As of 1 January 2012, the population in Estonia was 1,318 million, according to which we are the forth smallest country in the European Union (EU) after Malta, Luxembourg and Cyprus. Estonia’s population is 62 times smaller than Germany’s who has the biggest population in the EU and Estonian population accounts for 0.26% of the total EU population.
Compared to the rest of Europe, Estonia is a thinly populated country – on average 31 inhabitants per square kilometre. 68% of the population lives in urban areas, 31% in the capital city Tallinn. About 43% of the Estonian population lives in the capital region. While Tallinn and its surroundings are still the main destinations of internal migration, the population number of the capital has increased 4% during the last decade. During the recent independence period Estonian population has decreased. The change in population number is influenced by the natural increase and external migration. During the last decade the natural increase has grown.
In 2010 it was even positive with 35 persons but in 2011 the natural increase became negative again: –565. The growth of the natural increase is the result of the increasing number of births as well as the decreasing number of deaths. In 2008, the number of births reached the highest level, after that it decreased to a certain amount. The number of deaths is constantly decreasing, which can also be seen in the continuous rise of life expectancy. Although the number of births is higher than in the past decade, but the total fertility rate
in Estonia was 1.52 in 2011. This figure remains below the replacement level fertility (2.1 children per woman).
The second population process which influences the population number is migration. More people emigrate from Estonia than immigrate to Estonia. The number of immigrants has slightly increased compared to the first half of the past decade, amounting to nearly 4,000 persons. At the same time emigration has grown steadily and was 6,200 persons in 2011. That is the reason why net migration was –2,500 in 2011. Most of the immigrants come from Russia and Finland, the main destination countries for Estonian emigrants are Finland and the United Kingdom.
In 2011, 4.1 marriages were contracted and 2.3 marriages were divorced per thousand inhabitants. The mean age at the first marriage of males and females has increased year-by-year and for the year 2011 has reached on average 31 years for men and 28 years for women.