History of Estonia

Estonia is a former Soviet Republic that was officially formed in 1991. However the history of its people and its state have started much earlier.



The territory of present day Estonia was settled in the third millennium BC. Phoenicians apparently made their way to the shores of this land and even traded amber with the local tribes. Although much of history of Estonia remains clouded it is certain that starting from the 13th century pagan tribes that inhabited came under great pressure from the Roman Catholic Teutonic Order. This religious order started a series of campaigns against heathens in order to spread Christianity in the region. So Estonia along with the Eastern and North Baltic is one of the last countries on the continent to adopt Christianity as their official religion. It was not peaceful by any means. The whole country is dotted with remains of the medieval castles constructed by the Teutonic knights that needed them as a base for control of the surrounding lands. In 1285 Tallinn, capital of Estonia, becomes a member of the Hanseatic League, a medieval version of WTO that included much of the South Baltic cities.


Germans gradually settled in the region. Than Danes, Swedes, Poles and Russians followed. After series of wars between Russian and and Swedish Empires in the 18th century much of the Baltic states came under possession of the Russian Empire. However after Russian Revolution of 1917 all of Baltic states declared independence in 1918. This did not last long. Soviet Union under leadership of Joseph Stalin quickly quenched all opposition and simply annexed Estonia along with other Baltic States in 1940.


This is where much of conflict starts. Many Estonians joined the Axis forces as part of volunteer divisions. They viewed Adolf Hitler as a liberator who came to free Estonia from Communist yolk. Sacrificing Jewish population or anyone who did not fit the ethnic or political profile of the Nazis was a small price to pay for freedom from the Commies. After the Nazis were defeated Stalin's Soviet Police sent many of the Estonian patriots and nationalists to Siberia further diving the country. Needless to say Estonians have very difficult time defining their historic heritage of the 20th centuries. On one hand struggle against the Soviet Union and on the other hand collaboration with the Nazi regimes creates a difficult divide that makes history very complicated. Today Estonia is the member of UN and the IMF.