Demography and economic geography. – Northern European state. The natural increase after a positive period between 2008 and 2012 has turned negative since 2013, while the migratory balance has been constantly negative in recent years, so that the total population has been slightly, but has been decreasing for over a decade. In 2014 the population was 1,283,771 residents, According to an estimate by UNDESA (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs).
After joining the European Union in 2004, in 2010 Estonia it was the first ex-Soviet country, among the Baltic Republics, to enter the eurozone (while on January 1, 2011 the euro entered into circulation). Efforts to achieve this have resulted in a decrease in real wages (wages relative to the price level) in 2009 and 2010 and pushed the unemployment rate beyond 15%, greatly cooling Estonians’ enthusiasm for the imminent advent of single currency. However, since the introduction of the euro, macroeconomic data has been improving, wages and purchasing power have started to rise again and the unemployment rate has fallen to 7% in 2014. Today Estonia is the EU country with the lowest public debt, and the trade balance basically sees a great balance between import and export, both, however, doubled in the last decade. Foreign investments in the country have also doubled, 50% of which come from Sweden and Finland alone. The growth of industrial production is linked in particular to the electronics and optics sectors, but also to the timber and food industries, while agriculture has seen a notable growth in cereal production. Two-thirds foreign tourism – mainly from Finland, Russia and Germany – has increased by 50% since joining the EU in 2013. In the energy field, Estonia has distinguished itself for a notable development of renewable energies, which went from 1.5% of total energy consumption in 2007 to 15.2% in 2012, above all thanks to the exponential increase in the use of biomass and vegetable fuel plants.
The internal policy of Estonia it has been dominated in the last decade by conservatives and liberals, who have allied themselves with the Social Democrats only since February 2014. It is therefore no coincidence that the country ranks 4th in Europe and 11th in the world for economic freedom. Estonia has been a parliamentary republic since 1991, whose territory is divided into 15 counties, each containing several municipalities, rural and small towns. The new millennium did not see major changes in the administrative structure, except for the progressive reduction in the number of municipalities, which fell to 215 in 2014, in order to rationalize the costs of local administrations. In the field of foreign policy, after the first years of the newly found independence in 1991, characterized by difficult relations with Russia and a subsequent period of greater detente, on February 18, 2014 Vladimir Putin finally approved the signing of a series of agreements with Estonia aimed at closing certain border conflicts and delimiting the common maritime spaces in the Bay of Finland and Narva. Among other things, these agreements provide for an exchange of approximately 128 hectares of land and 11.4 km2 of water surface in Lake Peïpous. However, some problems remain, linked in particular to the fact that about a quarter of the residents are Russian-speaking, with recurring accusations that Russia is manipulating this slice of the population to maintain a certain influence in the country, after its passage to NATO in 2004. The developments of the Ukrainian crisis of 2014, with the intervention of Moscow in the areas of that country with an important Russian-speaking presence, awakened in Estonia a certain mistrust towards the powerful neighbor.
Politics. – In August 2006, former foreign minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves was elected to the presidency of the Republic, beating outgoing Arnold Rüütel. The subsequent parliamentary elections of 4 March 2007 were won by the Reform Party of Andrus Ansip, who formed a governing coalition with the Union of the patria and res publica (IRL) and the Social Democratic Party (SDE), leaving the Party to the opposition. of Central Estonian (EK), the Estonian Greens (ER) and the Estonian People’s Union (ERL).
In April 2007, the government had to face the insurrection of the Russian-speaking population who protested against the decision to remove a monument to the Red Army from the center of Tallinn, raising Russian public awareness and creating further tensions between Tallinn and Moscow. This was followed by a series of cyber attacks from Russia against government and commercial sites in Estonia.
To address the global economic crisis, the government launched an austerity program in 2009 that included raising taxes and lowering public sector salaries, causing the unemployment rate to spike to 16.7% in 2010. However, the GDP began to grow again in 2010, the year in which Estonia became the first ex-Soviet country to be admitted to the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) and to adopt the euro, which entered into circulation on 1 January 2011. In 2012, new anti-corruption legislation was passed and the European Stability Mechanism.
In the March 2011 elections, the Reform Party won the largest number of seats in Parliament (33) and Ansip formed a government in coalition with the IRL, while EK and SDE remained in the opposition and the other parties did not pass the barrier to 5%. In August, Parliament renewed the presidential term in Ilves. After the evident decline in consensus recorded in the municipal elections of October 2013 and the difficult formalization of the Russian-Estonian borders with Moscow, Ansip resigned on March 4, 2014. The young Taavi Rõivas assumed leadership of the Reform Party and on March 26 he became prime minister by forming a government that replaced the IRL ally with the SDE.
In the March 2015 elections, the Reform Party confirmed itself as a relative majority force in Parliament and Rõivas – again prime minister – formed an executive in coalition with IRL and SDE.