Tourist Guide
 Estonian History
  A Brief Chronology
 

Estonian
Tourist
Guide

Tallinn:
An Introduction

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Eesti
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Estonia Misconceptions

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Tartu

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What's New

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Additional phone numbers, 
from shoe repair to embassies.
  - Online Phone Directory



Other Estonian
tourist articles:
 


Prangli Island

Tallinn’s Soviet, Nazi
 Occupations Museum


Top 10 Misconceptions 
   About Estonia 

Tartu: Estonia's 2nd
   City

Top Estonian Bands


Estonian Epic

Estonian-Finnish
   Orchestra

Tallinn’s New Airport


Tallinn by Helicopter

Gone Fishin' in Estonia


Tallinn's SovietLand Park


Wine: A Baltic Guide


Eurovision 2002 in Tallinn
 

Tidbits


Latvian Guide

Lithuanian Guide

Links

 



For a more detailed chronology, including comments from historians and journalists on different eras in Baltic history last century, see
20th Century Timeline.

 

400 Million Years Ago Estonia’s a balmy, equatorial land. Continental plates inch from the tropics to its current locale.
9000 B.C. Glaciers recede north. As they do, boulders laced in the melting ice tumble to the ground, accounting for the many large rocks across the land today.
3000 B.C. Estonian ancestors settle along the Baltic coast.
800-1100 A.D. Raids and counter-raids by Vikings around the Baltic Sea, including by Estonian Vikings. Estonians kidnap Norwegian Queen Astrid and her son, future King Olaf Trygvesson—sell them into slavery. Estonians destroy Sweden’s main town, Sigtuna.
1219 Danes take North Estonia; first foreign occupation.
1227 Riga-based German crusaders conquer and Christianize pagan Estonia; the Germans become landed gentry and wield huge influence for 700 years.
1346 Fed up with constant rebellions by natives, Danes sell northern Estonia to the German Teutonic Order for 19,000 silver marks. The Teutonic Order then sells the territory to the German Livonian Order a year later—for a 1,000 mark profit.
1400 Tallinn’s population is 4,000. Estonians make up 40 percent, Germans 30 percent; Swedes, Finns, Danes and Russians are also here. The main languages are Estonian and German; clergy and scholars use Latin.
1523 Reformation; Estonian first used in liturgy. First Estonian book appears in 1525.
1561 Swedes conquer Estonia, repel Russians. Social reforms; Tartu University founded in 1632.
1710 Russia conquers Estonia, though Germans retain local control. The battle with Sweden causes 80 percent of the 100,000 Tallinn population to die—mainly by starvation and the plague.
1816 Age-old system of serfdom is abolished.
1860-1885 Growing national consciousness—followed by a Czarist backlash.
1870 Petersburg-Tallinn railway finished; Tallinn becomes a major Russian Empire port. Tallinn’s population grows from 30,000 to over 100,000 in coming decades.
1905 Poor peasants vent their anger at Czarist police and Baltic Germans, who own more than half the land in Estonia.
1918 Estonians had been pushing mainly for greater autonomy within what they hoped would be a democratically-oriented Russian Empire. But after Soviet Russia’s heavy-handedness, they declare independence. Estonian forces beat back German and Soviet militaries. They’re aided at critical points by Great Britain.
1920 Against all odds, Estonia wins independence. Amid post-war economic misery and destruction, land is taken from German nobility and redistributed to the poor.
1935 Estonia becomes increasingly frantic about the threat from Soviet Russia to the east and Nazi Germany to the west. In the meantime, Estonia prospers, with GDP reaching or surpassing Nordic levels.
1939 Hitler and Stalin carve up Europe, with the Baltics said to be the Soviet sphere. Before, the Baltics were able to play Germany and Russia off each other, but they’re now virtually within the clutches of Russia—with Germany’s acquiescence.
1940 As Germany invades France, the U.S.S.R. grabs Estonia.
1941 June 14 First mass deportations by Stalinist forces, targeting the cream of society. Others dragged out of detention cells and shot.
1941 Germany occupies Estonia. Most of some 4,000 Estonian Jews flee to Russia, though some 1000 who do not are killed. According to German plans, Estonia would be repopulated with Germans and converted into a new Third Reich state stretching as far as Petersburg.
1944 Soviet occupation again; thousands flee West, others head to the forests to resist. Some anti-Soviet forest partisans engage Soviet troops in battle.
1949 More mass deportations to Siberia.
1970s The beginning of the Stagnation Era under Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev; rampant shortages and rule by jowly, gray-faced men. It was, says historian Anatol Lieven, an era of “faceless bureaucrats playing an endless game of musical chairs,” moving from the directorship of one department or factory to another.
1987 First open protests against Soviet rule.
1988 Estonian Soviet legislature declares sovereignty. The independence drive begins in earnest; it’s dubbed the Singing Revolution because rallies are peaceful and usually accompanied by singing.
1990 Soviet Estonian legislature declares a transition to independence.
1991 In January, Soviets crackdown on Baltics.
August 1991 A coup in the Kremlin unravels as quickly as it began. Two days before, it looked like the absolute worst was about to happen. But suddenly, with Moscow’s authority having collapsed, the impossible dream of restoring independence comes true literally overnight.
March 29, 2004 Estonia is accepted into NATO. It's the first time in its history to join a military alliance voluntarily.
May 1, 2004 Estonia joins the European Union. 

 Also see 20th Century Timeline. 

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                                        —CITY PAPER-The Baltic States



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