Learn more about Estonians
|Image:Lydia Koidula.jpgImage:Arvo Part pr3.jpgImage:Lennart Meri 1998.jpgImage:Veljo Tormis.jpg|
|Total population||c. 1,100,000|
|Regions with significant populations|| Estonia:|
|Religion|| less than one fifth are official members of a church, most of them Lutheran <tr>
<th style="background-color:#fee8ab;">Related ethnic groups</th> <td style="background-color:#fff6d9;">Finns, Livonians, and other Finnic peoples;</td>
The name "Eesti", or Estonia, is thought to be derived from the word Aestii, the name given by the ancient Germanic peoples to the peoples living northeast of the Vistula River. The Roman historian Tacitus in 98 A.D. was the first to mention the "Aestii" people, and early Scandinavians called the land south of the Gulf of Finland "Eistland", and the people "eistr". Proto-Estonians (as well as other Finnic-speaking peoples) were also called Chuds (чудь) in Old East Slavic chronicles.
Estonian language belongs to the Balto-Finnic branch of the Finno-Ugric group of languages, as does the Finnish language. The first book in Estonian was printed in 1525, while the oldest known examples of written Estonian originate in 13th century chronicles.
From 1945-89 the share of ethnic Estonians in Estonia dropped from 94% to 61%, caused primarily by the deportations organized by the Soviet regime and the Soviet mass immigration program from Russia and other parts of the former USSR into industrial urban areas of Estonia, as well as by wartime emigration and Stalin's mass deportations and executions. The ethnic Estonian population has now risen close to 69%.
Most of emigré Estonians live in Russia, Finland, Sweden, US, Canada or other Western countries. In neighbouring Latvia, there are around 2,700 ethnic Estonians (1997 census), in Lithuania, the number was 600 in 1989.
During World War II, when Estonia was invaded by the Soviet Army in 1944, large numbers of Estonians fled their homeland on ships or smaller boats over the Baltic Sea. Many of those refugees who survived the risky sea voyage to Sweden and Germany, later moved on from there and settled in Canada, the United States and Australia. Some of these refugees and their descendants returned to Estonia after the nation regained its independence in 1991.
 See also
- List of notable Estonians
- Demographics of Estonia
- List of Estonian Americans