A dozen questions about EstoniaEnlightening answers to a dozen questions that a foreigner might want toknow about Estonia.Text by: Estonian InstituteIllustrations and design by: Indrek Sirkel and Jan TomsonMore information: http://www.estinst.ee/eng/home/, firstname.lastname@example.orgInformation booklets in 16 languages: history, language, song festivals,nature, national costumes, cuisine, manor culture or humour, are but a fewpublications issued over the years by the Estonian Institute.12 domande sull’Estonia12 kysymystä Virosta
Republic of Estonia Eesti Vabariik (p. 1)Declaration of independence: 24 February 1918Legislature: unicameral parliament (Riigikogu)Highest judiciary: Supreme CourtOfficial language: EstonianMember of: UNO (since 17 October 1991), NATO (since 29 March 2004), EU (since 1 May 2004)Population: 1 340 000Main ethnic gropus: Estonians 69%, Russians 26%Area: 45 228 sq kmCapital: TallinnLarger cities: Tartu, Narva, Kohtla-Järve, PärnuAdministrative divisions: 15 countries
Is Estonia the worlds smallest country? (p. 3-4)Estonia is larger than Denmark or Switzerland, for example.„The country stretches 350 km from east to west and 240 km from north tosouth.“„According to population, Estonia ranks among the smallest countries inthe world.“„An average number of people per sq km is less than 30, which is aroundtwice as high as in Finland.“„About 70 % of the inhabitants reside in towns and cities.“„Nearly a third of population (a little over than 400 000) lives in the capitalcity Tallinn.“
Do polar bears live in Estonia? Does it rain iron in Estonia? (p. 5-6, 7-8) Climate: clear distinction between the seasons. The land is flat: most of the territory lies at a height of 0 to 50 meters abovethe sea level. White nights from early May to late July. The longest day in summer: over 18 hours (21 Jun) The length of the shortest winter day: 6 hours (21 Dec) Summer according to Estonians: „three months of lousy skiing weather“
Do all Estonians know one another? Does Estonia have a King? (p. 9-10, 11-12)„Estonia’s industrial northeast and the capital Tallinn have large, mainlyRussian-speaking minorities, who settled in Estonia as part of the massinflux of people from the Soviet Union which started in the late 1940s.“The biggest minority group: Russians (26 %)The second largest group: Ukrainians (2 %)Modern Estonia is home to over one hundred nationalities (3 %)
Where did the Estonians get their name from? (p. 13-18) „... the Greek explorer Pytheas mentions ostiatoi around 320 before the Common Era, followed by the Roman historian Tacitus, who writes about the amber-rich aesti at the end of the first century in the Common Era.“ „In the Middle Ages, Estonia was a part of the loose union of feudal states and Hanseatic merchant towns known as the Confederation of Livonia.“
Why are the Estonians called a ‘singing nation’? (p. 19-20)„If you ask an Estonian to sing, you’ll be probably met with anembarrassed refusal. Yet, the typical Estonian willingly sings in a choir,and choral music is considered by many to be a symbol of the country atlarge.“The tradition of song festivals starts in the mid-19th century.Singing Revolution of the 1980s: „mass gatherings of people at the SongFestival Ground in Tallinn to demand the restoration of nationalindependence via singing patriotic songs.“„Nowadays, Estonian Song and Dance Festivals that take place every fiveyears are included in the list of UNESCOs Masterpieces of the Oral andIntangible Heritage of Humanity.“1 300 000 page folklore collection in the Estonian Literary Museum.Famous contemporary composers: Arvo Pärt and Erkki-Sven Tüür.Every small town and large village has a public library: 500 altogether.
Do Estonians ever speak? (p. 21-22) „Yes, they do. Sometimes by staying silent.“ „Silence is gold, speaking - silver.“„The Estonians’ character has inevitably been shaped by their country’shistory and its natural environment. The long, dark winters fostered theirsombre scepticism and taciturn manner. Yet, the dreary season of indoorchores also provided moments for self-contemplation and even for somesunnier flights of fancy.“„Thus, the main character of an Estonian folk tale never actually becomesking, nor does he charge into battle with dragons, brandishing his trustysword. Rather, relying on his sharp mind and quick wits, he talksphilosophy with all kinds of characters and double-crosses them in theend.“
Letters: Õ, Ä, Ö, Ü Kuuuurijate töööö jäääärel „Estonian’s passion for vowels is evident in the «working night of lunar researchers on the edge of ice» - Kuuuurijate töööö jäääärel.“„Estonian, together with Finnish, Hungarian, Sàmi and several others,belongs to the Finno-Ugric family of languages and has probably beenspoken in this corner of Europe since it was first inhabited by man.“„... while literary Estonian arose from the Lutheran reformation of the 16thcentury, the vernacular memory of Estonians, centered as it is arounddistinctly metered, repetitive runo-singing, stretches back over severalmillennia.“„The grammar of the language is complex: it has 14 cases, no articles, nogrammatical gender, and no definite future tense, and these are just themost striking features that distinguish Estonian from the Indo-Europeanlanguages of the rest of Europe.“
„Estonian is spoken by over 1.1 million people in Estonia, approximately920 000 of whom use the language as a mother tongue.“„As a result of the many episodes of voluntary and forced exile in the 19thand 20th century, Estonian communities emerged in Sweden, Finland,Canada, the United States, Russia, Germany, etc.“„The nation’s enterprising spirit stays strong, and Ernest Hemingway’sfancy that «no well-run yacht basin in the Southern waters is completewithout at least two sun-burned, salt-headed Estonians,» can be taken as afact again.“
How many countries fit into Estonia? (p. 23-24)„For a long time, the Estonian settlement area was divided into theprovince of Estland in the north and Livland in the south. Moving fromnorth to south, the type of landscape changes, the cross on top of thechurch steeples is replaced by a rooster, red cows appear instead of blackand white cattle. What also changes is how the Estonians speak, andaccording to many, even their world views."
What brings bread to the table in Estonia? (p. 25-26)„The northernmost members of the Hanseatic League, its medieval townswere allegedly ‘built on salt’ - a key commodity in the transit tradebetween Western Europe and Russia.“„On the whole, most Estonians earn their daily bread working in a small ormedium enterprise or in the public sector.“„... the share of people employed in agriculture and fisheries has droppedbelow the European Union average.“
„Tallinn acts as the gateway for most foreign visitors to Estonia; itsmedieval Old Town is the country’s foremost tourist attraction.“„Ever since regaining independence, Estonia has persistently applied amodel of an open economy that is versatile and free of undue bureaucracy.The country has acquired fame for its adoption of innovative IT solutions,both in the private and public sector. Several web applications that theEstonians are already accustomed to, such as e-banking, online taxdeclarations or even voting at local and parliamentary elections using adigital ID card, have become articles of export.“„Skype is, no doubt, the best-known IT application stemming fromEstonia.“
Where do Estonians vanish on Midsummers Eve? (p. 27-28)23 June - St. Johns Day (Jaanipäev), known also as Midsummer Day.The lightest time of the year. Hundreds of bonfires lit all over thecountryside. People sing and dance around the fires.„The meeting of dusk and down reduces the Midsummer Night to a meremoment of darkness.“Christmas (Jõulud). A family-centered holiday. „A feast of roast pork,black pudding with cowberry jam, and sauerkraut with roast potatoes.“Shrove Tuesday - in February or March. „Adults seize the chance to gosledging together with the children, on the pretext of the old custom.“St. Martins Day (10 Nov) and St. Catherines Day (25 Nov). „Children incostumes go from house to house, earning sweets with their singing anddancing.“24 February - the Declaration of Independence of 1918. A military paradeand the Presidents reception.
What does an Estonian do at weekends? (p. 29-30)Winter: skiing, snowboarding, theatres, concert halls, reading, traditionalmusic.Spring: Estonians leave the city for weekends.Long walks in the wild is one of Estonians’ favourite pastimes.Summer: family outings, sunbathing by the seaside.„Regardless of their age or whether they live in a city or countryside, animportant weekend ritual for many Estonians is the Saturday sauna.“
More information about Estonia by Estonian Insitute:Estonian People, Estonian CultureThings Estonian: Sprats, e-government, Cow-Pats and Bears Trousers,Limestone, the Junipers, Barn Swallow, the Sauna and all these otherthings.Hilarious Estonia: A scientific study of Estonians’ daily life. What dothey do and how they do it, what do they like and what do they dislike?What do they look like and what do they eat? How can they surprise oneanother?Estonian Cuisine: Estonia is a nordic country: darkness and frost bring tothe table sauerkraut and roast; in summertime, on the other hand, thepeople eat everything light and fresh that gardens have to offer.Estonian Home: Home is the place where Estonians have always beentruly themselves. This place reflects their true nature and this is where theyinvite their friends. Still lifes of Estonian homes through the eyes of theDutch photographer Henri van Noordenburg.Estonian Nature: A matter-of-fact overview of Estonian nature: from itsgeological underbelly, via types of wetlands to all kinds of beings,walking, flying or swimming.
Estonian national costumes: An introduction to the reasons, patterns andsecrets of wearing of folk costumes, still to be seen in daily use in severalpockets of Estonia.Estonian National Symbols: A richly illustrated essayistic overview ofsignificant national and popular symbols, explaining the origin of thesephenomena, their history and relevant facts, beliefs and principles. Thechapter on Estonian money in the second print has been updated.Estonian Song & Dance Celebration: “Song festivals have never beenfashionable, because they are not a thing of fashion. A song festival is amatter of the heart. Just like Estonian language and mindset, like love”.Lennart MeriCrafts and Arts in Estonia: The men and women who once producedfolk art knew nothing about this artificial concept. Maybe we could findthe original focus of these things if we would forget it as well...
The World of Estonian Theatre: A guide to Estonian theatre, introducingpeople in todays theatre, relevant institutions, the wider cultural and socialfunctioning mechanisms of drama and various factors that influence it.The World of Estonian Film: Glances at the centenarian Estonian film –enlightening peeks into the birth and development of local cinema, its creators,spectators, handicaps, inventors, jokes, bickerers, and a range of otherphenomena that have left their mark on the Estonian film lore.The World of the Estonian Literature: A publication based on the text of JanKaus and supplemented by numerous references and explanations. It talksabout Estonian literary life in centres and in the hinterland, about great literaryfigures, showing how the works of our literary classics have intertwined witheveryday life and other fields of culture.The Estonian Language: We know that Estonians define themselves mostlythrough their mother tongue. What is the sound and construction of thislanguage, where are its roots and connections with other languages, andwhether and how it influences the Estonian way of thinking?Estonian History in Pictures: Our choice of key events in the Estonianhistory; to refresh your memory, or to act as a starting point for a bout ofinterest.Republic of Estonia 90: Catalogue of the exhibition compiled on the occasionof the 90th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia. Every year (1917-2007) isrepresented by a photograph.