A small castle from the town I am from - Kuressaare

What is Estonia?

by Roman on June 9, 2008

This post is about Estonia – a small, yet technologically advanced country where I run FinancialJesus.com from.

Background

Estonia is a very small country – about 1.3 million people live on 17 000 square miles (45000 sq km).

The largest city Tallinn has a population of about 400 000 – all other cities are smaller than 100 000 people.

Our better known neighbours include Finland to the north, Sweden to the west and Russia to the east.

Cool things about Estonia that you didn’t know

Let’s be honest – there is about a 99% chance that you don’t know anything about Estonia, but here is a list of things that make us unique and show just how advanced technologically we are.

E-government

From the year 2000 all Estonian government’s hearings are entirely paper free. The members of the government still have gatherings but all documents are held entirely online. If it is necessary to pass a new law it can be signed digitally.

ID-cards and Electronical signatures

All Estonians have an ID-card with a small chip that can be used to give electronic signatures. An Estonian can pretty much do every bureaucratic procedure online – this includes filing your taxes which is entirely web based and takes about 5 minutes. All relevant information is pre-entered into the tax forms – you just need to check if everything is OK.

E-democracy

Estonia is the first country in the world to have a unique system where every citizen can make suggestions for changing laws online. Other Estonians can vote if they like the suggestion and in the end the government has to consider carefully whether or not this suggestion can be implemented. You can basically change a law with one single post online.

Electronic voting

Estonia is the first country in the world to have successfully implemented national e-voting. A person wanting to give his vote to his favorite candidate online needs to have his ID-card that he uses to identify himself. A person can change his vote for as many times as he likes until the deadline.

Secure voting with mobile phones has already been used in smaller scale and there is a debate whether we should have mobile voting in addition to online voting.

Wireless Internet

Estonia is entirely covered with wireless internet. We have free wireless internet access in every gas station and in every cafe that hopes to have any visitors. In fact, it is very difficult to find a place where there is no free public wireless internet access! The many wireless networks that cover the whole country include 3G, 3.5G, WiMax and CDMA.

Estonia is the only country in the world where internet access is a basic human right. (Yes we have a law for that).

98% of people use online banking. Nobody uses checks.

Glimpse of World War 3

Being too wired can also have some negative aspects. In May 2007 Estonia became the first country in the world to become under a country wide cyber attack. The attack was headed from Russia with millions of computers around the world bombarding Estonian media, government and banking websites. Many of them become temporarily unavailable. Luckily for us – Estonia is the home of the cyber defense headquarters of NATO.

Mobile parking

Estonia was the first country to implement mobile parking tickets. You drive to the center of the city, park your car and dial a special number or send a text message. If you are done parking just call the number again. The money is taken directly from your bank account or added to your phone bill. If you are a fan of public transport you can of course buy a bus ticket with your phone or transfer money to your friends bank account just by dialing a special phone number. There are almost no regular parking meters.

Famous software

Estonia is also the birthplace for such famous software as Kazaa and Skype. The best days of the file sharing software Kazaa are already over, but the free internet based voice chat program Skype was sold to eBay for $4.1 billion.

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Kasuta ainult usaldusväärseid infoallikaid | Veebikiirabi
May 7, 2010 at 9:40 am

{ 20 comments }

OnuJack June 10, 2008 at 5:11 am

I don’t know about other cities in Estonia but in Tallinn it is pretty difficult to find the necessary information for using mobile parking (at least in some areas). Just last week I searched for a parking zone code and a phone number in the heart of the town so I could park my car without it being towed away – found nothing. Even talked to locals and they have never seen any such information… The idea is good but the implementation is not the best. There were signs up everywhere telling in which rate zone you are but nothing about what number to send the sms and in which zone you are exactly. So I just took the risk and parked my car without paying for it because did not have all day to figure out where to get the right information… It was the area around the US embassy.

The NATO cyber defence headquarters were established there after these attacks. Some of the attacks were told have come from Russian institutions servers – as usual Russia does not cooperate on matters that not a threat to them :p

About wireless internet – I can give you a couple of examples where there is no free Wifi in public places such as coffees and diners :p But the wireless coverage is true – nowadays you can buy a special modem even for your car and have high speed internet access wherever you are :)

The picture in header of the post is from the island where I come from – a town called Kuressaare. Beautiful nature all the way ;)

more news about Estonia: Microsoft is building it’s innovation center in Estonia – that says it all about the potential of Estonia in terms of technological advancements :p

Roman June 12, 2008 at 4:25 pm

You probably need to register before you can use the mobile parking system. Im pretty sure you could have found the mobile phone number with your mobile through WAP or your mobile’s webbrowser!

OnuJack June 12, 2008 at 4:49 pm

That might be true but the fact is that for a person who is not living in Tallinn and goes there with a car is in trouble when he/she wants to park. It could easily be made more user friendly. I have used EuroPark parking spaces in Tallinn in the past and they don’t have a problem writing the necessary information for starting/ending mobile parking… The problem is that EuroPark’s are not very common there…

For you as a person living in Tallinn it is not a problem because mobile parking is everyday business. I would not mind using a parking machine but there were not any around – the only option seemed to be mobile parking and that was ridiculously difficult to figure out – this only shows that customer is not king… And since there is no real competition there is no real motivation for improving things but hopefully it will improve. How difficult can it be to arrange some extra information on the parking information tablets?

Nick June 17, 2008 at 9:14 pm

Wow! I did not know anything about Estonia before, but now think it might be someplace I might want to visit sometime.

I’ll have to dig around this site and see if I can find some more stuff about the country that is not related to technology.

Roman June 18, 2008 at 11:15 am

Sorry, but there isn’t a lot of info here about Estonia! Hopefully I will add some new interesting stuff over time!

Nick June 25, 2008 at 8:56 pm

If nothing else, just little snippets of information from time to time. Or if something news-worthy happens, let us know and give us some background information about the event and how that sort of thing works there.

David June 28, 2008 at 6:58 pm

Neat Article. Never thought that Estonia was so technologically advanced.

In terms of investment opportunities, are there Estonia stocks that trade in the US?.

Roman July 2, 2008 at 4:46 pm

As far as I know there are none :(
The Estonian local stock market however is owned by Nasdaq

senay January 25, 2009 at 7:08 pm

OH EM GEE!!! I love your country. I’m so moving there when I’m 18 :)

tom October 17, 2009 at 12:48 pm

There is no law in Estonia about internet being a legal right. Its Finland that has the law: http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/10/15/finland.internet.rights/index.html

Roman October 17, 2009 at 2:32 pm

Well Tom, I am afraid that you are incorrect – having internet access is a human right in Estonia. It has been a human right for more than 6 years already – since you seem to be an Estonian I am sorry that you don’t know that.

The fact that internet access is a right in Finland is true – but it is something they copied from Estonians only a little while ago!

If you don’t believe me just check out Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_access#Internet_access_as_a_human_right
Scroll down to “Internet access as a human right” and you will find the following:
“In some countries such as Estonia[4] , France[5] , Finland[6] and Greece[7], Internet access has already been made a human right.”

Hey Roman December 7, 2009 at 10:50 pm

45,000 sq km???? You got to be kiddin’ me!!! Population 1.3 million???? You got to be kiddin’ me!!!!! Singapore’s size is just 750 sq km!!! And its population is 5 million people!!! That includes 1 million foreigners/permanent residents living in Singapore!!!! You say Estonia is small??? Its size is more than 15x more than Singapore and Singapore’s population is bigger than Estonia!!! I tell you that as I live in Singapore. You called Estonia small??? You gave me a bad headache, Roman

Roman December 8, 2009 at 10:14 am

Lol, sorry for giving you an headache!
Estonia is a small country but as you correctly pointed out – Singapore is a lot smaller.
Singapore is a city state compared to Estonia – most of our land is covered with forests and swamps – there are only a few places that have towns and cities!

Singaporeboi December 10, 2009 at 9:09 pm

LOLZ for Singapore, parking is as easy as Estonia. Hahahaha imagine a person in Estonia who doesn’t have a handphone and wants to park his car! Hahaha… In SIngapore we use coupons. How many hours you park,days,which month and year. And our bus transport, we use ez-link cards. We just tap the cards near on something that scans the card. It’s like a cash card. But a lot easier. Here’s the link for the parking coupon : http://images.google.com.sg/images?source=ig&hl=en&rlz=1G1GGLQ_ENSG357&q=singapore%20parking%20coupon&lr=&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi and here’s the link for the ez-link card http://www.icars.sg/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/ex-link-card.jpg

john June 16, 2011 at 3:05 pm

singapore rocks …i hope roman is giving a one sided opinion(iam not from singapore)

Singaporeboi December 10, 2009 at 9:20 pm

Singapore’s better-known neighbour is Malaysia – To the north. Singapore is connected to Malaysia by a long, man-made, road-like thing which i dont noe how to call it. Singapore is just a small-state country and an island country. Hehehe… And Singapore is a disaster-free country. There are no tsunamis, landslide, mudslide, typhoon, but there are waterspouts in some lakes in Singapore. Too bad the waterspout is harmless.

Singaporeboi December 10, 2009 at 9:22 pm

The telephone lines in Singapore are not long – Just 8 numbers only. ( Including handphones ) Example 6752 6987

7 digits March 30, 2010 at 9:33 am

My Estonian cellphone number have 7 digits (example: 521 9827). Our fixphone numbers have 7 numbers too.
Some cellphone numbers have 8 numbers.

Roman March 30, 2010 at 10:12 am

My mobile phone number in Estonia has 8 digits but you know… who cares? :)

Hotels in Delhi May 9, 2012 at 2:02 am

i love to know more about Estonia,its a mind shaking development and applauded the technology which they adapted

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