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Tuesday 24th October
Estonia Facts
Estonia is a small country about the size of Switzerland, or New Hampshire and Massachusetts combined.

Estonia is named after people called "Ests" who lived in the region in the first century AD.

The Republic of Estonia is one of three countries commonly known as the "Baltic States". The other Baltic State countries are Latvia and Lithuania. However the concept of Baltic States is misleading as it implies some sort of political unity between Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia which is not the case.

Estonia's highest peak is Suur Munamagi (318 m above sea level), the highest point in the entire Baltic region.

Lake Peipsi is Estonia's largest lake and Europe's fourth largest freshwater lake.

In the Bronze Age a meteorite fell in Kaali on the island of Saaremaa. The Kaali catastrophe was the last known case of a large meteorite to fall on a populated area. Estonia has the highest number of meteorite craters per land area in the world.

Estonia is one of the most sparsely populated countries in Europe.

The Estonian people were converted to Christianity as late as the thirteenth century.

Tallinn is the city of the first Christmas Tree in the world. In 1441 the fraternity of Tallinn's unmarried merchants, called the Blackheads, put up a Christmas Tree in the Town Hall Square. They drank, sang and danced with girls around the decorated spruce. The culmination of the party was the burning of the Christmas Tree.

Tartu University was founded in 1632 by King Gustavus Adolphus II when Estonia was under Swedish rule.

At the end of the Second World War Estonia tried to restore its independence but was incorporated as a Republic of the USSR. (The following countries in Europe were members of the former USSR along with Russia: Belarus, Estonia (from WW2), Latvia (from WW2), Lithuania (from WW2), Moldova (from WW2) and Ukraine; member countries from Asia were: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan).

Towards the end of the 1980s thousands of Estonians took part in the "Singing Revolution", a series of non-violent mass demonstrations which expressed the wish for independence from the USSR.

In 1989, to demonstrate the Baltic States' wish for independence, Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians joined hands forming a chain stretching from Tallinn to Riga and to Vilnius.

Lennart Meri (born 1928) an Estonian writer, film director and philosopher became the first President of Estonia after the restoration of independence.

In December 2002 Estonia took part in EU accession negotiations with nine other countries (Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia). The Accession Treaty was signed on 16 April 2003 with 1 May 2004 the formal entry date. EU enlargement meant the unification of twenty-five countries after over half a century of political division and the "Cold War" which followed World War II.

Estonia is one of the Baltic Sea States. Other members of the Council of the Baltic Sea States are Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden, and the European Commission.

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