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Estonian History

The history of Estonia and indeed of the other Baltic States has been one of constant struggle to maintain independence and national sovereignty against its more powerful neighbors.

The Vikings passed through the territory in the ninth century. Over the next few centuries, both the Danes and Swedes tried and failed to force Christianity upon the Livs tribe, which dominated the region. During the Middle Ages, Danish influence was at a peak in the Baltic region. After the Livonian War of the 1550s (Livonia was the area covering modern Latvia and the southern part of Estonia), a period that involved Denmark, Sweden, Poland and Russia in a disputed succession and rival territorial claims, Estonia was taken by the Swedes. The 16th and 17th centuries marked the high point of Swedish imperial power. The Russians were determined, however, to secure some control in the Baltic’s for economic as well as strategic reasons. Estonia was duly acquired by the Russians from Sweden, at the Treaty of Nystadt, in 1721.

Russia remained in control of Estonia until shortly after the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. At the treaty of Brest-Litovsk the following year, which brought an end to Russian involvement in World War I, Estonia was ceded. The new Soviet government at first refused to recognize Estonian independence but gave way in February 1920. The new state – along with its Baltic neighbors, Lithuania and Latvia – enjoyed just two decades of independent statehood before the Soviet Union took control under the 1939 Nazi- Soviet Pact. Soviet ownership lasted barely 12 months before Estonia was conquered in the German invasion of the Soviet Union. It was retaken by the Red Army in 1944, after which Estonia was constituted as one of the 15 Soviet Socialist Republics. It wasn’t till Mikhail Gorbachev came to power that he offered change for the Baltic countries. Estonia was the first country in the region to get there independence and to establish an Estonian currency and also to restore Estonian as the national language.

Estonia has had many ethnic Russians living in there country to the dismay of the Estonian people. The Estonian government wanted to be more western and have stronger ties with the west. They did this by joining NATO and also the EU to the displeasure of Russia who realized they have lost full control of the country.

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