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Estonians

From Academic Kids

Estonians are a Finnic ethnic group primarily associated with Estonia and the Estonian language.

There are around 915,000 Estonians living in Estonia.

Notable diaspora is found in the United States: approx. 25,000 (2000)

History

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 (as well as other Finno-Ugric peoples) were also called Chuds (чудь) in Russian chronicles.

Estonians belong to the Balto-Finnic group of the Finno-Ugric peoples, as do the Finns. The principal ancestors of the Estonians arrived from the east around 3,500 BC. The first book in Estonian was printed in 1525, while the oldest known examples of written Estonian originate in 13th century chronicles.

Estonians have strong ties to the Nordic countries today, stemming from strong cultural and religious influences gained over centuries during Scandinavian colonization and settlement.

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.

Emigration

During World War Two, huge numbers of Estonians fled their homeland in rickety boats. Most of the boat-refugees came to Sweden, at the other side of the Baltic Sea, hoping to continue from there to Canada, The United States or England. Many came instead to stay in Sweden, forming the first immigrant group in modern times in that country. Fifty years later, when Estonia finally got back its independence after decades of Soviet occupation, many of the decedants of the boat-refugees returned to Estonia to help it in its rebuilding.

See also


Template:Ethno-stubde:Esten et:Eestlased fi:Virolaiset ka:ესტონელები ru:Эсты

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