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Demographics of Estonia

From Academic Kids

The name "Eesti," or Estonia, is derived from the word "Aestii," the name given by the ancient Germans to the peoples living northeast of the Vistula River. The Roman historian Tacitus in 98 A.D. was the first to mention the "Aestii" people, and early Scandinavians called the land south of the Gulf of Finland "Eistland," and the people "eistr." Estonians belong to the Balto-Finnic group of the Finno-Ugric peoples, as do the Finns and Hungarians. Archaeological research supports the existence of human activity in the region as early as 8,000 BC, but by 3,500 BC the principal ancestors of the Estonians had arrived from the east.

Estonians have strong ties to the Nordic countries today stemming from strong cultural and religious influences gained over centuries during Scandinavian colonization and settlement. This highly literate society places strong emphasis upon education, which is free and compulsory until age 16. The first book in Estonian was printed in 1525.

Written with the Latin alphabet, Estonian is the language of the Estonian people and the official language of the country. One-third of the standard vocabulary is derived from adding suffixes to root words. The oldest known examples of written Estonian originate in 13th century chronicles. During the Soviet era, the Russian language was imposed for official use.

From 1945-89 the percentage of ethnic Estonians in Estonia dropped from 94% to 61%, caused primarily by the Soviet program promoting mass immigration of urban industrial workers from Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, as well as by wartime emigration and Stalin's mass deportations and executions. In the decade following the reconstitution of independence, large scale emigration by ethnic Russians and the removal of the Russian military bases in 1994 caused the proportion of ethnic Estonians in Estonia to increase from 61% to 68% in 2003.

Estonia is an interesting country in that, as a whole, it is multicultural, but geographically, it is largely homogenous. 13 of Estonia's 15 counties are at least 80 percent ethnic Estonian, the most homogenous being Hiiumaa, where Estonians account for 98.4% of the population. In the counties of Harju and Ida-Viru, however, Estonians make up 60% and 20% of the population, respectively. Ethnic Russians make up 25.7% of the total population, but account for 36% of the population in Harju county, and 70% of the population in Ida-Viru county.

Contents

Population

Age structure

  • 0-14 years: 18% (male 129,204; female 124,269)
  • 15-64 years: 68% (male 466,960; female 503,233)
  • 65 years and over: 14% (male 67,781; female 140,024) (2000 est.)

Population growth rate

  • -0.59% (2000 est.)

Birth rate

  • 8.45 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate

  • 13.55 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration rate

  • -0.79 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Sex ratio

  • at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
  • under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
  • 15-64 years: 0.93 male(s)/female
  • 65 years and over: 0.48 male(s)/female
  • total population: 0.87 male(s)/female (2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate

12.92 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

  • total population: 69.45 years
  • male: 63.4 years
  • female: 75.79 years (2000 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.19 children born/woman (2000 est.)

Nationality

  • noun: Estonian(s)
  • adjective: Estonian

Ethnic groups

Estonian 68.4%, Russian 25.7%, Ukrainian 2.1%, Belarusian 1.2%, Finn 0.9%, other 2.3% (2003)

Religion

Traditional religion of the Estonians is the Christian belief in the form the Evangelical Lutheran confession (as in many other countries in Scandinavia).

Less than a third of the population define themselves as believers, of those the majority are Lutheran, whereas the Russian minority is Eastern Orthodox. Ancient equinoctial heathen traditions are held in high regard. Today, about 32 % of the population are members of a church or religious group, thereof:

  • 14.8 % Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church
  • 13.9 % Orthodox
  • ca. 6,000 Baptists
  • ca. 3,500 Roman-Catholics

There are also a number of smaller Protestant and Jewish groups.

Languages

Estonian (official), Russian, Ukrainian, English, Finnish, other

Literacy

  • age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 100% (1998 est.)
See also : Estonia
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