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People of Estonia


Estonians belong to the Finno-Ugric peoples, as do the Finns and the Hungarians. Archaeological research confirms the existence of human activity in the region as early as 8000 BC; by 3500 BC the principal ancestors of the Estonians had arrived from the east.


Estonians have strong ties to the Nordic countries today stemming from deep cultural and religious influences gained over centuries during Scandinavian colonization and settlement.

This highly literate society places great emphasis upon education, which is free and compulsory until age 17.

About 20% of the population belongs to the following churches registered in Estonia: Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church, Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church, Estonian Orthodox Church subordinated to the Moscow Patriarchate, Baptist Church, Roman Catholic Church, and others.

As of January 1, 2011, 84.2% of Estonia\'s population held Estonian citizenship, 8.7% were citizens of other countries (primarily Russia), and 7.1% were of undetermined citizenship.

Written with the Latin alphabet, Estonian is the language of the Estonian people and the official language of the country.

Estonian is one of the world\'s most difficult languages to learn for English-speakers: it has 14 cases, which can be a challenge even for skilled linguists.

During the Soviet era, the Russian language was imposed for official use.

Population (2010): 1.340 million.

Annual population growth rate (2010): 0.003%. Birth rate (2010)--11.81/1,000. Death rate (2010)--11.78/1,000. Net migration (2010)--minus 2.6/1,000. Density--31/sq. km. Urban dwellers--70%.

Ethnic groups: Estonians 68.8%, Russians 25.5%, Ukrainians 2.1%, Belarusians 1.2%, Finns 0.8%, other 1.6%.

Religions: Evangelical Lutheran; the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox, subordinated to Constantinople; the Estonian Orthodox, subordinated to the Moscow Patriarchate; Roman Catholic; Baptist; and other.

Languages (2000 census): Estonian (official) 67.3%, Russian 29.7%, other 2.3%, unknown 0.7%.

Education: Years compulsory--9. Attendance--173,900 students at 596 schools and vocational schools, plus 69,100 university students. Literacy--99.8%.

Health: Infant mortality rate (2010)--3.3 deaths/1,000 live births. Life expectancy (2009)--69.84 years men, 80.07 years women.

Work force (2010): 687,000.