Estonia is one of the three Baltic States. It is on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea in northern Europe. The territory of Estonia consists of the mainland and 2,222 islands in the Baltic Sea. Its terrain spans rocky beaches, old-growth forests, and many lakes. The forest land covers 50% of Estonia. Many species extinct in most of the European countries can be still found in Estonia.
Estonia has been inhabited since at least 9,000 BC. Ancient Estonia was a period covering the history of a unified country that was divided among loosely allied regions and where faith was a folk religion stemming from Norse Paganism. Ancient Estonia preceded the Bronze and Early Iron Ages in which Viking culture emerged. The overall understanding of the Vikings in Estonia is deemed to be fragmentary and superficial, because of the limited amount of surviving source material. However, there are some cemeteries with graves that included weapons, coins, and jewelry from the Viking Age. Then during the middle age, the Estonians were one of the last European pagans to adopt Christianity following the northern crusades in the 13th century. After more than 7 centuries of living under the rule of Scandinavian kings, the Russian empire, and Teutonic Knights, they left Estonia with a unique and rich blend of historic landmarks.
One of the world’s most famous landmarks is in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. Many people come to Tallinn to see the best-preserved medieval city in Europe. This historic site is on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
The ethnic distribution in Estonia is very homogeneous where most counties show over 90% of the people as ethnic Estonians. This is in contrast to the capital, Tallinn, where Estonians account for only 60% of the population, and the remainder is of Russian and other Slavic inhabitants, who arrived in Estonia between 1944 and 1991 during the Soviet Union period.
The official language is Estonian which is a part of the Finnic branch of the Uralic language family spoken around the Baltic Sea by Finnic people. Estonian is closely related to Finnish. Russian is by far the most spoken minority language in the country.
The cuisine of Estonia has been heavily dependent on seasons and simple peasant food that includes black rye bread, fish, pork, potatoes, and dairy products. Traditionally in the summer, Estonians like to eat everything fresh from the garden like berries, herbs, and vegetables. In the winter, jams, preserves, and pickles are brought to the table.
The more adventurous may want to try “kohuke”, a sweet flavored milk curd covered with chocolate.