Estonia Geography

What is the terrain and geography like in Estonia?

Overview:

Estonia is the northernmost of the three Baltic States. Its capital, Tallinn, lies about 80 kilometers south of Helsinki, Finland across the gulf of Finland. West of Estonia is the Baltic Sea, and to the east is Russia. Estonia borders Latvia on the south. The smallest of the Baltic States, Estonia covers 17,462 square miles (45,226 square kilometers)

Estonia is located on the Great Northern European Plain. Its topography is typically flat in coastal regions and hilly in the inland southeastern part of the country. The elevation in northwestern Estonia averages 160 feet (49 meters) but rises to 320 feet (98 meters) in the southeast. The highest point in Estonia, at 1,040 feet (317 meters) above sea level, is a hill called "Suur Munamägi" ("Big Egg Mountain") in the southeast.

Estonia’s inland waters include 1,400 lakes and many shallow rivers. The largest lakes are Lake Peipsi in eastern Estonia on the Russian border and Lake Võrtsjärv in south-central Estonia. Estonia’s two major rivers are the Emajõgi, running east-west from Lake Võrtsjärv to Lake Peipsi, and the Narva, that connects Lake Peipsi to the Gulf of Finland. Estonia has substantial areas of bogs and wetlands, particularly in western regions. Forest and woodland, which are usually a mixture of coniferous spruce, pine, white birch, ash, maple, and aspen, cover 47.4% of Estonia.

Off the coast of Estonia sit 1,520 islands that account for nearly 8% of the country’s total land area. The largest islands are Saaremaa and Hiiumaa.

Geography - note:

the mainland terrain is flat, boggy, and partly wooded; offshore lie more than 1,500 islands

Climate:

The climate is northern continental, with long winters and short summers. Winter begins in October and lasts often well into April. Snowcover is common from mid or late November to the latter half of March. Cloud cover and slate gray skies are typical between October and early February, when drier and sunnier days arrive. Mean January temperatures are 22°-25°F(-4°-6°C). The Gulfs of Finland and Riga only freeze over during the coldest winters.


In addition to being cold and snowy, winter months are characterized by shortened daylight, a result of Estonia's northern latitude (59°N). When days are at their shortest, daylight is present only between 9:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Prevailing gray skies from November through January make daylight seem even more fleeting. The sun, when it shines, hugs the horizon, thus giving the impression that it is early morning or late afternoon even at midday.


It is often difficult to say exactly when winter ends and spring begins. After the Vernal Equinox (March 21), daylight increases dramatically. Most days in late March, April, and May are sunny. Daytime temperatures, however, may still remain in the 30°-45°F range into late April, and it is not safe to put winter clothing into storage until late May. Occasional snow flurries and light snow are possible even through May.


Summer in Estonia is a short, magical season. July and August temperatures are the warmest, averaging 67°-75°F (19°-24°C). Mornings are cooler and the late afternoon can warm up to the low-80’s. The surface water temperature in the Baltic Sea is from 60°-78°F (16°-26°C). The heaviest rains occur in July and August, but they are usually passing showers. During summer months, Estonia benefits from its northern latitude, with daylight extending long into evening hours and reappearing well before earliest risers are out of bed. From early June to mid-July, there is no real "nighttime."


The short autumn can start as early as late August and is generally cool and rainy.

Estonia Use of Natural Resources

Estonia Environment

Climate:

The climate is northern continental, with long winters and short summers. Winter begins in October and lasts often well into April. Snowcover is common from mid or late November to the latter half of March. Cloud cover and slate gray skies are typical between October and early February, when drier and sunnier days arrive. Mean January temperatures are 22°-25°F(-4°-6°C). The Gulfs of Finland and Riga only freeze over during the coldest winters.


In addition to being cold and snowy, winter months are characterized by shortened daylight, a result of Estonia's northern latitude (59°N). When days are at their shortest, daylight is present only between 9:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Prevailing gray skies from November through January make daylight seem even more fleeting. The sun, when it shines, hugs the horizon, thus giving the impression that it is early morning or late afternoon even at midday.


It is often difficult to say exactly when winter ends and spring begins. After the Vernal Equinox (March 21), daylight increases dramatically. Most days in late March, April, and May are sunny. Daytime temperatures, however, may still remain in the 30°-45°F range into late April, and it is not safe to put winter clothing into storage until late May. Occasional snow flurries and light snow are possible even through May.


Summer in Estonia is a short, magical season. July and August temperatures are the warmest, averaging 67°-75°F (19°-24°C). Mornings are cooler and the late afternoon can warm up to the low-80’s. The surface water temperature in the Baltic Sea is from 60°-78°F (16°-26°C). The heaviest rains occur in July and August, but they are usually passing showers. During summer months, Estonia benefits from its northern latitude, with daylight extending long into evening hours and reappearing well before earliest risers are out of bed. From early June to mid-July, there is no real "nighttime."


The short autumn can start as early as late August and is generally cool and rainy.

Terrain:

marshy, lowlands; flat in the north, hilly in the south

Natural Resources:

oil shale, peat, phosphorite, clay, limestone, sand, dolomite, arable land, sea mud

Natural Hazards:

sometimes flooding occurs in the spring

Irrigated Land:

2 Square Miles
5 Square Kilometers

Environmental Issues:

air polluted with sulfur dioxide from oil-shale burning power plants in northeast; however, the amount of pollutants emitted to the air have fallen steadily, the emissions of 2000 were 80% less than in 1980; the amount of unpurified wastewater discharged to water bodies in 2000 was one twentieth the level of 1980; in connection with the start-up of new water purification plants, the pollution load of wastewater decreased; Estonia has more than 1,400 natural and manmade lakes, the smaller of which in agricultural areas need to be monitored; coastal seawater is polluted in certain locations

Environment - International Agreements:

party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Estonia Geography

Geographic Location Europe
Total Area 17,463 Square Miles
45,228 Square Kilometers
Land Area 16,366 Square Miles
42,388 Square Kilometers
Water Area 1,097 Square Miles
2,840 Square Kilometers
Land Boundaries 393 Miles
633 Kilometers
Irrigated Land 2 Square Miles
5 Square Kilometers
Border Countries Latvia 339 km, Russia 294 km
Coastline 2,357 Miles
3,794 Kilometers
Geographic Coordinates 59 00 N, 26 00 E
Terrain marshy, lowlands; flat in the north, hilly in the south
Highest Point 318 Meters
Highest Point Location Suur Munamagi 318 m
Lowest Point Location Baltic Sea 0 m
Natural Resources oil shale, peat, phosphorite, clay, limestone, sand, dolomite, arable land, sea mud
Time Zone UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
Daylight saving time +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
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