Every 24th February, Estonia celebrates its Independence Day! The date commemorates the Estonian Declaration of Independence dating back to 1918. Much like Lithuania, then, Estonia will be celebrating its 100th Independence Day this year! To celebrate, here’s a list of cool facts about Estonia!
1 – After being deposed by the Soviet Union in 1940, the President of Estonia was sent to a psychiatric hospital in Russia for “persistent claiming of being the President of Estonia”.
2 – In Estonia, kiiking is very popular. This extreme sport sees people swinging on swings all the way, a full 360 degrees. As a sport, it is fairly young, having first been introduced in the early 1990s. However, it has deep roots as wooden swings are traditionally a big part of Estonian culture.
3 – Estonia has the lowest male-to-female ratio in the world, with only 0.84 men per every 1 woman. However, Estonian women live 10 years longer, on average, which might help explain why.
4 – It is home to thousands of stateless people, most of them ethnic Russians who found themselves on the wrong side of the border after the country acquired independence from the Soviet Union. Estimates put their number between 80,000 and 90,000 – a visible minority in a country of only 1.3 million – the world’s 10th largest stateless population.
5 – In 2015, Estonia found out its territory was larger than what it thought it was, when cartographers discovered 800 previously unrecognised islands. After that, the country has learnt it is made up of 2,222 islands, or 2,355 if those in lakes are included – not the 1,521 that has been taught in schools for more than two decades.
6 – A group of Estonians was fundamental to the invention of Skype. In fact, 44% of the company’s employees are still based in Tallinn and Tartu. Thanks to it having the highest number of startups per capita, Tallinn is sometimes dubbed the Silicon Valley of Europe. This is not too surprising if you think that since 2014, Estonian primary schools have been teaching children as young as seven computer coding.
7 – There is a road in Estonia that goes through 900 meters of Russian territory before going back into Estonia. Russia doesn’t require any permit for driving through the area. However, it is forbidden to pass through the area on foot or stop one’s car. People who stop their car are arrested and released after interrogations and payment of fines.
8 – Kihnu, one of Estonia’s islands, is one of the last matriarchal societies in the world. The men of Kihnu, mostly fishermen, go out to sea for months at a time, leaving wives and children behind. Women govern the island in their absence, and act as guardians of its traditions and culture.
9 – In 1962, a factory in Põltsamaa started producing food in tin-packaging that could be sent to space. It was the first country to produce food meant for space travel.
10 – A whopping 34% of all alcohol sold at liquor stores in the entire country of Estonia is bought by people from Finland.