In 2019, Estonia had a population density of 29 residents
per km2. According to official statistics, the
majority of the population (68 percent, 2017) live in
cities. The largest are Tallinn (426,500 residents, 2017),
and other cities include Tartu (93,100), Narva (57,100),
Pärnu (39,600) and Kohtla-Järve (35,200).
Countryaah, the population has a large excess of women (116 women per
100 men), mainly due to high mortality rates for men in
accidents and alcohol and drug abuse.
During World War II and the subsequent Soviet occupation,
Estonia lost a large part of its population, mainly in
deportations and escape. Instead, there was occasionally a
very extensive move in from other parts of the Soviet Union.
After Estonia regained its independence, emigration
accelerated, and together with the birth deficit, it has led
to a population reduction of about a quarter of a million
since 1990. Emigration reached a peak in 1992, when the
country's population decreased by almost 34,000 people by
emigration. Since then, emigration has slowed down
significantly, but in the wake of the global financial
crisis, in 2010, according to official statistics, it
comprised 5,300 people, while the number of immigrants in
the same year was about 2,800.
Most of those who left Estonia in the 1990s lived in the
cities and usually speak Russian or belong to other
non-Estonian ethnic groups. After the 2004 EU accession, the
proportion of rural and Estonian speakers has increased
among the emigrants. The move from the cities has been
partly offset by the move in from the countryside. Tallinn
has largely retained its population, while the population of
Tartus and several other cities has decreased.
Throughout emigration, Estonia's ethnic composition has
shifted to the Estonian advantage, from 61.5 percent of the
population in 1989 to 69 percent in 2011. Other major ethnic
groups include Russians (25.5 percent, 2011), Ukrainians (2
percent) and Belarusians (1.1 percent). The regional
differences are large. While the Slavic population is
concentrated in Tallinn with surrounding Harju County, the
country's northeastern parts (Narva area) and Tartu County,
the Estonians make up 95 percent or more of the population
of Dagö, Ösel and the southeastern Võru county.
There are also small groups of Finns, Tatars, Latins,
Lithuanians, Poles, Germans and Jews. The Estonian-Swedish
population, formerly residing in Estonia's coastal areas,
fled to Sweden during the Second World War.
Estonian and Russian are the dominant languages in
Estonia. About 930,000 people speak Estonian as their mother
tongue, and 350,000 state Russian as their first language.
After the Second World War, a Russian occupation took place,
mainly to the Tallinn area and industrial cities in
northeastern Estonia. There is also an old Russian
settlement in the countryside west of Lake Peipus. Estonia
also has other large minority groups: about 30,000
Ukrainians, just over 15,000 Belarusians and just over
10,000 Finns (mainly Ingerman) and a few thousand Tatars,
Germans, Lithuanians and Lithuanians.
Since 1989, Estonian is the official language of Estonia.
However, the language legislation makes it possible to use
Russian in administrative contexts in places where Russians
are in the majority.
See further Estonian.
On the religion of the pre-Christian Estonians see
Estonia was Christianized through a Danish mission in the
12th century and incorporated into the Western Church. The
German expansion during the 13th century, through the
Swordsman's Order and the German words, divided the country
churchly. The bishopric of Reval (Tallinn) belonged to the
end of the Middle Ages under the Archbishop of Lund, while
Dorpat (Tartu) was placed under the Archbishop of Riga. The
Reformation was completely dominated by German interests,
and the Lutheran Church received a full German priesthood.
This also existed during the Swedish era. Dorpat received a
theological faculty in 1632, but a domestic priesthood did
not come into existence until the second half of the 19th
century. Luther's Little Catechism was translated into
Estonian in 1535; it was the first book printed in the
native language. In 1686, the New Testament was translated,
but the whole Bible first came in 1739.
After the liberation in 1919, the Lutheran Church became
autonomous with a democratic constitution; it constitutes a
single diocese, whose bishop bears the title of archbishop.
In 1926, the church was separated from the state. The
Orthodox Church (Estonian Apostolic-Orthodox Church)
declared itself independent in 1918 with a metropolitan and
two other bishops and subordinate to Constantinople. During
the 1930s, there were about 78% Lutherans and 19% Orthodox
in the country.
During the Russian occupation during World War II, a
large part of the Lutheran and Orthodox churches went into
exile. It was established, among other things. Estonian
Evangelical-Lutheran Exile Church (see Estonian
Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Sweden) with its own
archbishop. The Orthodox metropolitan fled to Sweden, and
Estonian Orthodox Church was formed here in Sweden. The
Orthodox in Estonia were subordinated to the Russian
Orthodox bishop of Narva. In 1996, an autonomous Estonian
Orthodox church, founded under Constantinople, was
established. The Orthodox Russian population is still
subject to the Moscow Patriarchate.
A large part of Estonia's population today does not have
a distinct religious affiliation. Among believers, most
(about 14%) belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church, which
has slightly more members than the Orthodox Church (about