Statesman's Year-Book 1921/Esthonia


(Eesti Wabariik.)

Esthonia comprises the former Russian Government of Estland, the northern part of Livland, the north-western portion of the Pskoff Government, and the Islands Saaremaa (Oesel), Hiiumaa (Dago), and Muhumaa in the Baltic Sea.

After the Bolshevist coup d'état, Esthonia, on February 24, 1918, declared her independence, and was recognised in the same year as a de facto independent body by Great Britain (May 3), France (May 13), and Italy (May 29). The following year (1919) Esthonia was recognised de facto by Japan, Sweden and Poland, and in 1920 de jure by Russia and Finland. On January 26, 1921, the Supreme Council accorded de jure recognition to Esthonia.

Constitution and Government.—Pending the elaboration of a permanent constitution, Esthonia was governed according to a Provisional Constitution adopted by the Constituent Assembly on June 4, 1919. According to this the Supreme Power was vested in the Constituent Assembly, which was composed of 120 members.

The Constitution of the Esthonian Republic was passed by the Constituent Assembly on June 15, 1920, and has been in force since December 20, 1920.

The power of the State is in the hands of the people. The sovereign power is assured to the people by means of the elections to the Legislative Assembly (Riigikogu, State Assembly), the referendum, and the right of initiating legislation.

The State Assembly is composed of 100 members, elected for three years on the basis of proportional representation, and by universal, direct, equal, and secret suffrage. The Assembly forms the Government, and accepts its resignation, promulgates the laws, passes the budget, decides the financial policy generally, ratifies treaties, the mobilisation decree, and state of siege, &c.

The signatures of 25,000 citizens are necessary in demanding a referendum, proposing a new law, or amending the existing laws. The budget and measures affecting war, peace and foreign treaties cannot he submitted to a referendum.

The executive power consists of the State Head (Riigiwanem, State Elder), and ministers, who form the Government. The Government directs the foreign and home policy of the Republic, appoints officials (except where special laws exist), and introduces legislation. It is chosen by the State Assembly, and is responsible to that body. The Government collectively and individually must possess the confidence of the Assembly, and must resign if a vote of no confidence is passed. The Government is the Commander-in-Chief of the Republican defence forces in peace time.

The members of local organs of self-government are elected on a basis similar to that on which rests the elections to the State Assembly. If the law has not created special offices, the executive power of the Government is exercised through the local government institutions.

All Esthonian citizens are equal in the eyes of the law. There is no death penalty.

The national flag of Esthonia is blue, black and white in horizontal stripes. The elections for the Esthonian Diet were held on November 28, 1020 and resulted in the return of the following parties:—Reformist Labour, 22; Agrarians, 21; Populists, 10; Christian Party, 7; Social Democrats, 18; Independent Socialists, 11; Bolshevists, 5; Balts, 4; Russian, 1; Economist Group, 1; making a total of 100.

State Head (Riigiwanem).—Konstantine Paets.

Minister for Foreign Affairs.—Ant. Piip.

Minister of Trade and Industry.—Johan Kukk.

Minister of War.—Jaan Soots.

Minister of Education.—Heinrich Bauer.

Minister of the Interior.—Karl Einbund.

Minister of Agriculture.—Bernard Rostfeld.

Minister of Justice.—Jaak Reichmann.

Minister of finance.—George Westel.

Area and Population.—The boundary line between Esthonia and Russia is defined by the Peace Treaty of February 2, 1920. The boundaries between Esthonia and Latvia were settled on July 3, 1920. The extreme length is about 217 miles, and the breadth about 124 miles, the total area being about 23,160 square miles.

The population of 1,750,000 is composed as to 95 per cent. of Esthonians, 2 per cent. of Germans (Balts), 1 per cent. of Russians, 0.9 per cent. of Letts and Lithuanians, 0.8 per cent. of Swedes, and 0.5 per cent. of Jews, &c.

The Republic is divided into nine districts, as follows (the capitals are given in brackets, and when two are given the second mentioned is the German name):—Harju (Tallinn-Reval), Wiru (Rakwere-Wesenberg), Jarva (Paide-Weisenstein), Laane (Hapsal), Tartu (Tartu-Dorpat), Woru (Woru), Wiljandi (Wiljandi-Fellin), Parnu (Parnu), Saaremaa-Oesel (Kuresaare-Arensburg). The capital, Tallinn (Reval) was founded in 1219 at the mouth of the Gulf of Finland, and in 1917 had 160,000 inhabitants. The university town of Tartu (Dorpat) had 60,000 inhabitants. The population of the port of Parnu, on the Gulf of Riga, was 23,000, and that of the manufacturing town of Narva 35,000.

Religion and Instruction.—There is no State religion in Esthonia. Five-sixths of the population are Lutherans, the rest Orthodox, Catholics, &c.

Elementary education is obligatory and gratuitous. In 1897 the illiterates among the population above the age of 10 years numbered 3 per cent. In 1919 there were 1,257 elementary schools with a four years' course in the Esthonian Republic. Of this number 1,227 were supported by self-government institutions, for example of communities, suburbs, towns or of the State, and 30 were private schools kept by private individuals. The number of higher schools with a seven years' course amounted to 211, seven of which are private. The number of middle schools for general education, gymnasiums, and so on, was 65, of which number 32 were private schools (mostly supported by the Government).

For special or professional education there are teachers' seminaries in Tallinn, Tartu, and Rakvere, navigation schools in Tallinn, Kasmu, Kuresaare, and Parnu, commercial schools with an eight years' course, agricultural schools with a four years' course, mercantile schools with a four years' course, and industrial and art schools with a six years' course.

The minority nationals (Germans, Russians, Swedes, and Letts) are guaranteed education in their mother tongue.

For higher education there are the Dorpat University (founded in 1632), which on December 1, 1919, was re-opened as an Esthonian seat of learning maintained by the Government; number of students (1920) 2,127; the Technicum at Tallinn is a higher professional school with 500 students in 1920.

Justice.—The supreme judicial power is invested in the State Court of Justice, which is elected by the State Assembly and sits in Tartu (Dorpat).

The laws are being gradually revised by the State Assembly.

Finance.—The total State expenditure for the year 1919 was 1,500,000,000 marks (analogous to the Finnish marks and equal to 100 pence). For 1920 the revenue was estimated at 1,071,500,000 marks, and the expenditure at 979,450,000 marks.

Particulars of the Budget estimates for 1920 are given as follows:—

Revenue 1,000 Marks
Income Tax 180,000
Other taxes 160,000
State enterprises 546,500
Various 60,000
Extraordinary 125,000
Total 1,071,500
Expenditure 1,000 Marks
Ministry of War 168,000
,, ,, Communications 325,000
Ministry of Finance 175,000
Other Ministries 311,450
Total 979,450

Defence.—During the war with Soviet Russia all classes from 19 to 35 years were mobilised, and an army of more than 90,000 was created. The army is composed of three divisions. In peace times the army consists of 15,000 men. The Esthonian Fleet consists of two destroyers and two gunboats.

Production.—Agriculture is the chief occupation. Half the area of Esthonia was taken up by large landed properties of more than 2,000 hectares each. By the passing of the Agrarian Reform Bill these estates were parcelled out to the peasants. The arable land is divided as follows:—Fields, 2,318,004 acres; meadows, 2,408,840 acres; pastures, 1,671,837 acres. Twenty per cent. of the surface is forest land. The principal crops, with acreage and yield, are shown as follows:—

Acreage Yield in Bushels
1910 1920 1910 1920
Rye 825,886 376,004 4,903,402 6,435,488
Wheat 32,615 37,851 441,072 612,980
Barley 263,153 297,458 4,500,030 5,968,308
Potatoes 138,963 155,518 19,082,080 25,240,705

In 1920 Esthonia had 363,263 head of cattle, 436,259 sheep, 213,002 pigs, and 155,262 horses.

Commerce.—The chief exports are flax, timber, cellulose, and meat. The trade in 1920 amounted to 3,912,894 pouds (61 pouds = 1 ton) of imports and 7,675,508 pouds of exports. Of the total imports, 1,142,759 pouds came from the United Kingdom and 1,298,670 pouds from Germany; of the total exports, 3,531,362 pouds went to the United Kingdom and 275,905 to Germany. Principal imports (in pouds):—Salt, 1,103,342; coal, 809,629; fertilisers, 481,285; sugar, 113,117. Principal exports:—Timber, 4,113,144; potatoes, 1,534,007; paper, 895,988; flax, 208,035.

Currency.—The currencies which circulate in Esthonia are the Esthonian mark, Czar rouble, Duma rouble, Kerensky rouble, Ost mark, and the Ost rouble, and also Finnish marks. An estimate of the amounts places the various currencies as follows:—Ost marks, 25,000,000; Czar roubles, 50,000,000; Duma roubles, 30,000,000; Kerensky roubles, 2,000,000; Esthonian marks, 600,000,000: Udenitch roubles, 150,000,000; and Finnish marks, 600,000,000.

Diplomatic and Consular Representatives.

1. Of Esthonia in Great Britain.

Chargé d'Affaires (ad interim).—Jaan Kopwillem.

There are Consular Representatives in London, Aberdeen, Hull, Dover, Belfast, Leith, Bo'ness, Liverpool, Methill, Alloa, Glasgow, Manchester, Dundee, Cardiff, Southampton, West Hartlepool, Swansea.

2. Of Great Britain in Esthonia.

Head of Diplomatic Mission.—E. C. C. Wilton, C.M.G.

Consul at Reval.—Peter Leslie.

Books of Reference.

Bulletin de l'Esthonie, No. 1. April, 1919. Paris.

Esthonian Review. No. 1. January, 1919. London, 1920.

Mémoire sur l'independance de l'Esthonie, presente à la Conference de la Paix par la Délegation Esthonienne.

Martna (M.), L'Esthonie. Paris, 1920.