Thursday, September 01, 2005

Country of the Month: Estonia

Last month, I wrote a post on Fun Finland Facts. Apart from being a lot of fun to write, it also increased my readership a bit. Being, as I am, a hog for readership, I have decided to start a regular feature on this blog called Country of the Month. The inaugural country of the month is Estonia.

Fun Estonia facts:
  • Estonians won their independance from th USSR in an event popularly known as the "Singing Revolution". Incredibly, they defeated one of the world's most repressive goverments by actually singing national songs as rock musicians played in the background. As the movement progressed, upto 3,00,000 people(about one-fourth of their population) were turning up to sing every day. They kept this up for an incredible four years, until the Soviets eventally gave up and left.
  • Estonia is a member of the Coalition of the Willing, and has contributed fifty-five troops to the War in Iraq. Since 2004, two of them have been killed by improvised explosive devices.
  • After the Soviet "Red Terror" in 1940-41 in which over 60,000 Estonians (5% of the population) were killed and a further 10,000 were deported to Siberia, many Estonians joined the German Army. (The Soviets weren't the only ones to carry out mass murders: upto 8,000 Estonian Jews and Communists were killed by Nazi Einsatzgruppen) The 20th Division of the Waffen SS was composed of Estonian volunteers. Today, Estonian veterans who fought witht the German Army are regarded as freedom fighters and are eligible for greater benefits than Estonians who fought for the Soviets. Memorials to such soldiers who fought in the Waffen-SS are the subject of great controversy today.
  • After the second Soviet conquest in 1944, many of the aforementioned veterans started a guerilla war against the Red Army and KGB units in Estonia in groups known as the Forest Brothers (the neighbouring republics of Latvia and Lithuania also had very active Forest Brother units). These guerillas managed to keep fighting the Soviets with little western aid until 1978.
  • The Estonian Government is Constitutionally required to balance its budget. Now I don't know how prevalent that is around the world, but to me it seems wack.
  • Estonia was one of the first countries in the world to implement a flat-tax policy, with a uniform tax rate of 26% (since reduced to 24%). Mart Laar, the Prime Minister responsible for this policy, claims he introduced it because he was ignorant of economics. He says that he had read only one Economics book (Milton Friedman's Free to Choose), and after reading it, he was conviced that flat tax was a globally accepted idea (it actually became one only after Estonia's successful experiment). He went ahead with this scheme despite the warnings of Estonian economists who said it would be impossible. He says, "They said it was as impossible as walking on water. We did it: we just walked on the water because we did not know that it was impossible.” Of course, this story is too good to be true, and so probably isn't. (Hat tip: Samizdata)
  • Estonian is one of the world's most difficult languages to learn for English-speakers. It's fourteen cases may not seem much to linguists, but as someone who wasted three years struggling with the four cases in the German language, I'm apalled.
  • Estonians are champion wife-carriers, and have come to dominate the World Wife Carrying Championships. The current Wife Carrying world record belongs to Margo Uusorg and Egle Soll, who are both Estonians.
If you think there is a fun Estonia fact I have missed, write a comment to this post. Next month I promise I will mopve out of North-East Europe. Until then, Head aega!

Posted in Country of the Month.

3 Comments:

Blogger Shapeshifter said...

Hey I just remembered more facts! :)))

Estonia has one of the most democratic journalism in the world.

Estonia won Russia and Germany in war during I World War and also helped Latvia to gain their independence. It was also possible because some finnish volunteers came joining Estonian forces. As population has always been very little, even 14-15 year old boys went to war (was volunteer to go or not). It was in 1918. After winning the Estonian Liberation War against Soviet Russia (Treaty of Tartu signed in February 2, 1920) Estonia maintained its independence for twenty-two years.

Human settlement in Estonia started 11,000–13,000 years ago.

Big meteorite landed on the biggest island in Estonia called Saaremaa. The power of the impact (greater than the Hiroshima bomb) burned forests within a radius of 6 km.The explosion that caused the craters is estimated to have happened 4000 ± 1000 years ago. People were living there at the time and the explosion was seen in rest of Europe too (sun fell from sky etc). Legends started from this even in ancient Greece mentioning that catastroph.

I think it is enough now :))))

8:18 AM  
Blogger bathmate said...

Realy Good !

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2:37 PM  
Anonymous viagra said...

I agree with this is the "Country of the Month" because Estonia is a beautiful country it has humble people, they have interesting customs, and also the houses' structures are perfect.m10m

10:43 AM  

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