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Estonia at a glance

Estonia at a glance

Official name: Republic of Estonia

Head of state: President

Government: parlamentary democracy

Currency: Euro (€)

Memberships: EU, NATO, OECD, WTO, Eurozone, Schengen area

National day: 24th of February, Independence Day

Total area: 45,339 square km neighboring Finland, Sweden, Latvia and Russia

Population: 1.31 million (2016)

Capital: Tallinn (423,000 inhabitants)

Other major cities: Tartu (94,000), Narva (58,000), Pärnu (40,000), Kohtla-Järve (36,000)

Language: Estonian. Other languages such as English, Russian and Finnish are also widely spoken.

Major natural resources: Timber, oil shale, phosphorite, peat, limestone, dolomite

Time zone: GMT + 2 hours

Distances from Tallinn: Helsinki 85 km, Riga 307 km, St Petersburg 395 km, Stockholm 405 km, Vilnius 605 km

Flight times: Helsinki 35 min, Stockholm 1 h, Copenhagen 1 h 30 min, Moscow 1 h 40 min, Berlin 1 h 45 min, Amsterdam 2 h 20 min, London 2 h 45 min

Climate: Estonian climate is humid and temperate. 50% of Estonian land is covered by forests.

Business environment

Estonia can offer a progressive business environment with an efficient and compatible infrastructure. Our e-services, mobile communications and internet applications are among the most progressive in the world. Estonians are adaptable towards new technologies, and use them willingly.

The attractiveness of Estonia is demonstrated by the large number of foreign investors doing business here and the dominance of world-renowned foreign companies in several of Estonia’s economic sectors. Foreign impact is also revident from the fact that exports represents more than 100% of Estonian GDP.

In Estonia, foreign investors are treated the same as domestic ones, and European Union subsidies, for instance, are equally available for both foreign and domestic companies.

Estonia’s advantageous and user-friendly business environment has attracted a great number of foreign investors and large companies of international renown to the country – Ericsson, ABB, Kuehne + Nagel, Stora Enso, Symantec, Stoneridge, Vopak EOS, Deutsche Post DHL and many others. The fact that Estonian banks are mostly owned by well-known Nordic banks, such as Swedbank and SEB, also speaks in favour of the reliability of Estonia’s business environment.

Facts about Estonia

Business environment

  • Estonia is situated on a busy trading route between East and West and has always had excellent ports.
  • Companies registered in Estonian do not have to pay income tax for re-invested profits.
  • More than 65% of Estonian work force is working in the service sector.
  • Estonian banking sector is very IT-related, quick and flexible.
  • All Estonian towns and villages are covered by a network of public Internet access points.
  • Tax is declared electronically online and is often prefilled. 
  • It is possible to affix a digital signature that is legally equal to a normal signature by the aid of an ID-card.
  • All environments offering e-services have a possibility to access by the aid of ID-card.
  • Estonia also offers e-Residency — a transnational digital identity available to anyone in the world.
  • It takes only 15 minutes to establish an Estonian company on the Internet.
  • Estonia is the state where m-parking system was commissioned first in the world.
  • SKYPE was developed in Estonia.
  • 99% of banking transactions in Estonia are effected electronically.
  • Estonia is a member of the WTO, European Union, OECD and NATO.
  • Foreign and domestic investments in Estonia are treated equally under the law.

Nature and culture

  • The length of the longest day in summer is over 19 hours, while the shortest winter day lasts only six hours.
  • Bogs and wooded swamplands of different types cover over one fifth of the country - a world index topped only by the northern neighbor, Finland.
  • Estonia is at the same latitude in Europe as central Sweden and the northern tip of Scotland.
  • Temperatures in Estonia may fluctuate by 20°C; in the early morning the thermometer might read -12°C and by afternoon it may already be 10°C.
  • About 10% of Estonia is a nature reserve.
  • Estonian language belongs to the Finno-Ugric language family, which also includes Finnish and Hungarian.
  • Ernest Hemingway has written that in every port in the world, at least one Estonian can be found. (This speaks volumes about the nation's enterprising spirit.)
  • Peat is one of the most important natural resources in Estonia, and, moreover, is renewable.
  • Despite its small population there are about one hundred different nationalities and ethnic groups represented in Estonia.
  • Estonian Song Festival has been held every five years for the past 130 years.
  • Estonia is one of the most sparsely populated countries in Europe.
  • Estonia has the highest number of meteorite craters per land area in the world.
  • Estonians have one of the biggest collections of folk songs in the world, with written records of 133,000 folk songs.

Estonian character

Nordic influence. We live in a Nordic country. That means unspoilt nature, mercilessly harsh weather, white nights and dark days. It also means the strict discipline required from us by our climate - clear shapes, quality in both thinking and action, as well as sustainable development and concern for the future.
Rootedness. We have inhabited this land for thousands of years. This is phenomenal in the whole of Europe and rare in the world. We have been daunted by various wars and foreign domination but we’re still here. This provides us with a historical background that is unique in the world. There is heroic romance in our rootedness. It also gives us unique language and traditions.

The eastern influence. We ourselves come from the east, and many people have come here from the east. It would be naïve to think that we have no relation with the [land of the] rising sun. We have inherited our generally quite hospitable nature from the east. Also, our present educational background has discernible eastern influences.

Progress. Logistically, we are located in a complex place. We straddle the sea, land, forest and various cultures. Throughout our existence, we have had to adapt to different influences and restrictions. We are adapters. Today our e- and m-thinking is a good example of our adaptability. We are pioneers who apply efficient means and do so quickly.

Many exciting contrasts. We have ancient history and high-tech, eastern hospitality and northern conservativeness, a liberal economic environment and pristine nature. It is amazing how a people with a strong inner angst can acquire new skills so easily, or how odd a tradition is for an introverted Nordic people to form huge choirs every once in a while and sing together.