borders are established in agreement with neighboring states; territorial waters: 12 nautical miles.
Climate: maritime, humid, moderate winters, cool summers.
Relief: swampy, flat.
Maximum and minimum heights: lowest point: Baltic Sea 0 m; highest point: Suur Munamagi 318 m.
Natural resources: shale tar, peat, phosphate rock, amber, Cambrian blue clay, limestone, dolomite, arable land.
Land use: arable land: 25%; cultivated land: 0%; pastures: 11%; forests and plantations: 44%; others: 20% (1996 est.).
Irrigated land: 110 km2 (1996 est.).
Natural Hazards: floods are frequent in spring.
Current Environmental Issues: The air is heavily polluted with sulfur dioxide from oil tar-fired power plants in the northeast; contamination of soils and groundwater with oil products and chemicals used at former Soviet military bases; there are more than 1,400 natural and man-made lakes in Estonia, the smaller ones in rural areas are heavily polluted with organic waste; coastal waters are polluted in many places.
International agreements on environmental protection: contributor: Air Pollution, Air Pollution – Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution – Sulfur 1985, Air Pollution – Volatile Organic Compounds, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ship Pollution, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands; signed but not ratified: Kyoto Protocol.
Note to the section “Geography”:
Population: 1,423,316 (July 2001 est.).
Age structure: under 14: 17.08% (male 123,997; female 119,166); 15 to 64 years old: 68.14% (male 466,823; female 503,032); over 65: 14.78% (male 68,802; female 141,496) (2001 est.).
Population growth: -0.55% (2001 est.).
Birth rate: 8.7 newborns / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Mortality: 13.48 deaths / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Migration: -0.76 people /1000 people (2001 est.).
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male/female; under 15: 1.04 male/female; 15 to 64 years old: 0.93 male/female; over 65: 0.49 male/female; for the general population: 0.86 male/female (2001 est.);
Child mortality: 12.62 deaths/1000 births (2001 est.).
Life expectancy: for the general population: 69.73 years; men: 63.72 years; women: 76.05 years (2001 est.).
General birth rate: 1.21 children/wives. (2001 est.).
Proportion of adults infected with HIV: 0.04% (1999 est.).
Number of people infected with HIV: less than 500 (1999 est.).
AIDS deaths: less than 100 (1999 est.).
Nationality: noun: Estonian; adjective: Estonian.
Ethnic groups: Estonians 65.1%, Russians 28.1%, Ukrainians 2.5%, Belarusians 1.5%, Finns 1%, others 1.8% (1998).
Believers: Evangelical Lutherans, Orthodox (part of the parishes are subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate, the other part is the local church, subordinate to the Patriarchate of Constantinople), Baptists, Methodists, Seventh-day Adventists, Catholics, Pentecostals, followers of the Word of Life Church, Jews.
Language(s): Estonian (official), Russian, Ukrainian, English, Finnish, others.
Literacy: definition: persons aged 15 and over who can read and write; for the general population: 100%; Men: 100%; Women: 100% (1998 est.).
Common long form: Republic of Estonia;
conventional short form: Estonia; local long form: Eesti Vabariik; local short form: Eesti; o former: Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic.
State structure: parliamentary democracy.
Administrative division: 15 counties (maa-kond): Valga County (Valga), Viljandi County (Viljandi), Võru County (Võru), Ida-Viru County (Johvi), Jär-vamaa (Paide), Jõgeva County (Jõgeva), Laane Viru -maa (Rakvere), Laanemaa (Haapsalu), Polvamaa (Polva), Pärnumaa (Pärnu), Raplamaa (Rapla), Saaremaa (Kuessaare), Tartumaa (Tartu), Harjumaa (Tallinn), Hiiumaa (Kärdla); note: the names of administrative centers are given in brackets.
Independence: from September 6, 1991 (until 1991 – as part of the USSR).
National holiday: Independence Day, February 24 (1918).
Constitution: adopted June 28, 1992
Legal system: based on the civil legal system; Legislative acts cannot be reviewed by the courts.
Suffrage: from the age of 18, universal for all citizens of Estonia.
chief of state: President Lennart MERI (since 5 October 1992); See a2zgov.com to know more about Estonia government and politics.
head of government: Prime Minister Mart LAAR (since 29 March 1999)
government: the Council of Ministers is appointed by the Prime Minister and approved by the Parliament; elections: the president is elected by parliament for 5 years; if no candidate receives two-thirds of the votes after three ballots, then the electoral assembly (made up of parliament and members of local governments) elects a president from the two candidates with the most votes; elections last held in August – September 1996 (next to be held in autumn 2001); the prime minister is proposed by the president and approved by parliament; election results: Lennart MERI re-elected president by the electoral assembly after parliament failed to make a choice between candidates MERI and RUUTEL; Electoral Assembly voting results: Lennart MERI 61%, Arnold RUUTEL (Arnold RUU-TEL) 39%.
Legislature: unicameral Parliament (Riigikogu) (101 seats; members are elected by popular vote for 4 years); elections: last held 7 March 1999 (next to be held in March 2003); election results: distribution of votes between parties: no data; distribution of seats among parties: Center Party 28, Fatherland Union 18, Reform Party 18, moderates 17, Rural People’s Party 7, Coalition Party 7, UPPE 6.
Judiciary: National Court, chairman appointed by parliament for life.
Political parties and leaders: Center Party (C) (Edgar SAVISAAR, chairman); Christian People’s Party (Aldo VINKEL); Coalition Party and Rural Union (Andrus OOVEL, Chairman); Democratic Party of Estonia (Jaan LAAS); Independent Party of Estonia (leader – no data); Estonian National Democratic Party (ENDP) (leader – no data); Estonian Pensioners and Families Party (Mai TREIAL); Progressive Party of Estonia (Andra VEIDE-MANN [Andra VEIDEMANN]); Republican Party of Estonia (leader – no data); Social Democratic Workers’ Party of Estonia (TiitTOOMSALU [TiitTOOMSALU]); Estonian Rural People’s Union (formed in 1999 by the merger of the Estonian Rural People’s Party and the Estonian Rural Union) (Arvo SIRENDI); Consolidation Party (leader – NA);
Political influence groups and their leaders:
Participation in international organizations: BIS, CBSS, CCC, CE, EARC, EBRD, ECE, EU (applicant), FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, YuM (observer), ISO (correspondent), ITU, OPCW, OSCE, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNTSO, UPU, WEU (associate partner), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTrO.
US Diplomatic Mission: Head of Mission: Ambassador Sven JURGENSON; Office: ‘2131 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008; phone:  (202) 588-0101; fax: [\] (202) 588-0108; consulates general: New York.
US Diplomatic Mission: Chief of Mission: Ambassador Melissa WELLS; embassy: Kentmanni 20, Tallinn EE 0001; mailing address: embassy address; phone:  668-8100; fax:  668-8134.
Description of the flag: the flag used before 1940 was returned by the decision of the Supreme Council in May 1990; three equal horizontal bands of blue (top), black and white.