Backgrounder: Key facts about Republic of Estonia

19:52, September 21, 2010      

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The Republic of Estonia is located in the Baltic Region of northern Europe. It is bordered to the east by the Russian Federation, to the south by Latvia, to the north by the Gulf of Finland, and to the west by the Baltic Sea.

The country covers an area of 45,227 square kilometers and has a population of 1.34 million.

Estonians constitute a majority of the country's population. Minority ethnic groups include the Russians and immigrants from Ukraine and Belarus. Estonian language is the official language. English and Russian are also widely used in the country.

The largest religion in the country is Evangelical Lutheranism, followed by Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholicism.

The capital Tallinn is in the northwestern part of the country. It used to be an important transit center since the medieval period, dubbed as the crossroad of Europe. Tallinn is also the biggest port city of Estonia.

In history, Estonia has once been occupied and ruled by Prussia, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Germany and Russia.

Estonia declared independence on Feb. 24, 1918. In July 1940, Estonia joined the former Soviet Union. On Aug. 20, 1991, Estonia declared its independence again.

Since then, Estonia has carried out market reforms and free trade policies. In 1994, Estonia became one of the first countries to adopt zero tariff.

Entering the European Union in 2004, Estonia has also become one of the strongest economies of the new member states of the bloc.

In recent years, the Estonian economy has been growing with admirable rates. In 2009, the country's GDP registered 19.1 billion U.S. dollars, or, 14,238 dollars per capita.

China established diplomatic ties at ambassadorial level with Estonia on Sept. 11, 1991. The bilateral relations have developed steadily since then, with exchange of high-level visits and exchanges in the areas of politics, economy and culture strengthening continuously.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:王寒露)

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