Coastal scene on a beach on Estonia's Saaremaa Island


Highlights in Estonia

Geography of Estonia

Estonia is the northernmost of the Baltic countries and is located in the north-eastern part of Europe. With an area of approx. 45,000 km², Estonia is about the same size as the Netherlands. The neighbouring countries Russia and Latvia as well as the Baltic Sea border the state. Since a large part of the country's borders are on the water, the largest cities in the country are mainly located by the sea. The capital of Tallinn is also located on the northern coast of the country. Estonia is mainly characterised by forest and hilly landscapes. In addition, countless moors and swamps are characteristic of the landscape. The most important and water-rich rivers in Estonia are the Pärnu (144 km), Kasari (112 km) and Emajõgi (101 km). Lake Peipus on the eastern border of the country is the fourth largest lake in Europe covering an area of about 35,000 km².
With a population of about 1.3 million people, Estonia is one of the least populated countries in Europe. A large part of the population is Estonian, but immigrant Russians, Ukrainians and Finns also make up part of the population.

Estonia's landscapes as well as the rock and soil composition are primarily shaped by glacial processes. As the Scandinavian ice sheet advanced far beyond the borders of Estonia, most of the country's landscape levels were eroded. Furthermore, many glacial moraines shape the landscape of Estonia. Lots of bogs and swamps, which have a significant influence on both the flora and fauna of Estonia, are the result of the glacial processes. The highest elevation of the country is Suur Munamägi, 318 m, near the town of Võru. The coastal areas of Estonia are formed by foundations of limestone and sandstone. These are especially eroded by rivers which can form deep valleys.

Coastal scene on a beach on Estonia's Saaremaa Island
Hilly meadows and forested areas in Estonia's Karula National Park

Travel Tips and Trivia for Estonia

Climate in Estonia

The prevailing climate in Estonia can be described as cool-temperate. With long, cold winters and rather short, moderately warm summers, the Estonian climate can be compared with that of the Scandinavian countries. The eastern part of the country is significantly influenced by the Baltic Sea, resulting in a rather maritime climate. This means that the temperature difference between summer and winter is not as great as in the west of the country.

In cold winters, the coastal regions of the Baltic Sea can freeze over. In this case it is possible to reach the offshore islands of the Baltic Sea coast by car. During the winter months the average temperatures are between 5 °C and -6 °C.
Due to the cold temperatures and the rather high precipitation, the country is mostly under a snow cover that gets higher from northeast to southwest during the winter months. Until the end of April, temperatures can vary between approx. 21 °C and 0 °C. Especially at night, even in spring, there can still be frost and temperatures below 0 °C at night.
During the summer months there are pleasant average temperatures of 16 °C to 17 °C. With 19 hours of sunshine during the summer solstice, summer days are quite long, even if the summer itself is short. Especially in spring and summer strong winds dominate the weather near the Baltic Sea. Even in summer, only unafraid water lovers will swim in the Baltic Sea as the average water temperature is around 16 °C.

The best time to travel to Estonia is definitely in summer. Especially the mild temperatures make it a pleasant destination. From June to August you can expect only little rainfall.

Flora and Fauna of Estonia

Estonia's vast forest areas consist largely of pines, spruces and birches. Coniferous trees form a much higher population density than deciduous trees. Estonia is well-known for its great biodiversity and large stocks of mushroom and berry varieties. Cranberries, blueberries as well as numerous species of mushrooms are the food basis for many animals. The country's large moorlands and swamps also provide an enormous wealth of species. Mosses and grasses grow depending on the season. Annual flooding of these areas is important to manage overpopulation.

Due to its untouched nature and almost natural flora, Estonia is an ideal retreat for a wide variety of animal species. Although Estonia is one of the smaller countries in Europe, the country's predator population in particular is comparatively high. Besides small predators such as foxes, the forests of Estonia are also home to large predators such as wolves and lynxes, but also to brown bears. Also the rare flying squirrels live in the treetops of the country’s large forest areas. The largest animal that roams the forests of Estonia is the moose. With a height at the wither of up to 1,8 m, these gentle herbivores appear quite enormous. Estonia is also a true paradise for ornithologists. At the right time of the year, many migratory birds arrive in Estonia and are on their way south. Storks and especially woodpeckers can be observed quite well. Furthermore, numerous species of owls live in the forests of Estonia. Seals and numerous seabirds can also be found near the coastal regions.

View into a light forest in Estonia
Close-up of a toad species in Estonia
Swamp area in the Estonian region of Haanja

Social Geography of Estonia

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