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February 10, 2003 | Estonia is a former Soviet republic on the Baltic Sea. Since Russian troops left in 1994, the people of Estonia have been itching to rejoin the international community. They are powering one of the fastest-growing economies in Central and Eastern Europe. A parliamentary democracy, Estonia is scheduled to join NATO and the European Union in 2004. Estonians embrace technology — for example, they use cell phones at a higher rate than Americans, using them to pay for bus fares and parking meters.

  • Population (2000): 1.4 million
  • Number of hotels in capital city, Tallinn: 29
  • Well-known city closest to Tallinn: Helsinki, Finland (52 miles away)
  • Size: New Hampshire and Vermont combined
  • Year University of Tartu was founded: 1632 (four years before Harvard University)
  • Lakes: 1,400
  • Islands: 1,521
  • Percent of Estonian schools connected to the Internet: 100
  • Major exports: Machinery and equipment; wood products; textiles; food.
  • IT in Estonia: High rate of Internet banking; electronic ID cards; paperless government cabinet meetings; public Internet access points marked by signs with @ symbols.
  • Cultural factoid: Soviets evicted in 1990s partly by "singing revolution," adapting a 150-year-old tradition in which tens of thousands Estonians gathered and sang.
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