Estonia is a beautiful country with a complex history. All of this is reflected in its beaches and islands, castles, manor houses, and old cities. It is a country that has preserved its historical culture, while adding the technology of the 21st century.
Estonia is a parliamentary republic. The head of state is the president, who is elected by the legislature for a five-year term. The president must approve laws passed by the legislature. He also appoints the Prime Minister, who is usually the head of the political party or coalition with a majority in the legislature. Executive power is held by the prime minister and a Council of Ministers appointed by him and approved by the legislature.
Legislative power is vested in the Riigikogu, a unicameral legislature of 101 members, elected by popular vote for four-year terms.
Estonia is considered the most advanced of the Baltic States in the privatization of state enterprises, currency and financial reform, and encouragement of private investment. Unfortunately, in 1999 Estonia's economy slowed, primarily because of the financial crisis in Russia that occurred in August 1998.
The government is working to restore the country's rapid economic growth. Its primary industries - electronics and telecommunications - are strong because of major trading partners like Finland, Sweden, and Germany. The country's economic transition has been so successful that, in April 2004, Estonia achieved membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and in May 2004, membership in the European Union (EU) and World Trade Organization (WTO).
Expatriates will find the Estonian people courteous, if somewhat reserved. They like to discuss their independence and are strongly patriotic. It is this national pride that becomes so evident in showing visitors their historical sites.