You declared your independence on 24 February 1918. One hundred years later, you host the EU Council presidency, you commence national initiatives for youth and you arranged so many amazing cultural events for your anniversary.
It’s so impressive what you have achieved in the past 100 years and I am so happy to be able to be part of this historic event together with your people.
To celebrate your 100-year anniversary, I have a small gift to you. Here are 100 reasons why I, wholeheartedly, say “Thank you, Estonia!”
1. For being digital
Estonia is rightfully known as “the most digital society in the world“. The e-residency, the electronic ID card and the digital signature are a few examples of the amazing systems available in Estonia, designed to save both time and money.
2. For being small and cosy
Having to drive more than 30 min to get to the city centre is considered absurd in Tallinn. If you come from a big city, you know what that means.
3. For a fairytale-like capital city
The castle ruins, the city walls, the narrow alleyways make you feel like you’re back in the 13th century. Fairytale is the perfect description for Tallinn.
4. For having 4 seasons
It’s amazing to see the nature transition from chilly spring, to short, but warm summer, to colourful autumn and then to crisp winter.
5. For delicious traditional food
Who doesn’t love a good ol’ pork stake, with baked potatoes as a side dish? Estonia offers a variety of delicious foods, some better than the others, if I have to be completely honest. Check out my favourite (and least favourite) Estonian foods.
6. For beautiful people
Did you know that Estonia has the highest number of international supermodels per capita in the world?
7. For the “wife-carrying” contest
“Naisekandmine” is a contest in which male competitors race, while carrying a female team-mate, through a special track with obstacles. Even though the sport was first introduced in Finland, Estonia also contributed to making it famous.
8. For Skype
Oooooh the sensitive Skype-related debate! Who invented Skype? Was it Sweden, was it Denmark, or Estonia? As a proud resident of Estonia, I’m gonna go with the later and refrain from any further discussion on this topic. #SorryNotSorry
9. For kiiking
Have you ever seen those crazy people spinning round and round in a massive swing? Yep, that’s actually a sport, called kiiking and it was invented by Estonians.
10. For many islands
Estonia has over 2000 amazing islands, Saaremaa and Hiiumaa being two of my favourite ones.
11. For free public transportation
Tallinn offers free public transportation to its residents, which is not only pretty incredible, but also unique in Europe, as far as I know.
12. For online voting
i-Voting is a system that allows voters to cast their ballots from any internet-connected computer anywhere in the world; it is a safe and transparent system, better than any other one in the world. In addition, it saves 11,000 working days per election.
13. For being green
Estonia is among the 10 greenest countries in the world, according to the Environmental Performance Index.
14. For the many clever startups
Estonia is increasingly becoming recognised as a tech startup paradise and it has even been called the Silicon Valley of Europe.
15. For being one of the least religious countries
Most Estonians don’t believe in religion. Instead, they prefer to focus on finding piece in nature.
16. For Suur Munamägi
Suur Munamägi (the “Big Egg Mountain”) is the highest peak in Estonia (and the Baltic states), reaching 318 m above sea level.
17. For being one of the least populous state of the European Union
Estonia is one of Europe’s least crowded countries, with a population density of 28.4 people per square km, as well as one of the the least populous of all the EU member states (1.3 million).
18. For your flag
The Estonian flag was officially adopted on 21 November 1918. The colour blue represents loyalty, and the country’s beautiful blue skies, sea and lakes; black is symbolic of the past oppression and the fertile soil, and white represents virtue, winter snows, and Estonia’s long struggle for freedom and independence.
19. For being internet-focused
In Estonia, you can do almost everything via the internet: pay your bills, sign official documents, register to events and many other things.
20. For the café culture
As a coffee lover myself, I can’t help but appreciate the myriad of beautiful, cosy coffee shops placed in stunning locations all over Estonia.
21. For the high literacy rate
Estonia’s literacy rate is a whopping 99.8%. This is amazing and something Estonians should be very proud of.
22. For your beautiful language
It’s no secret I am struggling to learn Estonian. It is a very difficult language and, if I am not mistaken, it is even categorised as one of the most difficult languages to learn for a native English speaker. However, it is also considered one of the most beautiful languages in the world. I think it’s quite impressive that it still exists, despite the many invasions the country faced throughout the years.
23. For your bird-watching season
Estonia’s indented coastline, numerous islands, forests, bogs and other cultural landscapes are all great spots for bird-watching. Estonia is your go-to European destination for bird-watching.
24. For the first Christmas tree
The legend says that the first Christmas tree was brought to Tallinn in 1441 by the Brotherhood of the Blackheads, a Livonian merchants’ association. This makes it the first Christmas tree placed in a town square in Europe.
25. For the safety reflectors law
Estonians stay safe during the dark winter nights. Kids and adults alike, are never spotted without a reflector in the dark, which massively increases the pedestrians’ safety.
26. For cleaning up the planet
Let’s Do It! World is a civic-led mass movement born in Estonia in 2008 and it continues today. On World Clean Up Day, volunteers gather together to clean up the planet.
27. For kohuke
Kohuke is a curd snack wrapped in chocolate glaze. Needless to say, it quickly became my favourite Estonian dessert.
28. For sauna
While in some countries sauna is a spa activity, in Estonia it used to be a way to wash yourself and nowadays it can be found in most homes. If it’s same-sex sauna, Estonians go naked, so be prepared in case you’re more on the shy side.
29. For the cultural capital
Tallinn was the European Capital of Culture in 2011. Estonia is nominated once again to designate a city for the European Capital of Culture title in 2024.
30. For the summer capital
31. For high-tech education
The two most widely used web applications for schools in Estonia are called e-School and Studium. These innovative tools provide an easy way for parents, teachers and children to collaborate and organise all the information necessary for teaching and learning.
32. For the Kalev chocolate
Kalev is the largest and oldest confectionery company in Estonia with its earliest precursor beginning operations in Tallinn in 1806. Their sweets are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!
33. For Arvo Pärt
Arvo Pärt is an Estonian composer of classical and religious music, but he is also the most performed living composer in the world. Pretty impressive!
34. For being a great place for expats
Living as an expat in Estonia has its ups and downs, but overall I love it and I’ll always be grateful for this opportunity. I’d recommend Estonia, without hesitation.
35. For good parental leave conditions
Estonia offers some of the best parental leave conditions in the world. The leave is 18 months and it can be shared between the mother and the father. I wonder how jealous my American friends are…
36. For the well-known Christmas market
The Tallinn Christmas Market , held in the Town Hall Square is incredibly beautiful. It offers a cosy Christmas atmosphere you cannot forget!
37. For Jaanipäev
Jaanipäev is the longest celebrated public holiday in Estonia. On the night before Jaanipäev, Estonians gather with their families to celebrate this important day, singing and dancing, drinking and eating and lighting bonfires. It is arguably the most important holiday (even more important than Christmas) in the yearly calendar for Estonians.
38. For the UNESCO World Heritage sites
Estonia has two UNESCO World Heritage sites. First on the list is the historic old town of Tallinn which is known for its medieval architecture. Second, and maybe a little bit strange, is the Struve Geodetic Arc, which Estonia shares with Belarus, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Moldova, Russia, Sweden and Ukraine. It is a chain of survey triangulations stretching from Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Sea, which yielded the first accurate measurement of a meridian.
39. For your folk tales, myths and legends
Estonia has many wonderful myths and legends. All you need to do is reveal your inner child imagination and be ready to delve deep into a side of Estonia that very few people ever uncover. Here’s a cool article I found, describing five hidden legends of Tallinn.
40. For your craft beer
Estonians have been crafting beer from local ingredients for centuries. They have various brewing techniques, depending on the location and special herbs were added to achieve delicious flavours.
41. For your snowy winters
The winters in Estonia are cold and crisp, but they offer possibilities for skiing, snowboarding or sledging for the less brave ones (like me).
42. For your colourful autumns
September and October are the most colourful months of the year which offer you a splendid mosaic of colours: from deep reds, to yellows, browns and orange, greens and purples… it’s a true spectacle!
43. For your warm summers
Even though the summer doesn’t last too long in Estonia, when the sun is shining, Estonians hit the beach, sunbath and go for a swim in the Baltic sea.
44. For your lovely springs
Spring is the time when Estonia’s beautiful nature comes back to life! Even though it’s still pretty cold during spring, it’s an amazing season to watch.
45. For e-residency
Estonia is the first country to offer e-Residency, a government-issued digital ID available to anyone in the world, enabling anyone to easily start and run a global business in a trusted EU environment.
46. For mobile parking
It’s so easy to pay for parking with your phone in Estonia. Send an SMS or use the special parking app and you’re good to go!
47. For the song festival
The Estonian Song Festival (Laulupidu) is one of the largest amateur choral events in the world, a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. It is held every five years in July on the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds together with the Estonian Dance Festival. The joint choir has comprised more than 30,000 singers performing to an audience of 80,000. Only thinking about it gives me goosebumps.
48. For the digital signature
I already mentioned how digital Estonia is as a society, but the digital signature deserves its special place on my “thank you” list. I adore the fact that I can sign official documents online and I don’t have to go to any physical location to do so. Lazy / busy people, rejoice!
49. For being part of EU
Without adhering to the European Union, many of the opportunities Estonia offers (and is offered) wouldn’t be possible.
50. For your intriguing architecture
If the old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, thanks to its incredibly well preserved architecture, imagine how beautiful the entire country’s architecture is!
51. For the Telliskivi creative campus
Telliskivi is an area located in a former industrial complex next to the Balti Station on the borders between the City Centre, Pelgulinna, and Kalamaja districts. It is the largest creative centres in Estonia and it consists of studios, creative companies and offices of NGOs.
52. For Rotermann kvartal
Rotermann City is a cosy and friendly urban environment characterised by historical atmosphere, outstanding and tantalising architecture. It is located right in the heart of Tallinn.
53. For Kalamaja
The fastest developing urban area in Tallinn, Kalamaja, is a hip and cool hangout place which hides some great Tsarist architecture.
54. For Jägala Waterfall
The Jägala Waterfall is the widest natural waterfall in Estonia; it is approximately 8 metres high and more than 50 metres wide. A spectacular view, especially in the winter, when it freezes.
55. For Kadriorg Palace
Kadriorg is the grandest example of palace and park design in Estonian architectural history, which today, is home to the foreign art collection of the Estonian Art Museum.
56. For Tallinn TV Tower
Tallinn TV Tower has Northern Europe’s highest open viewing platform – an experience that can’t be missed!
57. For organic foods
More and more shops and boutiques offer the opportunity to buy fresh, organic foods.
58. For being affordable
Despite the recent spike in prices, Estonia is still an affordable country to live in, considering rental, food, transportation and restaurant prices.
59. For career opportunities
Estonia is constantly searching for talent, especially in the IT industry. Considering the rapid development and the startup culture, Estonia is in need of professionals from various fields.
60. For your history
Estonia has a rich history and Estonians are very proud of their roots.
61. For being proud
Any Estonian you speak to will show how proud they are of their country, language and history.
62. For your award-winning oak tree
A 150-tear-old oak tree, on a football field in Orissaare, Saaremaa is the European Tree of the Year 2015, as a result of a vote consisting of 200,000 European participants.
63. For relaxing spas
There are so many wonderful spas in Estonia! If you’re searching for your zen, go ahead and spend a weekend in one of Estonia’s fabulous spas, such as Hedon Spa in Pärnu.
64. For winning the Eurovision song contest
In 2001, Estonia won the Eurovision song contest and all Estonians remember this moment with pride, secretly hoping it will happen again.
65. For your swamps and bogs
Estonia is a dreamland for nature lovers and its swamps and bofs are absolutely spectacular.
66. For your manor houses
Estonia boasts over 1000 manors and castles, many of which are fully restored luxury hotels.
67. For being libertarian
A new index created by the State of World Liberty Project (SoWL) ranked Estonia as the most libertarian country globally. The index “monitors the level of individual and economic freedom and limited government in countries around the world” and is a compilation of “four noted freedom indices”.
68. For your shopping centres
If you’re in the mood for shopping, Estonia (especially Tallinn) will never disappoint you. From Rocca al Mare, to Ülemiste Keskus, to Kristine Keskus… you’ll definitely find what you’re searching for.
69. For one of the oldest universities
Tartu University is one of the oldest university in Europe.
70. For Paul Keres
He is one of the world’s greatest chess players.
71. For your meteorite craters
Meteorite craters are rare around the world. In Võru County, however, there is a group of craters formed from meteorite impacts which the locals call ‘
72. For your white nights
Although sometimes causing me sleeping issues, it’s wonderful to witness the white nights in Estonia.
73. For aurora borealis
Last year, I went on a hunt for the Northern lights, but unfortunately I wasn’t lucky enough to see them. I really hope that this year I will be able to do so, as the pictures I’ve seen are incredible.
74. For your hiking opportunities
Hiking enthusiasts consider Estonia’s pine forests and bogs as popular getaway destinations.
75. For your sarcastic humour
I am still not used to this yet, but I feel like I’m getting the hang of it.
76. For your affordable health care
Compared to other countries around the globe, Estonia’s healthcare is very affordable. If you have any health issue, all you have to do is visit your family doctor (general practitioner) who will then give you a recommendation for a specialist. You only need to pay 5 EUR.
77. For wifi everywhere
… and I mean EVERYWHERE, even in those beautiful forests.
78. For your old streets, city walls and medieval towers
Just google “Tallinn” and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
79. For your awesome festivals
Festivals are super popular in Estonia. The Folk Music Festival in Viljandi is a great one to check out.
80. For your entertaining nightlife
Estonia offers quite a few entertaining night clubs and pubs. You’ll never be bored on a night out.
81. For your beautiful seashore
Going for a walk at the seaside, in the evening, when the sun sets…. priceless.
82. For the gorgeous sights of Viljandi
Viljandi is one of the most beautiful towns of Estonia.
83. For the cosy dining places
Even though there are no Michelin-star restaurants in Estonia, you can find so many wonderful dining places. The food, the service and the design are impeccable (most of the time).
84. For the convenient location on the globe
It’s very convenient to fly from Estonia to various places around the globe.
85. For the Instagram-worthy scenery
There are so many spectacular views my Instagram account is thankful for!
86. For the handmade goodies
Estonians truly appreciate handmade designs and this type of business is thriving here.
87. For the Catherine’s Passage
One of the most picturesque walkways in Old Town, the medieval St. Catherine’s passage connects Vene and Müürivahe streets.
88. For the first daily newspaper
Postimees (The Postman) is an Estonian daily newspaper established on January 1, 1857, by Johann Voldemar Jannsen and it became Estonia’s first daily newspaper in 1891.
89. For rye bread
Estonians have a love affair with their rye bread. To be fair, it’s not my favourite, but I know it’s appreciated by everyone, so I included it here.
90. For the brave people who stood in the Baltic chain
The Baltic Chain was a peaceful, political demonstration that occurred on 23 August 1989, where approximately two million people joined their hands to form a human chain spanning 675.5 kilometres (419.7 mi) across the three Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
91. For your stunning waterfalls
Besides Jägala Waterfall, Estonia has so many other beautiful ones. Keila Waterfall and Valaste Waterfall are just two stunning examples.
92. For being the best kept secret of Scandinavia
Estonia has been named Scandinavia’s gem, thanks to its pristine coastlines, modern design and colourful cultural heritage.
93. For your talented designers
Estonia has so many talented designers in the fashion industry and even though the prices are spicy, the quality is worth it!
94. For your competitive, yet stable business environment
Estonia has a strategic location at the intersect of the European, Nordic and Russian markets, providing a unique set of trade, language and cultural linkages.
95. For the gold medals in the Olympics
Despite being so small, Estonia has done remarkably well in the history of the Olympics. It ranks number eight in the total medal count and number two in summer Olympics, when calculated per capita.
96. For the starlit sky
During the night you can see the bright stars in the sky, from almost any location in Estonia.
97. For Linnar Viik
Linnar Viik is Estonia’s Internet guru and innovation advocate. He was part of the team who built systems for a whole new country when Estonia set itself free during the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Viik helped Estonia become the first country in the world to adopt a system of e-governance, changing its cabinet meetings to paperless sessions.
98. For the world’s largest folklore collection
Tartu holds the world’s largest folklore collection, within the Estonian Folklore Archives. Here you can find various manuscripts, photographs, sound and video recordings. By the beginning of 2013 the archives contained 25 folklore collections in manuscript (a total of 1,476,445 pages), a photo collection of 39,313 photographs, sound archives including 180,014 pieces, and 1,333 video tapes and films.
99. For my husband!
Because I fell in love with him, I fell in love with you too, Estonia! #Cheesy #ButIDontCare
100. For being you!
And last, but not least, thank you Estonia, for being you!