Sunday, 31 January 2016

The Wilhelm Gustloff: The Forgotten Maritime Tragedy That Was 6 Times Deadlier Than the Titanic

Time Magazine recently published this article about the Wilhelm Gustloff tragedy. A new book on the subject entitled Salt to the Sea by Ruth Sepetys will be released on 2nd February 2016.

The Wilhelm Gustloff was torpedoed on 30th January 1945, killing thousands of people—many of them refugees who were fleeing the advancing Red Army.

To read more about the world's worst maritime disaster, please click here: 

Saturday, 30 January 2016

13-year-old Kelly Sildaru Wins Gold at Aspen's X Games

13-year-old Estonian slopestyle skier Kelly Sildaru just became the youngest female to win the X Games! The competition is currently taking place in Aspen. Colorado.

It's great to see a young Estonian making history!

Click here to watch her amazing winning performance: Kelly Sildaru wins gold

Friday, 29 January 2016

Estonia is the Eighth Most Environmentally Friendly Country on Earth

According to the 2016 Environmental Performance Index, Estonia has been ranked the 8th greenest country in the world.  This is another great result for Estonia which has over 50% of its landmass covered in forest.

Surprisingly, all of the top ten countries from a total of 180 are located in Europe. The best performing countries are:

1. Finland
2. Iceland
3. Sweden
4. Denmark
5. Slovenia
6. Spain
7. Portugal
8. Estonia
9. Malta
10. France

To read the full report, please click here:

Estonia is among the Least Corrupt Countries in the World

According to the Corruption Perceptions Index 2015 Estonia is considered one of the least corrupt countries in the world. Ranked 23 out of the 168 countries studied, these are pleasing results indeed.

To learn more and see the full results, please click here:

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Today we Celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Birth of Jaan Poska

Today marks the 150th birthday of Jaan Poska, an Estonian barrister and politician who played a pivotal role in securing Estonia's independence. On 24th February 1918, Poska was appointed the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia. He led the peace talks with Soviet Russia culminating in the Treaty of Tartu which was signed on 2nd February 1920.

Jaan Poska originally began a degree in medicine in 1886 at the University of Tartu before transferring to law a year later.  He was the mayor of Tallinn from 1913 - 1917 and became Governor of Estonia in 1917.  After Estonia declared its independence in 1918 Poska was appointed as its Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Jaan Poska with his wife Constance and children in 1906.  
The couple had nine children altogether, most of whom also became lawyers.

A new €10 coin has been released by Eesti Pank in dedication to his memory.

In  2008 a museum was opened in his former home at  Kadriorg. Jaan-Poska-Museum in Tallinn

Top Ten Hotels in Estonia

Trip Advisor has recently published a list of Estonia's top ten hotels. Seven of them are located in the capital Tallinn and were voted online as part of Trip Advisors' Travellers' Choice Awards. Having stayed at a few of these establishments, I tend to agree with the findings.

To see the complete list, please click here: Trip Advisor - Top 10 Hotels — Estonia

Hotell Palace Tallinn

My City Hotel Tallinn

Friday, 22 January 2016

Sound Recording of Final Speech of Estonia's 1st President Found I ERR News

A sound recording of the last public speech of Estonia's first president Konstantin Päts dating back to June 21, 1940 was found in a film and sound collection given to the National Archives by the Estonian National Congress of Sweden.

"A recording of the speech of Konstantin Päts and the June 21 insurgents is the only sound recording of these events that has survived," the National Archives said on Thursday. "On the recording, which was considered perished, it can be heard that the president tried to enter into a dialogue with the crowd who had gathered in Kadriorg, but it failed as a result of forceful interjections and he had to leave the balcony," it was said in the press release.

So far information about what happened on June 21, 1940 had only been gathered from newspapers and inconsistent recollections written down later. The recording which was made by the public broadcaster was considered hopelessly lost several decades ago.

There are other interesting findings in the collection, including film recordings of president Päts and the life of Estonian refugees in Sweden, the National Archives said.

The author of many of these films and sound recordings is Harald Perten. The findings will be presented on February 4 at 15:30 at the cinema of the Tallinn University.

Source: Sound recording of final speech of Estonia's 1st president found

Flashback Friday: Raekoja Plats Tallinn 1880

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Snow-diving squirrel caught on camera in Estonia BBC NEWS

This adorable little squirrel has caught the attention of nature lovers across the globe. So cute!

To watch the video please click here:

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Symbols of Estonia

Estonia is rich in national symbols, both official and unofficial and they are dear to the hearts of every Estonian. Many of the symbols have their roots in the country's history of foreign occupation and deep love of nature. Some of Estonia's national symbols are centuries old whilst others have been given status more recently. All in all these symbols have come to represent the strength, resilience, toughness, agility, and hard work of Estonians.

The National Flag of Estonia

The national flag of Estonia is unique in the fact that no other county in the world has this tricolour combination. The flag was first used by an Estonian Students' Society in Otepää in 1881, then on the 27th of June 1922 the Estonian Parliament made the blue, black and white flag the official flag of Estonia. It proudly flies atop Pikk Herman Tower in Tallinn.

The colours of the blue, black and white flag have deep symbolic meaning for Estonians. The blue colour represents the sky above, black symbolises attachment to the soil of the homeland as well as the fate of Estonians (for centuries black with worries) and white is connected with hard work and other more abstract human values. During recent times the colours of the flag have also been given additional meaning - blue represents ancient freedom, black symbolises lost independence, and white promises a brighter future. 

Estonian Coat of Arms

The Estonian coat of arms features a golden shield with three slim blue lions representing courage through the ages. On both sides and at the bottom, the shield is framed by two golden oak branches. The oak branches are a symbol of perseverance and strength of Estonia and its people. The heraldic lions of the coat of arms are the most ancient of Estonia's symbols. They have been used since the 13th century when they served as the big coat of arms for the city of Tallinn. Tallinn got these slim blue lions from the King of Denmark, Waldemar the Second as Denmark was the ruling power in Northern Estonia at that time. The name "Tallinn" itself means "Danish castle". In 1925 the Estonian government adopted the three lions as the official coat of arms of Estonia. 


In 1968 the cornflower officially became the national flower of Estonia. For over 10,000 years the cornflower has grown in Estonian soil making it the obvious choice. Cornflower designs are very popular in Estonia with many items of apparel, linen and homewares featuring the beautiful blue cornflower.

Barn Swallow

The barn swallow is a characteristic guest in Estonian homes. Its call can be heard from practically every eave or barn rafter in the country. If the bird finds a suitable opening, under the ridge of a roof or a broken window, it will build its cup-shaped nest. They will even build a nest inside a house if they can. The choice of the barn swallow as a national bird was mainly the result of a campaign conducted by ornithologists at the beginning of the 1960s.


Limestone is the national stone of Estonia. Most of Estonia's castles, churches, farm buildings, and countless stone fences are made of grey limestone. Estonia lies on a thick layer of limestone which is visible on the steep banks of northern and western Estonia.

Oak Tree

The oak tree is sacred to Estonians as it symbolises strength and endurance. Estonia is one of the most northerly places in the world where oak trees can grow. Mixed forests with oak have given Estonia its most fertile soil.

Arvo Pärt continues to be the most performed composer in the world for the 5th consecutive year

Yesterday, the largest classical event database Bachtrack released the charts about 2015 performance statistics and confirmed Arvo Pärt, who celebrated his 80th birthday last year, as the most performed living composer in the world for the 5th consecutive year.

To read more, click here: Arvo Part

Monday, 11 January 2016

European Sauna Marathon to Take Place in the Estonian Winter Capital of Otepää

The 2016 European Sauna Marathon will take place on February 6th in the Estonian winter capital of Otepää. Participants have to track down and visit the given saunas in the Otepää area as fast as possible. The event is free of charge. Pre-registration is required to participate in the event. This is the 7th year of the competition and last year 700 people took part. 

For more information, please click here: European Sauna Marathon in Otepää

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Estonian Chess Grandmaster Paul Keres was Born 100 Years Ago Today

Beloved chess grandmaster Paul Keres has been honoured once again by being featured on Estonia's new 2 Euro coin. He previously featured on the 5 kroon banknote. 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of his birth and his appearance on the new coin bears testament to the esteem in which he is still held in Estonia.

For more information about Paul Keres, please click here: 2016 - Year of Paul Keres

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

First Estonian National Atlas Summarises Country’s 100-Years’ Development

The first Estonian national atlas will be compiled by the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia at the initiative of the University of Tartu Department of Geography. On the one hand, the unique atlas, first of its kind, is a representative work of the country and, on the other hand, it is a reference book where Estonia’s 100 years of development is presented on old and new maps.

The atlas, dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia, is intended first and foremost to people interested in the history of Estonian cartography and in the newest data of the modern situation. “The atlas will include a number of historical maps as well as maps that depict the current state. This provides an opportunity to see the development of Estonian cartography and the changes in Estonian life. The maps can be used for home studies and studies and research,” said one of the developers of the national atlas, UT Research Fellow in Human Geography Taavi Pae.

An Estonian national atlas has not been published yet. The first Estonian-language atlas was published in 1859. “In the 1930s, geographer August Tammekann led the preparatory works for publishing a national atlas, but of the planned four hundred maps, only one was printed—a hypsometric map sheet on a scale of 1:750 000,” said Pae.

Several map collections have been published in the re-independent Estonia, which resemble national atlases. More important collections are Avita’s “School Atlas” (2004) and “Atlas of Estonian History”, published in cooperation with UT Department of Geography, “Great World Atlas” (2005) published by Eesti entsüklopeediakirjastus and Regio’s “Estonian Road Atlas”.

“The Department of Geography has proven to be capable in collecting and generalising cartographic information,” said Pae and added that now, on the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia and the Department of Geography, is the suitable time to publish the first Estonian national atlas.

On 29 December 2015, UT Department of Geography founded the editorial board of the Estonian national atlas. The task of the board is to coordinate the extensive preparatory works already conducted in the Department of Geography for the publishing of the atlas and include various institutions, experts and map publishers (e.g. Regio) to ensure the high quality of the special maps in the national atlas.

The planned publishing date of the national atlas is the end of 2019 when the Estonian-language University of Tartu and the Department of Geography celebrate their 100th anniversary.

Additional information: Taavi Pae, UT Research Fellow in Human Geography, tel. 55613338, e-mail:

Narva Registers New Cold Temperature Record for this Winter at -28.6 C I ERR NEWS

A new cold temperature record for this winter, -28.6 degrees Celsius, was registered at the weather station of Narva in northeastern Estonia on Wednesday, spokespeople for the weather service said.

The coldest temperature registered last winter was -20.7 degrees, measured at the weather station of Vaike-Maarja on January 7.

The lowest air temperature ever recorded in Estonia is -43.5 degrees, measured at the weather station of the regional capital Jogeva in eastern Estonia on January 17, 1940.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Winter has finally arrived in Estonia!

Snow came late to Tallinn this year but now that it has arrived the city looks absolutely tremendous!

Kadriorg Park

The cold weather has properly installed itself in Estonia. Check out these temperatures:

- 12° in Tallinn
- 15° in Viljandi (South)
- 18° in Tartu (South-East)
- 19  in Võru  (South-East)
- 23 in Jõhvi  (North-East)
- 19° in Jõgeva (East)

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Estonia Has a New First Lady!

President Toomas Hendrik Ilves married his Latvian sweetheart Ieva Kupce in St. Anne's Church in Viljandi today. 38-year-old Ieva Kupce is Head of the National Cyber Security Policy Section and Advisor to the State Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, Republic of Latvia.  Kupce shares Ilves's passion for cyber issues, 

Present at the nuptials were President Ilves' three children from his former marriages and Ieva's young son. After the wedding ceremony took place the newlywed couple played wedding games with local residents.

Congratulations to both of them!

To learn more about their special day, please click here: President Toomas Hendrik Ilves ja Ieva Kupce laulatati Halliste kirikus More information about Ieva Kupce can be found here.

Impressive Gingerbread Exhibition in Estonia

It's great to see that the Piparkooimaania / Gingerbread Mania exhibition has caught the attention of the Australian media.

You can watch the report here: Impressive Gingerbread Exhibition in Estonia