Estonia ranks as the world’s 132nd smallest country yet is 30th in terms of the world’s top number of internet users. Skype was created by an Estonian, most Estonians pay their income tax and bank on-line and their car park fees by mobile phone, at the same time this is people is closely grounded to nature and heritage.
This unique nation of contrasts also sports some world-beating claims to fame, from having the world’s oldest pharmacy to the world’s highest pub ceiling and the third oldest working lighthouse, whilst Estonians carry records as world champion mosquito swatters and word-beating wife-carriers.
1. Estonian are the world’s mosquito swatting champions
Estonia became new world champs at the extreme sport of mosquito swatting in June 2010 soon after an Estonian man, Rein Leib, swatted 24 mosquitoes through a world championship attempt in the Estonian town of Tartu.
Participants had to swat as many mosquitoes as they could whilst standing in a square metre of grass, having worked up the perspiration to entice the mozzies.
The champion, who entirely overshadowed the former record holder Finland’s score of merely eight, explained “My arms and legs hurt and itch since the competition but otherwise I’m fine.”
2. Estonia’s one day coffee shops
Every summer residents of the Estonian island of Hiiumaa open their homes and gardens to set them selves up as one-day coffee shops.
The event takes place in the capital of Hiiumaa, Kärdla, recognized for its coffee consumers since the 19th century. Although other islanders were still drinking sour milk and birch juice, the residents of Kärdla were already cooking a brown coffee-type drink.
During the initial week of August every year homeowners bake cakes and serve coffee and tea to guests coming to the islands. This year the event takes place on 4th August 2012, more information at http://www.visitestonia.com/en/kardla-cafe-day
3. Estonians are world-class
So successful are Estonians at the international game of wife carrying that there is a wife carrying style known as the `Estonian style’ (the wife dangles upside-down with her thighs and leg around the husband’s shoulders, holding onto his waist).
Wife carrying contests are believed to have started in Sonkajärvi, Finland, and the winner is the couple who finishes the 253.5m course that includes sand, water and barrier challenges, in the fastest time. There is only one prize in the world championships, that Estonians has won for ten consecutive years from 1998 – 2008, the wife’s bodyweight in beer.
The rules are pretty basic, the wife have to be over 17 years old and weigh 49kg or carry a weighted back-pack, the only devices the carrier can wear is a belt and head protection.
4. Roll out the barrel
Estonians love saunas to such an extent, that they have built them into buses, floating rafts and even into a cistern of an old fire-engine. The best known floating sauna is called Püha Müristus (Holy Moses) and is on the River Navesti in Soomaa National Park.
The Barrel Sauna is popular among Estonians and is a barrel shaped wooden sauna that can be transported wherever the sauna lover goes, such as the heart of a forest in winter, or alongside a ski track.
5. Tallinn, home of the world’s first Christmas tree
The first registered public display of a Christmas tree was in 1441 in the capital of German Livonia (now Estonia and Latvia) in the town square of Reval (now Tallinn). The custom was to dance around the tree at Christmas time, to rejoice the joyful season and then burn the tree.
The Brotherhood of the Blackheads, a guild for unmarried merchants, first erected the tree for the holiday period in their brotherhood house. One the last night of festivities the tree was brought to the square in front of the Town Hall where the members of the brotherhood danced around it with local girls, before setting it on fire.
6. When Estonia was hit with the force of Hiroshima
Estonia is the world’s most meteorite struck place in the world. The Kaali meteorite crater on the island of Saaremaa was the last giant meteorite in the world that fell into a high density area. The power of the blast and energy of the impact is comparable with impact of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb.
As the meteorite entered the atmosphere it split into nine massive pieces. The impact left a main crater 110m in diameter, 22m deep and at least eight other craters with diameters of 12 – 30m and a depth of between 1 – 4 metres.
The Kaali Lake and meteor site are now popular tourist destinations.
7. The world’s oldest pharmacy
The capital, Tallinn, has the world’s oldest pharmacy still operating in its original location on the Old Town Square
8. The Worlds’s highest pub ceiling
Tartu, Estonia’s second city, is home to the highest pub ceiling in the world, the Gunpowder Cellar, whose ceiling is 11m high
9. Europe’s Longest Railway Platform
The railway platform at Haapsalu station on Estonia’s west coast is the longest of its kind in Europe at over 200m long and was built that the Tsar could leave the train on rainy days without getting wet
10. One of the Oldest Lighthouses in the World
The Kõpu lighthouse on the Estonian island of Saaremaa, completed in the 16th century, is the world’s third oldest operating lighthouse
For information about Estonia, for images or details of press trips contact the UK representative Mary Stuart-Miller, 01403 738844, firstname.lastname@example.org