Estonia is surrounded by nearly 3,800 km of coastline and just under 700 km of land border. While the country's identity is continental at large, Estonian culture is divided between the coast and the inland, both equally crucial to the story of how Estonia became to be.
The calm and grey Baltic Sea has been the source of life for coastal folk for centuries. Fishing and seal hunting has been the main source of income for the islanders living on the larger and smaller islands scattered along the coast. Back in the dawn of Middle Ages, Estonia was a home to some of the most notorious seafarers roaming the nearby seas. Later, several Estonian towns, including the capital Tallinn, became prosperous medieval gems still admired today, thanks to the hanseatic trade route supplying Flanders and England with Estonian timber, furs, resin, flax, honey, wheat, and rye. The Baltic Sea connects to the Atlantic Ocean by the narrow Straits of Denmark, and thus Estonia does not have significant tides, and the sea water is low in salinity. Due to its favourable geographic location at the intersection of shipping routes between Russia, Scandinavia and continental Europe, Estonia has historically been a sought after spot for conquerors. Traces of military activity can be explored even today as many shipwrecks are accessible to divers.