Geography of Estonia

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Between 57.3 and 59.5 latitude and 21.5 and 28.1 longitude, Estonia lies on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea on the level northwestern part of the rising east European platform. It borders the Gulf of Finland, between Latvia and Russia. Average elevation reaches only 50 m (164 ft).

The climate is maritime, wet, with moderate winters and cool summers. Oil shale and limestone deposits, along with forests which cover 47% of the land, play key economic roles in this generally resource-poor country. Estonia boasts over 1,500 lakes, numerous bogs, and 3,794 kilometers of coastline marked by numerous bays, straits, and inlets. Tallinn's Muuga port offers one of Europe's finest warm-water harbor facilities.

Estonia's strategic location has precipitated many wars that were fought on its territory between other rival powers at its expense. In 1944, under Soviet occupation, the Jaanilinn and Petseri regions were annexed to Russian SFSR territory. The legal status of these territories has not been fully settled yet, though neither Estonia or Russia has not any territorial claims.

Geographic coordinates: 59°00′N 26°00′E / 59°N 26°E / 59; 26)

Contents

Geographic features

Estonia is a flat country covering 45,226 km2 (17,462 sq mi). Estonia has a long, shallow coastline (1,393 km/866 mi) along the Baltic Sea, with 1,520 islands dotting the shore. The two largest islands are Saaremaa (literally, island land), at 2,673 km2 (1,032 sq mi), and Hiiumaa, at 989 km2 (382 sq mi). The two islands are favorite Estonian vacation spots. The country's highest point, Suur Munamägi (Egg Mountain), is in the hilly southeast and reaches 318 m (1,043 ft) above sea level. Estonia is covered by about 18,000 km2 (6,950 sq mi) of forest. Arable land amounts to about 9,260 km2 (3,575 sq mi). Meadows cover about 2,520 km2 (973 sq mi), and pastureland covers about 1,810 km2 (699 sq mi). There are more than 1,400 natural and artificial lakes in Estonia. The largest of them, Lake Peipus (3,555 km2/1,373 sq mi), forms much of the border between Estonia and Russia. Located in central Estonia, Võrtsjärv is the second-largest lake (270 km2/104 sq mi). The Narva and Emajõgi are among the most important of the country's many rivers.

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