Year of EU entry: 2004 / Capital city: Tallinn / Population: 1.3 million
Estonia is the most northerly of the Baltic States, regained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. It is a mainly flat country on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea, with many lakes and islands. Much of the land is farmed or forested.
The Estonian language is closely related to Finnish, but bears no resemblance to the languages of the other Baltic Republics, Latvia and Lithuania, or to Russian.
The capital, Tallinn, is one of the best-preserved mediaeval cities in Europe. The main sectors of the economy are engineering, food products, metals, chemicals and wood products, while tourism accounts for 15% of Estonian GDP.
Famous Estonians include the writer Jaan Kross, whose work has been translated into 20 languages, the author of the national epic “Kalevipoeg” Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald, and the writer, film-maker, diplomat and politician Lennart Meri. Among the traditional dishes are marinated eel, blood sausage and sauerkraut stew with pork.