No. 38




The Story of the Estonians

05 December 2018


RiTo No. 38, 2018

When we are concerned about the size and welfare of the population of Estonia, for many people, this concern has a common subtext or principal tone – how are the Estonians doing, the native inhabitants of this corner of the Earth, the small nation of less than a million? Throughout the duration of its existence, a threat has been hanging over its head – to be or not to be, can it preserve the population size needed to preserve its own culture, so that the neighbours and the immigrants arriving here will not assimilate it?

The story is about the changes in the size of population in Estonia during its long history. It is also about the events that have affected it, including the migrations that have taken place during the last 150 years which have changed direction for five times, and as a result of which up to one fifth of Estonians live outside the Estonian borders. It also mentions all the nations that have lived side by side with us in Estonia during our long history.

One of the peculiarities of the Estonians is their love for nature, which is also manifested in urban sprawl. Although the present time is characterised by global urbanisation, the Estonians have retained the traditional attitude of rural people. Those who can afford it move from urban apartment buildings to the outskirts of cities, be it a more human-friendly apartment building closer to nature or, the ultimate dream, a small private house with a garden where the children can run barefoot in the grass.

In summary, we have done well. This is also evident in the good condition of the Estonian language nowadays. Besides the fact that this language (and its still-surviving dialects) is the everyday home and spoken language for nearly a million people, it is also a serious language of culture, the Internet, higher education and, to some extent, research as well. The Estonian language is however the most important feature and characteristics of an Estonian.