Although the term “mulk” probably came from the Latvian word for “fool,” historically the people of Mulgimaa were wealthy, well educated and more likely to hold influential positions.

Today some of the country’s most well-known figures, including President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, call Mulgimaa home. President Ilves often wears the traditional Mulgi black robe to official events.

The economic success that earned Mulgimaa its reputation for producing the Estonian elite also made it a prime target for Soviet repression. Mass deportations of 1941, 1945, and 1949 decimated the area to the point that the local dialect barely survived the Soviet era. Only a few thousand people can still speak the Mulgi dialect.

Mulgi prospects are improving the Institute of Mulgi Culture is doing a lot to preserve this unique culture. Mulgi-language radio and TV programs have been produced and there’s a quarterly newspaper called Uitsainus Mulgimaa – “the one and only Mulgimaa.”

If you want to know what the Mulgi language sounds like, in summer visit the Nava farm theatre about a 100 metres from the border of Latvia.

And don’t forget to try the traditional mulgimaa dish - mulgi porridge.