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Estonians have been living in this tiny portion of the Baltic lands since approximately 2,500 B.C., making them the longest settled of the European peoples. Due to Estonia’s strategic location as a link between East and West, it has been highly coveted through the ages by rapacious kings and conquerors.


At the beginning of the 13th century, Estonia was subjugated by the Teutonic knights. Their castles still dot the countryside, in varying states of eerie decay. By 1285, Tallinn was part of the Hanseatic League. Trading activities were dominated by the German merchant families which settled there, and successive generations of Germans built their manor houses across the country.

History Of Estonia

But the Germans were only the first of successive waves of conquerors. Danes, Swedes, Poles and Russians all swept across Estonia, setting up successive regimes, fortifying their towns and castles, and shipping their goods through Estonian ports.


In the late 19th century a powerful Estonian nationalist movement arose. Eventually, on 24 February 1918, Estonia declared its independence. Its period of independence was brief, however, and Estonia was forcibly annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940. But in 1991 Estonians again reasserted their independence, and peacefully broke away from the Soviet Union.