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BACKGROUND  NOTES:    ESTONIA
PUBLISHED  BY  THE  BUREAU  OF  PUBLIC  AFFAIRS
U.S.  DEPARTMENT  OF  STATE

Official  Name:
Republic  of  Estonia

PROFILE

Geography
Area:    45,226  sq.  km.  (18,086  sq.  miles);  about  the  size  of  New
Hampshire  and  Vermont.    

Cities:    Capital--Tallinn  (1991  pop.  481,500).    Other  cities--Tartu
(115,400);  Narva  (82,300);  Kohtla-Jarve  (76,800);  Parnu  (54,200);
Sillamae  (20,700);  Rakvere  (20,100).  

Terrain:    Flat,  with  an  average  elevation  of  50  m.    Elevation  is
slightly  higher  in  the  east  and  southeast.    Steep  limestone  banks  and
1,520  islands  mark  the  coastline.  

Climate:    Temperate,  with  four  seasons  of  near-equal  length.


People
Nationality:    Noun  and  adjective--Estonian(s).  

Population:    1.6  million.    Annual  growth  rate--0.7%.      

Ethnic  groups:    Estonians  62%,  Russians  30%,  Ukrainians  3%,
Belorussians  2%.  

Religions:    Lutheran,  Russian  Orthodox,  Baptist.  

Language:    Estonian  (official).    Most  people  also  speak  Russian.  

Education:    Years  compulsory--11.    By  1989,  12%  of  the  adult  populace
completed  college.    Attendance--214,000  students  at  561  schools,  plus
24,000  university  students.    Literacy--99%.    

Health:    Infant  mortality  rate--12/1,000  births.  Life  expectancy--65
years  for  males,  74  for  females.    

Work  force  (785,500  people):    Industry--32%.    Agriculture--12%.  
Education,  Culture--12%.    Construction--10%.    Trade--9%.  
Transport--8%.    Health  care--6%.    Housing--5%.    Other--4%.  
Government--2%.


Government
Type:    Parliamentary  democracy.  

Constitution:    On  June  28,  1992,  Estonians  ratified  a  constitution
based  on  the  1938  model,  offering  legal  continuity  to  the  Republic  of
Estonia  prior  to  Soviet  occupation.  

Branches:    Executive--president  (chief  of  state),  elected  by  parliament
every  five  years;  prime  minister  (head  of  government).  
Legislative--Riigikogu  (parliament:    101  members,  5-year  term);
Judicial--Supreme  Court.  

Administrative  regions:    15  counties  and  6  independent  towns.

Political  parties/coalitions:  Pro  Patria  ("Fatherland")--30  seats  in
Parliament;  National  Independence  Party  (ENIP)--11  seats;  Moderates
(Social  Democrats)--12  seats;  Secure  Home  (Technocrats)--17  seats;
Popular  Front--15  seats;  Monarchists  (independent)--8  seats;  Estonian
Citizen  (nationalist)--6  seats;  Green  Movement--1  seat;
Entrepreneurs--1  seat;  Communists--0  seats.

Suffrage:    Universal  at  18;  non-citizen  residents  may  vote  in  municipal
elections.  


Economy
GDP  (1992  est):    $834  million.    

1994  growth  rate:    6.4%.    

Per  capita  income:    $540.

Natural  resources:    Oil  shale,  phosphorite,  limestone,  blue  clay.  
Agriculture/forestry  (20%  of  1991  GDP):    Milk  and  dairy  products,  meat,
cereals,  potatoes.    Cultivable  land--1.36  million  hectares  (60%  arable,
18%  meadow,  13%  pasture).  

Industry  (42%  of  GDP):    Electricity,  oil  shale,  chemical  products,
electric  motors,  textiles,  furniture,  cellulose/paper  products,
building  materials,  processed  foods.  

Trade:    Exports--$827  million:    Foodstuffs;  textiles  and  footware;
metals  and  jewelry;  minerals;  glassware;  stones;  wood/wood  products;
furniture;  machinery  and  equipment.    Partners--Finland  (22%),  Russia
(20%),  Sweden  (10%),  Germany  (9%),  Latvia  (8%),  Netherlands  (5%),  U.S.
(2%).    Imports--$902  million,  1993  est.:    Food,  fuel,  raw  materials,
and  machinery.    Partners--Finland  (26%),  Russia  (19%),  Germany  (11%),
Sweden  (9%),  Lithuania  (4%),  U.S.  (2%).  

Exchange  rate  (July  1994):    13  kroon  (EEK)=U.S.  $  1.    

(###)



PEOPLE
The  name  "Eesti,"  or  Estonia,  is  derived  from  the  word  "Aisti,"  the
name  given  by  the  ancient  Germans  to  the  peoples  living  northeast  of
the  Vistula  River.    The  Roman  historian  Tacitus  in  the  first  century
A.D.  was  the  first  to  mention  the  Aisti,  and  early  Scandinavians  called
the  land  south  of  the  Gulf  of  Finland  "Eistland,"  and  the  people
"aistr."    Estonians  belong  to  the  Baltic-Finnic  group  of  the
Finno-Ugric  peoples,  as  do  the  Finns  and  Hungarians.    Archaeological
finds  show    human  activity  in  the  region  as  early  as  8000  B.C.    The
ancestors  of  the  Estonians  appear  to  have  arrived  from  the  east  about
5,000  years  ago.

A  strong  Nordic  influence  is  evident,  the  result  of    cultural  and
religious  influences  gained  over  centuries  of  Germanic  and  Scandinavian
colonization  and  settlement.    This  highly  literate  society  places
strong  emphasis  upon  education,  which  is  free  and  compulsory  until  age
16.    Most  Estonians  belong  to  the  Evangelical  Lutheran  Church,  but  a
sizable  minority  are  Russian  Orthodox.

From  1945  to  1989  the  percentage  of  ethnic  Estonians  in  Estonia  dropped
from  94%  to  61%,  caused  primarily  by  the  Soviet  program  promoting  mass
immigration  of  urban  industrial  workers  from  Russia,  Ukraine,  and
Belarus  as  well  as  by  wartime  emigration  and  Stalin's  mass  deportations
and  executions.    Estonia's  citizenship  law  and  constitution  meet
international  and  Conference  on  Security  and  Cooperation  in  Europe
(CSCE)  standards,  guaranteeing  universal  human  and  civil  rights.

Written  with  the  Latin  alphabet,  Estonian  is  the  language  of  the
Estonian  people  and  the  official  language  of  the  country.    One-third  of
the  standard  vocabulary  is  derived  from  adding  suffixes  to  root  words.  
The  oldest  known  examples  of  written  Estonian  originate  in  13th-century
chronicles.    The  Soviet  era  had  imposed  the  official  use  of  Russian,  so
most  Estonians  speak  Russian  as  a  second  language,  while  the  resident
Slavic  populace  speaks  Russian  as  a  first  language.


HISTORY
Estonians  are  one  of  the  longest-settled  European  peoples,  whose
forebears,  known  to  archaeologists  as  the  "comb  pottery"  people,  lived
on  the  southeastern  shores  of  the  Baltic  Sea  more  than  5,000  years  ago.
  Like  other  early  agricultural  societies,  Estonians  were  organized  into
economically  self-sufficient,  male-dominated  clans  with  few  differences
in  wealth  or  social  power.    By  the  early  Middle  Ages  most  Estonians
were  small  landholders,  with  farmsteads  primarily  organized  by  village.
  Estonian  government  remained  decentralized,  with  local  political  and
administrative  subdivisions  emerging  only  during  the  first  century  A.D.
  By  then,  Estonia  had  a  population  of  more  than  150,000  people  and
remained  the  last  corner  of  medieval  Europe  to  be  Christianized.  
Estonia  also  managed  to  remain  nominally  independent  from  the  Vikings
to  the  west  and  Kievan  Rus  to  the  east,  subject  only  to  occasional
forced  tribute  collections.

However,  the  Danes  conquered  Toompea,  the  hilled  fortress  at  what  is
now  the  center  of  Tallinn,  and  in  1227  the  German  crusading  order  of
the  Sword  Brethren  defeated  the  last  Estonian  stronghold;  the  people
were  Christianized,  colonized,  and  enserfed.    Despite  attempts  to
restore  independence,  Estonia  was  divided  among  three  domains,  and
small  states  were  formed.    Tallinn  joined  the  Hanseatic  League  in  1248.

By  1236,  the  Sword  Brethren  allied  with  the  Order  of  the  Teutonic
Knights  and  became  known  as  the  Livonian  Order  of  the  Teutonic  Knights.
  Finding  upkeep  of  the  distant  colony  too  costly,  the  Danes  in  1346
sold  their  part  of  Estonia  to  the  Livonian  Order.    Despite  successful
Russian  raids  and  invasions  in  1481  and  1558,  the  local  German  barons
continued  to  rule  Estonia  and  preserved  Estonian  commitment  to  the
Protestant  Reformation.    Northern  Estonia  submitted  to  Swedish  control
in  1561  during  the  Livonian  Wars,  and  southern  Estonia  (Livonia)  became
part  of  Lithuania's  Duchy  of  Courland.    In  1631,  Swedish  King  Gustav  II
Adolf  granted  the  peasantry  some  measure  of  greater  autonomy,  opened
the  first  school  in  Tallinn,  where  Estonian  was  taught,  and  in  the
following  year  established  a  printing  press  and  university  in  the  city
of  Tartu.    The  Swedish  defeat  resulting  in  the  1721  Treaty  of  Nystad
imposed  Russian  rule  in  the  territory  that  became  modern  Estonia,
uniting  it  under  one  rule.

By  1819  the  Baltic  provinces  were  the  first  in  the  Russian  empire  in
which  serfdom  was  abolished,  spurring  the  peasants  to  own  their  own
land  or  move  to  the  cities.    These  moves  created  the  economic
foundation  for  the  Estonian  national  cultural  awakening  that  had  lain
dormant  for  some  600  years  of  foreign  rule.    Estonia  was  caught  in  a
current  of  national  awakening  that  began  sweeping  through  Europe  in  the
mid-1800s.

A  cultural  movement  evolved  to  adopt  the  use  of  Estonian  as  the
language  of  instruction  in  schools,  all-Estonian  song  festivals  were
held  regularly  after  1869,  and  a  national  literature  developed.  
Kalevipoeg,  Estonia's  epic  national  poem,  was  published  in  1861  in  both
Estonian  and  German.    More  importantly,  activists  who  agitated  for  a
modern  national  culture  also  agitated  for  a  modern  national  state.    As
the  1905  revolution  swept  the  country,  Estonians  called  for  freedom  of
the  press  and  assembly,  for  universal  franchise,  and  for  national
autonomy.    The  1905  uprisings  were  brutally  suppressed,  and  Estonian
gains  were  minimal,  but  the  tense  stability  that  prevailed  between  1905
and  1917  allowed  Estonians  to  advance  the  aspiration  of  national
statehood.

With  the  collapse  of  the  Russian  empire  in  World  War  I,  Russia's
provisional  government  granted  national  autonomy  to  Estonia.    An
autonomous  Estonian  government  (Maapaev)  was  formed  but  was  quickly
forced  underground  by  opposing  extremist  political  forces.    The
Committee  of  Elders  of  the  underground  Maapaev  announced  the
establishment  of  the  Republic  of  Estonia  on  February  24,  1918,  one  day
before  German  troops  invaded.    After  the  withdrawal  of  German  troops  in
November  1918,  fighting  broke  out  between  Bolshevik  troops  and  Estonian
partisans.    On  February  2,  1920,  the  Treaty  of  Tartu--the  Soviet
Union's  first  foreign  peace  treaty--was  signed  by  the  Republic  of
Estonia  and  the  Soviet  Union.    The  terms  of  the  treaty  stated  that  the
Soviet  Union  renounced  in  perpetuity  all  rights  to  the  territory  of
Estonia.

Independence  lasted  22  years.    Estonia  underwent  a  number  of  economic,
social,  and  political  reforms  necessary  to  come  to  terms  with  its  new
status  as  a  sovereign  state.    Economically  and  socially,  land  reform  in
1919  was  the  most  important  step.    Large  estate  holdings  belonging  to
the  Baltic  nobility  were  redistributed  among  the  peasants  and
especially  among  volunteers  in  what  they  called  the  war  of
independence.    Loss  of  markets  in  the  east  led  to  considerable
hardships  until  Estonia  developed  an  export-based  economy  and  domestic
industries.    Estonia's  principal  markets  became  Scandinavia,  Great
Britain,  and  Western  Europe,  with  some  exports  to  the  United  States  and
Soviet  Union.

During  its  early  independence,  Estonia  operated  under  a  liberal
democratic  constitution  patterned  on  the  Swiss  model.    However,  with
between  9  and  14  politically  divergent  parties,  Estonia  experienced  20
different  parliamentary  governments  between  1919  and  1933.    The  Great
Depression  spawned  the  growth  of  powerful,  far-rightist  parties  which
successfully  pushed  popular  support  in  1933  for  a  new  constitution
granting  much  stronger  executive  powers.    In  a  preemptive  move  against
the  far  right,  Estonia's  President,  Konstantin  Pats,  dissolved
parliament  and  governed  the  country  by  decree.    By  1938,  Estonia
ratified  a  third,  more  balanced,  and  very  liberal  constitution  and
elected  a  new  parliament  the  following  year.

The  independence  period  was  one  of  great  cultural  advancement.  
Estonian  language  schools  were  established,  and  artistic  life  of  all
kinds  flourished.    One  of  the  more  notable  cultural  acts  of  this  time
was  a  guarantee  of  cultural  autonomy  to  minority  groups.

Estonia  had  pursued  a  policy  of  neutrality,  but  the  signing  of  the
Molotov-Ribbentrop  non-aggression  pact  on  August  23,  1939,  signaled  the
end  of  independence.    The  agreement  provided  for  the  Soviet  occupation
of  Estonia,  Latvia,  part  of  Finland,  and,  later,  Lithuania  in  return
for  Nazi  Germany's  assuming  control  over  most  of  Poland.    The  Estonian
Soviet  Socialist  Republic  was  proclaimed  on  July  21,  1940,  and  was
incorporated  into  the  Soviet  Union  on  August  6.

Soviet  occupation  was  accompanied  by  expropriation  of  property,
Sovietization  of  cultural  life,  and  the  installation  of  Stalinist
communism  in  political  life.    Deportations  also  quickly  followed,
beginning  on  the  night  of  June  14,  1941,  when  more  than  10,000
people--most  of  them  women,  children,  and  the  elderly--were  taken  from
their  homes  and  sent  to  Siberia  in  cattle  cars.    When  Nazi  Germany
attacked  the  Soviet  Union  on  June  22,  most  Estonians  greeted  the
Germans  with  relatively  open  arms.

During  two-and-a-half  years  of  Nazi  occupation,  Estonia  became  a  part
of  the  German  Ostland,  and  about  5,500  Estonians  died  in  concentration
camps.    However,  few  Estonians  welcomed  the  Red  Army's  push  through  the
Baltics  in  January  1944.    Some  10%  of  the  population  fled  to  the  West
between  1940  and  1944.    By  late  September,  Soviet  forces  expelled  the
last  German  troops  from  Estonia,  ushering  in  a  second  phase  of  Soviet
rule.    That  year,  Moscow  also  moved  to  transfer  the  Estonian  Narva  and
Petseri  border  districts,  which  had    large  percentages  of  ethnic
Russians,  to  Russian  control.

For  the  next  decade,  an  anti-Soviet  guerrilla  movement  known  as  "the
Forest  Brethren"  operated  in  the  countryside.    Composed  of  formerly
conscripted  Estonian  soldiers  from  the  German  army,  fugitives  from  the
Soviet  military  draft  or  security  police  arrest,  and  those  seeking
revenge  for  mass  deportations,  the  Forest  Brethren  used  abandoned
German  and  Soviet  equipment  and  worked  in  groups  or  alone.    In  the  hope
that  protracted  resistance  would  encourage  Allied  intervention  for  the
restoration  of  Estonian  independence,  the  movement  reached  its  zenith
in  1946-48  with  an  estimated  5,000  followers  and  held  effective
military  control  in  some  rural  areas.

After  the  war,  the  Estonian  Communist  Party  (ECP)  became  the
pre-eminent  organization  in  the  republic.    Most  of  the  new  members  were
Russified  Estonians  who  had  spent  most  of  their  lives  in  the  Soviet
Union.    Not  surprisingly,  Estonians  were  reluctant  to  join  the  ECP  and
thus  take  part  in  the  Sovietization  of  their  own  country.    The  ethnic
Estonian  share  in  ECP  membership  went  from  90%  in  1941  to  48%  in  1952.

After  Stalin's  death,  party  membership  vastly  expanded  its  social  base
to  include  more  ethnic  Estonians.    By  the  mid-1960s,  ethnic  Estonian
membership  stabilized  near  50%.    On  the  eve  of  perestroika,  the  ECP
claimed  about  100,000  members;  less  than  half  were  ethnic  Estonians  and
they  comprised  less  than  2%  of  the  country's  population.    Russians  or
Russified  Estonians  continued  to  dominate  the  party's  upper  echelons.

A  positive  aspect  of  the  post-Stalin  era  in  Estonia  was  a  reopening  of
citizens'  contacts  with  foreign  countries  late  in  the  1950s.    Ties  were
also  restored  with  Finland,  boosting  a  flourishing  black  market.    In
the  mid-1960s,  Estonians  began  watching  Finnish  television.    This
electronic  "window  on  the  West"  afforded  Estonians  more  information  on
current  affairs  and  more  access  to  Western  culture  and  thought  than  any
other  group  in  the  Soviet  Union.    This  expanded  media  environment  was
important  in  preparing  Estonians  for  their  vanguard  role  in  extending
perestroika  during  the  Gorbachev  era.

By  the  1970s,  national  concerns--including  worries  about  ecological
ruin--became  the  major  theme  of  dissent  in  Estonia.    Estonian  society
grew  increasingly  concerned  about  the  threat  of  cultural  Russification
to  the  Estonian  language  and  national  identity.    By  1981,  Russian  was
taught  in  the  first  grade  of  Estonian-language  schools  and  was  also
introduced  into  Estonian  pre-schools.    These  acts  had  prompted  40
established  intellectuals  to  write  a  letter  to  Moscow  and  the  republic
authorities.    This  "Letter  of  the  Forty"  spoke  out  against  the  use  of
force  against  protestors  and  the  increasing  threat  to  the  Estonian
language  and  culture.

By  the  beginning  of  the  Gorbachev  era,  concern  over  the  cultural
survival  of  the  Estonian  people  had  reached  a  critical  point.    Although
these  complaints  were  first  couched  in  environmental  terms,  they
quickly  became  the  vehicles  for  expressing  straightforward  political
national  feelings.    Estonian  nationalists  drew  upon  the  two  decades  of
independence  after  World  War  I  as  inspiration  for  their  struggle.

The  ECP  remained  stable  in  the  early  perestroika  years  and  appeared
strong  at  its  19th  Congress  in  1986.    By  1988,  however,  the  ECP's
weakness  became  clear  when  it  was  unable  to  assume  more  than  a  passive
role  and  was  relegated  to  a  reactive  position  in  government.

Praising  the  1980  "Letter  of  the  Forty,"  Vaino  Valjas  replaced  Karl
Vaino  as  party  chief  and  thereby  temporarily  enhanced  the  ECP's
reputation.    Nevertheless,  the  party  continued  its  downward  spiral  of
influence  in  1989  and  1990.    In  November  1989,  the  Writers'  Union  Party
Organization  voted  to  suspend  its  activity,  and  the  Estonian  Komsomol
disbanded.

In  February  1990,  Estonia's  Supreme  Soviet  eliminated  paragraph  6  of
the  republic's  constitution,  which  had  guaranteed  the  Party's  leading
role  in  society.    The  final  blow  came  at  the  ECP's  20th  congress  in
March  1990  when  it  voted  to  break  with  the  Communist  Party  of  the
Soviet  Union  (CPSU).    The  party  splintered  into  three  branches,  then
consolidated  into  a  pro-CPSU  (Moscow)  party  and  an  independent  ECP.

As  the  ECP  waned,  other  political  movements,  groupings,  and  parties
moved  to  fill  the  vacuum.    The  first  and  most  important  was  the
Estonian  Popular  Front,  established  in  April  1988  with  its  own
platform,  leadership,  and  broad  constituency.      The  Greens  and  the
dissident-led  Estonian  National  Independence  Party  soon  followed.    By
1989,  the  political  spectrum  widened  and  new  parties  were  formed  and
reformed  almost  daily.

A  number  of  changes  in  the  republic's  government  brought  about  by
political  advances  late  in  the  1980s  played  a  major  role  in  forming  a
legal  framework  for  political  change.    This  involved  the  republic's
Supreme  Soviet  being  transformed  into  an  authentic  regional  law-making
body.    This  relatively  conservative  legislature  managed  to  pass  a
number  of  laws,  notably  a  package  of  laws  that  addressed  the  most
sensitive  ethnic  concerns.    These  laws  included  the  early  declaration
of  sovereignty  (November  1988);  a  law  on  economic  independence  (May
1989)  confirmed  by  the  U.S.S.R.  Supreme  Soviet  that  November;  a
language  law  making  Estonian  the  official  language  (January  1989);  and
local  and  republic  election  laws  stipulating  residency  requirements  for
voting  and  candidacy  (August,  November  1989).

Although  not  all  non-Estonians  supported  full  independence,  they  were
divided  in  their  goals  for  the  republic.    In  March  1990,  some  18%  of
Russian  speakers  supported  the  idea  of  a  fully  independent  Estonia,  up
from  7%  the  previous  autumn,  and  only  a  small  group  of  Estonians  were
opposed  to  full  independence  early  in  1990.    Estonia  held  free
elections  for  the  105-member  Supreme  Council  on  March  18,  1990.    All
residents  of  Estonia  were  eligible  to  participate  in  the  elections,
including  the  approximately  50,000  Soviet  troops  stationed  there.    The
Popular  Front  coalition,  composed  of  leftist  and  centrist  parties  and
led  by  former  teacher  Edgar  Savisaar,  won  a  parliamentary  majority.

Despite  the  emergence  of  the  new  lawmaking  body,  an  alternative
legislature  developed  in  Estonia.    In  February  1990,  a  body  known  as
the  Congress  of  Estonia  was  elected  in  unauthorized,  unofficial
elections.    Supporters  of  the  Congress  argued  that  the  interwar
republic  continued  to  exist,  since  Estonia  was  forcibly  annexed  by  the
U.S.S.R.,  so  only  citizens  of  that  republic  and  their  descendants  could
decide  the  future  of  Estonia.

Through  a  strict,  non-confrontational  policy  in  pursuing  independence,
Estonia  managed  to  avoid  the  violence  which  Latvia  and  Lithuania
incurred  in  the  bloody  January  1991  crackdowns  and  in  the  border
customs-post  guard  murders  that  summer.    During  the  August  coup  in  the
U.S.S.R.,  Estonia  was  able  to  maintain  constant  operation  and  control
of  its  telecommunications  facilities,  thereby  offering  the  West  a  clear
view  into  the  latest  coup  developments  and  serving  as  a  conduit  for
swift  Western  support  and  recognition  of  Estonia's  redeclaration  of
independence  on  August  21.    Following  Europe's  lead,  the  U.S.  formally
reestablished  diplomatic  relations  with  Estonia  on  September  2,  and  the
U.S.S.R.  Supreme  Soviet  offered  recognition  on  September  6.

During  the  subsequent  cold  winter  which  compounded  Estonia's  economic
restructuring  problems,  Prime  Minister  Edgar  Savisaar  demanded
emergency  powers  to  deal  with  the  economic  and  fuel  crises.    A
subsequent  no-confidence  vote  by  the  Supreme  Council  caused  the  Popular
Front  leader  to  resign,  and  a  new  government  led  by  former
Transportation  Minister  Tiit  Vahi  took  office.

On  July  26,  Estonian  President  Meri  and  Russian  President  Yeltsin
signed  an  agreement  in  Moscow  calling  for  the  withdrawal  of  Russian
troops  by  August  31,  1994.    Slightly  more  than  2,000  such  troops  remain
in  Estonia.    An  agreement  was  also  signed  regarding  social  guarantees
of  Russian  military  pensioners.    Disposition  of  the  inactive  nuclear
submarine  training  reactor  facility  at  Paldiski  remains  to  be  resolved
within  the  near  future.


GOVERNMENT  AND  POLITICAL  CONDITIONS
On  June  28,  1992,  Estonian  voters  approved  the  constitutional
assembly's  draft  constitution  and  implementation  act,  which  established
a  parliamentary  government  with  a  president  as  chief  of  state  and  with
a  government  headed  by  a  prime  minister.

The  Riigikogu,  a  unicameral  legislative  body,  is  the  highest  organ  of
state  authority.    It  initiates  and  approves  legislation  sponsored  by
the  prime  minister.    The  prime  minister  has  full  responsibility  and
control  over  his  cabinet.

Free  and  fair  parliamentary  and  presidential  elections  were  held  on
September  20,  1992,  the  first  in  Estonia  in  more  than  50  years.  
Approximately  68%  of  the  country's  637,000  registered  voters  cast
ballots,  and  10%  of  the  Russian  population  also  were  eligible  to  vote.  
The  leading  presidential  contenders,  President  Ruutel  (43%  of  the
popular  vote)  and  former  Foreign  Minister  Lennart  Meri  (29%  of  the
vote),  faced  a  secret  parliamentary  vote  to  determine  the  winner.  
Ruutel's  former  association  with  the  ruling  Communist  Party  probably
helped  Meri  win  on  the  first  ballot.    Meri  chose  32-year-  old  historian
and  Christian  Democratic  Party  founder  Mart  Laar  as  Prime  Minister.

In  February  1992,  parliament  renewed  Estonia's  liberal  1938  citizenship
law,  which  also  provides  equal  civil  protection  to  resident  aliens.  
Dual  citizenship  is  allowed  for  Estonians  and  their  families  who  fled
the  Soviet  occupation.    Accordingly,  those  who  were  citizens  in  1940
are  citizens  now.    Those  who  arrived  after  the  occupation  began  can
become  citizens  following  a  two-year  residence  retroactive  to  March  30,
1990,  and  demonstration  of  a  1500-word  comprehension  of  Estonian.    Most
non-citizen  ethnic  Slavs  (35%  of  the  populace)  became  eligible  for
naturalization  in  March  1993,  and  the  government  funds  Estonian
language  training.    In  nationwide  municipal  elections  held  on  October
17,  1993,  opposition  party  and  ethnic  Russian  candidates  gained  a
majority  in  most  areas,  especially  in  Tallinn  and  the  northeast.

National  Security
Estonia's  defense  system  is  based  upon  the  Swedish-Finnish  concept  of  a
rapid  response  force  composed  of  a  mobilization  base  and  a  small  group
of  career  professionals.    The  army  consists  of  three  battalions  of  714
troops  each,  and  there  is  a  mandatory  one-year  draft  period  of  active
duty.    Alternative  conscription  for  18  months  for  conscientious
objectors  is  available.    There  are  no  plans  for  a  navy,  and  Estonia  is
as  yet  financially  unable  to  fulfill  plans  for  an  air  force.

Border  guards  fall  under  the  interior  ministry's  supervision.  
Comprised  of  250-300  troops  each,  the  seven  border  guard  districts,
including  a  "coast  guard,"  are  responsible  for  border  protection  and
passport  and  customs  duties,  as  well  as  smuggling  and  drug  trafficking
interdiction.    A  volunteer  paramilitary  organization  (Kaitseliit)
serves  as  a  type  of  national  guard.

Principal  Government  Officials
President--Lennart  Meri  
Prime  Minister--Mart  Laar  
Minister  of  Foreign  Affairs--Juri  Luik

Estonia  maintains  an  embassy  in  the  United  States  at  1030  15th  Street,
NW,  Suite  1000,  Washington,  DC    20005  (tel:  202-789-0320).    It  operates
a  consulate  at  630  Fifth  Ave.,  Suite  2415,  New  York,  NY  10020  (tel:  
212-247-7634).


ECONOMY
Until  1920,  Estonian  agriculture  consisted  of  native  peasants  working
large  feudal-type  estates  held  by  ethnic  German  landlords.    In  previous
decades,  centralized  czarist  rule  had  contributed  a  rather  large
industrial  sector  dominated  by  the  world's  largest  cotton  mill,  then  a
ruined  postwar  economy  and  an  inflated  ruble  currency.

By  the  1930s,  however,  Estonia  entirely  transformed  its  economy,
despite  considerable  hardship,  dislocation,  and  unemployment.  
Compensating  the  German  landowners  for  their  holdings,  the  government
confiscated  the  estates  and  divided  them  into  small  farms  which
subsequently  formed  the  basis  of  Estonian  prosperity.    By  1929,  a
stable  currency,  the  kroon  (or  crown),  was  established,  and  by  1939,
Estonia's  living  standard  compared  well  with  Sweden's.    Trade  focused
on  the  local  market  and  the  West,  particularly  Germany  and  the  United
Kingdom.    Only  3%  of  all  commerce  was  with  the  U.S.S.R.

The  U.S.S.R.'s  forcible  annexation  of  Estonia  in  1940  and  the  ensuing
Nazi  and  Soviet  destruction  during  World  War  II  crippled  the  Estonian
economy.    Postwar  Sovietization  of  life  continued  with  the  integration
of  Estonia's  economy  and  industry  into  the  U.S.S.R.'s  centrally  planned
structure.    More  than  56%  of  Estonian  farms  were  collectivized  in  April
1949  alone.    Moscow  expanded  on  those  Estonian  industries  which  had
locally  available  raw  materials,  such  as  oil-shale  mining  and
phosphorites.    As  a  laboratory  for  economic  experiments,  especially  in
industrial  management  techniques,  Estonia  enjoyed  more  success  and
greater  prosperity  than  other  regions  under  Soviet  rule.    

As  the  author  of  the  then-radical  "Self-Accounting  Estonia"  plan  in
1988,  Prime  Minister  Savisaar  succeeded  by  early  1992  in  freeing  most
prices  and  encouraging  privatization  and  foreign  investment  far  earlier
than  other  former  Soviet  bloc  countries.    This  experimentation  with
Western  capitalism  has  promoted  Estonia's  clear  advantage  in
reorienting  to  Western  markets  and  business  practice.

With  independence,  the  transitional  government  styled  Estonia  as  the
gateway  between  East  and  West  and  aggressively  pursued  trade  reform  and
economic  integration  with  the  West.    Estonia  has  passed  bankruptcy,
trademark,  copyright,  and  investment  laws  and  has  negotiated  trade  and
investment  agreements  with  many  Western  countries  to  attract  foreign
businesses  and  joint  ventures,  which  now  number  more  than  2,000  in
Estonia.    Estonia's  major  trading  partners  are  the  Nordic  countries,
while  Russia  now  accounts  for  only  one-fourth  of  all  trade.

Estonia  is  reliant  on  an  inefficient,  over-industrialized  economy.    The
country  supplies  60%  of  its  own  energy  converted  from  peat,  wood,
hydroelectric  plants,  and  environmentally  polluting  oil  shale.    Estonia
has  no  domestic  capacity  to  refine  crude  oil  and  depends  heavily  on
Russian  and  Belarusian  petroleum  exports.    Fishing  and  shipbuilding  are
key  industries,  while  the  agricultural  sector  is  small  but  largely
self-sufficient.    The  ice-free  port  of  Muuga,  near  Tallinn,  is  an
underused  modern  facility  with  good  transshipment  capability,  a
high-capacity  grain  elevator,  chilled/frozen  storage,  and  newly
completed  oil  tanker  off-loading  capabilities.    As  a  new  member,
Estonia  received  critical  restructuring  loans  from  the  International
Monetary  Fund  (IMF)  and  World  Bank,  as  well  as  from  G-24  nations,  in
order  to  remedy  critical  energy,  medicinal,  and  feed  grain  shortages
and  financial  shortfalls  caused  by  the  disruption  of  traditional  Soviet
markets.    By  spring  1992,  Estonia  basically  decontrolled  prices;  that
year,  industrial  production  fell  40%.

Spurred  by  an  acute  ruble  shortage,  high  inflation,  and  a  desire  for
national  financial  independence,  Estonia  reintroduced  the  kroon  in  June
1992.    Pegged  to  the  German  mark  and  freely  convertible,  the  kroon  is
backed  by  more  than  $262  million  in  gold  and  timber  reserves.  
Projected  1994  inflation  is  30%.

Fear  of  massive  unemployment  among  the  largely  urban  Russian  work  force
had  delayed  privatization  of  inefficient  factories,  and  the  issue  of
compensation  or  restitution  to  pre-1940  property  owners  remains
contentious.    However,  the  Laar  administration  is  showing  much
toughness  and  promise  on  economic  reform  and  privatization.    Nearly
42,000  private  businesses  are  now  registered  in  Estonia,    and  another
10,000  businesses  are  expected  in  1994.    GDP  growth  has  reached  6.4%  in
1994--the  first  positive  growth  rate  in  one  of  the  former  Soviet  bloc
countries  and  one  of  the  world's  highest  rates.    A  national
privatization  agency,  patterned  after  Germany's  Treuhandan-stalt,
handles  privatization/reorganization  of  state  property.    Eighty  percent
of  small  to  medium-sized  enterprises  are  now  privately  owned,  and
nearly  80,000  new  jobs  have  been  created.    Nearly  one-third  of  the
present  budget,  $81  million,  remains  frozen  in  the  defunct  Soviet
foreign  trade  bank,  which  has  contributed  to  the  insolvency  of  several
banks.    With  a  balanced  budget  for  the  past  two  years,  the  government
refuses  to  weaken  its  strong  fiscal  reputation  and  has  allowed  the
banks  to  fold  or  be  merged  into  the  national  bank.    Estonia  plans  GATT
membership  in  1994  and,  with  practically  no  agricultural  subsidies  and
few  trade  restrictions,  it  actively  seeks  EU  membership  by  the  year
2000.    Estonia  ratified  a  free  trade  agreement  with  the  EU  in  July.


FOREIGN  RELATIONS
Estonia  joined  the  United  Nations  on  September  18,  1991,  and  is  a
signatory  to  a  number  of  UN  organizations  and  other  international
agreements.    It  also  is  a  member  of  the  Conference  on  Security  and
Cooperation  in  Europe,  Partnership  for  Peace,  the  North  Atlantic
Cooperation  Council,  and  the  Council  of  Europe.    Estonia  is
unaffiliated  directly  with  any  political  alliance  but  welcomes  further
cooperation  and  integration  with  NATO,  the  EU,  and  other  Western
organizations.    Estonia  maintains  embassies  in  the  United  States,
Sweden,  Finland,  Denmark,  Germany,  Belgium,  the  United  Kingdom,  France,
and  Russia.    It  operates  missions  in  Lithuania,  Latvia,  to  the  United
Nations,  and  has  a  consulate  general  in  Toronto,  Canada.    Honorary
consuls  are  located  in  Austria,  Switzerland,  Australia,  and  Seattle.

The  United  States  established  diplomatic  relations  with  Estonia  on  July
28,  1922.    U.S.  representation  accredited  to  Estonia  served  from  the
U.S.  legation  in  Riga,  Latvia,  until  June  30,  1930,  when  a  legation  was
established  with  a  non-resident  minister.    The  Soviet  invasion  forced
the  closure  of  the  legation  in  Tallinn  on  September  5,  1940,  but
Estonian  representation  in  the  United  States  has  continued
uninterrupted  for  more  than  70  years.    The  U.S.  never  recognized  the
forcible  incorporation  of  Estonia  into  the  U.S.S.R.  and  views  the
present  Government  of  Estonia  as  a  legal  continuation  of  the  interwar
republic.    Estonia  has  enjoyed  most-favored-nation  (MFN)  treatment  with
the  U.S.  since  December  1991.    In  1991-92,  it  received  approximately  $6
million  annually  in  humanitarian  and  medical  aid,  technical  assistance,
and  professional  training  and  about  $38  million  in  feed  grain  credits
from  the  U.S.  since  1991.    In  1993,  Estonian  trade  with  the  United
States  amounted  to  $20  million  in  exports  and  $54  million  in  imports,
the  latter  being  mainly  agricultural  commodities  under  concessional
programs.    U.S.  investment,  consisting  of  about  145  firms,  makes  up  $20
million  of  $185  million  in  foreign  investment  in  Estonia.

Principal  U.S.  Embassy  Officials
Charge  d'affaires--Keith  Smith
Political  Officer--Elo-Kai  Ojamaa  
Economic  Officer--Ingrid  Kollist
Administrative  Officer--David  Buss  Consular  Officer--Robin  Haase
AID  Director--Adrian  deGraffenreid  
Public  Affairs  Officer--Victoria  Middleton

The  U.S.  embassy  in  Estonia  is  located  at  Kentmanni  20,  Tallinn  (tel.  
372-6-312-021/4).    

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TRAVEL  NOTES

Customs:    Estonia  does  not  require  visas  for  American,  Canadian,  or
British  citizens.    Visitors  are  encouraged  to  register  at  the  U.S.
Embassy.    Hard  currency  exceeding  1,000  DM  ($630)  must  be  declared  upon
entry;  foreigners  need  not  declare  hard  currency  exports  less  than  this
sum  but  may  not  export  more  currency  than  that  declared  upon  arrival.  
Articles  with  a  total  value  of  less  than  5,000  kroons  ($380),  either
already  declared  or  purchased  in  Estonia,  are  duty-free  upon  departure.
  A  100%  export  duty  exists  on  items  of  greater  total  value,  and  10-100%
export  duties  can  be  levied  on  tobacco,  alcohol,  gasoline,  precious
metals  and  jewelry,  furs,  and  cultural  objects.

Climate  and  clothing:    Tallinn  and  the  coast  are  temperate,  with
pleasant,  cool  summers  and  damp  winters;  eastern  Estonia  is
continental,  with  warmer  summers  and  harsher  winters.

Health:    Medical  care  does  not  meet  Western  standards.    There  are
severe  shortages  of  basic  medical  supplies,  including  disposable
needles,  anesthetics,  and  antibiotics.    Raw  fruits  and  vegetables  are
safe  to  eat,  and  the  water  is  potable.    Heat  and  hot  water  are  readily
available.

Transportation:    Several  international  airlines,  including  SAS,  Finnair
and  Estonia  Airlines,  provide  service  between  European  cities  and
Tallinn  Airport.    Train  service  is  available  via  Moscow,  St.  Petersburg
and  Warsaw/Frankfurt,  and  a  bus  line  connects  the  Baltic  capitals  with
Warsaw.    Bus  and  taxi  service  within  the  capital  and  its  environs  is
good.    Excellent  Tallinn-Helsinki  ferry  links  exist  year-round.    Taxis
are  inexpensive  and  available  at  stands  or  may  be  ordered  by  phone.  
Rental  cars  are  available,  and  gasoline  prices  are  at  market  rates.

Telecommunications:    Improved  telephone  and  telegraph  services  are
readily  available  at  standard  international  rates.    Tallinn  is  7  hours
ahead  of  eastern  standard  time.

Work  week:    Most  stores  and  shops  are  closed  on  Sunday,  open
Monday-Friday  from  10:00am  -  6:00  pm  and  on  Saturday  from  9:00am  -
1:00pm.    The  U.S.  embassy  is  closed  on  U.S.  federal  holidays.

Currency,  Weights  and  Measures:    The  freely  convertible  kroon  is  pegged
to  1/8  the  value  of  the  German  deutschmark.    Traveler's  checks  and
major  credit  cards  can  be  used  at  most  banks  and  hotels.    Estonia  uses
the  metric  system  and  220v  current.    

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Further  Information  

These  titles  are  provided  as  a  general  indication  of  the  material
published  on  this  country.    The  Department  of  State  does  not  endorse
unofficial  publications.

Estonia  1993:    A  Reference  Book.    Tallinn:    Estonian  Encyclopedia
Publishers,    1993.

Kreutzwald,  F.R.,  comp.    Kalevipoeg,  An  Ancient  Estonian  Tale.  
Moorestown,  NJ:    Symposia  Press,  1982.

Magi,  Arvo.    Estonian  Literature.    Stockholm:    Baltic  Humanitarian
Association,  1968.

Parming,  Marju  Rink,  and  Tonu  Parming.    A  Bibliography  of
English-Language  Sources  on  Estonia:    Periodicals,  Bibliographies,
Pamphlets,  and  Books.    New  York:    Estonian  Learned  Society  in  America,
1974.

Parming,  Tonu.    The  Collapse  of  Liberal  Democracy  and  the  Rise  of
Authoritarianism  in  Estonia.    London:    Sage  Publications,  1975.

Parming,  Tonu,  and  Elmar  Jarvesoo,  eds.    A  Case  Study  of  a  Soviet
Republic:    The  Estonian  SSR.    Boulder,  CO:    Westview  Press,  1978.

Rank,  Gustav.    Old  Estonia:    The  People  and  Culture,  translated  by
Betty  Oinas  and  Felix  Oinas.    Bloomington:    Indiana  University's  Uralic
and  Altaic  Series,  vol.  128,  1976.

Raun,  Toivo  U.    Estonia  and  the  Estonians,  2nd  edition.    Stanford,  CA:  
Hoover  Institution  Press,  1991.

Rikken,  Mari-Ann,  and  Michael  Tarm,  eds.    Documents  from  Estonia:
Articles,  Speeches,  Resolutions,  Letters,  Editorials,    Interviews
Concerning  Recent  Developments,    two  volumes.    New  York,  1990.

Rodgers,  Mary  M.,  and  Tom  Streissguth,  eds.    Estonia:    Then  and  Now.  
Minneapolis:  Lerner  Publications  Company,  1992.

Uustalu,  Evald.    History  of  the  Estonian  People.    London:    Boreas
Publishing,  1952.

Williams,  Roger,  ed.    Baltic  States:    Insight  Guides.    Boston:  
Houghton-Mifflin  Company,  1993.

For  information  on  economic  trends,  commercial  development,  production,
trade  regulations,  and  tariff  rates,  contact  the  International  Trade
Administration,  U.S.  Department  of  Commerce,  Washington,  DC  20230  at
(202)482-4915,  or  any  Commerce  Department  district  office.    For
information  on  business  opportunities,  call  the  Commerce  Department's
East  European  Business  Information  Center  at  (202)  482-2645.

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Published  by  the  United  States  Department  of  State  --  Bureau  of  Public
Affairs  --  Office  of    Public  Communication  --  Washington,  DC  August
1994  --  Managing  Editor:    Peter  A.  Knecht  --  Editor:    Peter  Freeman    

Department  of  State  Publication  10194  --  Background  Notes  Series  -For
sale  by  the  Superintendent  of  Documents,  U.S.  Government  Printing
Office,  Washington,  DC  20402.

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