Estonia is a Northern-European country located along the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. Its capital, Tallinn, lies about 80 km south of Helsinki across the Gulf of Finland. Estonia is the smallest of the Baltic states and is slightly larger than Switzerland or Denmark. It borders with Russia in the east and Latvia in the south, with St. Petersburg just across the north-eastern border and Riga only a short trip from the southern border.
The population of Estonia is around 1.3 million people, with the majority of the population identifying as being either Estonian or Russian. Approximately a third of inhabitants live in Tallinn. Estonians have their own language which is closely related to Finnish, and a rich culture which has been influenced over many centuries by German, Scandinavian, Finnish, Russian and most recently Western cultures.
Estonia extends approximately 350 km from east to west and 240 km from north to south with the total land area being 45 227 sq. km. Around 10 percent of the country is under protection for environmental purposes. There are thousands of islands that skirt the coastline and more than a thousand fresh water lakes scattered amongst forests, fields, bogs and fens across the country. Seasons vary widely in Estonia. Summers are typically warm, while winters can be severe with lots of snow.
Estonia is very rich in various kinds of forests, which cover almost half of Estonia’s territory. This includes mixed boreal forests and northern temperate zone forests. It is also the northern and eastern growing limit of many middle European plants, and the western limit of eastern European flora. This biogeographical position means that the flora of Estonia is an
interesting and diverse mix of species and landscapes that cannot be seen together in other parts of the world.
Elk, wild boar, bear, roe deer and lynx are amongst Estonia’s most common large mammals and every year millions of migratory birds stop here during their travels or spend the summer here raising a new family.