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Thursday, January 15, 2009


Estonia, bordered by the Baltic Sea, the Russian Federation and Latvia, and the most northerly of the three former Soviet Baltic republics, is a country of great scenic beauty with many forests, lakes and islands.Estonia is an unspoilt, sparsely populated country, nearly half of which is covered with forests. Wetlands, together with primeval forests, represent preserved communities which have for the most part been destroyed in Europe. More than 1,000 lakes (5% of the Estonian territory) dot the countryside, which is relatively flat - almost two thirds of the territory lies less than 50m (164ft) above sea level. While 7,000 rivers and streams carry rainwater to the sea, bogs and wooded swamplands of different types cover over one fifth of the country - a world index topped only by the northern neighbour, Finland. The history of Estonia (and indeed of the other Baltic States) has been one of constant struggle to maintain independence and national integrity against the predatory instincts of larger neighbours. The Russians who were determined to secure a ‘window onto the Baltic’ for economic as well as strategic reasons acquired Estonia from Sweden, at the Treaty of Nystadt, in 1721