History of Estonia is colorful. Estonians have been living in this territory since approximately 2500 B.C., making them among the longest settled of the European peoples. Due to Estonia’s strategic location as a link between East and West, it has been conquered numerous times, and under foreign rule for several centuries.
At the beginning of the 13th century, Estonia was conquered by the Teutonic knights whose castles still dot the countryside. By 1285, Tallinn was a member of the Hanseatic League. During the Middle Ages, the Hanseatic League, which combined 70 Baltic Sea cities, formed one of the most powerful trading blocs in the world. The German merchant families, which settled here, dominated trading activities and successive generations of Germans built their manor houses across the country.
Germans were only the first among successive waves of conquerors. Danes, Swedes, Poles and Russians all swept across Estonia, setting up successive regimes, fortifying their towns and castles, and shipping their goods through Estonian ports. In the late 19th century a powerful Estonian nationalist movement arose and on 24 February 1918, Estonia declared its independence from Russia. The period of independence in the history of Estonia was brief. Estonia was forcibly annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940.
In 1991, Estonia regained its independence, having managed to break free from the Soviet Union without any acts of violence. This is where another new epoch in the history of Estonia began. Estonia became a member of NATO on 29 March 2004 and joined the European Union on 1 May 2004. Since 1 January 2011, Estonia is part of the Euro zone.