|149863. Wed Feb 21, 2007 9:22 am
|Lovely piece from JumpingJack (this is John, Vitali):
|Estonians will never be great in number, but we can be great through our spirit.
JAKOB HURT (1839-1907) Estonian folklorist.
The Estonian unit of currency is the kroon, or EEK for short – as in 100 EEK, 500 EEK notes.
The capital of Estonia is Tallinn. It means “Danish Castle” in Estonian.
Famous living Estonians include Erki Nool, the Olympic World Champion Decathlonist; Lembit Opik, Liberal democrat MP for Montgomeryshire; Enn Reitel, perhaps the most successful voice-over man in British advertising; the serious composer Arvo Part, and the rock band Jaaaar.
Jaaaar really does have four ‘a’s in a row. As with Part, these should all have umlauts over them. Jaaaar means ‘Ice Edge’ in Estonian.
Famous deceased Estonians include the man who discovered that people come from eggs. Karl Ernst von Baer (1792-1876),the father of modern embryology, was born on the family estate at Piep, Estonia. He was the first to discover the mammalian ovum, and thus show that all mammals, including humans, develop from eggs. His work provided the basic argument for Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, though Baer himself was against the idea that all animal life had a common ancestor. Today, his picture graces the 2EEK note.
Since 2000, Estonia has won more Olympic medals per head of population than any other country in the world. Erki Nool, the Decathlon Gold medallist in Sydney, 2000, for example, as well as the Estonian ski team that took a gold, silver and bronze in Salt Lake City, 2001, beating the Swedes.
Almost half of Estonia is covered by forests. These contain wolves,wild boars, elk, bears, mink, coypu, raccoons, beavers, flying squirrels and lynxes.
There are more than 1,450 lakes and 1,500 islands in Estonia.
The largest lake in Estonia, Lake Peipsi, is the fifth largest lake in Europe.
It is 1,370 sqm (3,550 sqkm) in extent. On April 5th, 1242, The Battle of the Ice took place on the frozen waters of Lake Peipsi at which Alexander Nevsky defeated the German Teutonic Knights.
The fourth largest island in Estonia is Vormsi. The main village is called Hullo.
Until the 1920’s, the inhabitants of Vormsi peeled potatoes with their fingernails. They were too poor to buy tools. The only means of transport was bulls, but these were all eaten during World War I. They slept four families to a barn, and tried to make a living by exporting wood to the mainland, but most of it was stolen en route. The locals drowned their sorrows in the extensive choice of bars –thirteen of them between 2,000 inhabitants. By 1943, after 700 years of penury, and further hacked off by the behaviour of the Red Army followed by the Nazis, the Vormians had had enough and everyone left but for 20 people. By 2001, only two of them remained alive.
Modern Estonia has the highest standard of living of any of the former Soviet republics.
Estonia has been independent for barely more than 30 years of the last 800. Between the wars from 1920-1938, and since the collapse of the USSR in 1991.
Historically, Estonia has been shamefully treated by the Danes, Swedes, Germans, Russians, and acts of God. Since 1200 AD, most Estonians have been someone else’s slave.
In 1343, a tenth of the population of Estonia was killed by the Germans, reducing the number of inhabitants to 130,000 - approximtely a tenth of the size of the population today.
By 1582, more than 240 years later, further depredations by Danes, Swedes, Germans and Russians had reduced the population to only 100,000.
In 1695-7, famine swept the country, killing 20% of the population.
In the 18th century, one traveller reported “Estonian men go cheaper than niggers in the American colonies, a manservant can be bought for 30 roubles, a maidservant for ten roubles, and a child for four roubles”.
In the 1700’s the Russians rolled into Estonia, burning everything in their path, and sparing only Tallinn, which Peter the Great happened to like. The General in charge of the invasion was proudly able to report to his Tsar: “There is nothing left to destroy; not a cock crows from Lake Peipsi to the Gulf of Riga”.
In 1710, the plague struck Tallinn, killing 70% of the inhabitants.
In World War II, Estonia lost a further 20% of its population thanks to the Germans. Much of it was deported to Siberia.
The birth rate in modern Estonia is so low that primary schools are having to close.
In 2001, Estonia won the Eurovision Song Contest. The joint-winner, Dave Benton(50) is not Estonian. He is Dutch. And black. After his win, he said: "I would have sung ‘La Cucaracha’ if they wanted me to". Dave comes from Aruba in the Dutch Antilles, but he qualified because he is married to an Estonian. His singing partner was a young 100% Estonian, Tanel Padar (20). They have since split, citing irreconcilable artistic differences.
The 2002 Eurovision Song Contest took place in Tallinn. It was hosted by two Estonians, one of whom is the mezzo-soprano Anneli Peebo; the venue was Saku Suurhall, the largest concert hall in the Baltic States; the interval music was composed by Tiit Kakes, a member of a fiddle band called Dago. Hoever, Estonia's actual competition entry was sung by Sahlene, a Swede. She came third.
s: IoS 5.5.02/JHW
s: John Preston TST 26.5.02
s: IoS 5.5.02
Last edited by JumpingJack on Tue Oct 17, 2006 9:08 pm; edited 1 time in total