Foreigners introduced many new aspects of culture to the people, beginning with
Christianity and the growth of cities and trading posts, guaranteeing continuous
outside contact. These influences began in the form of trade and influence, but
soon turned into foreign control over the people, including being ruled by the Swedes
and Russians. While these people changed the culture and lifestyle to a degree,
they also encouraged a stronger Estonian identity as the people clung tightly to
their language, foods, dress, and lifestyle.
The Soviet Union eventually took over the Estonian people and this vastly changed
the lifestyle. The Soviets introduced technology in numerous forms, while encouraging
people to urbanize and take on jobs in the industrial sector. Farming was still
needed and remained an important occupation for many people, but urbanization occurred
to a great degree as well. More importantly though, the Soviet government encouraged
ethnic Russians to work these new jobs in Estonia as cities swelled with Russians.
The introduction of ethnic Russians created some tensions, but also solidified the
differences between these two groups culturally. The Russians maintained most aspects
of their culture, while the Estonians clung to their historic culture, magnifying
the differences and more strongly identifying as "Estonian."
Today the ethnic division remains in the country, with Russians heavily focused
in urban centers, while the Estonians live throughout the country. Both maintain
their own histories, cultures, lifestyles, and identities. However, the country
is still changing as the people are looking west for inspiration and growth; Estonia
joined the European Union as it progresses technologically and economically.
The colors on Estonia's flag have
unknown origins and meanings. Blue likely represents faith, loyalty, devotion, the
sky, sea, or lakes, black symbolizes the soil of the country and the dark past endured
by the people, while white likely represents the country striving towards enlightenment
Name: Republic of Estonia
Independence: August 20, 1991 & February 24, 1918 (celebrated)
Population: 1,266,375 (2013 estimate)
Ethnicity: Estonian, Russian, & others
Religion: None & Evangelical Lutheran