Estonia

Here I make notes about Estonia.

Climate

Winters are warmer and more humid than Minnesota’s. Summers are slightly cooler. The annual average temperature is lower than Minnesota’s, but the warmer winters make up for that. Precipitation is over twice that of Minnesota’s - more snow, more rain.

Government

The government is divided into three parts - the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. The executive is headed by the President, with an executive policy body in the Government. The Government is headed by the Prime Minister. The Government is roughly equivalent to the American cabinet, though its powers and duties are different. Unlike other such executive bodies, executive authority is vested in the Government, not in the President.

The legislative is the Riigikogu, or Parliament. It has 101 seats. As far as I can tell, it’s similar to the British Parliament in power and general composition. The notable political parties are described below.

Political Parties

The EKRE: The Conservative People’s Party. Nationalistic and populist. From what I can tell, they are xenophobic, racist, oppose membership in the European Union, oppose LGBTQ, oppose abortion, oppose alcohol and drugs, support education, support health care, and have a narrow view of what Estonia and Estonians should be.

The Estonian Reform Party: Also known as the “Squirrel Party.” The largest party. Liberal economics. Attracts support from a broad range of Estonians, especially educated, young, urban professionals.

The Estonian Centre Party: Theoretically left-wing, but supports criminalization of drugs, opposes same-sex unions, and currently allies itself with the EKRE. I’m not sure exactly what they stand for.

Isamaa: Christian-democratic, conservative party. Nationalistic. Allied with the EKRE.

Social Democratic Party: A member of the Party of European Socialists. Left-leaning. Allied with the Estonian Reform Party.

Those are the major parties. Of the minor parties, only the Estonia 200 is notable, but as it’s only two years old I won’t get into it here yet.

History

I’m still reading about this and don’t have a full understanding yet. The big points are that Estonia as a populated region is pretty old, but Estonia as an independent country is fairly young, as European nations go. The Germans and the Russians fought over Estonia for a very long time. Estonia’s first period of independence was roughly between 1920 and 1940. Russia invaded, then Nazi Germany, then the Soviet Union. Modern Estonia gained independence in 1991 as the Soviet Union was imploding. Finland was an important part of keeping Estonian culture alive during the occupation years.

Language

Estonian is a Uralic language related to Finnish. It has nothing to do with Russian. The most common foreign languages in Estonia are Russian, English, Finnish, and German. I’ll probably make a separate page at some point just for the Estonian language.

Cities

Tallinn is the capital and lies on the northern coast. Tartu is the other big city, and lies in the south. Most of the population lives in or near one of these two cities.