Estonia is the Most Connected Country in More Than One Way

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What’s the most digitally advanced country in the world? Take a guess…. No really… I’ll wait.

I’d bet most of you probably guessed somewhere in Asia. Japan maybe?

NOPE.

Estonia.

It’s in northeastern Europe bordering Latvia and Russia. It’s considered the most digitally advanced because of their willingness to invest in country wide tech infrastructure.

For example, every resident of Estonia is issued an ID card to gain access to the countries services. All 4000 of those services are available online via the card. Residents can manage their financial accounts, register for licensure, pay fines, order prescriptions and even vote online.

Estonia has gotten a lot of publicity for their emphasis on internet access as a human right but tech isn’t all they’re known for. According to the Social Progress Index, Estonia is number 23 in the world for overall quality of life.

Aurora Borealis

That could be because of the thriving economy, progressive stance on LGBT rights, free public transit in the nation’s capital, low economic debt, or investment in its citizens, but it could also be their emphasis on leisure and respect for the natural world.

Despite being a digital haven and a rather secular country, modern Estonians hold strong to a culture based on an ancient nature based religion. Cultural practices have been handed down from generation to generation despite centuries of occupation and forced cultural adaptations from their captors.

The original indigenous religions of Estonia were referred to as Maausk and Taaraism. Half of all modern Estonians believe Taaraism is the “true faith of Estonia”.

While only 4% of modern Estonians actively identify as practicing Taaraism or Maausk, it is easy to see the mark their teachings have left on the population.

Maausk basically identifies divinity in nature and music. They ancient people built shrines in natural places around Estonia and used folk songs as a means of celebrating and sharing folklore.

The shrines were located in ancient trees, unique plants, at the borders of bodies of water and in large snow deposits.

Viru bogs at Lahemaa national park in summer. Wooden path for hiking in sunny day
Viru bogs at Lahemaa national park in summer. Wooden path for hiking in sunny day

Some of the sites had swings, fireplaces, saunas and shelters available for worshippers to enjoy the natural wonders around them. Many of the practices have lost their religious backing but are still mainstays of Estonian cultures and are honored at various times through the year such as during festivals and public events.

The thing I find most interesting about Estonia is their ability to use technology to aid nature rather than destroying it. About 50% of the country is covered with forests. Rather than cutting the trees down for the logging industry, like some countries have done, Estonians have embraced nature and are investing in ways to enhance their experiences in nature using their technological skills.

estonian-students-forest-megaphones-library-rooms-voru-county-designboom-04

Several projects being conducted in the country’s various national parks to enhance the experience for guests. One project challenged design students to create a structure to enable year-round visitation to Soomaa National Park, even in the winter or during the floods of the wet season. Another group developed wooden megaphones throughout the forest to be used for musical meditation. The cone shape amplifies the sound of music being produced from within the cone and doubles as a safe haven to enjoy nature with protection from the elements.

On your next trip to Estonia, by all means, enjoy the free public wifi but also take a minute to embrace the natural beauty of Estonia.

For more LGBT-specific Estonia travel tips check out Button and Bly’s Travel Show below

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Estonia-nature

This post was brought to you by Visit Estonia.

25 Responses

  1. Wow, I definitely would have thought it would be a country in Asia like Japan! I would love to visit this region one day. Looks absolutely beautiful!

  2. Awesome, I have heard loads of great things about Estonia but haven’t been able to make it there yet. I’m hoping to soon. Love the pictures … out of interest, when are you most likely to see the Northern Lights there?

  3. Wow! I didn’t never heard about Estonia that way!
    The most digitally advanced country? Maausk religion? (which by the way I found awesome!!! 🙂
    Being a south Europe citizen (Spain) I must say we don’t know too much about baltic countries such as Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania… They are Russia neighbors and they are visited when taking a cruise around the baltic sea or looking for cheap stuff when in Finland 🙂 hahahha!
    In any case, I definitely looks like worth a visit… I’ll added in on my endless wish list 🙂

    Oh, and funny video, congrats 🙂 I love the prison at the begining, and the waterfall… was it really the tallest? didn’t look like tall!

  4. It looks really gorgeous!!! I want to add it to the constantly-growing list!! 🙂

  5. Wow what an interesting article! I knew a bit about Estonia but reading this all together makes it even more interesting… Who would have guessed Estonia is this developed and ahead of many western countries!
    http://noifjustlift.com

  6. Honestly I know nothing about Estonia! But this was super informative and the pictures are GORGEOUS! It’s on my must-visit list now for sure 🙂

  7. I would really love to visit Estonia — I’ve heard only amazing things, it’s just a matter of actually booking it! The country really seems so advanced, it doesn’t surprise me much that it’s the most connected country in the world. I’ve heard amazing things about the capital. Thanks for the push again to visit, hopefully 2017!!

  8. I believe Estonia must be one of the most underrated countries in Europe, with all the advancement in technology, the natural beauty and the beautiful medieval architecture. I am glad the natural resources and the cultural heritage are preserved so well. Hope they will still remain intact in the future.

  9. This was great. I did only think of Estonia as a tech hub. Can’t wait to visit next time I’m in Europe!

  10. It’s nice to read more and more positive articles about my country. And then discover something I did not know myself. I haven’t heard about the megaphones in the woods before. I guess I have been away for too long and it’s time to visit home again.

  11. How terribly interesting! I must confess that I knew nothing of Maausk and Taaraism. It has been enlightening to read about them. I love running across things like this that I had no idea existed. A treat for the brain! Thank you for sharing.

  12. Estonia is beautiful! It’s been on my list for ages. You’re post makes me feel like I need to get there asap.

  13. I’ve been hearing more and more about Estonia lately, gotta make my way there one day!

  14. Having been to Japan this really surprised me! We hadn’t heard much about Estonia until this year, we’d love to visit!

  15. I’m so bummed I didn’t get to see Estonia the last time I was in the area, but it’s so neat to hear all this info about it (especially because these details aren’t very well known). Some of the natural beauty you’ve highlighted in this post is increeedible. Would love to head there soon!

  16. I’ve always wanted to go to Estonia (I’m 1/4 Estonian!) but I haven’t made it up to the Baltic States yet. What a mistake that is! I’d love to go in the winter and hopefully get a chance to see the Northern lights. I had no idea you could see them there!

  17. I had no idea that estonia was so digital advanced – fun fact 🙂 I love your pictures in this post!

  18. Oh wow I really didn’t know much about Estonia to be honest. It looks really cool though especially all the forests etc. It’s impressive that’s it’s so digitally advanced too!

  19. Very interesting! I would have to say that I first thought of Sweden when you said “most digitally advanced country”. I have not thought of Estonia like this because I have not read much.

  20. What a fascinating post. I had no idea….well, about any of it. Love the facts like these and bumping Estonia up on the list of places to see. We always travel with the kids and focus on making it educational for them. Estonia looks like a place we could all learn from!

  21. I hadn’t considered going to Estonia till now but I am reconsidering my decision after going through your post. I love the colorful buildings in particular

  22. Estonia’s digital achievements are very impressive. And their natural beauty is gorgeous and inviting. We love to hike through some Estonia forests. Wonder if there’s wifi too?

  23. I’ve been to Tallinn, and it’s one of my favorite cities! I love how Estonians are trying to use technology to enhance their forests and nature rather than destroying it. I think the rest of the world can definitely learn from this. After reading your post, I want to go back and explore the rest of Estonia outside of just Tallinn!

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