Estonian People

Monday, November 27, 2017 - 16:00

Estonian people have a long-standing tradition of telling everybody, strangers and family alike, that Estonia is strategically perfectly placed. And you know something? They’re completely right.

This jewel of a country is hidden away high in Northern Europe, nestled right up against Russia. If that’s not enough, Estonia sits right below Finland and over the past few decades have gained notoriety as a key trade route port to and from the east. Strategically placed? Check.

Estonia has come a long way from their tragic history during WWII and has firmly developed into a united and fiercely intellectual society. It’s the unofficial internet capital of the world, where WIFI’s found just about anywhere, and where first graders could easily work for Google. However, Estonia is much more than most people give it credit for; let me explain.

Say Hello to the Estonian People

My first experience with the Estonian people came by car a few summer ago. Crossing the border from St. Petersburg towards Tallinn. The moment I entered the country, I could tell right away that this ride was going to be one of a kind. Estonians are quiet—not necessarily in a shy way, but in a very formal and passive way. The more and more I drove and walked around the country it was apparent the style of people the Estonian were. Everyday life is very similar to a business lifestyle; they speak very softly, not because they’re shy, but because they’re incredibly polite and courteous to everyone around them.

I’ve heard rumors that they are aloof to most things, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Estonian don’t like to draw attention to themselves and are indeed reserved people. However, they’re incredibly friendly people, think small town feel where everyone knows everyone, and they always seem to be so calm. I swear, they do not know what stress is, and if they do, they rationalize and handle stress much better than anybody else (you and me included).

The Estonian Culture, Truly Unique

While half the world doesn’t even know where Estonia is, the other half only assumes that all the women are models. Although, they’re not entirely wrong, as Estonia has the highest rate of supermodels per capita in the world. Aside from the women being drop dead gorgeous, the entire population of Estonia is ranked 2nd in the world according to Unesco regarding having high literacy (99.8% of the population). Surely these people love to read, but they also love all things spa, titles (name titles are a necessary thing here), the internet (birthplace of Skype), and of course, singing.

The Estonian culture revolves three things more than anything else; the internet, singing, and family. The family here is everything—it’s the focal point of society, and everyone takes care of everyone. Newlyweds tend to live at home with their parents until they’re able, and grandparents tend to be taken care of by their children rather than being placed in assisted housing. It’s the family that first introduces each other to the many traditions and folk stories of giants who talk to hedgehogs, that are passed down generation to generation. It’s also the family who teaches you of etiquette, manners, the right amount of sarcasm to give (Estonian are infamous for the amount of sarcasm they use), and that anything under 20% proof is non-alcoholic.

Next, the fact that keeps getting better and more addictive, the internet. Ever since the government imposed the first flat rate tax, the internet culture has swept into Estonia with open arms. This society firmly believes the connection between man and technology is growing to become synonymous with each other, so teaching these values early in education has been a requirement. Estonian’s are taught to first graders how to code—and yes, I mean computer coding, as in designing programs, and software. The internet is such a staple of society that not only is Wifi readily available throughout the entire country, but almost everyone here is online passed. From order food, filling out official papers, to even voting. Yes…in Estonia, you can now vote entirely online.

Lastly, singing has been the countries go to method of unity since the early 1990’s when Estonia got its Independence at what is now called “The Singing Revolution.” Estonian people gathered and sang song after song to rebel, ultimately getting their freedom in the process. Since then, Estonian still come together on their Independence days (they have 2) and sing many of the 130,000 folk songs together.

Estonian Nature and Geography

Estonia just might surprise anyone hasn’t researched its geography. From its closeness with Russia, it has gotten this image of being a barren tundra. However, that’s even remotely close. In fact, it’s just about the opposite. Estonia is much closer related to geography to Denmark than it is Russia. It’s at or slightly above sea level throughout the country. You wouldn’t know it, but its 52% forest and wilderness, filled with wolves, bobcats, and even bears. Weaving through the dense forests you will find over 7,000 rivers, 1,000 lakes, and surprising over 2,000 islands off its coasts. The Estonian people take good care of their breathtaking nature Parks and Reservations, not to mention the 2015 Tree of the Year in the Saaremaa oak tree (right in the middle of a football field, no joke).

Estonia
Estonia

Travel and Activities in Estonia

Journey into the vast wilderness and get an adventure of a life time. Surely you cannot pass up the opportunity to take in the surreal North Coast Waterfalls, or gaze in wonderment at the Kiipsaare Lighthouse, and wonder how something so tall and thin has not fallen (it's amazing!). Estonia’s beauty can be seen and experienced no matter where your travels or the free transportation takes you. The country’s capital, Tallinn, is one of the most preserved medieval towns in the world. Home to some of the most incredible sights and landmarks you’ll ever see; like the Town Hall Square, Kadriong Park, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, and Viru Square. However, you can't just stop there—Parnu Beach sees millions of travels every year (Estonia has more tourist per year than its population, 1.2 million population). More other cannot miss sights include Kaali Meteorite Crater, Piusa Sand Caves (these systems are straight out of a horror movie but are beautiful), Tuhala Witches Well (the absolute coolest anomaly in the world), and of course Otepää.

Don’t dare think for a second that Estonia isn’t for you because let me tell you something, Estonia has something for everyone. Although, why settle for things you’ve already done? Why not try something truly new to you?

Wife carrying means to seem like a joke to you, but it's not for the Estonian people. It’s a sport and its taken 100% seriously. If that’s not for you then perhaps horseback riding, cycling, sailing, water sports (parasailing, windsurfing, rafting, etc.), or winter sports (ice skating). There's also, shopping, extreme sports (bungee jumping, hang-gliding, skydiving, etc.), bird watching (ranked 3rd in the world for best locations to bird watch), musical festivals and concerts, hiking, and hitting the cities and taking in the nightlife and fantastic food.

Come for the Adventure, Stay for the Wifi

Estonia, in a way, is much like their people. It’s a very peaceful country but beneath its beautiful exterior lies its true self, a friendly nature society that respects everyone. Estonian people are real—they do as they say and say what they do; their words carry weight and respect. It’s the kind of place you wish you grew up in, but glad you got to experience. It’s a place as unique as their people, and I can assure you, you don’t have to be a good singer to fit in here.

 

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