While the flag of Estonia is simple, it holds an important meaning. The colors are vibrant and it waves in the air proudly. In this article, we will discover the history, meaning, and symbolism behind the flag of Estonia.
Where is Estonia?
Estonia is a small country in Europe. Estonia’s area is 17,506 miles squared with about 2,357.5 miles of coastline. It has more than 2,000 islands and borders Russia and Latvia. Two of the largest islands are Saaremaa and Hiiumaa and they are both off the West coast. Towards the West is the Baltic Sea and on the North is the Gulf of Finland. Fun fact, Estonia is ranked as the 24th smallest country in Europe and the 133rd in the world.
The Founding of Estonia
Estonia was not always independent. The name ‘Estonia’ has been around since 98 AD and refers to Aesti, an ancient people. Humans have lived in Estonia for 11,000 years ago. The oldest known settlement is the Pulli settlement in Southwest Estonia. In Estonia during the Viking age, silver coins and bars were very common. The population of the region was thought to be 150,000. Balto Finnic tribes also lived in ancient Estonia, long before it was a unified country.
Now that we have a brief summary of Estonia’s early history, let’s dive into modern events. During the 1850s began the Estonian national awakening. At this time, they were conquered by the Russian empire, but a lot was changing. Land-owning farmers were earning more money and growing in class, which led to the new Estonian identity. Large events, like the first national song festival, were held in Estonia. All of this was happening while Russia was engaging in Russification, forcing schools in Estonia to replace their language with Russian. Soon after, some Estonians joined together in peaceful political demonstrations and violent riots for independence.
Estonia was independent briefly on 24 February 1918 when the Bolsheviks seized power. Germans quickly occupied the country but were forced to hand over power to the Provisional Government after World War 1. In World War 2, Estonia was occupied by Germany and the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union occupied Estonia between 1944–1991 and many indigenous Estonians were killed or deported in an attempt at ethnic cleansing. In 1987, political activities were possible again in Estonia which sparked a singing revolution. A year later the country had the first non-rigged multi-candidate elections in decades and issued the Sovereignty Declaration. Voters supported independence and in 1991 Estonia declared the restoration of independence.
History of Estonia’s Flag
The flag of Estonia is simple and features three vibrant colors. While the flag and the colors were used to represent Estonia for decades, it was not established as its national flag until 16 July 1922. Before it was introduced as the national flag, it was used on 4 June 1884 by the Estonian Students’ Society. Estonia has had a lot of political changes. When the Soviet Union took over the small country, they banned the use of the tri-color flag. It was punishable by law. Instead, Estonia officially used the flag of the Soviet Union until they were allowed to use their tri-color flag in 1988. The Estonian authorities on 7 August 1990 officially re-adopted the iconic tri-color flag, and it has been used since.
Meaning and Symbolism of Estonia’s Flag
Despite Estonia’s many political changes, they have only ever used one flag. Estonia‘s flag has three main colors, black, blue, and white. Each stripe represents something unique about the country and its history. Keep reading to discover the meaning and symbolism of Estonia’s flag in detail.
There are multiple theories and interpretations for each horizontal stripe. The most common meaning behind the use of black is freedom lost. However, another interpretation believes the black stripe represents fertile soil and the dark thick forests in the country.
The blue stripe on Estonia’s flag is beautiful. Most people interpret that it represents faith, loyalty, and devotion. However, for those that see the flag and think of the country’s stunning landscape, the blue can also represent the sky or clear sparkling lakes.
The white stripe of the flag is very bright against the black and blue. It typically represents virtue, purity, and hard work. It symbolizes the hard work and the country’s struggle for independence. White can also represent snow, since it covers the country’s land for many months out of the year.
Other Flags Used in Estonia
Estonia only uses one national flag, however, the Flag of the Governorate of Estonia once reflected the region between 179 and 1917. It is a flag with three horizontal stripes. Each stripe is a solid color, in order from green, purple, and white. Sometimes, people also wave the Estonia flag with the Coat of Arms of Estonia in the center.
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The photo featured at the top of this post is © Steve Allen/Shutterstock.com
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
When did Estonia begin using this flag?
The flag of Estonia is simple and features three vibrant colors. While the flag and the colors were used to represent Estonia for decades, it was not established as its national flag until 16 July 1922. Before it was introduced as the national flag, it was used on 4 June 1884 by the Estonian Students’ Society.
Where is Estonia?
Estonia is a small country in Europe. Estonia’s area is 17,506 miles squared with about 2,357.5 miles of coastline. It has more than 2,000 islands and borders Russia and Latvia. Two of the largest islands are Saaremaa and Hiiumaa and they are both off the West coast.
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