400 Million Years Ago Estonias a balmy,
equatorial land. Continental plates inch from the tropics to its
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 Trygvessonsell
them into slavery. Estonians destroy Swedens 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 laterfor a 1,000 mark
1400 Tallinns 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 diemainly by starvation and the plague.
1816 Age-old system of serfdom is abolished.
1860-1885 Growing national consciousnessfollowed by a
1870 Petersburg-Tallinn railway finished; Tallinn becomes a
major Russian Empire port. Tallinns 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 Russias heavy-handedness, they declare
independence. Estonian forces beat back German and Soviet
militaries. Theyre 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
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 theyre now virtually
within the clutches of Russiawith Germanys 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
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
1987 First open protests against Soviet rule.
1988 Estonian Soviet legislature declares sovereignty. The
independence drive begins in earnest; its dubbed the Singing
Revolution because rallies are peaceful and usually accompanied
1990 Soviet Estonian legislature declares a transition to
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 Moscows authority having collapsed,
the impossible dream of restoring independence comes true literally
March 29, 2004 Estonia is accepted into
NATO. It's the first time in its history to join a military alliance
May 1, 2004 Estonia joins the European