Through archeological research, it has been determined that the
ancestors of the Estonians came from the east and setteled on the
Baltic shores about 2,500 B.C. At the beginning of the 13th century
the country was conquered by the Teutonic knights, and a class of
landowners mostly of German descent was established in the country.
The country was governed by a succession of foreign powers, including
the Teutonic Order, Denmark, Poland and Sweden. In 1710 Peter I
won Estonia from Sweden and made it part of Imperial Russia.
It was perhaps the Germans who laid the groundwork for Estonia's
future success. Already in 1285, Tallinn was part of the Hanseatic
League and trading activities were undertaken mostly be the German
merchant families who had settled there. Successive generations
of Baltic Germans had manors in Estonia and maintained a considerable
degree of self-determination up until the early 1900's.
In the second half of the 19th century Estonians self-awareness
grew into a powerfull national movement which led to the establishment
of the Estonian nation. Estonia declared itself an independent,
democratic republic on 24 February 1918.
The right of nation to self-determination was defended in a War
of Independence. 1940 Estonia was occupied by the Soviets and annexed.
After 51 years Estonia managed to peacefully break itself loose
from Soviet Union and proclaim independence again on August 20,