Tallinn (recent historical name: Reval) is the capital city and main seaport of Estonia. It is located on Estonia's north coast to the Baltic Sea, 80 kilometres south of Helsinki.

[edit] Etymology

The origin of the name "Tallinn(a)" is certain to be Estonian, although the original meaning of the name is debated. It is usually thought to be derived from "Taani-linn(a)" (meaning "Danish-castle/town"; Latin: Castrum Danorum). However, it could also have come from "tali-linna" ("winter-castle/town"), or "talu-linna" ("house/farmstead-castle/town"). The element -linna, like German -burg and Slavic -grad originally meant "castle" but is used as a suffix in the formation of town names.

Tallinna replaced the previously used official German name Reval  (Russian: Ревель) in 1918, when Estonia became independent. In the early 1920s the official spelling of the city name was changed from Tallinna to Tallinn, making the new name notable since Estonian-language place names generally end with a vowel (denoting genitive case). However, somewhat confusingly to non-Estonian speakers, the word Tallinna still appears in modern Tallinn as the -a suffix can denote the genitive case (thus Tallinna Lennujaam translates literally as Tallinn's Airport).

[edit] Historical names

Colorfully painted buildings in Old Town Tallinn

The German and Swedish name Reval (Latin: Revalia, earlier Swedish language: Räffle) originated from the 13th century Estonian name of the adjacent Estonian county of Rävala. Other known ancient historical names of Tallinn include variations of Estonian Lindanise (see Battle of Lyndanisse), such as Lyndanisse in Danish, Lindanäs in Swedish, and Ledenets in Old East Slavic. Kesoniemi in Finnish and Kolyvan (Колывань) in Old East Slavic are also other historical names.

[edit] Geography

Tallinn is situated on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland, in north central Estonia.

The largest lake in Tallinn is Lake Ülemiste (covers 9.6 km²). It is the main source of the city's drinking water. Lake Harku is the second largest lake within the borders of Tallinn and its area is 1.6 km². Unlike many other large towns, the only significant river in Tallinn is located in Pirita (a city district counted as a suburb). The river valley is a protected area because of its natural beauty.

A limestone cliff runs through the city. It is exposed, for instance, at Toompea and Lasnamäe. However, Toompea is not a part of the cliff, but a separate hill.

The highest point of Tallinn, at 64 meters above the sea level, is situated in the district of Nõmme, in the south-west of the city.

The length of the coastline is 46 kilometres. It comprises 3 bigger peninsulas: Kopli peninsula, Paljassaare peninsula and Kakumäe peninsula.

[edit] History

The southern coast of the Gulf of Finland is thought to have been settled by Finnic-speaking tribes already in the 2nd millennium BC.

In 1154 Tallinn was marked on the world map of the Arab cartographer al-Idrisi.

As an important port for trade between Russia and Scandinavia, it became a target for the expansion of the Teutonic Knights and Kingdom of Denmark during the period of Northern Crusades in the beginning of the 13th century when Christianity was forcibly imposed on the local population. Danish rule of Tallinn and Northern Estonia started in 1219.

In 1285 the city became the northernmost member of the Hanseatic League - a mercantile and military alliance of German-dominated cities in Northern Europe. The Danes sold Tallinn along with their other land possessions in northern Estonia to the Teutonic Order in 1345. Medieval Tallinn enjoyed a strategic position at the crossroads of trade between Western and Northern Europe and Russia. The city, with a population of 8,000, was very well fortified with city walls and 66 defence towers.

The historical Old Town
St. Olav's Church (Oleviste kirik), once the tallest in the world, is still the tallest building in Tallinn

With the start of the Protestant Reformation the German influence became even stronger. In 1561 Tallinn politically became a dominion of Sweden.

During the Great Northern War the Swedish troops based in Tallinn capitulated to Imperial Russia in 1710, but the local Baltic German rulers retained their cultural and economical autonomy within Tsarist Russia. The 19th century brought industrialization of the city and the port kept its importance. During the last decades of the century Russification pressure became stronger.

On 24 February 1918 the Independence Manifesto was proclaimed in Tallinn, followed by German occupation and a war of independence with Russia. On 2 February 1920 the Tartu Peace Treaty was signed with Soviet Russia, wherein Russia acknowledged the independence of the Estonian Republic. Tallinn became the capital of the independent Estonia. After World War II started Estonia was annexed by the USSR as a result of coup with help of the Red Army in 1940-41, and later invaded by Nazi Germany in 1941-44. After Nazi retreat in 1944, it was occupied by the USSR again. After the annexion into the Soviet Union, Tallinn became the capital of the Estonian SSR.

During the 1980 Summer Olympics a regatta was held at Pirita, north-east of central Tallinn. Many buildings, like the hotel "Olümpia", the new Main Post Office building, and the Regatta Center, were built for the Olympics.

In August 1991 an independent democratic Estonian state was re-established and a period of quick development to a modern European capital ensued. Tallinn became de-facto capital of a independent country once again on August 20, 1991.

Tallinn has historically consisted of three parts:

  • the Toompea (Domberg) or "Cathedral Hill", which was the seat of the central authority, first the ruling bishops, then the Teutonic Order, then the Baltic German nobility; it is today the seat of the Estonian government and many embassies and residencies.
  • the Old Town, which is the old Hanseatic town, the "city of the citizens" - this was not administratively united with the Hill until the late 19th century. It was the centre of the medieval trade on which it grew prosperous.
  • the Estonian town forms a crescent to the south of the Old Town, where the Estonians came to settle. It was not until the mid-19th century that ethnic Estonians replaced the local Baltic Germans as the majority amongst the residents of Tallinn.

Historically, the city has been attacked, sacked, razed and pillaged on numerous occasions. Although extensively bombed by Soviet air forces during the latter stages of World War II, much of the medieval Old Town still retains its charm. The Tallinn Old Town (including Toompea) became a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1997.

At the end of the 15th century a new 159 m high Gothic spire was built for St. Olav's Church. Between 1549 and 1625 it was the tallest building in the world. After several fires and following rebuilding, its overall height is now 123 m.

[edit] Administrative districts

District Area Population
Haabersti 18.6 km² 35,000
Kesklinn 28.0 km² 34,985
Kristiine 9.4 km² 27,531
Lasnamäe 30.0 km² 108,644
Mustamäe 8.0 km² 62,219
Nõmme 28.0 km² 35,043
Pirita 18.7 km² 8,507
Põhja-Tallinn 17.3 km² 52,573

For local government purposes, Tallinn is subdivided into 8 administrative districts (Estonian: linnaosad, sg. - linnaosa). The district governments are city institutions that fulfill, in the territory of their district, the functions assigned to them by Tallinn legislation and statutes.

Each district government is managed by an Elder (Estonian: linnaosavanem). He or she is appointed by the City Government on the nomination of the Mayor and after having heard the opinion of the Administrative Councils. The function of the Administrative Councils is to recommend, to the City Government and Commissions of the City Council, how the districts should be administered.

[edit] Population

Image:Tallinn city hall.jpg
Tallinn city hall (Raekoda)
Population development
Year Population
1372 3250
1772 6954
1816 12,000
1834 15,300
1851 24,000
1881 45,900
1897 58,800
1925 119,800
1959 283,071
1989 478,974
1996 427,500
2000 400,378
2005 401,694

Tallinn's population is registered 401,694 (as of March 2005).

According to Eurostat, the statistical agency of the European Union, of all EU member states' capital cities, Tallinn has the largest number of non-EU nationals: 27.8% of its population are not EU citizens. This is because planned immigration from other Soviet republics during the period of Soviet control (1944-1991) brought large numbers of non-Estonians, mostly Russians, to Tallinn and other areas of Northern Estonia. Many of these immigrants and their offspring do not qualify automatically for Estonian citizenship.

Nationality Percentage
Estonians 54.8%
Russians 36.6%
Ukrainians 3.6%
Belarusians 1.9%
Others 3.1%

In addition to the native Estonian language (which is of the Finno-Ugric group, closely related to the Finnish language), Finnish, Russian and English are widely understood in Tallinn.

[edit] Economy

In addition to longtime functions as seaport and capital city, Tallinn has seen development of an information technology sector in recent years; in its 13 December 2005 edition, The New York Times characterized Estonia as "a sort of Silicon Valley on the Baltic Sea". Skype is the best-known of several Tallinn IT start-ups, and a first venture capital firm was founded in 2005. Many are housed in the Soviet-era Institute of Cybernetics, which is said to been one of the seeds for Estonian adoption of computing technology. Despite this, the most important economic sectors of Tallinn are the light, textile, and food industry, as well as the service and government sector.

[edit] Education

Tallinn is the location of Tallinn University of Technology, as well as other institutions of higher education and science, including:

[edit] Tourism

Since independence, improving air and sea transport links with Western Europe and Estonia's accession to the European Union have made Tallinn easily accessible to tourists. The picturesque old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the current novelty of the destination attract many tourists and facilities (hotels, restaurants) have developed to meet their needs. English is widely spoken within the tourist areas.

Note that Estonia has made rapid economic progress since independence and that this is reflected in local prices. Although not extortionate, neither are prices as cheap as in other former Eastern Bloc countries.

The local tourist office sells the "Tallinn Card" which gives the holder free local public transport and entry to most attractions. Although the economics of this may be marginal, it is convenient to use. Local walking tours offer short-cuts to understanding the city.

The main attractions are in the two old towns (Lower Town and Toompea) which are both easily explored on foot. Eastern districts around Pirita and Kadriorg are also worth visiting and the Estonian Open Air Museum (Eesti Vabaõhumuuseum) near Rocca al Mare, west of the city, preserves aspects of Estonian rural culture and architecture.

[edit] Toompea

This area was once the home of the nobility and bishops of Estonia, occupying an easily defensible site overlooking the surrounding districts. The major attractions are the walls and various bastions, the Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral (built during the period of Russification by the Tsarist Russian government, the church was built on a site that formerly housed a statue of Martin Luther) and the Lutheran Cathedral (Toomkirik).

[edit] Lower Town

Image:Tallinn City Wall.jpg
Part of lower town city wall

This area is one of the best preserved old towns in Europe and the authorities are continuing its rehabilitation after years of neglect. The "must see" sights include Raekoja plats (Town Hall square), the town walls and towers (notably "Fat Margaret" and "Kiek in de Kök") and St Olaf church tower (124 metres).

[edit] Kadriorg

Image:Kadriorg Tallinn.jpg
Kadriorg Palace and ornamental garden

This is 2 kilometres east of the centre and is served by buses and trams. The former palace of Peter the Great, built just after the Great Northern War, now houses (part of) the Art Museum of Estonia, presidential residence and the surrounding grounds include formal gardens and woodland.

The new residence of the Art Museum of Estonia: KUMU (Kunstimuuseum, Art Museum) was built several years ago.

[edit] Pirita

This coastal district is a further 2 kilometres north-east of Kadriorg. The marina was built for the Moscow Olympics of 1980, but for the less capable, boats can be hired on the Pirita river. Two kilometres inland are the Botanic Gardens and the Tallinn television tower.

[edit] Transport

The port and Old Tallinn skyline as seen from the sea

[edit] City transport

The city operates an extensive system of bus, tram and trolley-bus routes to all districts. Fares are reasonably-priced and a flat-fare system is used. Payment is made either by pre-purchase of tickets at street-side kiosks or to the vehicle driver (but this is more expensive) - tickets must then be validated using machines on the vehicle. The Tallinn Card is a way of pre-paying for local transport.

Since 2004, holders of an Estonian ID card can purchase electronic tickets via internet, phone, some ATMs or using cash. [1]

[edit] Air

Tallinn Airport[2] is about 4 kilometres from Raekoja plats (Town Hall square); there's a local bus connection between the airport and the edge of the city centre. The terminal building is a small but modern, convenient and clean building - the modernisation was famously prompted by Estonian President Lennart Meri holding a press conference [3] in the terminal's public toilets to publicise the poor state of the facilities.

Several airlines (eg, easyJet, Estonian Air, Finnair, KLM, LOT, Lufthansa and SAS) operate between Tallinn and European cities such as Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Helsinki, London, Kiev, Milan, Moscow, Stockholm, Warsaw and, in a regular charter basis, to Faro Airport in Portugal.

In addition, there is an hourly helicopter service to Helsinki operated by Copterline, advertised as the fastest capital-to-capital link in the world. Copterline leaves from Linnahall, an events hall on the outskirts of the old town.

[edit] Rail and road

The Edelaraudtee railway company operates train services from Tallinn to Tartu, Valga, Türi, Viljandi, Tapa, Narva, Orava, and Pärnu. Buses are also available to all these and various other destinations in Estonia, as well as to St Petersburg in Russia and Riga in Latvia. The EVR Ekspress company operates a daily international sleeper train service between Tallinn and Moscow.

Tallinn also has a commuter rail service running from Tallinn's main rail station (Balti jaam) in two main directions: east (Aegviidu) and to several western destinations (Pääsküla, Keila, Riisipere, Paldiski, Klooga). These are electrified lines and are used by the Elektriraudtee railroad company. The trains are a mixture of modernised older Soviet EMU's and newly built units. The first electrified train service in Tallinn was opened in 1924 from Tallinn to Pääsküla, a distance of 11.2 kilometres.

The Via Baltica motorway (part of European route E67 from Helsinki to Prague) connects Tallinn to the Lithuanian/Polish border.

Frequent and affordable long-distance bus routes connect Tallinn with other parts of Estonia.

[edit] Ferry

Image:Tallin Port from St Olav.jpg
The port of Tallinn, seen from the tower of the St. Olav Church

Several ferry operators, Viking Line, Silja Line, Linda Line Express, Tallink and others, connect Tallinn to

See also: Ports of the Baltic Sea

The most popular passenger lines connect Tallinn to Helsinki (approximately 80 kilometres north of Tallinn) in less than one hour and twenty minutes by hydrofoil or 4 hours by conventional ferry. The fares are reasonably priced.

[edit] Partner cities

Tallinn participates in international town twinning schemes to foster good international relations. Partners include:

Tallinn also has a mutual friendship with the city of Portland, Oregon, United States

[edit] See also

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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Image:Et-Harju maakond-coa.svg Municipalities of Harju County
Urban municipalities: Keila | Loksa | Maardu | Paldiski | Saue | Tallinn
Rural municipalities: Aegviidu | Anija | Harku | Jõelähtme | Keila | Kernu | Kiili | Kose | Kuusalu | Kõue | Nissi | Padise | Raasiku | Rae | Saku | Saue | Vasalemma | Viimsi

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