Estonians are not of indo-European origin like the neighbouring Latvians, Lithuanians and Russians but rather of finno-ugric origin like the Finns, the Lapps and the Karelians who moved into this area more than 4000 years ago from the east somewhere. Hungarians, Samoyeds who live north of Siberia and a few other isolated people also belong to this linguistic family whose distant origin has not yet been ascertained.
Estonia's history resembles that of Latvia. Superbly located Tallinn was well fought over and changed hands several times between the Danes, the Knights of the Sword, the Teutonic Order, the Swedes, the Poles and Lithuanians and the finally the Russians who have controlled it most of the time from 1710 to 1991.
Having been subjected to massive immigration from Russia during the last 50 years like Latvia, Estonia has also passed restrictive citizenship and language laws to restore the rightful priority of their cultural identity in their own country.
|Atlapedia CIA Country Reports Traveldocs estonie|
I got here by bus from Riga and stayed in a backpacker's hostel in the Old City whose fortifications have been beautifully restored as you can see from this photo of the south-west city walls.
With my friend Boris Kutnets in front of the north east tower called Fat Margaret, with the Oleviste Church belfry in the background.
Viru gate looking into the south east corner of the Old City.
Below left, Viru Gate from inside the Old City and right, Müürivahe lane just inside the walls north of Viru Gate.
Town Hall Square.
Below on the left, the Old Town Hall and on the right, a view up Pikk street with the belfry of Pühavaimu Church.
Vana turg close to the Küün Hostel where I stayed for 10US$ per night.
Below, an art nouveau house on Pikk street and a clinch on Apteegi street..
View north over lower town and Oleviste Church from the upper town.
Below, view south over Niguliste Church on the left and Russian Orthodox Alexander Nievsky Cathedral on the right.
At this point, the objective of visiting China and the ex-USSR had been reached. I had not yet visited Slovakia, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg and Iceland so I planned my route to have a look at these four countries on my way back to Montreal.