Estonians - who are they?

Photo: Mart Vares, Visitestonia

Estonians - who are they?

 Estonia is young, entrepreneurial and digitally savvy, while remaining close to its rural roots, both physically and in spirit. Birthplace of at least three unicorns - Skype, TransferWise and Taxify - Estonians are startup-builders and keen explorers.

Estonia is one of the most sparsely populated countries in Europe, with most of its 1.3 million residents gathered in the capital city Tallinn. While tiny in size, Estonia is larger than Denmark and Switzerland and a home to over 190 nationalities, with ethnic Estonians making up approximately 70% of the population.

Freedom and future-driven

Estonia is among the top 30 freest countries in the world.

Photo by: Liina Notta, Visitestonia

Estonians are the most optimistic nation in the European Union. Only 4% of Estonians believe their children will be worse off than themselves, compared to the EU average of 18%. This might be partly due to the OECD's PISA results placing Estonian basic education in top 3 globally. Parents in Estonia are also given 435 days of fully paid maternity leave and 140 days of pregnancy leave, making it one of the most parent-friendly countries in the world.

Estonia is among the top 30 freest countries in the world according to Freedom in the World report compiled by Freedom House, and is ranked highly alongside with Austria, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom. Due to the country's historical background and speedy development, Estonians are known to be highly adaptable and curious of the outside world. Most of the younger population speaks fluent English in addition to their native Estonian.

Residents of a digital society 

Setting up a company, voting, signing documents and viewing a personal health record are among the many things Estonians can do online.

Photo by: Rasmus Jurkatam


Estonians are used to getting things done quickly with 2,500 digital services at their fingertips. There are just three types of proceedings that currently cannot be done digitally - getting married, getting a divorce and performing real estate transactions. This does not seem to be much of a problem however, as Estonia has a large proportion of unmarried couples - perhaps partly due to the fact that Estonia is one of the least religious countries in Europe?

A Nordic nation in the making

Estonian Song and Dance Celebration was founded in 1869 and takes place every 5 years.

Photo by: Raigo Pajula

Estonia belongs to the Baltic States and attaches importance to being counted among the Scandinavian countries. Estonia today boasts a steadily increasing quality of life and a growing economy, surrounded by clean air, plenty of space, and a very vibrant cultural scene for such a small nation. Due to its politically turbulent past and geographic position, generations of Estonians - young and old - might not always share the same upbringing, but are generally respectful of each other's experiences. Today's Estonia is highly appreciative of its heritage, manifested in the UNESCO-listed Song and Dance Celebration, and is going through a fast-pace phase of self-realisation. Thanks to this, Estonians as hosts tend to be opinionated listeners, at times reserved, but always hospitable.

Last updated : 19.10.2018

In category: History & Culture

Recommended