Estonia History and Culture

History and Politics

First residents

People first lived in what is now Estonia about 11,000 years ago. The oldest settlement was found in Pulli in the south-west of the country. Around 7400 BC The Kunda culture developed around the eponymous place on the northern Baltic coast. It followed from 6000 BC. The Narva culture. The population eventually settled down and started farming. In the first centuries after the new era, numerous small principalities emerged.

The German Order and its state

1237 Knights of the Order in the field established the Estonia, Latvia and parts of Prussia German Ordensstaat. The land was conquered and settled. The region flourished economically. The Baltic Germans, the upper class who immigrated from Germany, influenced culture and language and formed the nobility. Again and again there were conflicts with Poland and Lithuania, which came together in 1385 and became the most powerful empire in the Baltic region. In 1560 the religious state came to an end.

Swedish, Russian – independent!

In 1629 the country was conquered by Sweden, in 1710 it came to Russia in the Great Northern War. Estonia thus belonged to the Baltic Sea Governments of Russia.

With the end of the Russian Empire, Estonia gained its independence for the first time in 1918.

Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic (1940-1991)

In 1940 the Soviet Union occupied Estonia and founded the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1941 the German Empire occupied Estonia. The German troops stayed until 1944 and murdered many Jews. In 1944 the Russians returned. Many Estonians were deported (forcibly) to Siberia. At the same time, Russians were settled in the country.

Independence 1991

In March 1990, Estonia declared itself a republic again, and on August 20, 1991, it officially became independent. This was achieved non-violently through the Singing Revolution: The Baltic people had been banned from singing their folk songs in the Soviet Union – now they were singing to show their striving for independence.

In 2004, as a country located in Europe detailed by ehistorylib, Estonia joined the European Union. In 2011, the euro was introduced as the currency.

Typical Estonia

Singing and dancing

Every five years tens of thousands of singers meet in Tallinn to perform in front of an audience of 150,000 people! The singing meadow is a gigantic place where so many people can gather. This song festival is called Laulupidu and is the most important cultural event in Estonia. The singers are dressed in traditional Estonian costumes. But people also sing everywhere else. Many boys and girls sing in a choir and there are many other singing and song festivals in addition to the Laulupidu.


Not only the Finns, also the Estonians love the sauna! For many Estonians, the weekly sweat is part of their everyday life. Many families even have their own sauna. The sauna is available all year round and preferably on Thursday and Saturday. The sauna is also popular on the eve of larger celebrations and family get-togethers.

Midsummer in Estonia: Jaanipäev

According to an old tradition, Midsummer is celebrated in Estonia – just like in Sweden and the other Scandinavian and Baltic countries. In Estonia the festival is called Jaanipäev. It hardly gets dark that far north in June. It is the time of the summer solstice. They dance, sing and light midsummer fires.

Eating in Estonia

What do you eat in Estonia?

Bread, potatoes, pork and dairy products are staple foods in Estonia. Buttermilk and sour cream appear in many recipes. Cabbage, wild berries, mushrooms and carrots are also popular.

Fish is also eaten with pleasure. It is caught in the Baltic Sea or in the country’s many lakes. The seasoning is rather weak, for example with dill, marjoram or caraway.

And what are “Tule homme jälle”? You can find out if you have a look at the participation tip!

What are Kartuliporss?

Kartuliporss are filled potato dumplings. You cook a mashed potato with sour cream and egg. This is then used to form dumplings. Then you put the seared pork filling in the middle of a dumpling, roll it in semolina and put all the dumplings in the oven on a baking sheet. In the photo on the right, the Kartuliporss have been shaped as if they were small hedgehogs.

Children love kama

Kama is a finely ground flour made from a mixture of barley, rye, oats, peas and beans. People like to eat it for breakfast. With milk or buttermilk it becomes a porridge, sweetened with sugar or jam. Kama is also popular as a dessert.

Estonia History

About the author