The Government and Politics of Postcommunist Europe

By Andrew A. Michta | Go to book overview

9
ESTONIA

THE NATION AND THE INTERWAR STATE

Estonia, the smallest of the three Baltic states, has shared a common history with Latvia and Lithuania in this century. However, it has a distinct language and culture of its own. The name of the country (Eesti in Estonian) is probably derived from the old German Aisti used by ancient Germans to describe the peoples living northeast of the Vistula River. The first written record of the Aisti dates back to the first century A.D. Estonians, along with the Finns and Hungarians, belonging to the Baltic-Finnic group of the Finno-Ugric peoples, arrived on the territory of present-day Estonia in the third century B.C.1 The country's geographic boundaries are delineated by the Narva River, Lake Peipsi (Peipus), the Gulf of Finland, and the Baltic Sea; the only frontier that is geographically undefined lies to the south. In this southern area a branch of the Estonian race, the Livs, have fought incessant wars with the Letts or Latvians. 2

An important element of Estonia's development was its relative isolation. The great trade route between the Baltic and the Mediterranean lay further south, along the Dvina (Daugava) River in Latvian territory. Estonia was repeatedly overrun by waves of invaders, from the Vikings to the Slavs. The Danes brought Christianity to the Estonians and took over northwest Estonia and the islands of Hiiumaa (Dago) and Saaremaa (Osel) as Danish provinces. 3 German control over Estonia, as well as all of the Baltic region, was asserted only after the arrival of the Teutonic Knights in Prussia and the merger of the Livonian Knights with the much more powerful Teutons. Under the joint

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The Government and Politics of Postcommunist Europe
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • I - East Central Europe 7
  • 1 - Poland 9
  • 2 - The Czech Republic and Slovakia 29
  • 3 - Hungary 55
  • II - The Balkans 69
  • 4 - Romania 71
  • 5 - Bulgaria 87
  • 6 - Yugoslav Successor States and Albania 103
  • III - The Baltic Rim 125
  • 7 - Lithuania 127
  • 8 - Latvia 147
  • 9 - Estonia 165
  • IV - East European Periphery 181
  • 10 - Belarus 183
  • 11 - Ukraine 197
  • Conclusion: Postcommunist Europe in the New European Order 211
  • Selected Bibliography 221
  • Index 227
  • About the Author 237
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