When getting to know Estonians, the country’s impressive recent and emerging innovations in technology are a good place to start a conversation. There are not many taboos here, but the position of the Russian-speaking population is a sensitive topic. To build rapport instead, ask about pop singer Tommy Cash, explorer Baron Adam Johann Krussenstern, enquire about where to taste the best Kama or quiz your Estonian contacts on anything to do with singing. There are dozens of sports and other topics to help get started connecting with Estonians and their love of life.
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- Biggest holidays and celebrations: <strong>Jaanilaupäev</strong> (Midsummer's Day Eve), and <strong>Võidupüha</strong> (Victory Day), June 23rd. Holiday season start andbusiness switches to a lower gear until late August. <strong>Jõulud</strong> (Christmas Eve) December 24th. After Boxing Day is in low gear, then back in business from January 2nd. <strong>Iseseisvuspäev</strong> (Independence Day) February 24th. President’s reception watched by most of the population on TV. <strong>Taasiseseisvumispäev</strong> (Independence Restoration Day) August 20th.
- Capital City: Tallinn
- Celebrities you should know: Composers <strong>Arvo Pärt</strong> (one of the world’s most performed living composers) and <strong>Veljo Tormis</strong>. Conductors <strong>Neeme Järvi</strong> (and his sons <strong>Paavo Järvi</strong> and <strong>Kristjan Järvi</strong>), <strong>Gustav Ernesaks</strong>, <strong>Anu Tali</strong>. Singer-songwriter <strong>Kerli Kõiv</strong>. Pop music artists <strong>Tommy Cash</strong>, <strong>Metsatöll</strong>, <strong>Smilers</strong>.<strong> Baruto Kaito</strong> (sumo wrestler and mixed martial arts fighter).
- Historical figures: <strong> Kalev,</strong> father of mythological hero Kalevipoeg, (Kalev's son), from the Estonian epic. <strong>Vana Toomas </strong>(Old Thomas) is the guardian of Tallinn, since 1530 serving as a weather vane on top of the spire of Tallinn Town Hall. <strong>Baron Adam Johann Krusenstern</strong>, explorer and Russian admiral. Baltic German family background, led the first Russian circumnavigation. <strong> Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald</strong>, father of Estonian literature who compiled the national epic Kalevipoeg. <strong>Johan Laidoner</strong>, Commander-in-chief of the Estonian Army between the world wars. <strong>President Lennart Meri</strong>, innovative ground-breaking president after the restoration of independence.
- Food taboos and favourites: <strong> Kama</strong> is finely milled mixture of roasted barley, rye, oat and pea flour, used in desserts. <strong>Verivorst</strong> <strong>pohlamoosiga</strong>, blood sausage with cranberry jam. <strong>Sült</strong>, meat jelly. <strong>Mulgipuder</strong>, mashed potatoes and barley. <strong>Vürtsikilu</strong>, spiced sprat (fish).
- Currency: 1 Euro = 100 cents
- Landmarks and places of cultural significance: <strong>Tallinn old town</strong>, silhouette from the sea is a national symbol. It is the 7th least polluted capital city in the world. Tallinn's Raeapteek (municipal pharmacy) has been continuously operating in the same premises since 1422. <strong>Saaremaa</strong> and <strong>Hiiumaa</strong>, the second and fifth largest islands in the Baltic Sea. <strong>Nordic neighbours</strong> (the United Nations classifies Estonia as a Nordic country). <strong>Lennusadam</strong> seaplane harbour. <strong>Wild forest parks</strong> and 500+ preserved large <strong>country houses</strong> such as Palmse about 70 km from Tallinn or Viimsi near Tallinn.
- Languages and foreigners: <strong> Estonian</strong> and <strong>Russian</strong>. Good English skills. <strong>Finnish</strong> in the north. In tourist areas, service personnel may speak <strong>Swedish</strong>, <strong>German</strong>, etc. Estonians switch easily to other languages to help foreigners. In general, they try to understand and find ways to communicate.
- Music genres: Choirs and song festivals, such as the Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity held every five years in July in Tallinn's Song Festival Grounds (Lauluväljak). The joint choir includes more than 30,000 singers performing to an audience of 80,000. At some stage in their lives, most Estonians have sung in a choir.
- Government: Parliamentary democracy
- International dialling code: +372
- Population: 1.3 million
- Internet: .ee
- Sports: Jogging, cycling, line skating, skiing, sailing, ski-jumping. The national Épée fencing teams have enjoyed success.
- Symbols of identity: <strong>Skype</strong>. The <strong>Estonia concert piano</strong>. <strong>E-stonia</strong>. The brand "<strong>Welcome to Estonia</strong>". <strong>Lotte</strong>, <strong>Sipsik</strong>, <strong>Naksitrallid</strong> (children's characters). <strong>Kevade</strong>, a book by Oskar Luts. <strong>Tõde ja õigus</strong> ("Truth and Justice") is book series by Anton Hansen Tammsaare, telling the story of Estonia's evolution from Tsarist province to independent state.
- Religions: Most Estonians follow no formal religion. 10% Lutheran Christian. 16% Orthodox Christian.