Number of speakers worldwide:
“He was one of those who kept fresh the spirits of the people and made us ready to take the opportunity of restoring Estonia’s independence.”
Jaan Kross, Estonia’s best known and most frequently translated modern author.
about 1.5 million
Estonian is spoken primarily in Estonia and in some small regions of Latvia. It is also spoken in Estonian immigrant communities in Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Sweden and the United States.
Estonian is the official language of Estonia and one of the 23 official languages of the European Union.
Estonian neither belongs to the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European language family nor does it belong to the Baltic-Finnic branch of the Uralic language family. It is therefore closely related to Finnish, and remotely related to Hungarian.
Estonica, an encyclopedia about Estonia, at http://www.estonica.org/index_est.html
; the Institute of the Estonian Language, the language’s regulator, at http://www.eki.ee/index.html.et
Although Estonian has borrowed from Swedish, Latvian and Russian, and has been influenced by Hungarian and German, it is not linguistically related to any of those languages, as it is one of the few languages in Europe that is not Indo-European. Estonian now uses the Latin alphabet with a few additions—ä, ö, ü, õ and š and ž. The letters c, q, w, x and y are limited to proper names of foreign origin. Grammatically speaking, Estonian does not possess genders or articles. Its vocabulary and syntax, especially word order, have been most influenced by German. Similarities with Russian are also noticeable.