The population of Estonia increased in 2016

According to the initial estimates of Statistics Estonia, the population number of Estonia as at 1 January 2017 was 1,317,800, which is 1,850 persons more than at the same time a year ago.

The population decreased by 1,370 due to negative natural increase (the number of deaths exceeded the number of births) and increased by 3,220 due to positive net migration (more persons immigrated to Estonia than emigrated). In total, the population of Estonia increased by 0.14% in 2016. The population of Estonia has increased for two years already, because immigration has been higher than emigration and negative natural increase.

More than 13,900 children were born in Estonia in 2016. The number of births has remained at approximately the same level for five years. Considering that the number of women in childbearing age has decreased, it could be seen as good news, but there is still a long way to go before really good news in births statistics.

There were 15,300 deaths in 2016. The number of deaths has remained at this level for six years in a row, varying by just +/-150. As the population is ageing and the number of older people increases year after year, it is expected that life expectancy will continue to increase.

In 2016, there were 9,100 persons who immigrated to Estonia and 5,800 persons who emigrated. Migration statistics are most difficult to estimate based on preliminary data, as Statistics Estonia supplements migration figures with data from additional registers and later also adds unregistered migration according to the methodology of calculating population based on residency index: if a person changes from resident to non-resident, it is emigration, and in the contrary case, it is immigration (if it is not births or deaths). Reaching the final result is more complicated compared to other events, both technically and methodologically, and can significantly increase migration flows. Emigration increases mainly due to unregistered leaving of European Union and Estonian citizens. Immigration increases mainly due to return migration of Estonian citizens, which is also not registered, as the prior leaving was not registered. Compared to immigration, emigration is less registered knowingly or unknowingly, and therefore, emigration increases presumably more than immigration in the revised population number.

Population change, 2000–2016

The current outcome is based on changes of residence in the population register in 2016 – persons whose residence was not Estonia at the previous year-end but was so at this year-end are considered immigrants, and the persons whose residence was Estonia at the previous year-end but not at this year-end are considered emigrants.

Source: Statistics Estonia

Estonia best in Europe’s PISA rankings

Improving its results across the reading, math and science categories compared to its 2012 results and outranked only by Singapore and Japan, Estonia jumped from sixth to third place overall and first place in Europe in the OECD’s freshly released 2015 PISA rankings.

By category, Estonia’s greatest improvement, by nine points, was in the reading category. While Finland performed worse than in 2012 across all three categories, they still outranked Estonia in reading 526-519. Also notable, however, is that Finland’s science and math scores, both of which were above those of Estonia in 2012, had dropped.

The 2015 edition of PISA focused first and foremost on science, in which Estonia likewise ranked third behind Singapore and Japan, outranking Finland and Canada in turn.

According to the most recent PISA results, Estonia’s youth were top ranked in Europe and in the top three globally, and results indicated that Estonia’s schools and teachers had done a good job in helping weaker students, including those of disadvantaged backgrounds, catch up with their peers. Results indicated that the problem-solving skills of Estonian students were among the best in the world, and that student satisfaction with one’s school was at a similar level in Estonia and neighboring Finland and Latvia alike.

Over half a million students from 72 countries participated in the 2015 PISA, including all developed countries.

Read more from ERR News

Narva taxi drivers given until next summer to improve Estonian skills

Under pressure from the Language Inspectorate, Narva’s nearly 200 taxi drivers must all improve their Estonian language proficiency to a B1, or threshold or intermediate, level by next summer.

Language Inspectorate Director Ilmar Tomusk told ERR’s Russian-language online news portal that of all the taxi drivers working in Narva, only a few dozen currently speak Estonian at the required level.

Accorrding to Tomusk, taxi service providers Ida Takso, Ton Märts, Sõprade Takso, Narva Takso and Gold Takso all submitted language proficiency certificates for their employees.

“A total of 145 people work for these companies whose Estonian language skills did not meet the required level of proficiency,” said Tomusk, adding that out of an additional 64 self-employed drivers, 62 did not meet the required level of proficiency.

According to the online news portal’s information, taxi drivers thought that after the language proficiency requirement was removed from the Public Transport Act in the spring, they would not have to learn Estonian anymore, however according to Tomusk, this is not the case.

“The majority of taxi service-offering businesses reported that taxi drivers were either learning Estonian or waiting for free language classes,” noted Tomusk. “With regards to self-employed drivers, they reported that they are involved in providing taxi services in such small volumes and do not have the money for learning a language, which is why they are likewise waiting for free courses.”

Tomusk noted, however, that there were no plans to place sanctions on taxi drivers refusing to learn the language, although the inspectorate reserves the right to give taxi drivers warnings and fine taxi companies.

According to Integration and Migration Foundation Our People (MISA) and University of Tartu Narva College director Kristina Kallas, the drivers will not be receiving free Estonian language lessons this year.

“The money for free courses has already been distributed for this year,” said Kallas. “6,000 people were given this opportunity who had been waiting for it for a long time already, however there are no taxi drivers among them.”

She noted that as the Language Inspectorate is subject to the Ministry of Education and Research, the money for free courses should come from them specifically.

“Neither taxi drivers nor the Language Inspectorate have approached MISA regarding this issue,” Kallas confirmed.

Source: ERR News

Estonia parliament votes for first female president

Kersti Kaljulaid wins unanimous vote after she was put forward as unity candidate following weeks of party wrangling

Estonia’s parliament has selected a new president who will be the country’s first female leader.

Kersti Kaljulaid, a European Union accountant, won Monday’s vote 81-0, with 20 members absent or abstaining. Her selection follows two failed votes and weeks of heated debate.

Kaljulaid, 46, will succeed the current president, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who is stepping down next week after two five-year terms in the ceremonial post.

Read more from The Guardian

Number of stateless people in Estonia keeps shrinking

According to the Ministry of the Interior, the number of stateless permanent residents of Estonia has decreased by more than 45,000 over the past decade, with 80,754 left early in 2016.

Three factors contributed to the decrease, namely taking on citizenship of a third state, becoming an Estonian citizen, and death.

Read more from ERR News

Estonian museums were visited 3.3 million times in 2015

According to Statistics Estonia, in 2015, Estonian museums were visited 3.3 million times, which is 4% less than a year before. The number of museums remained unchanged compared to 2014.

In 2015, Estonian museums were visited by 498,770 inhabitants of Estonia aged 15 or over, meaning that one museum visitor made an average of three visits per year.

There were 2,476 museum visits per 1,000 inhabitants in Estonia in 2015 and despite the fall in the number of visits, according to, Estonia stands out as one of the European countries with the most active museum visitors. Children in Estonia visit museums diligently as well: children under 9 years old went to museums 235,000 times in 2015.

Among Estonian residents aged 15 or over, 56% of the museum visitors were women, and people in the age group 30–39 visited museums the most frequently. Foreign tourists constituted 35% of the total number of visitors. Personal development was deemed the main reason for visiting museums.

The number of museums has remained unchanged since 2013. In 2015, there were 256 active museums in Estonia. The number of exhibitions, however, has declined – while there were1,795 exhibitions in 2014, then 1,753 exhibitions were held last year.

Museums employed 1,733 people, which is 136 persons fewer than in 2014. Despite the drop in the number of employees, 19% more scholarly articles were published in 2015 than a year earlier.

On Saturday, 14 May, Estonia once again celebrates the European Night of Museums. For this year’s event, museums have chosen the umbrella theme “Waves in the Night”. More information is available at In 141 days, on 1 October 2016, the Estonian National Museum will be reopened for exhibitions and this will surely impact on this year’s statistics on museum attendance.

Source: Statistics Estonia

Tallinn Old Town Days 2016


In 2016 Tallinn Old Town Days take place for the 35th time and bear a playful slogan full of possibilities – “Changing town”.

Change in its broadest sense is the keyword of modern times. The world is changing, conditions and customs are changing and so are people. We live in constant change, sometimes fearing it, sometimes waiting for it, sometimes not noticing it.

The organising team of Old Town Days invites everyone to notice, muse on and discover the past as well as think of the future in the Old Town. We live and work in a cultural space that values the legacy of those who came before us. The Old Town carries the thoughts of our ancestors.

As in previous years, each day has its specific theme.



1st June and “Changing stories”. To celebrate Children’s Day, we focus on children and youth and their activities in the Old Town. There will be fun processions, legends and guided tours introducing the Old Town; there will be circus, games and dancing. In addition, an opinion poll of a more serious nature – “Where do we play today?” – asks if the children of today have anything to do in the Old Town. The poll is conducted by Hometown House (Kodulinna Maja).

The Children’s Area, located in Hirvepark this year, is worth stopping by every day. The grandiose gala concert in the Town Hall Square in the evening will bring to mind the early years of the festival, evoking great moments and welcoming in the summer.

On 2nd June, the Day of Gates, we will mark the places in the Old Town where town gates used to be. Town gates were carefully guarded. Here is where one world ended and another one began. It is difficult to even imagine the grandeur of Harju Gate or Nunne Gate at the time. A nearly five-hour concert walking tour with historians, accompanied by choir music, creates an opportunity to glance at the world of gates.

3rd June is the Day of Toompea. Our gaze moves upwards from lower town to Toompea, which has not always been part of the Old Town Days. This time we will watch films and learn more about the fascinating history of Toompea. Many of the numerous administrative agencies at Toompea open their oaken doors to the public and offer a chance to look around, among others the Riigikogu, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Academy of Sciences as well as the Hungarian Institute and Tallinn Ballet School. Exciting concerts take place at Toompea.

On 4th June, towers of the town wall will open their doors. We will have a great opportunity to see what goes on in the former defence structures today. Over time, some towers have taken on a new appearance and function; others remain quite as they used to be. The towers host numerous exhibitions, guided tours, concerts and theatre shows. Kadri Voorand’s concert on the roof of Fat Margaret’s Tower brings the day to a beautiful close.

5th June – “Changing human”. The closing day of Old Town Days invites all to join in three different discussions led by Hannes Hermaküla to think and talk about our core values and existence. All churches in the Old Town invite guests to take part in their activities and daily business.

Another event inviting us to think about the future is titled “Old Town today: a theme park or living environment?” The conference, which is no less than international this year, takes place on 3rd June. Participants of the discussion include Mart Kalm, Rector of the Estonian Academy of Arts; Riin Alatalu, head of the manor schools programme of the Ministry of Culture; architect Üllar Mark; Aigar Palsner, head of the urban environment department of Tallinn City Centre Administration; representatives of Tallinn’s twin cities Riga and Carcassonne, who introduce their experience in world heritage preservation and development.


Of course, the Old Town will be filled with music, theatre shows and a vast museums programme, exhibitions, guided tours and art projects. There will be folk as well as pop and jazz music, fun guests from the Commedia School in Denmark, renowned jazz musicians from Saint Petersburg, traders, art and handicraft.

Programme booklets will be available a week before the festival at Rahva Raamat bookstores, information hall of Tallinn City Government, Tallinn Tourist Information Centre and Tallinn City Centre Administration.

Tallinn Old Town Days have been organized since 1982 and they signify the festivities for the Old Town to celebrate the beginning of summer. These celebrations fill yards, squares, streets, coffee shops and halls with music, art, theater and variations of many bigger and smaller activities take place.

Throughout the event days, the streets are filled with people who are wearing ancient clothes to create an ancient environment. The visitors of the old town can take part of that tradition by buying costumes from local market in Harju street which will be held throughout the event period.

Most of the events are free of charge.

The English version of the program.