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Cities in ESTONIA



State structure

As part of the Soviet Union, Estonia was dominated administratively and politically by the Soviets for 50 years. There was an Estonian parliament, but it functioned as a branch of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union where policy was also made. Since independence, Estonia has been quick to set up a new administrative and political infrastructure. The Estonian government consists of a president elected by parliament, who is also the head of state, and one legislative chamber, the Riigikogu. Executive power rests with the prime minister and his ministers, who are appointed by the head of state (the ministers are nominated by the prime minister).

Between 1991 and 1997 there were three elections and seven different governments. This makes Estonia look like a politically very unstable country, but fortunately political and economic reforms did not suffer much. Since the new constitution of January 1992, the Estonian parliament (Riigikogu) consists of 101 members directly elected every four years. The first elections were held in September 1992 with 38 participating parties! Before political parties are registered, they must have at least 1000 members. There is a 5% electoral threshold.

The first presidential elections were won by Lennart Meri in 1992. He was re-elected as president in 1996. Presidential candidates must be at least 40 years old. For the current political situation, see the history section.

Estonia is administratively divided into 15 regions (Maakond) plus six city districts, Tallinn, Tartu, Narva, Kohtla-Jäve, Pärnu and Sillamaë.


School attendance is compulsory from the age of seven in Estonia. Students are obliged to finish their education until the age of 17. There are more than 700 secondary schools. Classes are conducted in Estonian (approx. 70%) and Russian. The Estonian-speaking schools provide nine years of primary education and three years of secondary education, while the Russian-speaking schools provide seven years of education. Students are required to learn two foreign languages. Popular languages are English, German, Russian, Finnish and French.

There are a number of Russian, Swedish and Jewish public schools. There are thirteen public and eight public schools of higher education. The courses last from four to six years. There are six universities in Estonia, five of which are in Tallinn and one in Tartu. Tallinn has a general university, a technical university, an academy of arts, an academy of music, an agricultural university and an academic pedagogy college.


Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania: country studies
Federal Research Division, Library of Congres

Spilling, M. / Estonia
Marshall Cavendish Corporation

Taylor, N. / Estonia
Bradt Publications

Williams, N. / Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania
Lonely Planet

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated June 2024
Copyright: Team The World of Info