Landscape - Forests - Climate - Animals - BirdsBogs and marshes - Islands

Estonia's area of 45 227 km2 is similar to the Netherlands, but the population (1.4 million) is ten times smaller. Estonia has more than 1 500 islands, 1 000 lakes (5 percent of the Estonian territory), 7 000 rivers and streams. Bogs and wooded swamplands of different types cover over one fifth of the country.



Spring field  Hilly landscape
 Photo by: Arne Ader Photo by: Toomas Tuul

Landscape of Estonia is rather peculiar. Most of Estonia is quite plain, from 20 to 100 metres above the sea level, but in the southern Estonia landscape is quite hilly. This makes travelling across Estonia very interesting. The highest point in Estonia is Suur Munamägi (Great Egg Hill), whose tip is 318 metres above sea level. Suur Munamägi is in fact the highest point in the Baltic region.The most dramatic geological features near the sea are the limestone cliffs on the Gulf of Finland, which plunge sheer 50 metres into the sea. Nowhere else on the shores of the Baltic can such terraced powerful limestone cliffs be found. Limestone is Estonia national stone.  



Viewing tower in the forest Be aware 
 Photo by: Sven Zacek Photo by: EAS

Almost half of Estonian territory is under forest and woodlands; the area of forest stands has more than doubled during last half of the past century and is still growing. Forest is one of the biggest values of Estonia and that’s why they are under big attention and protection.
Estonia is situated on a transitional area where the coniferous Euro-Siberian taiga opens onto a European zone of deciduous forests - or so called boreo -nemoral zone. In Estonia you may find big coniferous forests and also many very big and valuable deciduous forests.  
Most common trees in Estonian forests are Pine, spruce, white birch, aspen and alder. 



Summer Bog at the winter 
 Photo by: Sven Zacek Photo by: EAS

Estonia lies in the northern part of the temperate climate zone and in the transition zone between maritime and continental climate. The Baltic Sea causes differences between the climate of coastal and inland areas. But as Estonia is small country, these differences are not drastic.The average annual temperature in Estonia is 5 °C. The average temperature in February, the coldest month of the year, is -5.2 °C. The average temperature in July, which is considered the warmest month of the year, is 18 °C. It is not unusual, however, that the temperature rises to 30 degrees in summers. Lowest temperature ever recorded is -44 °C and the highest has been + 36 degrees.   




 Brown bear Wolf
 Photo by: Sven Zacek Photo by: Sven Zacek
 Wild boar Lynx
 Photo by: Sven Zacek Photo by: Sven Zacek

Estonia is very rich of wild animals. Our climate and ecological conditions are very good for different kind of species due to that, we have many different species and animals’ multiplicity is rather high. Big number of large carnivores, like the bear, lynx and wolf indicates good ecological condition of Estonian forest.  There are around thousand of lynx dwelling in the large forests of Estonia, together with 200 wolves and more than 600 brown bears. Big forest tracts are home to an animal found in few other parts of Europe, the Flying Squirrel.Wild animal’s multiplicity in Estonia:

  • Moose: Biggest animal in Estonian forests- More than 9000 exemplars
  • Brown bear- Biggest carnivore in Estonian woods- more than 600 exemplars
  • Wolf- around 200 exemplars
  • Wild boar- around 15000 exemplars
  • Roe deer- unknown, but may reach even 100 000.
  • Foxes and raccoon dogs- 30000- 50000 exemplars
  • Lynx- almost 1000 exemplars
  • Beaver- more than 14000 exemplars
  • Red deer- 1300 exemplars

Besides these spieces, there are many different smaller animals.  



Kingfisher Ural owl 
Photo by: Sven Zacek Photo by: Sven Zacek
 Oystercatcher Goshawk
 Photo by: Sven Zacek Photo by: Sven Zacek

There are more than 330 bird species in Estonia. Most common bird in Estonia is chaffinch. More than 2 million exemplars of this bird visits Estonia every year.You can see birds everywhere in Estonia. They nest in parks, in forests, in swamps and also in sea side.Most common nesting places in Estonia are forest, because half of Estonia territory is covered with forest.  

Also very important nesting place for migratory birds is seaside. During migration periods, Estonia is a cross point for arctic waterfowl along the East-Atlantic Flyway of migration. According to estimates, up to 50 million water- and coastal birds pass the Estonian coasts during migration time. The abundance of coastal wetlands makes Estonia extremely attractive for waterfowl. A lot of them would stop here to build up their resources for the long journey to their breeding grounds in Russian arctic. At the peak time in two first decades of May every small inlet swarms with ducks, geese and swans. That is something what you have to see to believe.

Rarest birds in Estonia are: Sea eagle, golden eagle, fish eagle, peregrine, black stork, coturnix, corn crake, coracias and great grey shrike.



Bogs and Marshes

 Wetland Bog walk
  Photo by: EAS

Because Estonia is plain, number of swamps is also very high. There are approximately 7000 swamps in Estonia. Swamps cover 21% of Estonian territory. Most of these are located in the central and eastern parts of the country.Swamps are keeping our natural water-system clean. This makes drinking from rivers and streams relatively safe. Swamps also offer us a great number of interesting activities, like hiking, picking berries etc. But swamps may me quite dangerous for inexperienced person and hiking in swamps should be never performed alone.The best place to visit marshes is in the Soomaa National Park in Western Estonia. Soomaa means "Bogland" in Estonian and impressive bogs cover the majority of the park with the thickness of the peat layer reaching up to 7 metres in some places.

Swamp like this isn’t elsewhere in Europe. 



Old lighthouse  Island coast
 Photo by: Kristo Köhler Photo by: Assar Jõepera

Estonia has more than 1 500 islands. The largest of these is Saaremaa, which is about 2 900 square kilometres in size. Saaremaa is followed in size by Hiiumaa, Muhu and Vormsi. The islands and the coastal areas of the mainland are interesting owing to the fact that they are on the migratory route for waterfowl. Twice a year - in the spring and autumn - several hundreds of thousands of birds are visitors in Estonia. The barnacle goose, the swan, the eider plus many more are protected species. Islands are also good fishing places. Main fishing takes place from the sea. Main fishes near islands shore are pike, sea trout and in the island of Hiiumaa also Id. 



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