Chronology of Estonia’s history

Approx. 5000 B.C.: Finno-Ugric tribes coming from Northern Asia settle in the Baltic area. They are considered to be the ancestors of the Estonians.


From 800 B.C.: Danish and Swedish aggressors start their first attempts to conquer the territory of Estonia.


From 1227 A.D.: Teutonic Knights invade large parts of Estonia. Later, only the northern parts remain under the Danish rule.


1230: Teutonic Knights found the city of Reval. Today, the city is called Tallinn – the capital of Estonia.


1346: Denmark sells its territory in the north of Estonia to the Teutonic Knights. So, now the whole Baltic region is ruled by the Germans.


1410: Teutonic Knights suffer a crushing defeat in their attempt to gain free passage from East Prussia to Estonia. The Battle of Grunwald is an important political turning point – since then, the power of the Knights began to diminish.


1558-1583: The Livonian War puts an end to the supremacy of the Teutonic Knights. By Jam Zapolski Peace, Russia accepts the division of Estonia into Polish, Swedish and Danish zones.


From 1629: Sweden expands its power by forcing the Poles out of South Estonia. The Russians wanted to gain power over the Eastern part of Estonia, so fights between the Russian and Swedish troops followed.


1700-1721: During the Great Northern War, the Tsarist troops invade the whole country, a fact that is acknowledged officially by Sweden in the Treaty of Nystad.


1739-1816: Estonian peasants become serfs. They lose their possessions and power and are exposed to the caprices of their Russian or German landowners. Emigration is the only way for them become economically independent.  However, later the situation improves.  


1869: The first nationwide song festival takes place in Tartu. This marks the beginning of Estonian national awakening.  


From 1870: The construction of the first railway line brings industrial revolution to Estonia.


1914-1918: During the First World War, Russian troops are forced to leave the Baltic area. For a short while, Estonia stays unoccupied.


1918-1920: After the first Estonian War of Independence the country is free. Russia, being totally demoralised by the war, acknowledges the independence of Estonia in Tartu Peace Treaty on February 2, 1920.  The first-ever Constitution of Estonia takes effect.


1920-1940: From the start, the Republic of Estonia is rather unstable. Although extensive reforms restore private property and improve living conditions, the domestic policy is seriously fragmented.  


1934: President Päts establishes an authoritarian rule, declaring a state of national emergency, during which he becomes Riigihoidja (President-Regent) ja President of the Republic.


1939-1945: During the Second World War, Estonia is first invaded by Russia, then Germany and finally again by Russia.  


Until 1991: Estonia merges politically and economically into the huge Soviet empire and becomes the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic (ESSR), ruled by a government, which is subordinated to the Kremlin. Around 200,000 Russian workers are displaced into Estonia. Estonia stays in stagnation for fifty years.


Since 1991: After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Republic of Estonia (Eesti Vabariik) is established on August 20, 1991. Since then, Estonia has been officially independent. Soon, it becomes a member of the UN and the Council of Europe.


2004: Estonia is now a member of the European Union (EU).



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